The Shakespeare Walla Walla Masters Series presents “Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom: Ladino Songs” at the Gesa Power House Theatre on Saturday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m. This concert is made possible in part thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, WESTAF and the Washington State Arts Commission.
A queen who runs away with her slave, joining her fate to her beloved servant’s. Brides who abandon their weddings and join a shipful of sailors. Men who go courting, only to get taunted or tossed down a well.
These wild rides and fantastic yarns spring from Ladino tradition, from songs and stories carried by Sephardic Jews as they moved from Spain and settled along the Mediterranean’s northern coast to Greece and Turkey. In multicultural metropolises like Sarajevo, in picturesque island towns like Rhodes, Jewish culture-bearers recounted the romantic escapades and derring do of a cast of characters worthy of a cutthroat fantasy novel.
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and skilled arranger Guy Mendilow and his four musical collaborators leap into this world in Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom. The intertwining music and storytelling conjure an imagi-nation lost to war and upheaval, recorded in a language that blends archaic Spanish with Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek. By digging deep into Sephardic scholarship and revitalizing the sound recorded on gritty field recordings, Mendilow and company bring tales to life, intertwining voices, percussion, and soulful playing to render these songs in all their color, drama, and heart.
“If you like Game of Thrones, these stories are for you,” suggests Mendilow with a smile. “The tales are amazing. The melodies twist and turn, like the culture of adaptation Sephardic musicians embraced. Much of it is modal music, with elements that run from epic tunes to early 20th-century foxtrots and tangos, and all of it is mesmerizing, in its beauty and intensity.”Embark on a musical trek to kingdoms long forgotten and bustling towns now vanished. Follow the stories of vagabond queens, pauper poets and lovers lost to the sea, all set to spellbinding arrangements of old Sephardi songs worthy of symphonic film scores. Wrap these tales up with lush soulful harmonies evoking Flamenco’s gutsiness and the longings of Fado, all combined with heart-pounding percussion and intricate soundscapes.
Reserved Seating Tickets ($18 – $15 Adults, $5 Students) are available online or by calling the box office at 509-529-6500.
NOTE: A previously scheduled Sunday, Sept. 27 performance has been cancelled. All ticket-holders for that date will be contacted by the box office for an exchange.
About The Guy Mendilow Ensemble
“An international tour de force” (Bethlehem Morning Call) from Israel, Palestine, Argentina and the USA, the Guy Mendilow Ensemble are passionate educators determined to give students of all ages their best, the ensemble inspires with innovative master-classes, immersive residencies and imaginative outreach. In addition to touring with the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, members are on the faculty of leading music schools like Boston’s Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory and the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India. They also tour/record with the likes of Bobby McFerrin,Yo Yo Ma, the Assad Brothers, Christian McBride, Snarky Puppy and Simon Shaheen. The Ensemble was formed in 2004 and is based in Boston, MA and Brooklyn, NY USA.