GRANGER TWP. — Highland orchestra students took a break from traditional lessons on Friday for a hands-on musical workshop with a didgeridoo, ram’s horn, oud and bouzouki.
Members of the Israeli folk group Baladino traveled to Medina County this week to share their music with the community and students. They brought Middle Eastern instruments and performed traditional folk music with a modern twist.
“One of the things we love to do is expose them to different types of music,” Highland orchestra teacher Rachel Gamin said. “This group is awesome. What a huge event for them (students).”
Baladino performed in an intimate setting for about 40 middle school students and talked about how they make music and how they improvise new sounds, and took questions from the audience.
Tomer Moked, who plays various string instruments, said that while the band is made up of Israeli musicians based in Tel Aviv, the group members’ backgrounds span Australia, Iraq, Spain and Turkey.
“Everyone here traces a different ancestry,” Moked said.
Besides Moked, who also arranges music, Baladino members are Adam Ben Ezra, string bass; Yael Badash, vocals; Yonnie Dror, wind instruments; and Yshai Afterman, percussion.
The band’s name is a combination of “ladino” of Judeo-Spanish origins, and “Balad,” which translates to band in Arabic. The band uses many old instruments that are common in Middle Eastern music but not often incorporated into popular western music.
Baladino was brought to Highland Schools and the Medina community this week through the Ohio Regional Music Arts and Cultural Outreach. The nonprofit group received a grant from Arts Midwest to help bring the musicians to Medina County, said Thomas Sigel, the outreach’s executive director.
“We started this effort three years ago when we started to see school funding for the arts being slashed,” Sigel said. “The mission is to get arts available to anyone.”
The cultural outreach organization is based in Medina, but works to provide arts in rural districts, those in poverty and those with large minority populations throughout the region.
“We were the only group in Ohio selected for this grant,” he said. “We’re very happy to provide these programs.”
Baladino also conducted workshops this week at the Medina, Buckeye and Brunswick libraries along with music workshops at Black River Schools.
Sigel said local groups and partners have been key in helping to support the grant. In addition to library and local school support, the group received financial backing from the Lorain Medina Rural Electric People Fund and the American Hospitality Group in Wadsworth, which provided hotel rooms for the musicians at no charge to the nonprofits involved in bringing them to Ohio.
“We’ve had so many wonderful people helping to make this a reality,” Sigel said.
The musicians will finish their local stay with a concert tonight at 8 at Highland High School, 4150 Ridge Road. Tickets are $12 at the door.
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Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.