ANDOVER — Growing up in Israel, Idan Irelander said he was fascinated by the music and culture of the Sephardic Jews from Spain, Portugal, Africa, and the Middle East which played on the radio and synagogues.
”It was songs that kept playing in my head because it’s the most popular one because it reminds people of where they grew up and the traditions of where they came from,”
”They incorporate their local music idioms and instrument to the liturgical context, adding an element of folk music to our already rich musical tradition,” he said.
Irelander, a cantor since 2009, did not want that musical genre to be disappear among the Jewish diaspora .
He recently produced a CD titled, “Sephardic Shabbat Unplugged – A Journey into the Music of the Sephardic Tradition” which explores the diversity of the music of the Sephardic Jewry of Yemen, Turkey, Israel, Tetuan, Morocco, Algeria and Ladino.
Irelander, cantor at Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, used the Friday night sabbath services and composed original arrangements for familiar prayers and songs using the ancient instruments which Sephardic music is based on such as oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument known for its smaller neck. The baglama saz, which is similar to the Western lute has a deep round back and longer neck. as well as Iranian and Turkish folk instruments.
Among the prayers Irelander composed include Sh’ma, meaning, “Hear O Israel”; Shalom Aleichem, a traditional song sung at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath and L’cha Dodi , which translates to “Come my Beloved,” a Jewish liturgical song sang at sundown to welcome the Sabbath.
Irelander was accompanied by the Ahavat Olam” (“World Love”) ensemble, a seven-member group of musicians from Jordan, Iran, Syria, Palestine, America, Iran, and Israel.
The CD’s cover features a “Hamsa” which depicts an open right hand with three middle fingers extended, a curved thumb or pinky finger. The talisman has several symbols including fish, horse shoes and eyes. Irelander said represents the hand of God as well as good luck.
The CD is a result of a concert Irelander, and the ensemble hosted at the temple in 2011.
“As a cantor, it was an obligation for me to record this music,” Irelander said. “I wanted to create something that would last forever. If we had not done it, it would disappear, so it has a higher value.”
Irelander said it was difficult finding information about Sephardic music because most of it was passed down through oral history. He attended liturgies at different synagogues
He also learned to play the folk instruments so he could compose his own arrangements using original instrumentation and melodies.
Born in Netanya, Israel, Irelander came to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he earned a bachelor’s degree in film scoring and classical compossion in 2001. He also has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Newton and was ordained a cantor at the school.
Irelander said becoming a cantor was natural progression for him. He was a song leader at synagogue and his mother was a Bible and Hebrew literature teacher.
For more information and to listen to sample tracks, please visit www.irelandermusic.com. The CD is available for purchase at CDbaby.com, itunes.com, Amazon.com and irelandermusic.com.
:Abundant Grace, 127 Rockingham Road, Derry: Christian Coffee House, March 29, 7 p.m., featuring Christian music, open mic sessions and Christian comedy.
All Saints, 120 Bellevue Ave., Haverhill: St. Anthony spring devotion begins March 12 at 6 p.m. with Rosary, followed by devotion.
:Ballard Vale United, 23 Clark Road, Andover: The series “Immigration and the Bible: A Guide for Radical Welcome,” Sundays 9 a.m. through March 24. The Lenten study looks at the stories of immigrants and migration from Abraham and Sarah in Genesis to the Israelites who wondered in the desert for 40 years and Jesus who immigrated to Egypt as a baby.
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: Lenten lectionary based bible study Sundays 9 to 9:45 through Palm Sunday. Members discuss “The Rich and the Rest of Us” Tuesdays in Lent at 6:30 p.m. Carolyn Cuozzo leads an overview of the Cathechesis of the Good Shepherd program, March 11, 7:30 to 9 p.m. The chatechesis is the basis of the Christian education program at the church. She speaks part of the church’s Women’s Group.
Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: Midweek worship services will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and March 19. A soup and sandwich lunch follows. Pastor Marsha Heydenreich leads a Bible study group on “The Old Testament in Matthew,” Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
First-Calvary Baptist, 586 Massachusetts Ave., North Andover: Ecumenical service March 13 at noon, sponsored by Communities Together. Participants are asked to bring diapers, pull-ups and children’s underwear of all sizes donate to serve 10 social service agencies through Communities Together.
Mary Queen of Peace of Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish, 200 Lawrence St., Salem: Lenten Mission, Monday through Thursday after the 6:30 p.m. Mass. Penance service tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover: Jesuit priest, Francis X. Clooney, the world’s leading expert on the Hindu-Christian Encounter speaks on the subject Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Cascia Hall. Clooney is professor of Divinity and of Comparative Theology as well as director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at the Harvard Divinity School.
Sacred Hearts, South Main Street, Bradford: Mary Ellen Driscoll and Betty Desjardins lead an evening of prayer, reflection and song based on the prodigal son, Tuesday at 7 p.m. The topic of the Catholicism video Thursday 6:30 to 8 p.m. is “The Last Things.”
St. Augustine, 34 Essex St., Andover: Evening prayer using the liturgy of the hours begins Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. through May 15. Catholicism series explores “World without End,” March 20 at 7 p.m. Tom Reynolds presents slides of the Holy Land, March 21 at 7 p.m.
