Between a mother and daughter: Gifts of memory through music accompanied by David Broza and the New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon

When you invited me to attend The New Andalusian Orchestra’s “Broza Andalusit” concert at the Jerusalem Theatre ten days ago, it took me a long while to get back to you with an answer.  I was busy with my memories of David Broza’s music and other Broza concerts we had attended over the years.  My mind’s eye was dimmed by the brightest of memories: the two-year-old you in your late father’s arms dancing around our living room to the strains of his favorite Broza ballad “Sigaliot” (“Violets”).  Before I could smile at this memory, I was jolted into the darkness of the loss of your father as Broza’s “Noladet Bishvili” (aka “Por Tu Ausencia”) and it’s later companion to my bereavement “Y lloro, Amarga Es Tu Ausencia” (“I Cry, Bitter Is Your Absence”) resounded in my heart.  On the heels of this came the memory of our national tragedy, the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, with Broza singing “Yehiye Tov” (“Things Will Better”) at a memorial concert for Rabin held in Tel Aviv. 

All of this darkness ceded to the brilliant memory of the three of us, a mid-teenaged you, your brother and me, being uplifted by the effervescent, fiery, rhythmic, passionate, sensuality of Mayumana and Broza’s “Bejuntos” (“Together”) concert.  A few years later, we three, along with my partner and your friend, joyously welcomed your 19th year at a soothing mellow classic David Broza with Yair Dallal concert at the Jerusalem Theatre.  And finally, this past summer, you and I celebrated your return home from Ethiopia by attending yet another Broza concert, this time at Sultan’s Pool below the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The open space of Sultan’s Pool gave us plenty of singing and dancing room as we kept the beat fanning away the sadness of your abuelita’s (grandmother’s) recent death with her elegant abanico espan~ol (Spanish fan).  Halfway through the concert, upon hearing the three opening notes, you hugged me and whispered “Ima, ‘ee-uu gee canto gee coraza’o!’”  Of course you were right.  It was “Por tu ausencia” with it’s mispronounced Spanish refrain – suddenly a song I had always identified with mourning for your father included mourning for my mother too.  There we were, you and I, newly orphaned, moving up a notch on the generation’s forward ladder, facing the future without abuelita but doing what she loved most, happily dancing while singing out and lazily fanning.  It was good!!      

Behind Abuelita’s Fan

Despite the bitter sweetness these memories are proof that it is as Broza sings “Life is made of the good stuff”, so that after all of this remembering it was with great pleasure that I accepted your invitation to share in an old-new experience: David Broza as the special guest of The New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon.  The “Broza Andalusit” evening sponsored by the Embassy of Spain in Israel and The Cervantes Cultural Center was to be a celebration of the 25 years of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel.  And you and I just couldn’t wait for the party to begin!  Finally the night of the concert arrived and with matching levels of happy excitement you and I made our way to the excellent first row lower balcony seats you had chosen for us.  It turned out that these seats were the perfect place for us to shimmy and chair dance our way into and out of Andalucia, Israel, Greece, Turkey, North Africa and back to Andalucia and Israel as Broza and the New Andalusian Orchestra sang and played to a full house.  At one point as Broza sang one of his “old cuts” you whispered, “Ima, for me David Broza is like Mercedes Sosa is for you, I grew up with him and I love him.”  Trust me, I did wonder to myself if you remembered dancing to Broza with your father, but I didn’t want to spoil the happy moment we were having so I decided not to mention it.

In addition to the Broza standards the concert was filled with other wonderful surprises for us.  After all, it was a very Sephardi evening which included old Spanish favorites of both my mother and grandmother.  I especially felt their presence as we listened to Yehuda Schwaki’s hauntingly beautiful renditions of “La Bien Paga”, “Soy Gitano”, “Naci En Alamo” and “Suena” and I quietly translated the songs for you from Spanish to English or Hebrew.  At one point as I translated  a song verse for you, I felt as if I were letting you in on a series of well kept very funny family secrets!   
Towards the end of the concert as we listened to Broza sing “It’s All or Nothing” we briefly spoke about your father’s fondness for Broza’s music and then serendipity responded by gifting us with the encore song “Ramito de Violetas” (“Sigaliot”) sung by Broza in Hebrew and by Schwaki in Spanish, and for me, across time and space the ember of pure happiness burned brightly against my heart as I saw you dancing in your fathers arms.
David Broza & The New Andalusian Orchestra
Showcase of links to some of the songs mentioned in this piece:
1.  סיגליות “Sigaliot” (“Ramito de Violetas” “Bouquet of Violets”)
Broza official album version
Broza and The New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon live performance, 3 March 2011
2. בוכה אל הקירןת (“Y lloro, Boche el HaKirot”) (“I cry, against the wall”)
“Y lloro, Amarga es tu ausencia” (“I cry, bitter is your absence”)
3. יהיה טוב (“Things will be better”)
Broza, 1979 album version
Broza and The New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon live performance, 3 March 2011
4. Bejuntos: David Broza & Mayumana (English subtitles)
5. The New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon under the direction of Tom Cohen
6. Broza at FM 102 singing “Life is made of good stuff”
7. זה הכל או כלום  (“It’s all or nothing”)
Broza official album version
Official Sites for:
1. The New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon under the direction of Tom Cohen (English section)
2. David Broza
(All photographs for this blog post are original works by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly)

2 responses to “Between a mother and daughter: Gifts of memory through music accompanied by David Broza and the New Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon

  1. The ‘Sigaliot’ song is a cover of the original song Un ramito de violetas ( by the Spanish singer-songwriter Evangelina Sobredo Galanes, known as Cecilia (1948-1976). The meaning of its lyrics remains strictly the same as she was a really special singer. I hope that you enjoy her songs.

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