The Sephardic Experience, Volume 1: Thorns Of FireThe Sephardic Experience quadrilogy, is a priceless sound document in which The Renaissance Players present their own performance versions of well- and lesser-known romansas (ballads), kantigas (religious songs) and muwashshahat (poetical forms) which have survived for centuries entirely via oral/aural transmission by parents, grandparents, friends and acquaintances within the family circle, while working, or as a form of ad hoc entertainment in Sephardic communities of the West and East. Sadly, as the end of the 20th century draws near we are witnessing the alarming disappearance of Spanish-Jewish culture due to vast, worldwide changes in social circumstances. In fact, these songs are no longer a part of the rich, musical fabric of the everyday life of the Sephardim. As was the case in the middle ages for many types of traditional music, the lyrics of the Sephardic romansa , kantiga , muwashshah and zajal could be sung to a newly composed melody or to a pre-existing melody from either secular or liturgical repertoires. In traditional Sephardic singing one does not hear heavy and constant vibrato or long-held notes which are not decorated. Furthermore, there is a firmly blended fusion of Spanish-Arabic qualities both in the sound of the melodies and the way they are treated in performance. The main themes in this first volume, Thorns of Fire , relate to the rose as a symbol of love; with weddings and various associated customs; with delightful, ravishing Muslim girls; and with the omnipresent force of the sea and the siren. The Sephardic romansas and kantigas featured in this volume are from sources in Andalusia , Rhodes , Balkans , the Orient , Bulgaria and Tetuan , and the dance songs come from Macedonia , Andalusia and Australia . Also featured is a single declaimed Biblical text, linked by theme and concept, accompanied by entirely improvised, taksim -like instrumental commentary. The four volumes of The Sephardic Experience ( Thorns of Fire , Apples and Honey , Gazelle and Flea and Eggplants ) can be purchased individually or together in a beautiful hand-wrapped black linen box.