Dr. Judith R. Cohen is a performer and ethnomusicologist specializing in Judeo-Spanish ("Ladino") Sephardic songs, as well as in medieval and traditional music, including Balkan, Portuguese, Yiddish, and French Canadian, pan-European balladry,and songs from Crypto-Jewish regions of the Portuguese-Spanish border.

Her daughter, Tamar Ilana Cohen Adams (b.1986) often performs with her. Judith's performance repertoire and lectures draw on her village field work in several Mediterranean countries and in urban immigrant communities; and on her academic research, presented in a dynamic, accessible style adaptable to audiences from sophisticated cognoscenti to school children. Her commentaries can be given in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese.  She accompanies her traditional-style singing on bowed vielle, 'ud, dulcimer and traditional percussion instruments, and is an accomplished player of  recorders and pipe-and-tabor. Tamar Ilana is an accomplished traditional singer, and adds percussion, drawing on her years of flamenco dance training and her travels and fieldwork with Judith.                 



Dr. Cohen's daughter, Tamar Ilana Cohen Adams (born in 1986) often performs with her, on voice, recorders and percussion

New Photo Albums:

Judith and Tamar
Judith, Tamar and Friends in Concert
To exit albums, close window
More photos

Upcoming Events Listing



Judith is the General Editor for the Spain series of the Alan Lomax project, carried out with the Association for Cultural Equity and Rounder Records. Besides editing and writing extensive liner notes for the series, she has located and interviewed almost all the men and women still alive in Spanish villages whom Lomax recorded in 1952, and is working on an edition of his Spanish field  diaries.


Judith was a founding member of Gerineldo, the internationally acclaimed Moroccan Judeo-Spanish ensemble, and the founder-director of Nova Tradicija, an a capella ensemble specializing in Balkan singing, as well as Na Carenza, a women's ensemble specializing in the early medieval repertoire. Judith presents multicultural and medieval programmes for children through Mariposa In The Schools. As an educator, she has worked coaching the Balkan vocal ensemble at the University of Toronto, and is currently Contract Faculty and Adjunct Graduate Faculty at York University. Among the courses she has taught are Music of the World’s Peoples, Music of the Mediterranean, Medieval Music and Folklore of Canada.

Her doctoral dissertation (1989) examined Judeo-Spanish music in Canada, and her M.A. thesis (1980) discussed women musicians in the Christian, Moslem and Jewish communities of medieval Iberia.

Judith continues to carry out fieldwork among Sephardic Jews around the Mediterranean, and in villages in Crypto-Jewish regions along the Portugal/Spain border, usually with Tamar Ilana. She has done pioneering ethnomusicological research with both the Crypto-Jews (“Marranos”) and with local Cigano (“Gypsy”) groups in Portuguese villages.  Her articles and book chapters  appear regularly;and she presents frequent concerts and lecture-recitals in Spain,Portugal, Paris, Israel, Belgium, England  and North America.

Concerts - Workshops - Academic Lectures - or any combination
Dr. Judith R. Cohen as a soloist, or with her  daughter, Tamar Ilana, and/or with various guest instrumentalists or singers. Sephardic Judeo-Spanish ("Ladino") songs, learned directly from traditional singersin North America and around the Mediterranean;  performed in the old style, a capella or with appropriate instruments - Middle Eastern lute(oud), medieval troubadour fiddle (vielle), Middle East percussion. Songs and dance tunes from Portugal, Galicia, Extremadura, and the Països Catalans; Balkan songs and dance tunes - and dances taught too, if you like. Songs from Quebec and Acadie. Songs and tunes from the Middle Ages, from troubadour songs to Galaïco-Portuguese folk miracles, women's lyrics, and bawdy and satirical songs; and  singable refrains in Old Latin and Provençal , with bowed vielle,  oud, psaltery, recorders. Mixtures:  a pan-European narrative ballad sung and told in its Sephardic incarnation, the same song as sung in Yiddish, as the Scots sing it, or the Italians. Stories of the people whose families have kept the ballad alive - all learned, bit by bit over the years, from the people who learned them from their parents and grand-parents, who in turn learned them from theirs. Programs can be geared to children, teenagers, young adults, or senior citizens, and given in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French. 


  • De-mystifying Judeo-Spanish Song
  • Judeo-Spanish and Medieval Iberian Music
  • Music in Crypto-Jewish ("Marrano") Regions of Spain and Portugal
  • Women's Roles and Images in Traditional Song
  • Women in Music in the Middle Ages
  • Music in Medieval Spain's Three Cultures: Christian, Jewish, Muslim
  • Pan-European Ballads and Performance Styles

Judith Cohen and Tamar Ilana, “Sefarad en Diáspora”, Pneuma PN780, with Eduardo Paniagua, Wafir Sheikh, William Cooley
. jmsimports

Judith Cohen and Tamar Ilana, "Empezar quiero contar: Songs of Sefarad"/"'I'd like to begin the story...': Songs of Sepharad", Pneuma PN270, with Eduardo Paniagua, Wafir Sheikh David Mayoral.

Primavera en Salónica - Springtime in Salonica: Songsof  the Sephardim and their Neighbours. Judith R. Cohen, with Jaume Bosser.  Madrid, Tecnosaga, 1999

" 'Dized', ay! Trobadores' - 'Say, oh Troubadours!' ": Medieval Monophonies . Medieval music, with a few survivals in French Canada, France, and Galicia; with Tamar Ilana and the Ad-hoc Saga Chorus on refrains; Tecnosaga1994.

"Dans mon chemin j'ai rencontré" with Tamar Ilana: prizewinning concert for concert for Radio Canada, produced by Simone Risgallah Fadel; a harvest of songs about roads and encounters.With Rob Simms (oud,setar, nay, guitar, percussion) (Radio Canada-Interdisc






Judith Cohen, Traditional Sephardic ("Ladino") Songs with the Ensemble GERINELDO: Volumes 1-3, Cassette only (or as 2 CD's, with advanced notice) Volume 4, cassette or CD; available from Judith by special order, or CD's 1-2 Tecnosaga, Madrid.
And, check out Judith’s liner notes on the Alan Lomax SPAIN recordings on Rounder Records!
You can contact Dr. Judith R. Cohen at email: judithc@yorku.ca
A more extensive CV can be found here.
Check her basic Judeo-Spanish discography at Klezmershack, and a brief introduction to Judeo-Spanish music at HaLapid .
For a different focus, her research on the ethnomusicology of Ibiza and Formentera.

webmaster:  Helen Winkler