OUR Cantor

Beth Cohen is a well known vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and music teacher in New Mexico. 

Since 1995, Ms. Cohen has served as the musical director and cantor at Congregation Nahalat Shalom where she shares her joy and love for Jewish music. During this time she has studied Ashkenazic & Sephardic Jewish liturgy, nusach, trope and t'filah with several cantors and rabbis.  At Nahalat Shalom, she teaches, directs, arranges music for, and performs in The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band and Alavados Holy Days Band.  Beth tutors the pre-B'nai Mitzvah students in T'filah and in Torah cantillation.  She also leads services -including the popular Der Freylekher Shabes- a joyous danced heimishe ("homey") old-country style Shabbat Service that she created and developed.  Beth coordinates and co-produces the internationally recognized klezmer music and dance festival KlezmerQuerque, which,  since 2003, has taken place annually at Nahalat Shalom.

Beth studied vocal performance at the University of New Mexico (UNM) with Dr. Katherine Fowler and professor Robert Smith.  Beth received her Bachelor of Music degree in voice (performance track) in 1991, and she remained at UNM to complete some core course work towards a Masters in Music degree in voice performance. 

Beth has enjoyed teaching and playing music throughout her life and she has received extensive training on a variety of instruments in folk, jazz and classical styles. She began studying classical guitar and voice and accompanying her own singing when she was seven years old, and she studied piano, theory and arranging with Boston jazz pianist Charles Rose from ages nine through sixteen. Throughout her youth, she was the recipient of many awards, teaching apprenticeships and scholarships for her music and teaching talents. After graduating from UNM, she studied classical violin and violin pedagogy with Albuquerque's "go-to" violinist and violin teacher Kathy Jarrett.  

Beth has been teaching voice, guitar, violin, viola, mandolin and piano to students of all ages in her Albuquerque music studio since she moved here from her hometown of Boston in 1983.  A much sought-after music teacher in New Mexico, Beth taught string orchestra at the Public Academy for Performing Arts, as well as band, jazz and chamber ensembles at The Bosque School, and piano, voice and violin at Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences.

Beth is also skilled on the tenor banjo, Macedonian tambura, Russian balalaika, bowed psaltery, Appalachian dulcimer, and penny whistle. She especially enjoys researching, performing and teaching international folk music - particularly the music of Eastern Europe. Both of Beth's parents spoke Yiddish at home and her mother would often sing Russian and Yiddish folk songs to her. Beth is a featured musician in the educational music book and tape "Roots and Branches, A Legacy of Multicultural Music for Children" (Campbell, McCullough-Brabson & Cook Tucker, 1994, World Music Press), singing and accompanying herself with the Russian balalaika on one of her mother's favorite Russian folk songs "Kalinka."

Beth performs throughout the southwest as a soloist and also with the noted traditional & world music ensembles: The Rebbe's Orkestra-Klezmer & Judaic ensemble (since 1996), Goddess of Arno-Balkan dance band (since 1994), Gamelan Encantada (2006-14), Svirka women's Balkan chorus (1984-2004) & Earth Angels vocal trio (1991-2004).  One of her favorite gigs was playing the violin with the Canadian touring group Classic Albums Live  http://classicalbumslive.com/  at Popejoy Hall on the 'Beatles' Abbey Road & Greatest Hits' U.S. tour in 2013. Beth loves all kinds of music and has played in many different ensembles throughout her life in addition to her current groups, including: Celtic, classical, bluegrass, rock, reggae, Middle-Eastern, Medieval/Renaissance, cowboy-western, blues and world folk. 

Beth lives with her husband and band partner Randy in their funky Victorian era house (built in 1886) in Albuquerque's South Broadway / EDO neighborhood where they raised their daughter and "nakhes-machine" Jamie.  In Beth's spare time she enjoys backpacking in the high Rocky Mountains, secluded deserts, and lush Rio Grande Bosque as well as hiking, walking, bird-watching and snowshoeing anywhere with Randy--appreciating, observing, studying, loving, and helping to protect plants, wild animals and our planet.  Her favorite mammal is the pika, her favorite fish is any type of trigger fish, and her favorite bird is the curved-bill thrasher.