From: Toronto, Canada
Sounds Like: Spanish guitars in the Middle East
Spain is home to two very different traditions, one that’s thriving and one in exile. Spanish Flamenco, the spirited soundtrack to Spain’s romantic culture, seems to clash with the solemn tradition of Sephardic Judaism that was expelled from Spain centuries ago but has migrated around Europe.
Yet Tamar Ilana, lead singer of Ventanas, doesn’t think these two cultures should be separated anymore. “I have given up on purity,” laughs Ilana. “I draw on both the story and the emotion, infusing flamenco feeling into Sephardic stories and vice versa.”
Ventanas is a trans-Mediterranean ensemble that isn’t afraid to fuse these two very different musical styles that, depending on whom you talk to, shouldn’t even work together. The band is from Toronto, but Ilana grew up performing and embracing multiples styles and cultures in Spain, and Ilana’s specific love of the lively Flamenco rhythms and traditional Sephardic lyricism hits close to home, so much so that she and her band unites these styles together to create a dangerous mix of enlightenment and groove.
And as if Ventanas wasn’t already a strange mixture, the band also has an oud player and a violinist to help re-imagine traditional Spanish songs into a new and bold sounds. It’s a strange concept to think about – religious flamenco music – yet Ventanas somehow make it work.
The group’s new album Arrelumbre is available now.