'Keter Malchut: Sephardic Prayers and Songs' reaches to the soul of Sephardic religious life and daily experience. Ariel Lazarus, an Israeli Sephardic composer and versatile guitarist has brought together an ensemble of ten international musicians to create a haunting world of sound inspired by the oral tradition of Sephardic communities across the Mediterranean. The title has a Kabalistic meaning with Keter referring to the highest level of Sfirot (spirituality) and Malchut the lowest level (or daily life), making up the completeness of being. The thirteen songs on the CD range from the Keter level of Shabbat and High Holidays music to Malchut level of common songs, all of which are drawn from the unwritten oral tradition of music in Jewish Sephardic communities, especially Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Amsterdam, and Thessalonica. Although the goal of the CD is to preserve the memory of this music, the arrangements add a twenty-first century sound that brings it to life and makes it contemporary. Ranging from the sweet melodies of the flute to the majesty of the virtuoso violin and the sober earthy sound of the double bass, Keter Malchut is an experience you will not forget. In June 2004, Lazarus was invited to perform as a part of the 300 year anniversary of British Gibraltar, and he took the opportunity to compose the 'Gibraltar Suite', which is an orchestral piece based on the motifs of Sephardic music. He dedicated that performance to his grandfather, Abraham Beniso, a world known Cantor in Gibraltar who introduced him to the tradition of Spanish/Portuguese Jewish music that continues to inform his performance and composing today. His grandfather sang in the Gibraltar concert. Following that success, Lazarus began working on this CD. In speaking about his music, Lazarus said, 'For me, music is my communication with the world. It's a language that delivers thoughts and emotions in the most direct way like a heart to heart talk. The passion for playing music is like the passion for life itself, no matter how difficult times may be, no one can take the joy of music from me. It is my companion in life, and through it, I can express the broad emotional gamut of life's experiences.' Ariel Lazarus currently lives in the United States and is available for performances and workshops. CD Keter Malchut: Produced by Ariel Lazarus and Dan Eckert Executive Producer: Ira Schlezinger Complementary booklet with full text and music is available. For more information write to The Sephardic Music Project P.O. Box 18323 Oklahoma City, OK 73154 - 8323 or contact Ariel via the link above.