Ruth Yaakov / Shaatnez
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cd cover Ruth Yaakov Ensemble
Shaatnez: Sephardic Songs of the Balkans


Juan Carlos Sungurlian - Du, Bouzouki, Saz
Levent Tarhan - Perkussion
Ruth Yaakov - Vocals
Shkelzen Doli - Violin, accordion

Biography Ruth Yaakov was born in Israel. She received a musical education in singing studies at the well known Rubin Academy of Musics in Tel Aviv. With a repertoire of genres as there are opera, song and Sephardic chambermusic she has already performed on many famous stages in Europe and all over the world. She studied classical singing in Israel, USA and Europe with teachers like Nathania Dovrat, Virginia Zeani, Kathleen Kaun and Roberta Knie. During her studies she worked with original Sephardic singers, who teached her in style and repertoire of sephardic traditional songs. At the international Styrian Autumn Festival she gave the first performance of Zbginiew Bargielski's "Niemandsland" and was part of TV and Radio productions in Europe and North America. In addition she leads workshops in Israelite and Jewish music and dancing. The Ruth Yaakov Ensemble, founded in 1993 and named after its Israeli lead singer, is backed by the Albanian violinist and accordionist Shkëlzen Doli, Turkish percussionist Levent Tarhan, and Armenian- Uruguayan lutist Juan Carlos Sungurlian (on saz, oud and bouzouki).

Juan Carlos Sungurlian was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. His family originally came from Turkey. Juan Carlos studied in Uruguay with Roberto Giordano and in Argentina with Ricardo Lew. In Taverns in Buenos Aires he played Armenian, Greek, Turkish and Arabian music. He accompanied the Armenian singer Arturo Kouyoumdjian and conducted the Armenian Folk Ensemble in Montevideo. He toured in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina with the "Golden Jazz Band" and "Bafo da Onca".

Shkelzen Doli was born in Elbasen, Albania, later he moved to the Kosovo. In 1980 he began to play the violin. From 1987 up to 1991 he studied at the music school in Novi Sad with Evgenia Tschougajewa as teacher. In 1989 he won the first prize at the (ex-) Yugoslavian youth music contest in Sarajevo. In 1992 he started his music studies at "Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst" in Vienna. Since 1995 he plays with the Vienna Symphoniker.

Levent Tarhan was born in Turkey and is a percussionist. After his studies of Graphic Arts he started to draw for the Vienna press. He is member of music groups like "Lakis & Achwach", "Art Work Trio", "Medieval Noise Band", "Yuko Gulda Quartett", "Wiener Tschuschenkapelle", "FO Theater", "Theaterwerkstatt Wien", "Turquoise","Jatinder Thakur Ensemble","Ziryab","World Music Orchestra" and "Elibal Trio". He also composed the music for now four theatre pieces and plays with the Ruth Yaakov Ensemble since 1996.

"The Ruth Yaakov Ensemble, named after its Israeli lead singer, is backed by Albanian violinist and accordionist Shkëlzen Doli, Turkish percussionist Levent Tarhan, and Armenian-Uruguayan lutist Juan Carlos Sungurlian (on saz, oud and bouzouki). Reflecting the cultural mix of the musicians and their music, the album title is ironic: Shaatnez is a derogatory Hebrew term for the combining of things that do not belong together. Yaakov brings a wanton vocal intensity to the music, tastefully interweaving lyrical, melodic and instrumental traditions from Israel, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia and medieval Spain. Singing in the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish or Sephardic) language, Yaakov projects a knowing melancholy, a world-weary vocal edge that draws the listener in, coursing through a spare instrumental exploration of Turkish and Arab-Andalusian modes whose hovering lyrics contest the religious censure of Sephardic women's earthly passions throughout diaspora time and space. This is an essential title for those attentive to contemporary interpretations of a cardinal influence in pan-Mediterranean musical traditions." - Michael Stone, RootsWorld

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