Ethnic Theater - Jewish
"Two Faiths, One Voice"
The 2000-year relationship between Jews and Christians has been marked by hatred, cruelty, ignorance—anti-Semitism that has run rampant. Down through the ages Jews in Europe have been treated, at the very least, as a despised minority. At the very worst—deportation, destruction, devastation, the Inquisition, the Holocaust.
Not that one can downplay these facts, but there is a surprising counterpart. In spite of all, there were always the arts. As people migrated across many lands and cultures impacted, the arts have allowed diverse peoples to reach across barriers, to surmount insurmountable differences.
And now we discover, in a newly-released—and very exciting--recording, that Jews and Christians have indeed sung the same song for centuries. Two gifted performers, who are also noted folklorists, have collaborated on a recording of Jewish/Christian music—pointing to the similarities and the influence that each genre has had on the other.
The new recording, titled “Two Faiths, One Voice,” traces the surprising synergies between Eastern-European (Jewish and Christian) and Middle-Eastern (Jewish and Arabic) music down through the centuries. It follows Sephardic music as it wanders from country to country, from Medieval Spain to modern Eastern Europe.
The duo which compiled this remarkable material are Gerard Edery, a Morroccan-born musical folklorist, singer and guitarist, and Maria Krupoves, a folklorist, performer and professor at the Vilnius Jewish Institute in Vilnius, Lithuania. Though Edery is Jewish, and Krupoves of Christian heritage, they share mutual goals and comparable talents. Edery sings in fifteen languages and speaks four fluently. In preparing recordings, he continually researches and finds music and stories from Europe, the Middle East, South America and ancient Persia. Krupoves sings in twelve languages and dialects and is fluent in seven. She, too, has played an important role in preserving Jewish folk tradition. Their CD, produced by Edery and Frank Wolf, was recorded in Vilnius, Warsaw and New York City under Edery’s label, which is Sefarad Records.
Recently we were treated to an evening which celebrated “Two Faiths, One Voice” at a cabaret in the East Village, Manhattan. Both Edery and Krupoves, having traveled to the States, were on hand to take us on their magic carpet. The music was haunting, always in a minor key, and indeed it was difficult to determine whether the melodies came from Jewish or Christian sources. In spite of their formidable academic credentials, both are compelling performers and accomplished musicians.
-- Irene Backalenick
June 1, 2008