ZIMAA’R II, 2003-2009, for female voice, clarinet, harp (with percussion), violin, viola, and 'cello

Publisher: Israel Music Institute, 2003-2009, IMI 9754-I | Duration: 9 min.

”Due to my background, I have been engaged for quite a long time in investigating the various musical languages of the Mediterranean area. I have chiefly been fascinated by the influence that different cultures exercised on these languages over the years, and by the exchanges that took place between the religious and lay spheres within the same culture.

During the Middle ages Sephardi Jews were influenced in their poetry and song by the epic, knightly literature and the troubadour songs or cansos on the one hand, and by Arab-Moresque music on the other. Later, during their wanderings after the expulsion from Spain, the Jews adopted characteristics of the populations they happened to live with, to the extent that a song that originated in Spain may have developed and become totally different. Today, the same song, sung by two different singers, whose families traveled along different routes over the centuries, may be quite unrecognizable.

In my work, ”Zimaa'r” (Arabic for song-poetry), I have made use of, and at times quoted, troubadour cansos, Sephardi ballads and romances from the Mediterranean basin. Naturally, the material I used in my compositions is assimilated, elaborated and often transformed, by living, studying and listening to the voices of this century which make up my milieu. I have also tried, as far as possible, to underline the subtle, mysterious links that have enabled so many different elements to metamorphose and blend together.”


Betty Olivero


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