Jagoda and Friends
By Joan Reinthaler
The Washington Post
Tuesday, October 21, 2003, p. C04
When the Jews fled Spain and scattered to Morocco and Eastern Europe in
the 15th century, they took their music with them. Flory Jagoda is one
of the preservers of the Sephardic tradition, songs that combine the colors
of the Spanish folk tradition with the soul and ecstatic quality of Jewish
music. She and a group of all-star "friends" brought a nostalgic
and haunting program of traditional and recently composed music to the
University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center on Sunday. The friends were
Tina Chancey and Scott Reiss, founding members of the early-music group
Hesperus; lutenist-guitarist Howard Bass; tenor-guitarist Ramon Tasat;
and Jagoda's daughter, Lori Jagoda-Lowell, Susan Feltman Gaeta and Betsy
Cary, who sang and played guitar and percussion.
Jagoda, who composed six of the pieces on the program, wove stories of
her childhood in Bosnia and of the celebrations that occasioned some of
the music. She sang, played guitar and accordion and, in general, oversaw
everything that went on.
The performances were lovely, very much in the spirit of gentle and sympathetic
collaboration that characterizes the best in folk tradition. Chancey,
playing viol and recorder, and Reiss, on the recorder, ornamented lyrically.
Bass backed up everything with his usual delicate touch. Tasat's duets
with Jagoda were most intimate, as he tempered his voice to balance exquisitely
with hers, and the three young women contributed easygoing folk harmonization.