Primary Instrument: Vocal
Sarah Aroeste, inspired by her family's Sephardic roots in Greece and Macedonia, has spent the last 10 years bringing her contemporary style of original and traditional Ladino music to audiences around the world. American born and trained in classical opera at Westminster Choir College and Yale University, Aroeste became drawn to her Sephardic musical past after spending a summer in 1997 performing at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv. There, she had the fortune of studying with Nico Castel, one of the recognized Ladino singers and coaches at the Metropolitan Opera, with whom she learned she shared a similar Sephardic background. Continuing to study with Castel upon her return to the US, Aroeste started incorporating classical Ladino songs into her opera repertoire. She quickly realized that Ladino, not opera, was her true musical passion and soon after made the leap to performing in Ladino full time. Since then, Aroeste has worked tirelessly to keep Ladino music alive for a new generation. Her style, whether with her original music or with interpreting traditional folk repertoire, combines traditional Mediterranean Sephardic sounds with contemporary influences such as rock, funk jazz and blues.
One of few Ladino artists today who writes her own music, Aroeste writes and performs songs of such universal themes as family dynamics, first-love crushes, unrequited love, loss, searching for home, going off to war, and much more. Together, her songs have brought new life and energy to the beautiful and mysterious sounds of Sephardic music.
In the last decade, Aroeste has amassed a large and loyal following across the US and abroad, and has released two recordings, “A la Una: In the Beginning” (2003) and “Puertas” (2007). Her third album, “Gracia,” was released in spring of 2012. She has performed in major music venues throughout the US and overseas (tours through Europe, Israel and Cuba), and has collaborated with such notables as Frank London (The Klezmatics), Roberto Rodriguez, Tamir Muskat (Balkan Beat Box), Y-Love and more. In 2008 Aroeste was a finalist in Israel’s prestigious “Festiladino” competition of original Ladino songs and performed her winning song with the Jerusalem Symphony. Most recently, Aroeste has teamed up with composer and producer Shai Bachar for her new album and musical direction, which includes a more elaborate instrumentation and stage production. With her unwavering commitment to Ladino cultural preservation, Sarah Aroeste has received notable attention over the years for her innovation in working to make Ladino music more accessible and exciting to new and larger audiences. Bringing a fresh and inspiring modern sound, Sarah Aroeste has helped to transform and revitalize a tradition.
The vocalization on Sarah Aroeste’s album Gracia is a musical and poetic amalgamation she has accumulated on her search for her musical roots and family heritage. The title track is a tribute to Doña Gracia Naci, who in the 1500’s helped save and relocate Jews from the Spanish Inquisition; it is also a salute to the modern woman of today. “El Leon Ferido,” is a poetic recognition to the contribution of those Jewish people who were reluctantly dispersed throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, taking their music, language and culture with them. These songs serve as a foundation of how serious and studious this music can be.
However, Aroeste does not shy away from the romantic aspects of Ladino, and utilizes its seductive phrasings and innuendos to perfection with her lyrics in “Chika Morena,” praising the smoldering dark beauty associated with gypsy women. There are elements of flamenco, rock, opera, and Latin popular music, blended into the selections on “Gracia,” in which Aroeste takes long dormant traditional and originally inspired poetic works and twists them into a fresh contemporary sound.