Sarah Aroeste is passionate about two things, her love of Ladino music and sharing her culture with others. But that’s not the only reason she was picked to perform five times during AJMF8. “Aroeste brings so much to this year’s festival including her diverse cultural perspective,” said AJMF Executive Director, Russell Gottschalk.
Aroeste’s life revolved around music throughout high school and college, where she trained in classical opera. However, it was not until she moved to Israel that her interest in Ladino music grew, thanks in part to her music coach, who shared her Sephardic background.
Upon returning to the United States, Aroeste continued to perform classical music while integrating Ladino music each performance. The outcome was a success. “I had people come up to me and say that was their favorite part of the performance,” said Aroeste. That’s when she realized Ladino music, not opera, was her true calling and decided to pursue it as a full-time career.
Ladino is a form of Judaea-Spanish or Judaismo language that originated in Spain. After the Castilians kicked out Jewish inhabitants in the fifteenth century, they immigrated to the Ottoman Empire and Ladino became frozen in time.
Aroeste receives her inspiration from various music genres including Israeli. “I really like Israeli music because the artists understand how to navigate between their ethnicity and music. However, I was also brought up on American music, rock and roll, contemporary, electronica, jazz, and pop,” said Aroeste. She is proud of her identity and attributes her passion for Ladino music to her ethnic background. “Ladino contains a beautiful language and music, and I have been very fortunate to express myself through it for the past 15 years.” said Aroeste.
Her concerts incorporate both entertainment and education as she informs audience members of her rich Sephardic background. “You don’t go into Ladino to become rich, but I love Ladino music and sharing it with people. Music crosses so many borders and Ladino is no exception. It is multifaceted and the language and themes are universal,” said Aroeste. “Ladino is not dead and the Jewish community can do so much to preserve it. After all, you can’t understand Jewish history without Sephardic culture.”
Aroeste is glad to be in this year’s Atlanta Jewish Music Festival. She will be performing at International Night, Ladino Shabbat Jam, Ladino Musical Purim Party, Purim Family Concert and at Epstein for a private event connecting children to Ladino and Sephardic music.
There are countless artists participating in this year’s AJMF and each one is sure to entertain. Gottschalk noted that planning the AJMF is very detailed, “we have so many talented artists we would like to invite but have limited slots. In programming Aroeste we wanted to take full advantage of all she had to offer. Aroeste became a natural selection for Gottschalk due to her international background and recently released children’s album.
Aroeste enjoys working with Jewish and non-Jewish audiences and applauds Gottschalk for booking her for the AJMF. “It allows various community members to gain exposure to so many different cultures and promotes the importance of Jewish diversity for everyone.”