On the chilly afternoon of December 3, we trekked from Croydon to Poplar with 15 unaccompanied teen refugees to the gloriously generous Poplar Union community centre. The kids didn't quite know what they were in for when we arrived, and they showed little restraint in expressing their initial 'HUH?!' when they were asked to don aprons and wash up for the first task of the day. But this changed immediately when the truly brilliant and inexhaustible Jean of E5 Bakehouse launched into his sourdough tutorial and told everyone to roll up their sleeves and get ready to bake some bread.
You might be thinking...'hang on, I thought you were a music charity?!...' Of course! But we are also oh so much more than that! Have a look at the photos below and on social media to see just how gorgeously the young people dove in, worked together in teams, competed for perfection, used the open stone fire, and ended up baking what would be part of their communal dinner-over 150 delicious pieces of flat bread fresh out of the oven.
As the bread proved, we had time on our hands. Enter: Sefiroth.
Self-described, Sefiroth is a 10-piece electro-acoustic chamber ensemble playing contemporary interpretations of traditional Sephardic (Judeo-Spanish) repertoire, much of which dates back to the Medieval period and draws upon Arabic, Turkish, Greek and Eastern European influences. The musicians in the ensemble represent several nationalities and between them are versed in a wide range of musical idioms including Balkan, Middle Eastern, Arabic, klezmer, rock, jazz, early and contemporary classical, electronic and improvised music. https://sefiroth.bandcamp.com/
Lead by former PFP guitar tutor Alex Roth, visiting percussion tutor Simon Roth, and incorporating the glorious sounds that come from violin tutor and vocalist Alice Zawadski, Sefiroth gave our students an insight into the Sephardic music tradition, guided our students through making our own lyrics and ultimately our own song, taught one of the songs that they would perform later in the evening, and engaged with our students one-on-one, being sure to answer all of their keen questions, and hearing their own musical offerings.
After we gorged on the glorious food Jean and the E5 Bakehouse team prepared ahead of time, which accompanied our fresh bread, we had the delight to sit front row to soak in the musical offering that Sefiroth delivered to a full house. When encouraged by the band to jump up and dance at the last number, our crew didn't disappoint. It was truly a gift of a day...
TO BE CONTINUED...
You can bet your bottom dollar that we will be back at Poplar before too long. We are already in discussion with the team to see when we can return to deliver our own performance. Until then, check out their awesome events, and go give Jean and the E5 Bakehouse team all the love you can!
Poplar Union: 2 Cotall St, Poplar, London E14 6TL, UK
The founders, Anna and Alyson