What an inspiring day learning from and participating in the 3rd annual International Ladino Day in New York City. If there's any proof that Ladino is still very much alive, it was this! There were excerpts from a Ladino play, a panel of Gen Y and Z'ers who speak Ladino, lots of music and more (this is me performing with the wonderful Daniel Elias Trio). And all to a sold-out crowd! What a treat to be involved. And even The Forward agrees, after observing the event, they wrote this great piece on "Why Ladino will Rise Again." I couldn't agree more!
Today is a day I have dreamed about for some time. After visiting and performing recently in my family's homeland, Monastir (now known as Bitola, Macedonia), I have been mulling an idea over that is finally coming to fruition. Today I am launching The Monastir Project, which is a brand new international cultural initiative that will bring together Israelis, Macedonians, and me!, to record a new album of Macedonian Jewish music to celebrate the history of Jewish Monastir, a community destroyed after WWII. The project has several phases and will take at least a year to get off the ground, but it truly is a dream come trie for me to combine my musical interests with my very personal family history. Click here to learn more and get involved today!
What a thrilling experience it was to present a program of the Ladino music to a standing-room-only audience at the Library of Congress! I saw all walks of life in the hall, and so many new people became exposed to the stories and history of Ladino. This concert will definitely go in my memory bank as one of my favorites!
One week from today I launch a brand new project that i've been working on for months. I'm so used to being engaged by programmers of Jewish venues and organizations, that it was especially exciting to be approached by the Greek Chamber Music Group to put together a program honoring Jews of Greece. How refreshing! The collaboration, nearly a year in the works, is culminating in a tour of East Coast academic institutions and cultural venues. I hope this is the start of a much longer relationship with the GCMP, and fruitful conversations with audiences about the importance of keeping these little known stories of loss during WWII alive... If you are in New Haven, CT, Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC or Philadelphia, PA, I hope you'll come out to see and hear this beautiful new program!
Did you hear the news? Disney is introducing a Latina Jewish princess in its series, "Elena of Avalor." We don't know if the character, voiced by The Sopranos' Jamie-Lynn Sigler, will be Sephardic, but even so, this is a huge step for wider Jewish representation in mainstream media. As a proud Jewish mother of two daughters, I am thrilled that they will be able to look up to a character that they can relate to more closely. Recently, I weighed in on what this news means to me, along with others of Latinx Jewish heritage. Click below to find out more!
This week I had the joy of meeting the newest member of the Aresty/Aroeste clan!! Thinking about our family line always inspires me to write new music. I'm cooking something up. Stay tuned!
I don't have any tattoos, but if I were to get one, an image of my favorite place, Tanglewood, would be at the top of my wish list! I've been enjoying a temporary one as a reminder of where I got my musical start (in the BUTI Young Vocal Artist Program in the summer of 1993!!) and how important it is to continue to reach back to one's roots for inspiration. I love giving props to the places and people who got me where I am today!
For the first time in 18 years (yes that's how long I've been doing this!!) I declined several good gigs this summer because I just wanted to spend the summer with my family. I love love performing, but I just needed a little break to enjoy my two young daughters for a couple of months. They'll only be ages 3 and 5 years once! And I'm sure this small breather from touring will help me be a better mom and musician moving forward...
I've just returned from a week in Iberia (Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal) performing and meeting with local Sephardic communities. But it was walking down the streets of my ancestors that impacted me the most. I could feel their presence along the cobble stoned streets, the medieval arches that crowned the Jewish neighborhoods, and the hidden markers on doorposts that signified a secret Jewish family residing therein. Today, there are signs along roads to show where Jewish life once thrived-- "Sefarad," we see you! We remember you.
I love playing with these musical cousins (myself, Anthony Russell, Dmitri Gaskin and Rob Sanzone) in our "Yiddish Meets Ladino" program. With three shows behind us in three different states (this one today was in Milwaukee, WI), we are officially taking it on the road. Stay tuned for a new project website coming soon!