London Sephardi Music
Recordings of the liturgical music of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London | By Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, former Visiting Rabbi of Bevis Marks Synagogue
IMPORTANT: This site has just been converted from the Classic Google Sites to the New Google Sites. It is known that some content has been lost in the process (for example tables) and other content has been rearranged haphazardly. It is hoped that over the next few weeks these errors and omissions will be fixed. [23 July 2018]
The musical tradition of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community of London is to my mind exceptionally beautiful. It is distinctly Sephardi yet also distinctly Western - even English. Parts of it vaguely recall Gregorian Chant and the modes of non-Western music; others are clearly influenced by the Italian Baroque, and all of it is sensitive to the liturgy it interprets, refined, elegant, and understated.
One of the things that immediately impresses people who attend an S&P service for the first time is that there are no excessively ornamented or "operatic" recitatives by the hazzan (reader). Most of the music has a sweet simplicity, and the choir and reader lead the congregation rather than taking front stage themselves. For more about the historical background of the tradition, see the About S&P Music page.
Except where indicated by a code, all recordings are by me. They have no pretensions to perfection, having been made at home (frequently at the end of a long day) using my computer's built in microphone, employing the principle that I don't go back and re-record unless there's an actual error. It just seems to me more useful to get as much of it as possible online in the limited time I have available to do this.
This site, though already quite comprehensive, is still a work in progress, and new recordings are added fairly frequently.
A companion website dealing with the customs of the S&P, in its initial stages of construction.
Texts, analysis and recordings of a wide range of Jewish Pizmonim (table songs), both Sephardi and Ashkenazi.
A blog of Jewish, and particularly Western Sephardi interest.