Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Memories of Spain

Last Thursday evening there was a musical performance in Ra'anana entitled "Memories of Spain" sponsored by Casa Shalom, the Institute of Marrano-Anusim Studies.  It took place in the home of Mel Corin and his family, a magnificent house with a beautiful garden with a swimming pool.  Mel is a contemporary artist who paints colorful abstracts that were on display during the evening (his website is www.melcorin.com).  We sat around the pool on a flawless evening and after feasting on tapas and sangria listened to a performance on the viola da gamba played by Myrna Herzog, who runs the Phoenix Early Music Ensemble (her website is www.phoenixearlymusic.com).
Myrna is an internationally recognized virtuoso on the viola da gamba, that is not widely played now, but has a beautiful mellow tone.  It has 7 strings as opposed to the 4 strings on the modern string instruments of violin and cello, and comes somewhere between them in tone (gamba means legs).  Myrna played pieces from the earliest Spanish songs of the15th century to a contemporary Japanese composer Sun-ichi Tokura and ended with renderings of Bach.  It was a unique experience.  Myrna Herzog played for free and Mel Corin graciously donated his home free of charge.  This enabled Casa Shalom to reap the benefit of the evening.
Myrna pointed out that the viola da gamba travelled contemporaneously with the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492 and many of its exponents were Jews.  King Henry VIII when he wanted to expand the musical capabilities of his court imported into England 6 Sephardic Jews who played the viola da gamba.
Neil Davis planned the evening on the suggestion of Danby Meital and Adina Moryosef of Casa Shalom organized the event.  Neil then introduced Gloria Mound, the Executive Director of Casa Shalom, who spoke briefly about the aims and activities of Casa Shalom (www.casa-shalom.com) and invited everyone who has not yet been to visit the library of the Intl. Inst. for the Study of Secret Jews (Anusim) at Netanya Academic College, where she has her office.  This houses the library consisting of 2,500 books and 5,000 mss. that she and her late husband Leslie (z"l) collected over 40 years and is regarded as the best library on the subject of the Anusim in the world.  Altogether a memorable evening.


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