Part of the ancient ‘Call’, the Catalan word for Jewish Quarter, was to be found in the vicinity of the old Roman amphitheatre in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia. The Jewish cemetary was in what is today Plaza de los Pinazo; the synogogue -the religious and administrative centre of the community- between today’s Calle del Mar and Calle de la Paz; and just beside the synagogue, the ‘bet-Midrash’, the ‘house of study’. It was in this house of study that perhaps three of Valencia’s most well-known Golden Age Jews received their instruction in the 15th and 16th Centuries: the great humanist Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540) who went on to study at the newly founded University of Valencia around 1508 and later in Paris -his father and his grandmother were to become victims of the infamous Spanish Inquisition-; Lluis Alcanyis, a native of the city of Xàtiva, Professor of Medicine and another famous victim of the Inquisition’s bonfires; and Luis de Santángel, born in Valencia in 1492 with links to the Crown of Aragon, and who later become custodian of the royal estate and financial affairs in the city. His high status was to protect him from the Holy Inquisitors.


Jewish Quarters could be found in all the major towns of the Kingdom of Valencia: Sagunto, Morella, Castelló, Alzira, the list goes on. In all of these places, Jews lived peacefully alongside their Moorish and Christian neighbours. And for all of them, this land was their land: the place where they had raised their children and buried their dead, generation after generation, down the ages.


Produced and directed by citar, lute and hurdy-gurdy expert J Martinez, a group of renowned musicians has come together with the goal of bringing the music of this important period in Spanish history to the public. It was a period of nearly eight centuries when different religions coexisted through times of greater and lesser tolerance to each other, sharing their social and cultural lives: over 24 generations of Judeo-Spaniards, Moors from Al Andalus, and the Christians of Hispania.


Sephardic Legacy shows us how the Judeo-Spanish population would have lived, songs that would have been passed from father to son down the generations, have survived more than 500 years since they were expelled from Spain. Songs that talk to us not only of their inner-most feelings, their festivities, celebrations and rites, but also of real historical events. The album and the concerts include pieces from the East, like the dramatic lullaby ‘Nani, nani’ from Sofia, Bulgaria – a song that sees a mother singing her baby to sleep, talking of the father’s infidelity; and pieces from areas closer to the Iberian Peninsula, like ‘d’oy en este dia’ from Northern Africa, the song of a mother advising her daughter before her wedding night.


Concert 10th July @ 22:30 Claustro del Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes, Avenida de la Constitución 284, Valencia. Tel +34 963 87 40 00 Free entry

Published by Mara Aranda

Mara Aranda es una de las intérpretes más aclamadas surgidas de la escena española. Casi tres décadas durante las cuales ha investigado y cantado músicas turcas, griegas, occitanas y músicas antiguas, medievales y sefardíes, que han dejado como resultado casi una veintena de discos propios de excelente factura merecedores de premios y reconocimiento por parte de público y también de medios especializados.