Sofi & the Baladis, a musical ensemble from Israel, will visit Marietta in October as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. The five-member ensemble, led by singer Sofi Tsedaka, features soulful and richly textured performances of an array of musical traditions that lie at the heart of Israel’s diverse and historic cultures.
The group’s multi-lingual concerts present new interpretations of songs from the ancient Samaritan community as well as compelling vocal and instrumental work from mid-20th century Arabic composers. Their music transcends genres and moves easily from deeply spiritual to an upbeat and rhythmic style that captivates and brings audiences to their feet. The commentary Sofi provides throughout the concert tells the moving and powerful story of the Samaritan Tsedaka family and their search for balance as they navigate the pathway between their Jewish and Arab identities. Sofi & the Baladis will perform a public concert at Peoples Bank Theatre on Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m.
Peoples Bank Theatre is in the midst of a two-year partnership with Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest. During the partnership, four different international ensembles will visit Marietta, spending a week each. Sofi & the Baladis is the third ensemble to come to town. Peoples Bank Theatre has already hosted Manhu (China) and Unni Boksasp Ensemble (Norway) and looks forward to welcoming Ondekoza (Japan) early next year “We’re so fortunate to have these groups coming to our community,” says Hunt Brawley, Executive Director of Peoples Bank Theatre. “The groups not only perform a public concert but most of the week they are in the schools and other community locations sharing their culture through workshops. I’m eager for them to arrive. It’s not often smaller communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Sofi & the Baladis at all—let alone for a full week,” Brawley adds. “The music and culture Sofi & the Baladis will share is different from what we normally experience. It’s a rare opportunity for us to enjoy an authentic slice of Israeli music and culture right here.”
According to Brawley, Marietta typically would not have the resources to host week-long residencies of the kind Sofi & the Baladis will offer. Arts Midwest, one of six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, partners with program sponsors like The National Endowment for the Arts and program sponsors such as 3M and The Hearst Foundations to cover a substantial portion of the program cost so that communities throughout the Midwest can enjoy this rich arts experience. Marietta was selected as one of only nine Midwestern cities to host the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest and is the only partner community chosen in Ohio. “It’s a real honor to be part of this program,” says Brawley.
David Fraher, president & CEO of Arts Midwest notes, “Arts Midwest’s goal is to make meaningful and lasting impressions on the communities that host this program. We think week-long residencies can offer so much more than one-day visits. There are more opportunities to truly connect with each other whether through workshops in schools, concerts in the greater community, or through social gatherings. We want this to be a rich experience for the entire community.”
Arts Midwest World Fest presents international music ensembles in the nine-state region it serves with the goal of connecting small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures. Arts Midwest’s organization-wide mission is to “promote creativity, nurture cultural leadership, and engage people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives.”
A program of Arts Midwest, the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest cycle is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hearst Foundations, 3M, the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program, the Kaufman Family Fund for Israeli Cultural Exchange, the Nordic Culture Fund, and Music Norway. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Heritage Foundation Grants Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation for Manhu. Funding for Sofi & the Baladis is provided in part by contributions from the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest; Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts; and Music Port.
Arts Midwest is also generously supported by Illinois Arts Council Agency, Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Minnesota State Arts Board, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, South Dakota Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board.
Tickets for the October 18 concert with Sofi & The Baladis are available at the Peoples Bank Theatre box office, by calling 740-371-5152, and online at peoplesbanktheatre.com.