Sephardic Singer Comes to the 5Cs

Sarah Aroeste is one of very few artists today who actually writes and sings her own music in Ladino, the 500-year-old Judeo-Spanish dialect spoken by Sephardic Jews.

Claremont Hillel chose to bring Aroeste to campus because of her connections to the past.

“We brought her to campus not only to give students a chance to listen to her beautiful music, but also to remind them how important it is to maintain connections with their heritage,” Hillel member Alicia Mizes PO ’16 said.

Aroeste, an international Ladino singer inspired by her family’s Sephardic roots in Greece and Macedonia, travels around the world fusing contemporary and 15th century Ladino folk songs with her original assortment of rock, funk, jazz, and blues. Unfortunately, this exotic pan-Mediterranean language is becoming rather obsolete. Thus, Aroeste has been working tirelessly to revitalize Ladino music for a new generation, as she has helped transform it from its traditional style to a more mainstream rock style.

Aroeste has successfully energized the unfamiliar sounds of Ladino music by making it more accessible to international audiences outside of the Jewish world. Her songs deal with a wide array of universal themes such as family dynamics, first crushes, unrequited love, loss, searching for home, and going off to war. As a result, in the past decade, she has accumulated an impressive and loyal fan base across the globe and she has been featured in both national and international press. So far, she has released three studio-recorded albums: A la Una: In the Beginning (2003), Puertas (2007), and Gracia (2012). For her upcoming album, she has paired up with composer and producer Shai Bachar to further expand her music by using more elaborate instrumentation and stage production.

Aroeste will be coming to the Claremont Colleges to present “Ladino Rock Music and Conversation” by sharing her unique family history and her original work in the Ladino music field. Sponsored by Hillel, Chicano Latino Student Affairs (CLSA), Pomona Department of Music, and Pomona Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Aroeste’s event will take place on Thursday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. in Pitzer College’s Benson Auditorium.

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