Sephardic Jewish Music
My Crypto Jewish Musical Journey - Consuelo Luz
“Raised Catholic in South America, the Far East and Europe, as I grew older I became conscious of Jewish ancestry on my Chilean mother's side. Later, as a Spanish singer living in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, I was approached by Rabbi Chavah Carp with some ancient Judeo-Spanish prayer songs. It turned out they were in an old Spanish dialect, the language of Ladino, which the Jews spoke in medieval Spain. As I started learning and singing these songs, something deep stirred inside me and in those who heard the songs. This was a powerful spiritual energy, hidden for centuries, yearning for expression.
I have been collecting these songs and singing them ever since, culminating in the releases of my two Sephardic/World Music CD’s DEZEO and ADIO.
The Sephardim who traveled across the ocean to escape the Inquisition or later, as Conversos (converted), emigrated to Latin America and the Southwest, struggled to preserve their heritage while integrating into the New World landscape. My CD ADIO is a musical reflection of this integration, combining Latin, Middle Eastern, Flamenco and Indigenous elements to evoke a historic journey, a fusion of traditions and the Sephardic soul's survival and path of transcendence.
As I continue to delve more into the mystical traditions of the Sephardim, I learn about the Earth teachings of the Hebrew people and their ancient roots and connection to Indigenous wisdom. The power of this spiritual and cultural destiny has reawakened a part of my spirit that had been longing to express itself.”
THE SEPHARDIM / CRYPTO JEWS / CONVERSOS
For thousands of years, driven by war and repression, the original Semitic Jews traveled westward from the Holy Land and settled throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa and Southern Europe. In Spain, for over one thousand years, these Sephardic Jews enjoyed a Golden Age until the Spanish Inquisition forced them to flee in 1492, leaving behind a legacy: the basis of Spanish culture, music, language and architecture created by the Jews, the Moors and the Gypsies. Some of these Jewish exiles joined Jewish communities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, others journeyed West to the New World. They took their music and language, Ladino, with them. The descendants of these migrating Jews can be found in the many Sephardic Jewish communities and Converso (converted) and Crypto Jewish families throughout Latin America and the American Southwest."Crypto Jews" is a term used to describe those "hidden" Jews, who, for survival's sake, needed to hide their heritage. Today a movement is emerging of Crypto Jews, especially in the US Southwest, wanting to explore their Sephardic Jewish background and sometimes integrate it with their Indo-American heritage.
The Spanish Jewish families who had escaped the Inquisition and sailed to Mexico in the early 1500s had found the Inquisition again pursuing them as it reached its height in Mexico in 1596. A number of these families decided to journey north to ‘Nuevo México’ in search of safety and obscurity in this harsh, sparsely populated and isolated land where they established villages, mixed with the Catholic settlers and slowly left behind, at least outwardly, their ancient Jewish customs. Today, evidence of this Jewish presence can be found in many places in New Mexico, including the names of many of the New Mexican families, the Stars of David which adorn some tombstones, memories of Friday candle-lighting and other old Jewish customs, and the particular Spanish spoken in the area with its connection to Ladino, the ancient Spanish of the Sephardim.
THE BALANCE OF THE KABBALISTIC HEART
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Consuelo offers two programs (lecture & music) about the Crypto Jews and Jewish Mysticism through the New Mexico Humanities Council (NMHC) Chautauqua Program :
REBECA ROMERO DE ESPINOSA,
17th CENTURY HIDDEN JEW
(Click on workshop titles for more info)
Concert / Power Point Lecture (2 hours)
The history of the Crypto Jews told as a mystical journey through the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
With Sephardic and original songs and visuals.
(Click on workshop title for more info)
Explore the meaning and power of the Hebrew letters and their relationship to the Sefirot of the Tree of Life
and to the sounds we utter.
“A shining star in the firmament of Sephardic music”
- David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal
Consuelo weaves into her Sephardic Jewish music performances Crypto Jewish history, mystical wisdom from the Spanish Medieval Kabbalah & personal stories of her journey from a Cuban-Chilean Catholic upbringing to a new life in New Mexico where she found a deeper, unexpected meaning in her Jewish roots.
she continued adapting ancient Ladino Jewish prayers and ballads from Spain, the Mediterranean and the Middle East into a passionate marriage of Jewish and Latin soul.
In her concerts which focus on Ladino music Consuelo shares her exploration of her Converso Jewish background after many generations of assimilation by her Chilean family and compares her experience with that of the Crypto Jews of New Mexico. With her multicultural influences she creates a loving synthesis of her ancestry which includes Sephardic Jew, Spanish Basque, South American & Mapuche Indian, reflecting the Crypto Jewish journey and making her presentation a unifying, inclusive and inspiring experience.
Consuelo was a cantorial soloist of Sephardic sacred music at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for fifteen years and then at Congregation Ha Makom in Santa Fe.