Over the years the Boston Camerata has acquired an enviable reputation as an eloquent and playful presenter of early music. Founded in 1954 at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, this ensemble of singers and instrumentalists took on a more lively performing persona when Joel Cohen became its director in 1968. A Harvard-educated musicologist and lutenist with an ear for the simple melodies of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Cohen has a penchant for building distinctive programs around catchy themes. part of the Camerata’s rising popularity–in concert and on CD and video–can be attributed to this ingenious packaging. For instance, their recent CD on Erato, titled The American Vocalist: Spirituals and Folk Hymns 1850-70, was released around the time that PBS aired its series on the Civil War, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. The Camerata’s latest visit here, sponsored by Libertyville’s David Adler Cultural Center, brings a well-known program in its repertoire just in time for Passover and Easter. “The Sacred Bridge” is a sampler of devotional music, both vocal and instrumental, heard in the Jewish ghettos of medieval Europe. Emphasis is given to the cross-fertilization between Jewish and Christian liturgical traditions: the Judao-Spanish melodies to be performed were collected only recently in Morocco and the Balkans, and they show the unmistakable Iberian roots lingering in the music of Jewish communities that were exiled from Spain in the 15th century. Saturday, 8 PM, North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd, Deerfield; 708-367-0707.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jacques Sarrat.