New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival (2009)
Fiestaremos! presents the inspiring work of musician Judy Frankel. The film explores Frankel’s dedication to preserving Sephardic music and songs. Interviews with Frankel, musical excerpts and performances offer an intimate look at one of the leading collectors and practitioners of Sephardic folk music. Frankel traveled the world seeking out songs from the Sephardic tradition. In one particularly moving scene, she reads a poem written by a man from Sarajevo and then transforms it into music. Frankel’s work—uncovering, recording, transcribing and performing as many Sephardic folk songs as she could find— played a vital role in preserving a history and tradition that would otherwise have been lost to future generations. Frankel died shortly after the completion of this film.
Judy Frankel (1942-2008) was an internationally renowned recording and performing artist known for her interpretations of Sephardic songs, most of which she learned in the 500-year old oral tradition from Jewish descendants of 15th-century Spain and Portugal. She has been credited with saving and preserving a substantial amount of the Sephardic music tradition.
Frankel studied theory at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, guitar at The Berklee School of Music (Boston) and medieval music at Harvard University. She graduated from Boston University. In the 1960s, she began including Sephardic folk songs at performances at coffee houses in Cambridge and Boston and later in San Francisco where she incorporated more of this oral tradition into her musical repertoire.
Frankel, who performed in 20 different languages, sang with the Handel and Haydn Choral Society of Boston, U.C. Berkeley Collegium Musicum and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. She was also a vocal soloist for the San Francisco Consort, a medieval-renaissance ensemble.
In the 1990s, Frankel visited the Crypto-Jews of Portugal and learned from them the prayers they have been singing for five centuries. She also met with many of the Hidden Jews of the southwestern United States. Members of both communities believe they are descendents of the 15th-Century Iberian Peninsula Jews.
Frankel gave lecture-concerts on the history and music of Sephardim, conducted workshops in Judeo-Spanish song, and performed concerts using her vast Sephardic repertoire. She was featured in numerous film and videos about Sephardic culture, as well as on several Jewish and world music albums. She performed extensively in the United States, Canada, Cuba, France, Spain, Portugal, and Eastern Europe.
DIRECTOR KATHLEEN REGAN
Kate Regan is a professor of Spanish at the University of Portland. She has received national, regional and local awards for excellence in teaching, including the Faculty of the Year Award from the University of Portland. In 2000 she was the recipient of the prestigious Carnegie / CASE Foundation U.S. Professor of the Year Award. Regan conducts extensive research in a number of areas, including Sephardic culture of Medieval Spain, gender and cross-dressing in the Spanish Comedia, women writers of the Spanish Golden Age and Spanish cinema.
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Judy Frankel and the Sephardic Music Tradition
USA, 2008, 30 minutes, color
English with songs in Ladino
Director: Kathleen Regan
Public Exhibition formats:DigiBeta, DVD