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Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 7:30pm
Valley Beth Shalom

Tickets: $10 with advanced reservations; $15 at the door
For reservations and information, call Valley Beth Shalom (818) 788-6000.

Adam del Monte, internationally-acclaimed classic and flamenco guitarist will lead us through history with the music of Spain, Iberia, and Israel, in Spanish, Ladino, Hebreew and Arabic.

He will be joined by a thrilling group - flamenco dancer  Manuel Guiterrez from Cordoba, cante jondo José Lopez, and the exciting percussionist Sandra Kocochis.

Adam del Monte was born in Tel Aviv, but his soul was born in Granada, Spain. Listen to his fiery fandangos and soulful guajiras, and his passion becomes obvious.

For centuries, Gypsies wove their into the history of Granada, where flamenco is a way of life. Del Monte has lived and breathed that culture, and made it a part of his own.

First Prize Winner at the 1997 Stotsenberg International Classical Guitar Competition, del Monte is also one of that rare breed of musicians equally comfortable in both flamenco and classical guitar. In 2006, when the Atlanta Symphony needed a flamenco guitarist with classical skills to perform the flamenco guitar part in the double Grammy award opera "Ainadamar" by Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov, del Monte was their man.

Other than the legendary Pepe Romero, most guitarists keep the two traditions at arm's length, with the classical side prizing formality, and flamenco putting a premium on spontaneity.

But by the time he was 8, del Monte had simultaneously fallen in love with both, mostly by listening to his father, his first guitar instructor. "He was a self-taught, intuitive player, and transmitted to me the spirit and love for the instrument, and I just took it from there," del Monte says from his home in Los Angeles, where he is a faculty member of the Studio Jazz Department at the University of Southern California, and teaches both flamenco and classical guitar.

Del Monte was barely 4 months old when his father, a painter with wanderlust, took the family out of Israel and into Spain for several years. Throughout his childhood, he spent months at a time with Gypsy friends of his parents in the city of Granada, living in the caves of the hill named Sacromonte, or the "sacred mountain," next to the ancient Arabic quarter of the Albayzín.

He studied flamenco guitar there with such famed Gypsy performers as Pepe Habichuela, Paco Cortez and Nino Miguel.

He gave his first public performance at the age of 9, playing with a friend in a Sacromonte cave for two dollars a night. Deeply inspired by the place, the people and their music, the young guitarist, born Adam Kofler, changed his name to "del Monte," meaning "of the mountain."

"But even then I still loved classical guitar, and have been juggling the two all my life," del Monte says.

"When I was about 12 years old we moved back to Israel for a few years, where I studied classical guitar, and when we moved again to England I studied it there as well. But every summer I'd go back to Granada and study with the Gypsy guitarists."

Del Monte is one of a new generation of flamenco performers who, while heavily grounded in tradition, are beginning to depart from the virtual space of Spanish flamenco. He is unafraid to explore an eclectic mix of styles that includes Arab melodies, Gypsy sounds from the Balkans, African rhythms, 1940s American bebop, Sephardic liturgies and Brazilian jazz.

Adam del Monte performed with the world-renowned klezmer musician Yale Strom and his band Hot Pastrami in January of 2011 in the Jewish Music Commission concert SOULS ON FIRE.

Cantor Phil Baron writes about Adam del Monte:

Andalusian Music and the Music of Adam Del Monte


On February 22 and 23, you will have the opportunity to hear music rarely played in the synagogue ‑ and played brilliantly by a world-renowned musician.

The music has its roots in Andalusia, a region of Spain, and you may recognize it as flamenco, that exciting, energetic Spanish music, usually played on guitar and danced with great emotion, pulsating rhythm and agility.

The musician is Adam Del Monte, one of this generation’s leading guitarists, specializing in both flamenco and classical music. He has studied with the world’s greatest guitar masters in Spain, Israel and England. He has performed in the greatest concert halls across the globe. His music is expressive, thrilling and electric.

But, is it Jewish Music?

Well, yes, it is. As they did with so many varieties of music, from folk, to musical theater and even rock ‘n roll, Jews both influenced and absorbed Andalusian music during the centuries of Spanish settlement. But in the late 15th century, mass resettlements of Muslims and Sephardi Jews from Cordoba, Sevilla, Valencia, and Granada fled the Reconquista (the expulsion from Spain) and carried the music with them on their backs.

In his book "Jews of Andalusia and the Maghreb" on the musical traditions in Jewish societies of North Africa, Haïm Zafani writes: "In the Maghreb (much of the region of western North Africa, west of Egypt), the Muslims and Jews have piously preserved the Spanish-Arabic music .... In Spain and Maghreb, Jews were ardent maintainers of Andalusian music and the zealous guardians of its old traditions ...."

Adam Del Monte was born in Tel Aviv, but his passion for this ancient musical tradition drew him to Spain, where he lived for many years. His thrilling performances have earned him praise from critics and many awards and kudos from professionals across the globe.

I asked Adam to tell me a bit about his upcoming concert here at VBS:

“The program is mostly a selection of my flamenco compositions and a special rendition of Los Bilbilokos combined with Granaina, a flamenco cante jondo form. Flamenco has Sephardic melismas imbedded in it by the very nature of Jews having lived in Spain for 1,500 years. The selections in the program, especially the two dance numbers are the most fundamental and traditional forms that have the most "Chazanish" influence and feel to them, namely: Solea and Seguiriya.”

So this coming weekend, we have two opportunities to hear Adam Del Monte and his Flamenco music. The first is during our musaf service (about 11:15 am) on Saturday morning, February 22, when he will join Chris Hardin and myself in leading prayer, giving us a small taste, a forschpeis of his remarkable gift. Then on Sunday, February 23 at 7:30 pm, there will be a full concert of his exciting Andalucian flamenco. The concert is sponsored by the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles and will be held here at VBS.

I hope you will join us.

Sensational!  Extraordinary!  Unforgettable!

 Thank you fo last night's extraordinary program. Your generosity and sharing bring so much pleasure to so many.  Diane Sweet


Click on an image to see a bigger version.

Photo of Adam del Monte
Photo of Sandra Kocochis
Photo of Manuel Guiterrez
Photo of José Cortes