Here is WNYC's description of the event.
"Today in Brooklyn, where disparate Jewish groups from the Middle East are engaging one another in an unprecedented way, the piyyut – the Hebrew term for a sacred poem – serves as an expression of a specific type of Jewish identity. Spanning five centuries since the expulsion from Spain in 1492, these piyyutim express unique conceptions of the relationship between humanity and the Divine and serve as the backbone of the quasi-classical musical traditions of different Sephardic immigrant groups who now call New York home.
Following an introductory discussion, Thomas, accompanied by his ensemble Asefa and other traditional musicians, will present a lively musical performance of Sephardic piyyutim. Intertwining musical performance with discussion, Syrian Rabbi Joseph Dweck and Moroccan Rabbi Gad Bouskila will illuminate how the intersection of Kabbalistic and Sufist thought in Sephardic cultural history inspired piyyutim."
Finally, three last shout outs... First, Asefa just released their second album, Resonance. The samples from the website are gorgeous. Check it out.
Second, Pesach is coming. I recently ran across a wonderful CD of Sephardic Pesach music recorded by the folks at B'nai Jeshurn, NYC.
Third, during the performance / lecture Samuel Thomas talked about contrafactum music, where existing music is re-purposed with new lyrics. The always excellent "On the Mainline" blog recently wrote a post on this topic titled "The original Shlock Rock: R. Yisrael Najara's 16th century religious Hebrew poetry set to Middle Eastern rock music."