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A world-class concert of Jewish music by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Sivan Rotem and Sally Pinkas

Six acclaimed international musicians will present a concert tomorrow evening, Friday, Dec. 10, featuring music from Sephardic, Yiddish and other Jewish musical traditions, called “Nefesh Jehudi: A musical journey through the Jewish Soul.” The concert will feature the Latin Grammy-award winning Cuarteto Latinoamericano, which is based in Mexico, Israeli soprano Sivan Rotem, and pianist Sally Pinkas, who was born in Israel but has lived in the Boston area for most of her adult life.

For the musicians, the connection to the music and to each other is personal.

“I grew up with many of these songs,” Sally Pinkas told KRWG's Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this Zoom interview. “In fact I burst out crying yesterday playing one of them for the first time, and hearing Sivan’s beautiful voice.”

Violinist Arón Bitrán and pianist Sally Pinkas on a Zoom interview.

Pinkas met and befriended two of the quartet’s musicians, brothers Arón (violin) and Álvaro (cello) Bitrán, when they were all students at Indiana University. Violinist Saúl Bitrán befriended Sivan Rotem when they studied together in Israel. The three Bitráns grew up in a musical family in Mexico and when they decided to form a professional quartet, they asked violist Javier Montiel to join them; next year, the quartet will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

“So this concert,” Arón Bitrán said in the interview, “came out of friendship. The idea that all of us being Jewish and knowing these traditions, this music, it made a lot of sense to try to put together a program with this repertoire. And we found fantastic music with all kinds of combinations,” adding that the concert will feature duos, trios, quartets and other groupings. “You will hear all sorts of combinations and different arrangements, some are in Yiddish, some are Sephardic, in Ladino. So it’s a very wide panorama of Jewish music from different centuries, and it’s lovely. We’re thrilled to be able to do this.”

During the month of December, the Branigan Cultural Center is featuring an exhibit focused on the history and music of Cuarteto Latinoamericano. The quartet will also give a talk at noon at the Branigan Library tomorrow (Dec. 10) about their history, in particular their commitment to playing Latin American composers and music.

The “Nefesh Jehudi” concert takes place at the Rio Grande Theatre at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. It’s free, but you have to register:


Listen to the whole interview here, including how legendary teachers inspired Bitran and Pinkas, such as Joseph Gingold, Janos Starker, George Sebok, and others from the renowned Indiana University faculty.

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