3-Minute Interview: Jewish folk musician Howard Bass

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Local,Music,People,3-Minute Interview,April Burbank

Bass plays lute, guitar and percussion in Trio Sefardi, a group that performs traditional music from the Sephardim, a Jewish community that originated in Spain. The trio performed at the Hill Center on Sunday, with an emphasis on the music of Passover.

What prompted you to form this group to perform Sephardic music?

We've all played Sephardic music in various groups in the past. ... Susan [Gaeta] and I have played together a lot with Flory Jagoda, who is now nearing 90 years old and is from a Sephardic community that existed in the former Yugoslavia. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and she still performs ... We decided we wanted to form our own group to keep the tradition moving forward.

Do you see your work as trying to preserve Sephardic culture, or is it more about spreading awareness?

I think it's both. The three of us -- we're all Jewish, but we're not of the Sephardic culture -- I think there is a role for people like us who have come to know the music, and especially because we've come to know it firsthand through Flory, and we feel very strongly that it's a repertoire that people should continue to hear.

Is music a big portion of Passover traditions?

Passover is more of a holiday that's celebrated in the home with the Seder ... But there are certainly lots of songs that can be sung in the Passover service. ... This is not music that was really ever intended as concert music, per se. It was music that was very personal and made in the home.

How would you describe the music?

I would say that there's a simplicity to it -- straightforward, like American folk music. These are songs that came from ordinary people who sang as an expression of their life and of their culture. ... It was a way of telling stories, of teaching, of keeping history alive.

- April Burbank

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April Burbank

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