Israel’s Sofi & the Baladis to Perform at Heritage Center Through Arts Midwest World Fest

Oct 13, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa – University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center continues its fifth annual Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series with Sofi & the Baladis, a musical ensemble from Israel, on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in John and Alice Butler Hall. Part of Arts Midwest World Fest, this five-member ensemble, led by singer Sofi Tsedaka, features soulful and richly textured performances of an array of musical traditions that lie at the heart of Israel’s diverse and historic cultures.

WHAT:            Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series – Sofi & the Baladis

WHEN:            Saturday, Nov. 11 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:          John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque

TICKETS:        $15-$20 adults, $11-$15 UD alumni/military, $10 child/student

Sofi & the Baladis’s multilingual concerts present new interpretations of songs from the ancient Samaritan community, as well as compelling vocal and instrumental work from mid-20th century Arabic composers. Their music transcends genres and moves easily from spiritual to an upbeat and rhythmic style that captivates audiences. The commentary Sofi Tsedaka provides throughout the concert tells the moving story of the Samaritan Tsedaka family and their search for balance as they navigate the pathway between their Jewish and Arab identities.

In collaboration with the Dubuque Arts Council, UD has just begun a two-year partnership Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest. During the partnership, four international ensembles from Israel, Japan, China, and Norway will visit Dubuque for a week each. Sofi & the Baladis is the first ensemble of the cycle.

“We’re grateful to have these groups coming to the Dubuque area,” said Thomas Robbins, executive director of Heritage Center. “The groups will not only perform a public concert, but they will also spend most of the week in area schools sharing their culture through workshops. It’s not often communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Sofi & the Baladis. The music and culture the group will share is different from what we normally experience. It’s a rare opportunity for us to enjoy an authentic slice of Israeli music and culture.”

Arts Midwest, one of six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, partners with program sponsors like The National Endowment for the Arts, 3M, and The Heart Foundations to cover a substantial portion of the program cost so communities throughout the Midwest can enjoy this rich arts experience. Dubuque was selected as one of nine Midwestern cities to host the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest season and it is the only partner community in Iowa.

“Between UD and the Arts Council, we would be hard pressed to identify the resources to host weeklong residencies of the kind Sofi & the Baladisoffers,” Robbins said. “It’s a real honor to be part of this program.”

Arts Midwest World Fest presents international music ensembles in the nine-state region it serves with the goal of connecting small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures. Arts Midwest’s mission is to promote creativity, nurture cultural leadership, and engage people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives.

“Arts Midwest’s goal is to make meaningful and lasting impressions on the communities that host this program,” said David Fraher, president and CEO of Arts Midwest. “We think weeklong residencies can offer so much more than one-day visits. There are more opportunities to truly connect with each other whether through workshops in schools, concerts in the greater community, or through social gatherings. We want this to be a rich experience for the entire community.”

Prior to the concert, members of Sofi & the Baladis will deliver a free pre-show lecture from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Babka Theatre, adjacent to Butler Hall. They will offer insights on their group, work, and, specifically, background related to the Samaritan and Israeli cultures addressed in the performance.

Tickets for Sofi & the Baladis can be purchased Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Farber Box Office, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque, 2255 Bennett Street; by phone at 563.585.SHOW; or online at

A program of Arts Midwest, the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest season is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hearst Foundations, 3M, the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program, the Kaufman Family Fund for Israeli Cultural Exchange, the Nordic Culture Fund, and the BNSF Railway Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Heritage Foundation Grants Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation for Sofi & the Baladis. Funding for Sofi & the Baladis is provided in part by contributions from the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts, and Music Port. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Arts Midwest is also generously supported by Illinois Arts Council Agency, Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Minnesota State Arts Board, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, South Dakota Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board.