Professional Level Storyteller

Name: Judith Cohen
Phone Number: (416) 272-6410


Dr Judith Cohen is a singer and teller of ballads and stories, an ethnomusicologist and an inveterate traveller. She presents and tells in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese; and sings in these languages as well as Bulgarian, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), Yiddish, Macedonian, Croatian, Mirandês, Ibizan Catalan and languages of medieval Europe. Judith weaves ballad stories and stories of travel together with stories of the countless people she’s gathered songs and tales from over decades and continents. She’ll follow a ballad story through its own travels, from Moroccan to Turkish and Greek Sephardic communities, to French Canadian, Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, and other incarnations. Judith performs a capella, often adding a traditional Moroccan or Portuguese frame drums, a medieval bowed vielle, medieval recorder, and others. Her presentation style is warm, informal – at the same time, she holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology (Sephardic music), and a Masters in Medieval music studies, as well as education and ESL degrees and certificates. She teaches part-time at York University, and has sung, told stories and given talks in Spain, Portugal, Poland, Morocco, China – and in her home towns of Toronto and Montreal.


Ballads and their travels: following ballads in story and song through their incarnations in different languages, cultures and times, woven in with the stories of the people who sing them.
– The King got up one Monday Morning – the medieval and folk ballad of Landarico – Moroccan and Turkish Sephardic, Spanish, Portuguese versions
– Sisters Queen and Captive – the medieval and folk ballad Hermanas Reina y Cautiva – Moroccan and Bosnian
Sephardic, Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish, medieval French and English versions
– The Adulteress / The Adulteress with Cat: La Adúltera / con gato: Sephardic (Moroccan, Bosnian), Spanish, Portuguese, Mirandês
– Faithful Love : La vuelta del marido – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Sephardic, Yiddish
– story songs and tales from Bulgaria and countries of former Yugoslavia
– Sephardic songs and stories (Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Balkans)
– themes: sung stories of women, of travel, of war and peace, of encounters and surprises…

I can create programmes in any of the languages I work and sing in , and am always happy to speak with organizers ahead of time to work out a programme that best suits the specific audience.

Programs / Workshops Offered

– Pan-European ballads – sung stories across time and space and how to find and tell / sing them.
(specific, relating to my areas of specialty, or in general, with examples from several cultures.)

– Urban fieldwork – collecting stories and songs from your friends, family, neighbours, corner store owner.

– Translating is more than transferring a tale from one language to another: translating stories, translating songs, translating contexts, frames of reference, ideas

Target Audience

Adjustable to various audiences, and I can present fluently in French, Spanish and Portuguese. For school and family settings, my programmes work best from about 12 years old up. Community groups, libraries, synagogues, women’s groups, continuing education programmes, high schools, teacher education programmes .

Geographic Area

If available on the dates requested, anywhere reachable by public transportation, i.e. not requiring a car. I live in the centre of Toronto.

Cohen, Judith