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Most of the Judeo-Spanish or Ladino Sephardi song repertoire was traditionally sung by women. This presentation will explore the main genres of these songs in the Sephardi cultures of the old Ottoman region (Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans) and the western Mediterranean, specifically Morocco. Romances (narrative ballads), songs for the Jewish calendar cycle, life cycle songs, songs about love, and topical songs—all had their integral place in daily life. Judith Cohen will discuss the women singing the songs, as well as the endlessly varied stories of the women portrayed in the songs, and will include both recorded and live musical examples.

Dr. Judith Cohen is a Canadian ethnomusicologist, medievalist, singer, and educator. She teaches at York University in Toronto and is the editor of, and consultant for, the Alan Lomax 1952 Spain recordings. Cohen regularly spends time in Spain and Portugal, and has travelled widely there and elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean since the 1970s.