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Sephardic Legacy Presented by the Ladino Project—A Night of Music and Dance

Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 │6:30–8pm

ADMISSION: $15 Member; $20 general; $25 at the door

Sephardic Legacy explores women’s oral song tradition and stories of women’s lives through folk music influenced by the Sephardi and Spanish diaspora. Presented by The Ladino Project with acclaimed vocalist Rachel Valfer and internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Miriam Peretz, with Eliyahu Sills (Ney & Bass), Dan Cantrell (Accordion), and Faisal Zedan (Arabic percussion), this evening of story, song, and dance weaves together the traditional and contemporary with music and songs from North Africa and the Balkans to Yemen and even Central Asia. Learn more at

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about the performerS
Miriam Peretz

Miriam Peretz is an internationally celebrated dance instructor and performer whose signature dance style has spread across continents through her international dance collective Nava, and through the intensive training’s she offers worldwide. Miriam’s format draws heavily on sacred dances from around the world, Central Asian dance, devotional Sufi whirling and ritual. Her movement quality and aesthetics also incorporate her years of martial arts training, contemporary dance, Flamenco, and many other world dance forms. As a performing artist Miriam is most interested in blurring the lines between audience and performer, creating ritualistic dance art, and working with cross cultural, cross religious and devotional themes. 

Peretz has been a principal dancer with Inbal Ethnic Dance Theater (Tel Aviv,) Wan Chao Chang Dance Company (Bay Area,) Aywah (Bay Area) and served as assistant artistic director of Ballet Afsaneh (Bay Area) for five years. She was principal dancer, choreographer, and lead instructor with Ballet Afsaneh for over a decade, and has been a featured soloist in festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe, including the acclaimed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Miriam has performed with many master musicians including; Amir Shahsar, Pezhham Akhavass, Abbos Kosimov, Efren Lopez, Habib Qaderi, and Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara. She holds a B.A. in performing arts with a dance emphasis from Saint Mary’s College of California, and is a certified Pilates instructor.

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Rachel Valfer

Rachel Valfer is a passionate vocalist and oudist (Middle Eastern lute) who brings depth of feeling to every song. Born to a family of esteemed musicians, she began studying music at the age of six. Upon arriving in Israel/ Palestine, Valfer studied maqam and Persian dastgah modal systems for six years at the Center for Middle Eastern Music Studies, with masters such as Eyhab Nimir, Piris Eliyahu and Shlomo Takhalov. Over the years Valfer has performed with many ensembles in the Bay Area, California, and toured the country with the Qadim Ensemble. With vocals touted as "succulent" by NPR, and dubbed "the golden throated one” by fans, Valfer is known both here in the Bay Area as well as in the Middle East for her authenticity in representing the vocal traditions, from cultures spanning Central Asia, the Balkans, Caucauses, Greece/Turkey and the Levant.  She is known for keeping the beautiful Ladino song tradition alive and evolving.

Eliyahu Sills

Known for his authenticity and soulful musicianship, Eliyahu Sills has been performing music for over twenty years on multiple instruments, including bansuri (the bamboo flute of India), Turkish and Arabic ney (the reed flute of the Middle East), upright bass and electric bass. He performs throughout the country with his critically acclaimed band, The Qadim Ensemble, whose CD reached #7 on Billboard's World Music charts, as well as collaborating with many highly acclaimed musicians. His new band, BOLO has already received rave reviews in several jazz and ethnic music magazines.

Sills  studied for over ten years with the Hindaustani bansuri flute master G.S.Sachdev, one of the world’s most highly esteemed musicians in that ancient tradition. In Istanbul, Turkey, he studied with Neyzen Omer Erdogdular and Neyzen Ahmet Kaya, in Morocco with Akdii Abdelsalaam, and in Israel with Itamar Shachar. Learn more at

Faisal Zedan

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Oum Dbaib, Syria, Faisal Zedan began his study of the Derbakki at the age of 15, through exposure to a wide repertoire of Arabic classical and folk music. Arriving in California in 1992, Zedan met UCLA’s noted ethnomusicology professor Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and joined the acclaimed UCLA Near East Music Ensemble. A great love of drumming and years of practice resulted in a mastery of Arabic percussion instruments including Derbakki, Dahullah, Riq and Def. Zedan has worked with a diverse array of musicians including Khaleel Shaheed, Yuval Ron, Salim Sesler, Faruk Taqbilek, Hasan Iskul, Yair Dalal, Eliyahu Sills and Rumen Shopov.

Zedan’s playing embodies the elements essential to Arabic drumming combined with a deep understanding of complex Arabic musical structures. From the classical Muwashahat and Adwar style, to folkloric traditions, to belly dance, Zedan is studied and nuanced in his solo, ensemble, and accompaniment playing. As a master percussionist, Zedan studies and performs various Arabic styles of music and drumming, from Moroccan to Iraqi, including music of the Arab peninsula and Yemen. He is versed and adept in Middle Eastern and Eastern European musical traditions, moving fluently between Turkish, Armenian, Persian, Afghan, Balkan and Greek rhythms. Zedan’s unique approach to percussion is strongly rooted in the fundamentals of technique and cadence, with dexterity for incorporating a contemporary feel and creating new, nuanced compositions. Learn more at

Dan Cantrell

Dan Cantrell is an award-winning composer known for his innovative and evocative film and theatre scoring approach, as well as his virtuosic playing abilities on the accordion, piano and musical saw. He holds a BFA degree from CalArts where he majored in Composition and Piano performance. Cantrell is a self-taught master of the accordion, excelling at Balkan, Romani, Eastern European, and Klezmer styles.   In recent years, Cantrell has performed and recorded with Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, Bono, Danny Elfman, members of the Klezmatics, and Fishbone. Cantrell’s broad ranging musical portfolio, including compositions for video games, cartoons, film, television, web broadcast, and self-produced albums can be heard on his website.


Public Programs are made possible by the Koret Foundation and The Al and Rosanne Levitt Fund for Public Programs.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is organized by The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and is curated by IMJ's Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life Associate Curator Efrat Assaf-Shapira. The Israel Museum’s curatorial team includes Curator in Charge Daisy Raccah-Djivre; Exhibition Curator Efrat Assaf-Shapira; Scientific Advisors No’am Bar’am Ben-Yossef and Esther Juhasz; Head of Traveling Exhibitions Sivan Eran-Levian and Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator Chandi Medad. Exhibition texts are based on the original 2014 Israel Museum exhibition Dress Codes: Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe and on The Jewish Wardrobe (edited by Esther Juhasz) published by the Israel Museum in 2012. The exhibition is organized at The CJM by Curator Heidi Rabben.

Lead Sponsorship in San Francisco is provided by the Koret Foundation, Gaia Fund, and Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt. Major Sponsorship is provided by The Bernard Osher Foundation and Dorothy R. Saxe. Patron Sponsorship is provided by Taube Philanthropies for Jewish Life and Culture and Suzanne and Elliott Felson. Supporting Sponsorship is provided by Judy and Robert Aptekar, Britex Fabrics, Dana Corvin and Harris Weinberg, Rosanne and Al Levitt, Siesel Maibach, Shelli Semler and Kyle Bach, Eta and Sass Somekh, Ellice Sperber, and the Ullman Family. Additional support is provided by an anonymous donor, David Agger, Morton and Amy Friedkin, Joy and Joel Kellman, Dr. Michael and Davida Rabbino, the Irving and Varda Rabin Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, Tzipi and Sam Tramiel, and Marilyn and Murry Waldman.

Generous support is provided by the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund of The Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Image Credit

Photos courtesy of The Qadim Ensemble.