American born, classically trained Sarah Aroeste draws inspiration from her family's Sephardic roots in Greece and Macedonia. She writes and sings in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish dialect that originated by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Those who left Spain, including Aroeste's family, carried the medieval language with them to the various points where they later settled, primarily along the Mediterranean coast and North Africa. In time, Ladino came to absorb bits and pieces of languages, including some Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Hebrew, and more. While the spoken language is fading away, the musical legacy of Ladino continues.
Ora de Despertar (Time to Wake Up) is Aroeste's first all-original Ladino children's album. Here, she's supported by a stellar group of musicians, including renowned Israeli composer and producer Shai Bachar. These lighthearted songs celebrate the simple joys of childhood, including the ebullient opening title track. Other tunes pay tribute to "Las Komidas," ("Mealtimes"), family in "Mi Famiya," as well as saluting many different forms of greetings in "Salidos."
Highlights include, "Kualo Teines?" ("What's Wrong?"), a sweet reassuring lullaby, "Las manos" ("Hands") a silly and fun cataloging of body parts and their uses, and "Kuantos Animales" ("How Many Animals") a joyful counting song, where children also make the sounds of the animals mentioned. "If I Were the Sky" or "Si Yo Era El Sielo" is a whimsical song about the colors and sounds of nature, and "Komo Vas A Ser?" ("How Will You Be") is a beautiful mother's prayer for her child's future. The album concludes with a short, sweet giggle track "La riza," before segueing into a touching goodnight lullaby/march "Nochada Buena," where a child stalls bedtime while she declare all the things she will miss while asleep.
Although speaking Ladino is not necessary to enjoy Ora de Despertar, familiarity with Spanish-based languages adds an extra layer of depth when listening to songs sung in an oral tradition that spans centuries, and crosses many geographic boundaries.
Lahri Bond ©2016 Parents' Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.