Sofi Tsedaka (left) and Yaniv Taicman (center) being interviewed by WOUB’s Emily Votaw (left). (Photo by Drew Tanner)

Sofi & the Baladis to Bring Ancient Music to Peoples Bank Theater

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Sofi & the Baladis are a truly unique musical group. The group’s performances are one part demonstrations of fascinating ancient instruments such as the oud and the qanun, one part gorgeous interpretation of 4,000-year-old plus Samaritan prayers, and one part the powerful personal story of the group’s lead vocalist, Sofi Tsedaka.

Tsedaka was born into the Samaritan ethnoreligious community, an ancient people who reside mostly in Holon, Israel. The community is socially insulated, and Tsedaka found herself feeling obstructed by that characteristic of the community. She converted to Judiasm, which was difficult for her family to accept, and created Sofi & the Baladis to celebrate her deep love of the sacred Samaritan culture.

The band takes ancient Samaritan prayers and adds to them flourishes of various instruments, including the oud (a middle eastern stringed instrument that served as the evolutionary basis of western stringed instruments, like the guitar,) the qanun (an elaborate stringed instrument that produces a very unique melodramatic sound,) as well as various percussion and wind instruments.

The group is currently in residency at the People’s Bank Theatre in Marietta, the third of four international acts that Arts Midwest World Fest has brought to the historic theater. On Thursday, October 18, the band will perform starting at 7 p.m. Listen to WOUB’s interview with the band, embedded above, followed by a live, ultra-stripped down musical performance.