Canadian ethnomusicologist and singer Dr Judith Cohen will present her work on music in the lives of the Crypto-Jews of Portugal. For close to 25 years she has been documenting the role of music in the lives of Portuguese rural Crypto-Jews, staying in their homes, and interacting with them and with their Roma (Cigano, “Gypsy”) neighbours on a day-to-day basis. Dr Cohen will give brief musical illustrations, including the traditional Portuguese women’s square frame drum, and explain the difference between Sephardic music, medieval Spanish music and music in this Portuguese setting. In these days before Tisha be’Av, we can draw inspiration from the determination of these people who managed to survive with their Jewish identity intact through the centuries of the Inquisition.
Dr Judith Cohen is a specialist in Sephardic and related music, a trained ethnomusicologist and a traditional singer. Born and raised in Canada, she is an incessant traveller, and is particularly well-known for her work in Spain and Portugal, where she is usually based in the summers. Judith is the Alan Lomax Spanish Recordings consultant; she also works with Spanish, Portuguese, Balkan, Yiddish, French Canadian and Medieval music. Dublin is her last stop before returning to Canada from two months of carrying out research projects, giving conference papers, and performing in Italy, France, England, Portugal, Spain – and Ireland, where she has come – for the first time – to give a workshop on Sephardic songs at the International Council for Traditional Music’s international conference at the University of Limerick.