Sephardic Music Concert

Neshama del Bosque (Spirit of the Forest)

Beth Cohen with Ronaldo Baca and Polly Tapia Ferber

Saturday April 14 @ 7:00 PM

Doors open at 6:30 PM

Beth Cohen has selected some of her favorite music from the Sephardic repertoire: pizmonim (sacred poems set to music) from medieval Spain and Syria, a Ladino lullaby from Greece, an ancient folk song from Turkey, a muwashah love song in Arabic from Andalucia, a Ladino folk song written by Flory Jagoda about Tu Beshevat (the Jewish New Year of the trees), a suite of traditional folk songs and fiddle tunes from New Mexico (from Beth’s repertoire that she plays for local weddings)--y muncho mas!  Beth is honored to perform with two of New Mexico’s most gifted and versatile musicians who will weave together the unique well-traveled sounds of Sefarad: Ronaldo Baca will be singing and playing the oud and guitar and Polly Tapia Ferber will be performing on a variety of percussion instruments. Come experience the Neshama del Bosque (Spirit of the Forest).   The cost for Saturday evening's performance is $10.   Concert tickets are included with a purchase of a Full Weekend Pass ($60).

About the Musicians . . .

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 acco / choirmplished violinist, string musician, music instructor & band director.  Since the early 1990’s Beth has studied maqam (the Arabic modal system) on her violin with several masters including oudist Haig Manoukian (z’l), violinist Beth Bahia Cohen, kanunist Mimi Spencer (z'l), and clarinetist Sonia Tamar Seeman.  From 1984-2004, she was a member of Svirka, Women’s Balkan chorus in which she performed, learned and taught many Sephardic folk songs in Ladino. The chorus hosted a singing workshop with the renowned Sephardic songstress Judy Frankel (z’l) in the late 1990's.  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 his guitar and singing in Alavados Holy Days Ensemble and The Rebbe’s Orkestra-Klezmer & 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!

 Ronaldo Baca

Ronaldo Baca_Photo.JPG

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 produced out of England.

Ronaldo has founded and has been a member of many 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 and later he was a soloist for three years in the high school jazz band Satin Nights, playing both guitar and bass.  Under the influence of his grandfather, Ronaldo's interests broadened to include Flamenco. He 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 is an accomplished performer on the Middle Eastern Oud, which has been greatly influenced by his love for Flamenco.  Because of the interconnection between the Flamenco guitar and the Arabic Oud, playing the oud comes very natural to Ronaldo. 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, among 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.

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).

Polly 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. She maintains an active performing and teaching schedule in the U.S., including the EEFC Workshops since 1978.  Polly 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 also serves 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.