Upcoming Concert Blends History, Culture & Tradition

Taft's Music for a While concert series continues Sunday, April 7, with a performance by Wykeham Consort, featuring music from the Sephardic Jews. The concert begins at 4 pm in Walker Hall on the Taft School campus, at 50 DeForest Street in Watertown, CT. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

Wykeham Consort is an ensemble of musicians fascinated by the music of the Sephardim and of Renaissance Europe. In bringing Sephardic Music to Taft, they are opening a window into the life and culture of Spanish (Sephardic) Jews. For more than seven centuries, Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together on the Iberian Peninsula through alternating periods of peace and conflict. In the last quarter of the 15th century, this mix of cultures ended as the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, forced conversion and ethnic cleansing of Spain to create a unified Christian nation. In 1492, the Jews were expelled from their homes and businesses—moving south to Morocco, east to the Ottoman Empire, and north to Italy, France, and the Netherlands. Wherever they went, they preserved their cultural heritage, including language, music, and traditional songs. Sephardic music is an example of a living tradition that has freely drawn from outside sources without losing its identity. It includes stories of everyday life, songs of love, passion and rejection, lullabies and centuries-old folk tales expressed in the exciting, rhythmically driven and alluring melodies of Spain, Eastern Europe, and the Arabic world. 

Wykeham Consort performance pieces range from Sephardic romances and Spanish villancicos to the elegant poetry of French chansons and lively English country dances. The historical and cultural context of the music, translations of the texts and explanations of period instruments used are included in performances. The music is accessible, direct and appealing to contemporary audiences because of its clarity of expression and genuine human emotion. Wykeham Consort creates their own arrangements from what are often single line melodies. They build a musical experience that is appealing to audiences for its engaging presentation of the delights, sorrows, and humor of everyday life. 

Please note that this is a change in both artist and venue from earlier Music for a While press. The program is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. For more information, visit www.taftschool.org/concerts.