Sept. 24: Sephardi songs focus of free concert


By Gail Siegel, WSU Performing Arts

PULLMAN, Wash. — Embark on a musical trek to kingdoms long forgotten and bustling towns now vanished as the Guy Mendilow Ensemble presents “Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom,” a free concert of traditional Sephardi songs, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in Daggy Hall’s Jones Theatre at Washington State University.

Guy Mendilow. (Photo by Craig Harris)

Mendilow is on the vanguard of a resurgence of traditional Sephardi songs from the Jewish communities expelled from Spain in 1492 that settled across the Ottoman Empire, from the Balkans to Jerusalem. The captivating songs follow the stories of vagabond queens, pauper poets and lovers lost to the sea. Songs are wrapped with lush, soulful harmonies evoking flamenco’s gutsiness and fado’s longings and are combined with heart-pounding percussion and intricate soundscapes.

Though some of the lyrics predate 1492, the music is primarily from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is because the songs, being true folk music, were preserved aurally and not written down until more recently.

The concert is presented by WSU Performing Arts as part of the third annual Humanitas Festival ( celebrating world arts. Admission is free on a first-come, first-seated basis. Seating is limited, so early arrival is recommended. WSUPA Full Series and Fall Series subscribers will receive priority reserved seating; see for series ticket information.

The ensemble will also lead a free outreach program, “Music from Around the World,” for youth of all ages at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, Wash., as well as a free, public, interactive lecture and demonstration, “Sailors, Sirens & Kings: Traditions & Change in Ladino Song,” at noon Sept. 24 in Jones Theatre.

Formed in 2004, the award-winning Guy Mendilow Ensemble ( comprises world-class musicians representing a variety of national backgrounds, including the U.S., Israel, Palestine and Argentina. Members are on the faculty of leading music schools like the New England Conservatory and Boston’s Berklee School of Music, and they have toured or recorded with the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Yo Yo Ma, the Assad Brothers, Christian McBride and Simon Shaheen.

Events are presented with support from ArtsWA, the Washington State Arts Commission; WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation; the National Endowment for the Arts; and WSU Global Campus. Additional support is provided by the Residence Inn by Marriott Pullman.

For more information about WSU Performing Arts and the 2015-16 season, including ticket prices and packages and a Jones Theatre seating chart, visit


Gail Siegel, WSU Performing Arts, 509-335-8522,



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