Sephardic Journeys exams questions of diaspora and migration, and Shapira has dedicated this composition to his parents whom he describes as anti-racist. He premiered this work with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota, May 2017.
Quoting from Sound Potential, “Our goal is to raise awareness of the current migrant crises through music, connecting Jewish, Arabic, and Christian musical themes. We are developing applications of ‘Sephardic Journeys’ that are focusing on helping displaced children integrate into a new culture through music. Additionally, we are focusing on how this music can help refugees in multiple ways — through anxiety management and community building, as we develop ways for the composition to be used as a tool for learning about other cultures and their own.” The World Premiere of this work took place in May 2017 with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota.
For both Chunhyang and Sephardic Journeys, Shapira has drawn on the work of Joseph LeDoux, an American neuroscientist at NYU’s Center for Neural Science whose research is primarily focused on the biological underpinnings of emotion and memory, especially brain mechanisms related to fear and anxiety. LeDoux is also a musician; he is the lead singer and songwriter in the band, The Amygdaloids. “I came across LeDoux’s work,” says Shapira, “when I first became interested in possible connections between music and the brain, and he has generously given me advice since. Our team at Sound Potential sat down with him to discuss how our work might lead to memory reconsolidation: music and pain management in ‘Chunhyang,’ music and anxiety management in ‘Separdic Journeys.’”