Festival Djudeo-Espanyol VIII Bios

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Festival organizers welcome guest artists and lecturers.

Aj Goldman

Bio coming soon!

Beth Cohen


Beth Cohen has been honored to serve as Nahalat Shalom’s Cantor and music director since 1995. During this time she has had the opportunity to explore, study, teach, sing and play a variety of Jewish liturgical music and folk music. Some of her favorite music is from the Sephardi traditions- in the Ladino language as well as in Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish.  Beth has been playing guitar and singing since age seven and she holds a Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance from the University of New Mexico.  She is also an accomplished violinist, string musician, music instructor and band/choir director.  Since the early 1990’s she has taken many lessons and classes on her violin in maqam – the Arabic modal system, studying with oudist Haig Manoukian z’l, violinist Beth Bahia Cohen, kanunist Mimi Spencer, and clarinetist Sonia Tamar Seeman.  From 1984-2004, Beth was a member of Svirka, Women’s Balkan chorus in which she performed, learned and taught many Sephardic folk songs in Ladino. The chorus also hosted a singing workshop in the 1990's with Judy Frankel z’l.  Beth was strongly influenced by her friendship and musical experiences with Lorenzo (Lawrence/ Levi ben Macario) Dominguez z’l, who co-founded the Sephardic programs at Nahalat Shalom. Lorenzo performed with Beth playing guitar and singing in Alavados Holy Days Ensemble and The Rebbe’s Orkestra-Klezmer and Judaic Band.  Beth has studied the Spanish language since she was thirteen, but to her dismay, she does not speak it very well, even though it’s her favorite language to sing in!

Carlos Jose' Otero


Carlos Jose' Otero is a retired teacher of Spanish language, NM culture, tradition, architecture & industrial technologies. He is a member of Spanish Colonial Art Society and is a traditional artist who grinds earth pigments, makes varnish from piñon sap, gesso from gypsum and rabbit hide glue before sculpting and painting the art piece. Carlos' field of work and study includes music, poetry, history, religion & genealogy. Carlos J. Otero: santero, musician, poet, and educator with a mix of art, music, poetry, genealogy, history and culture of Nuevo Mexicanos.

Charlie Carillo


Charles M. Carrillo holds a PH.D in anthropology from the University of New Mexico.  Charlie has blended craft, conversation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero, a carver and a painter of images.  Today he is recognized not only as primary authority on this subject but also as the most accomplished  artist practicing in this regional tradition.

Charlie has received many awards, including the Museum of International Fold Art's Hispanic Heritage Award, as well as numerous First Place, Best of Show, and Grand Prize entries I the Annual Traditional
Spanish Market in Santa Fe.

Hershel Weiss

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Hershel is one of the founders of Festival Djudeo-Espanyol and a principal organizer for eight years. He hosts a writing group that has been meeting weekly for more than twenty years. This will be the fourth year he has led a writing workshop as part of the festival.

Hershel has studied with Natalie Goldberg, the author of Writing Down the Bones, and the workshop is inspired by her teachings. He says this of the writing workshop offered at the Festival: “Writing is not a solitary activity! In the workshop we do timed writing exercises together and share what we have written. Festival Djudeo-Espanyol is about forming connections between people and this workshop is designed to help accomplish this goal. In the midst of a day of what can be challenging information it is good to have an hour to think and feel, to have our stories witnessed by others and to be the witness in return.”

Jordi Gendra


Recent implant in Albuquerque from New jersey, Jordi Gendra is born and raised in a converso family in Spain, received his rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and he holds a Ph. D. on Medieval Jewish History. He has been a congregational rabbi and college professor, He has published on the history of the Jews in Spain and the beginning of the kabbalistic movement.

Monica T. Rodriguez


Monica T. Rodriguez was born and raised in the beautiful Espanola Valley. She is the mother of a son, Michael. She is a sister, an aunt and daughter. She has had roles in La Compania, “The Santero’s Dream Woman”, Matraka Inc, “La Llorna”, the Vortex Theater, “The Farolitos of Christmas”. She was last seen on the NHCC stage with Hembras de Pluma in an original work she wrote, directed and acted entitled “Vera’s Voice” A homage to her mother who has always loved and supported her dreams.  

Pat Gurule' Griego


Pat Gurule' Griego was born and raised Roman Catholic in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and still lives in Santa Fe. The Straw Applique always caught her interest, and she learned the technique from a friend who had seen a demonstration on this art.  Pat worked at it and decided she would like to jury into the Traditional Spanish Market.  She juried in 2012 when she was encouraged by a award winning straw artist, and was accepted.  Pat has shown her art at the Traditional Spanish Markets, both Summer and Winter and received an Honorable Mention Ribbon at last summer's Spanish Market.  Pat has also shown her work at the Las Golondrinas Festival, the Gallup Spanish Market and the Las Cruces Spanish Market.

