Date Palms and Tabernacles
RIVERS OF BABYLON, an ensemble of singers and instrumentalists, was established by its founding director, Sara Manasseh, and specialises in music of the Iraqi-Jewish tradition. They feature songs of praise, known as shbahoth in Judeo-Arabic.
These songs are often sung around the dinner table during festive meals for the annual cycle (Sabbaths, festivals), life cycle (wedding, birth of a child, etc), and during pilgrimages to holy tombs (for example, the tombs of Ezekiel the Prophet at Kifil, and Ezra the Scribe, in 'Uzair, in Iraq). These songs are mostly Hebrew, but also in Aramaic and Judeo-Arabic, and at the Ark Gallery concert on Thursday 17 July, will be accompanied by violin, flute, oboe and cor anglais, keyboard and percussion.
Many in the group grew up together in Bombay (India), the home of a vibrant Baghdad-Jewish community during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 2005, Rivers of Babylon took part in a successful performance tour of seven major cities in India. The songs are a record of the enduring appeal of the Babylonian Jewish tradition in the diaspora.
Rivers of Babylon @ the Ark Gallery:
Sara Manasseh (leader, voice, dumbuk), David Burman (keyboard), Anna Hirst (tambourine), Camille Maalawy (voice), Barry Solomon (oboe, cor anglais, voice, sba'ten), Pamela Solomon (voice), Solly Solomon (voice), Susan Verney (violin)