At the annual Pro Musica Hebraica concert last week, the Amernet String Quartert, along with the mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway and the guitarist Adam Levin, performed a series of pieces based on traditional Jewish melodies with their roots in medieval Spain. Grace Jean writes in her review:
Because Spanish Jews preserved their culture through oral traditions, Sephardi music was rarely written down, but rather passed between generations through singing. The composer Alberto Hemsi (1898–1975) sought to capture the songs he heard in his travels, ultimately publishing ten volumes of melodies.
Inspired by Hemsi’s efforts, the composer Ljova (Lev Zhurbin) . . . arranged “Blanca Nina,” a suite of traditional songs and ballads. For this world premiere, Calloway sang with haunting presence while Amernet proved an equal partner in depicting a young woman’s life in Sephardi Spain.