Polly Tapia Ferber


Percussionist Polly Tapia Ferber is a music educator, performer, and recording artist who specializes in hand percussion from the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans, and Spanish Andalucia. She is noted for her melodic style of playing on darabukah, or doumbek, (Middle Eastern goblet drum), frame drum, riqq (Middle Eastern tambourine) and cajon (Spanish wooden box-drum).

She has traveled to Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and Israel seeking out the finest teachers and performing with some of the world’s most renowned musicians. Polly maintains an active performing and teaching schedule in the U.S., including the EEFC Workshops since 1978. She plays music with New York-based Middle Eastern Jazz group Taksim, Raif Hyseni’s Albanian-American Ensemble, Dolunay NYC, Fetatones, Middle Eastern rock band Rubi Ate the Fig, Latin world music Trova, and the Iberian Spanish ensemble ¡Viva La Pepa!.

Polly lives in Santa Fe, NM, where she is on the faculty at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design Contemporary Music Program teaching percussion, classes in world music, and directing the Balkan/Mideast Ensemble. Her playing is featured in recordings such as Near East Far West, Tulku 2, Inlakesh, ShamanSong, Dezeo, Buddah Bar, Anoush, Mezze, Kulak Misafiri, ¡Viva La Pepa!, and the soon-to-be-released Dolunay.

Her CDs can be purchased at CD Baby and Eastern Europen Folklife Center.

Ronaldo Baca

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An accomplished performer of Flamenco, Jazz, Classical Guitar, and the Arabic lute (a.k.a. the Oud), Ronaldo has been playing for New Mexico audiences for over 20 years at venues such as the National Hispanic Culture Center of New Mexico, El Rey, Albuquerque Convention Center, La Posada Hotel, Cafe Broadway, Silk Road, and the Santa Fe Play House.  Outside of New Mexico he has performed in Hollywood, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Denver, CO; Lawrence,KA; Amarillo,TX, and Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Ronaldo has been a guest artist on several recordings, among them Devil Dog Road, a Psychic Sparkplugs CD recorded in 1995 by the band Liar, and Hard Steps, a Window Records audio tape by poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, recorded in 1996. He also recorded in Spain for a CD being produced out of England.

Ronaldo has formed and been a member of several bands, including Maria Benitez's Second Company, Flamenco del Encanto, Cabaret Flamenco, Aire Flamenco, Sadaqa, Sci-Fi, Scheherezade/Rajaz, and Fathom.

Ronaldo has been studying, composing, teaching, and performing music for twenty-three years. He began to study classical guitar at the age of thirteen under Hector Pimentel.  Then, he was a soloist for three years in Satin Nights, a high school jazz band where he played both guitar and bass.  Under the influence of his grandfather, his interests broadened to include Flamenco.  He has studied Flamenco for twelve years under the guidance of Juan Junquera Cortez, Santiago Moreno, Pedro Cuadra, Chuscales, Pedro Cortez, Roberto Castellon, and Eric Patternson.

Ronaldo has also become an accomplished Middle Eastern Oud performer. His love for Flamenco has greatly influenced this.   Without the Arabic Oud, Flamenco guitars would have never existed. This is why is comes so natural to him.  His Oud teachers consist of well-known maestros from both the Arabic and Turkish cultures, namely Naser Musa, Haig Manoukian, and Necati Celik.

Ronaldo pursues Spanish Flamenco and Arabic music particularly because of their intensity and raw passion.  He brings to the music an aggressive style and an instinctive understanding of its underlying pathos.  For over a year, he studied and lived in Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, Spain, with a Moorish echo in the background, amongst the true Flamencos of the present day.  He was reared amidst a family devoted to Flamenco, and his familiarity with its form and its culture is reflected in his passionate performances.

Salomé Martínez


Salomé Martínez received an M.A. in Theatre Arts from UNM, and a B.A. Theatre (Acting) with a Minor in Music. She is Artistic Director of Teatro Nuevo Mexico (est. 2003). She is an award-winning director and educator with 17 local, national and international awards and she was included in the publication of the Hispanic Women’s Council book entitled “Mujeres Valerosos.” Her last film project was “Frontera,” filmed in NM with actors Evan Langoria and Ed Harris. She taught high school and university classes in theatre for 18 years.


Sandra Marroquin-Evans

Sandra Marroquin-Evans
Actor, performer, dancer, poet,
mother of 18 year old twins, was born
and raised in Guatemala
knows the pain of migration.
She is honored to bring life
to such profound poetry and
hopes you feel the power of
each word.