Da Camera Society Concert in Topanga Breathes New Life into Ancient Music

“East of the River” will perform Sultana-Music of the Sephardic Diaspora at Rosewood in Topanga. Led by woodwind virtuosos, Nina Stern and Daphna Mor, Sultana is a transporting journey through bazaars, kitchens, dance circles, prayer houses, and public squares. Mor and Stern breathe life into ancient forms, braiding together the rich musical traditions of the Sephardic diaspora through North Africa and the Ottoman Empire, inflecting the music with infectious Eastern rhythms, and uniquely steeping their performance in the art of improvisation. Photo from Eastoftherivermusic.com

The Da Camera Society of Mount Saint Mary’s College is bringing the five-member chamber group, East of the River, to Rosewood in Topanga on Sunday, March 24.

The concert, part of the society’s “Chamber Music in Historic Sites” series, will feature music from the ancient Jewish tradition in a special concert titled Sultana: Music of the Sephardic Diaspora.

Founded by internationally renowned recorder players, Nina Stern and Daphna Mor, with oud player Kane Mathis, violinist Jesse Kotansky, and percussionist James Yoshizawa, East of the River, “Explores gems of the European classical repertory together with haunting melodies and virtuosic dances of traditions to the East, arranged and interpreted by musicians whose backgrounds include classical, jazz and world music.”

The Rosewood concert will feature “a musical journey [that] breathes life into ancient forms, braiding together the rich musical traditions of the Sephardic diaspora through North Africa and the Ottoman Empire, inflecting the music with infectious Eastern rhythms, and steeping their performance in the art of improvisation.”

Much of the music from this tradition is ancient, transmitted not in writing but from one generation of musicians to the next. The program notes for the event describe this oral mode of transmission as “enabling performers to internalize lyrics, melodies, and performance techniques, and recreate them in strange lands. Eschewing the rigidity of the notated page, the music flourished in a variety of directions, while retaining a fundamental link to the past.”

Rosewood’s elaborate Spanish-Moorish revival architecture forms the ideal backdrop for music that has its roots in the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula in the early medieval period, when Spain was under Muslim rule, and trade in goods and ideas flourished in the area.

“As light filters through a canopy of old oak trees adjoining Topanga Creek, a Spanish-Colonial styled structure hosts a blend of haunting and virtuosic melodies from the traditional repertoires of the Balkans, Armenia, and the Middle East, as well as gems of the Medieval European classical repertory.”

The Da Camera Society’s chamber concerts are small and intimate, with a limited number of tickets available. Light refreshments will be served. Tickets are $85, and available online at www.dacamera.org

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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