St. Basil Salvatorian Center, 30 East St., Methuen: Tickets to the reverse raffle and dinner are available for $100. Drawing will be held April 17 at 6 p.m., and only 250 tickets will be sold. Grand prize is $5,000. Each ticket admits two people to a stuffed chicken dinner.
St. James Episcopal, 119 Washington St., Groveland: The parish hosts a progressive Lenten service with the five Episcopal churches in the Merrimack Valley, Wednesday at 6 p.m. Program include soup and bread supper, Lenten theme program reflecting the character and culture of the parish.
St. James, Winter Street, Haverhill: The parish hosts a Passover meal March 12 at 7 p.m. Participants can experience the rituals Jesus shared with his disciples on Holy Thursday and the day he instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. To register, call 978-372-8537 or email Sister Rosa at firstname.lastname@example.org. City wide youth Mass is March 17 at 5 p.m. Reception follows.
St. Joseph of St. Mary and Joseph Parish, 33 Main St., Salem: The Rev. John Michalowski leads a workshop on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius now through June. Participants will pray 45 to 60 minutes a day over the assigned scripture passages or meditations from Ignatius’ exercises, then write their experience in a journal. The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, continues Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter. Lent in story and song is performed March 22 at 7 p.m.
St. Joseph Cathedral, 145 Lowell St., Manchester: Bishop Peter Libasci preaches on the spiritual works of mercy during the Lenten mission March 13 and 20 at 7 p.m.
St. Lucy, 254 Merrimack St., Methuen: Stations of the Cross Fridays at 5:30 p.m. followed by soup or pizza.
St. Luke the Evangelist, Newton: Lenten evening prayer is sung Sundays at 6 p.m. follow by reflection and reconciliation.
St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: Lenten mission looks at the history of conversion from different Biblical characters March 15. This week, is the woman at the well. Program starts with stations of the Cross at 5:30 p.m. followed by a soup supper and video presentation, reflection, questions and discussion.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: The St. Patrick Family Players of Watertown perform “Resurrection: My Name is Peter and this is my Story,” tonight at 7:30 p.m.
St. Monica, 212 Lawrence St., Methuen: The Rev. Peter Grover, director of St. Clement Eucharistic Center in Boston leads a Lenten reflection March 11 after the 7 p.m. Mass. Latin Mass is celebrated Wednesday at 7 p.m. Al Righini leads a presentation on the Shroud of Turin March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: Family Faith formation meets tomorrow after the 9 a.m. Mass. Breakout session follows for adults, students and children. “Life and Light” adult faith formation series discusses the Sacrament of Holy Orders, March 14, 7-8:30 p.m. “Living Holy Week,” is the theme of the Lenten evening of reflection March 21 at 7 p.m.
St. Paul Episcopal, Main St., North Andover: The Women’s Book group reads “Mary Magdalene” by Diana Wallis Taylor, March 21 at 7 p.m.
St. Robert Bellarmine, 198 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Mini retreat focusing on the theme and passages the Easter vigil Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m.
St. Theresa of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, 22 Plymouth St., Methuen: Tom Gradzewicz presents, “Faces in the Crowd,” the third installment in the documentary series on the Strike of 1912, Monday at noon. Part of the luncheon speaker series. “Perfect Love” a performance of monologues and music looking at the Passion of Christ through the eyes of Mary is presented March 15, 22 at 7:30 p.m. and March 24 at 3 and 6 p.m. The parish’s Women’s Group meets March 19 at 7 p.m. to discuss chapter 7 in “Living as a Belovd Daughter of God.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, 26 Crystal Ave., Derry: The reverends Bruce Czapla, Chris Gaffrey and Roger Croteau are available for reconciliation March 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
South Church, 41 Central St., Andover: The Rev. Sarah Drummond is guest preacher during seminary Sunday March 17 at 10:30 a.m. She is dean of the faculty and vice president for Academic Affairs at Andover Newton Theological School. “Stainer’s Crucifixion” music and worship service featuring the choirs of South Church, West Parish and Christ Church, March 29 at 7 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St., Haverhill: Lisa Berenson of the Jewish Cemeteries Association of Massachusetts presents a slide show and speaks on the Jewish community along the River Mystic, tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Bible study class discussing issues concerning Israel and the Middle East, March 16 at noon. Tot shabbat is celebrated March 15 at 6 p.m.
Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover: Singer, songwriter and guitarist Stan Boothby shares a program entitled, ““His Song is with Me.” tomorrow at the 10 a.m. worship. The program features solos, small ensembles and the Church Choir. Renee Rivers, music director at Trinitarian Church performs the music of Mozart, Handel and Rachmaninova during a piano recital March 17 at 2 p.m. Pastor Rich Knight leads a Lenten Book Club on “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” by Dr. Eben Alexander, Wednesdays during Lent at 10 a.m. or 7 p.m.
Universalist Unitarian, 15, Kenoza Ave., Haverhill:
West Parish, 129 Reservation Road, Andover: Jazz pianist and vocalist Carolyn Wilkins performs a Lenten jazz service tomorrow. Irish singer Brian Corcoran sings songs and tells stories tomorrow at 2 p.m.