Profile - Judith R. Cohen


Photo of Judith Cohen
Photos of Judith Cohen supplied by/used with permission of the artist
 Artist: Judith R. Cohen
 Group Members:  
 Genre/s: World | Jewish | Trad.
 Sub-Genre/s: Ladino, Sephardi, Yiddish
 Instrument/s: vocal, plus vielle, 'ud/oud, dulcimer, percussion
 Date Info First Pub'd: 2003/03/20
 Based: Ontario, CAN
 Contact: email
 Web Site:

Purchasing Info

Photo of Judith Cohen with daughter Tamara Ilana Cohen Adams
Judith Cohen with daughter Tamara Ilana Cohen Adams

Judith R. Cohen gained a B.A. Hons. in English at McGill University, Montreal, in 1971, and a B.F.A. Distinction in Music from Concordia University, Montreal, in 1975. She went on to gain an M.A. in Medieval Sciences from the University of Montreal in 1980 (Medieval Iberian Women's Music), and a Ph.D. in Musicology (ethnomusicology) from the same university in 1989 with her dissertation on Sephardic music in Canada. Never content to rest on her laurels, Dr. Cohen obtained still further qualifications including a B.Ed. (French, English; Secondary) from University of Toronto in 1996. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, fellowships, grants and awards and has published extensively and continues to do so.

In her capacity as an educator, Dr. Judith R. Cohen has worked coaching the Balkan vocal ensemble at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is Adjunct Graduate Faculty at York University (Canada), where she has taught seminars in Mediterranean, Jewish and Medieval music, as well as Folklore of Canada. Judith Cohen also presents multicultural and medieval programmes for children through Mariposa In The Schools. Dr. Cohen continues to carry out fieldwork among Sephardi Jews around the Mediterranean and in villages in Crypto-Jewish regions on the Portuguese/Spanish border, usually with her daughter, Tamara Ilana Cohen Adams. She regularly publishes articles and contributes chapters to books. Her ever busy schedules include frequent concerts and lecture recitals both in North America as well as in Spain, Portugal, Paris, Israel, Belgium and England. Dr. Cohen is also the General Editor for the Spain series of the acclaimed Alan Lomax project, carried out with the Association for Cultural Equity and Rounder Records.

As a performer, Judith R. Cohen also specializes in Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish) Sephardi songs as well as in medieval and traditional music, including Balkan, Portuguese, Yiddish and French Canadian. Her repertoire and lectures draw on her academic research and field work. Linking themes of the past and present, Judith R. Cohen juxtaposes songs she has learned in Spanish and Portuguese villages, rural French Canada or urban immigrant communities, with compositions of the medieval troubadours; Sephardi, Yiddish, Balkan, French Canadian and Anglo-American traditions with pan-European balladry. An accomplished singer, she also plays and accompanies herself on vielle (a bowed medieval instrument, like most European instruments of Middle Eastern origin), 'ud (also spelled ud or oud - the Middle Eastern lute), dulcimer, and traditional percussion such as frame drum. She is furthermore an accomplished performer on recorders and pipe-and-tabor. She often performs with Tamara Ilana Cohen Adams, her daughter.

Judith Cohen was a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Moroccan Judeo-Spanish ensemble, Gerineldo. She was the founder-director of Nova Tradicija, an a cappella ensemble specializing in Balkan singing, and of Na Carenza, an all female ensemble devoted to early medieval repertoire.

As well as being a leading exponent of Ladino and other Sephardi song, Judith Cohen presents recital lectures in a dynamic and accessible style. Her lectures cater for audiences ranging from school children to cognoscenti, and can be presented in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

In addition to radio broadcasts, Judith Cohen also has recorded extensively, most of her albums focusing on Ladino and other Sephardi traditions.

© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore

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???? Traditional Sephardic ("Ladino") Songs (with the Ensemble GERINELDO), Vols. 1-4 (2 CDs, also av. on cassette) Tecnosaga, Madrid)

1994 'Dized', ay! Trobadores' - 'Say, oh Troubadours!': Medieval Monophonies (Tecnosaga, Madrid

1997 Dans mon chemin j'ai rencontré (with Tamar Ilana) (Live/concert f. Radio Canada) (Interdisc)

1999 Primavera en Salónica - Springtime in Salonica: Songs of the Sephardim and their Neighbours (Tecnosaga, Madrid)

2000 Empezar quiero contar: Songs of Sefarad / 'I'd like to begin the story...': Songs of Sepharad (with Tamar Ilana) (Pneuma (Madrid))




Appears on


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Other Info



Purchasing Info:

Judith R. Cohen's recordings can be purchased:
Direct from the artist

Traditional Sephardic ("Ladino") Songs; 'Dized', ay! Trobadores' - 'Say, oh Troubadours!' ": Medieval Monophonies; and Primavera en Salónica - Springtime in Salonica: From Tecnosaga, Madrid (email)

Dans mon chemin j'ai rencontré: (may be out of print?) From

Empezar quiero contar: Songs of Sefarad:

From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK

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