Home News & Events Finale! Sofi & the Baladis put an exclamation point on their World Fest experience

Finale! Sofi & the Baladis put an exclamation point on their World Fest experience

Sofi & the Baladis’ last stop as part of Arts Midwest World Fest led the group to Sterling, IL. What a week it was! Christy Zepezauer, Executive Director of Woodlawn Arts Academy, scheduled a busy and very productive week that took the ensemble throughout the Sterling/Rock Falls area and beyond with visits to Dixon and Port Byron too.

The week got off to a lovely start at the Sunday evening welcome reception. World Fest ensembles always play a little taste of music for reception guests as a way to introduce themselves but it’s always a treat when local folks welcome our ensembles with a song or story from the area. Such was the case as Joselyn Pink performed a song to welcome Sofi. Here she is as members of the band and community watch and listen. What a nice welcome it was!

Welcome reception in Sterling, IL.
Welcome reception in Sterling, IL. All photos by Eric Young Smith.

The workshops began in earnest the next day. We’re so pleased schools in the area enthusiastically welcomed Sofi & the guys. The ensemble conducted workshops for well over 2000 students during the week and, if this photo is any indication, the students enjoyed having Sofi visit. Here’s the ensemble at Rock Falls Middle School. Left to right is Christy, Yossi, Yaniv, Sofi, Yonnie, Yshai, Mark and Principal Ackman.

Left to right: Christy, Yossi, Yaniv, Sofi, Yonnie, Yshai, Mark, and Principal Ackman.
Left to right: Christy, Yossi, Yaniv, Sofi, Yonnie, Yshai, Mark, and Principal Ackman.

Dixon is about 30 minutes east of Sterling and we’re thrilled the Dixon Schools have hosted each of the World Fest ensembles to visit Sterling. Here’s a shot of Sofi and the guys in action at Madison Middle/Elementary in Dixon.

Sofi & the Baladis perform at Madison Middle/Elementary School.
Sofi & the Baladis perform at Madison Middle/Elementary School.

We’re always glad when World Fest ensembles have a chance take in the sights and flavor of our host communities. After the workshops in Dixon were done, Christy gave the ensemble a short tour that included lunch at a favorite Dixon café. Here Christy and the group pause for a shot in Downtown Dixon along the Rock River. The four flags surrounding the US flag represent Dixon’s sister city relationships (Dixon, Siberia; Herzberg Elster, Germany; Castlebar, Ireland; Thika, Kenya). Sofi and the guys add Tel Aviv to the photo!

The four flags surrounding the US flag represent Dixon’s sister city relationships (Dixon, Siberia; Herzberg Elster, Germany; Castlebar, Ireland; Thika, Kenya
The four flags surrounding the US flag represent Dixon’s sister city relationships (Dixon, Siberia; Herzberg Elster, Germany; Castlebar, Ireland; Thika, Kenya)

Arts Midwest has enjoyed generous support from 3M for many years. Christy arranged workshops in Port Byron to the west just down the Mississippi from the 3M plant in Cordova. Many Cordova students attend school in Port Byron so we wanted to take Sofi & the Baladis here to give Port Byron residents, and 3M students/families among them, a chance to experience this wonderful Israeli music and culture as well.

Ensemble begins their workshop at Port Bryon, IL.
Ensemble begins their workshop at Port Bryon, IL.

The public concert Saturday night brought the week-long residency to a wonderful conclusion. Stephanie Samuels went to great length to prepare a special and very delicious concert meal for the ensemble. The concert was a joy and even included lighting the Menorah as part of this cultural experience. I think the ensemble is still smiling about this week!

Sofi & the Baladis public performance.
Sofi & the Baladis public performance.