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.