Monday, May 16, 2016
Music from Andalusia
Photos: May 15, 2016
We attended a concert of secular music of around the fifteenth century from Andalusia which featured three local music groups. Each performed music from a different cultural group (or at least from the three cultures that co-existed there until the end of the fifteenth century). One Equall Musick performed Spanish songs accompanied by lute and recorder.
The instrument above is a qanun (a kind of dulcimer). It is found in the Middle East, Central Asia and southeastern Europe. It is played by plucking the strings. The player wore picks on his thumbs - amazing how quickly he could pluck using just his thumbs. He was part of Lamia Yared's group which performed Arabic songs. The arabs had been in Spain, in Al-Andalus, from the early 8th century until they were driven out at the end of the 15th century in 1492 (familiar date?) by Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon.
Another group of people that lived in Spain from about the sixth century were the Sephardic Jews. Their music reflects both their own heritage as well as the Arabic and Spanish influences. The oud (above right) was used in both Arabic and Sephardic music. The group ESEM (Ensemble Sépharade et Méditerranéen) performed the Sephardic pieces. The Jews were also expelled from Spain in 1492. Any who remained had to convert to Christianity and many still faced persecution for not being Catholic enough.
Music brings people together - three cultures sharing one concert, groups sharing musicians with other groups. An evening of shared pleasure - the opposite of the conflicts that appear elsewhere.