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Pozez lecturer to include Sephardic songs

The Shaol Pozez Memorial Lectureship Series will present a unique event on Monday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Susan Gaeta will meld a talk and performance in “A Sephardic Musical Journey.”

Gaeta’s first solo CD, “From Her Nona’s Drawer” (2009), features traditional Sephardic ballads and love songs, as well as music and lyrics composed by her mentor, acclaimed Bosnian Sephardic singer Flory Jagoda.

In 2002, Jagoda selected Gaeta to be her apprentice and learn songs that had been in Jagoda’s family for generations. “I had been singing with Flory for several years, but our formal master-apprentice relationship deepened my understanding of this unique music and my dedication to preserve it for future generations,” says Gaeta.

Sephardic music originated among Jews in pre-medieval Spain and retains a strong Spanish flavor. When Spanish Jews were forced into exile in the 15th century, the music picked up influences from the places to which they gravitated, such as Portugal, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece.

Gaeta sees herself as a creative bridge between traditional Sephardic mu­sic and its modern future.

“I’m very excited to be interpreting these age-old tunes for a new generation,” she says. “Not only are they beautiful songs, but in many ways, they serve as the oral history of Sephardic Jews.”

The Shaol Pozez Memorial Lectureship Series is sponsored by The Pozez Family Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, the University of Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, the JCC, the Marriott Tucson University Park and a Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona compelling needs grant.

Susan Gaeta