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Sultana Sephardic Trio, Chicago, IL, Mar 14

Who: Sultana Sephardic Trio
Where: Sephardic Congregation, 1819 W. Howard Ave St. (California and Howard)
When: 7:00 pm Sunday, March 14, 2004
Tickets: $12
Info: www.kfarcenter.com or call 773.550.1543

Yoel Ben-Simhon didnít set out to explore his roots. An Israeli born of Moroccan parentage, Mr. Ben-Simhon pursued his academic studies at the Mannes School of Music and received his MFA in music composition from Hunter College in 1998.

During his MA studies in music composition, he devoted himself to exploring the subject of Jewish music in Morocco and how it contributes to the heritage of Jewish communities in the countries of origin and in Israel itself.

It was not long before Ben-Simhon found himself learning to play the Oud, a Middle-Eastern relative of the guitar. Soon he began learning the classic songs of the Moroccan Jews, and with it, the Judeo-Arabic dialect they spoke as vernacular.

His musical journey led him to realize that Jewish music shares a great deal with its Arab and Berber cousins. After Mr. Ben-Simhon returned from his first trip to Morocco, he captured his Jewish Moroccan musical experience in Mediterranean Collage. Similar in structure to the Arab nueba, the work was scored for voice, violin, nay (Arabic flute), qanun (Arabic zither), oud (Arabic lute), piano, bass, darbuka (hand drum), riqq (tambourine) and duff (frame drum).

Yoel Ben-Simhon says, "Sultana was the name of my grandmother, a very inspirational figure in my life, who was born in Mogador, Morocco. As a verb, saltana means 'to dominate' or 'to govern' and of course sultana means Queen." Sultana also means 'sublime', the enjoyment communicated by a performer to the audience through the artistic and technical mastery of the instrument or voice.

The Sultana Ensemble performed in many music venues throughout the US. such as: United Nations General Assembly Hall, The Jewish Museum in Manhattan, Baltimore Jewish Federation, Princeton University, Hunter College of CUNY and many others.

He brings it to Chicago in mid-March with a pared down ensemble for 2 performances.

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