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Sephardic Songstress Vanessa Paloma Appears in Daniel Recital Hall for Free Concert

Vanessa Paloma, a Sephardic songstress, appears in CSULB’s Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall for a free concert open to the public, on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Her performance of Ladino and Sephardic music begins at 7 p.m. A Los Angeles-based musician and a 2008-09 Hadassah Institute Fellow at Brandeis University, Paloma recently returned from Morocco, where she was a Senior Fulbright recipient researching Judeo-Spanish songs from Northern Morocco for their connection to liturgical poetry and kabbalistic practices. Her performances bring to life the musical traditions of the Sephardic Diaspora.

Paloma also speaks at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, in the Karl Anatol Center as part of a conference of the Grupo de Estudios Sobre la Mujer en España y las Américas Pre-1800 (GEMELA) titled “Cultural Crosscurrents: Women in Spain and the Americas” featuring more than 70 speakers from the United States, Latin America and Europe. She will speak on how women are depicted in the traditional songs of Iberia, known as “romances.”

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Paloma is active as a soloist, performance artist, and lecturer. She earned a Master of Music in Early Music performance at Indiana University, where she specialized in the music of medieval Spain. In the Old City of Jerusalem, she studied Jewish mysticism. She founded and co-directs Flor de Serena, a Judeo-Spanish ensemble, which performed recently at the International Association for Jewish Studies Conference, UC Berkeley, and at venues throughout Southern California.

She has written on women and medieval Hebrew mystical poetry. She leads workshops and gives classes on Jewish mysticism, Sephardic culture, and women’s religious expression. In 2007, she was invited to Porugal to perform, teach, and do research with Crypto-Jewish communities in Porto, Lisbon and Belmonte. Her recent projects focus on the connection between women, spirituality, and creativity and is writing a book on Ladino music as traditional women’s creative and spiritual expression.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, the Department of Romance, German, and Russian Languages and Literature (RGRLL) and the Department of Music, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and the College of the Arts at CSULB.

“Paloma is a dynamic performer who has an intriguing ability to engage her audience both in the musical beauty and the cultural meaning of the songs in her repertoire,” said Lisa Vollendorf, chair of RGRLL. “She is a scholar and a performer, and this combination was in full evidence in 2006 when she captivated the audience with her explanations of women’s songs and her subsequent performance of those songs as part of the Sephardic Colloquium that I co-organized with Jeffrey Blutinger in the Jewish Studies Program. Since her performance in 2006, she has expanded her repertoire substantially thanks to serious research on Sephardic history and a Fulbright experience in Morocco earlier this year.”

Parking is available in the Atherton Street parking lot adjacent to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Students will be available to direct concert-goers to the Daniel Recital Hall. For further information, please contact Arlene Lazarowitz, co-director, Jewish Studies Program, at 562/985-4423 or Vollendorf at 562/985-4322.