Music: From Jerusalem to Cordoba

I heard these folks tonight at Casa de Luz.
From the promo email:

Music, chants, and texts from Mediterranean sacred traditions.
A musical voyage through history and spirituality.
Catherine Braslavsky, chant, drum, dulcimer;
Joseph Rowe, texts, oud, drums, tampura, mbira, Tibetan bowls.
Hildegard of Bingen, Gregorian chant, Troubadours, Ibn Arabi, Yehuda Halevi,
Judeo-Spanish, and original compositions


  • Braslavsky’s beautiful voice
  • Musical illustration of cultural influences and differences in Christian, Arabic and Jewish songs from Andalusia
  • Cross-cultural themes of spiritual openness, in liturgical poetry by Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Arabi (Sufi)
  • Meditative atmosphere (also see not-as-good)


  • High seriousness. The performers strode onto the stage seriously, Rowe ringing a meditation bell. Rowe narrated the performance in * a * serious * performance * voice. There were Judeospanish and Arabic pieces that could have been celebratory. There were Sufi pieces that could have been done with more energy.
  • Western-european style. The vocals were beautiful, the instrumentals were fine accompaniment; they complemented the singer and created atmosphere without overshadowing the vocals. But the rhythms, phrasing, and tonality were westernized. This isn’t a big complaint because it sounded good, and because cultural purity is exactly beside the point.
  • Uniformly meditative pace. Her specialty is Gregorian chant; he’s studied with Hamza El Din, so it stands to reason.


  • The concert was held in a performance space of Casa de Luz, a local macrobiotic restaurant and community center. The average audience age was about 50; a central-Austin ex-hippie crowd. One can imagine such concerts being held at the estates of monarchs and nobles in Andalusia; this was good American pay-at-the-door democarcy.

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