"An international tour de force” (Bethlehem Morning Call) from the Middle East, South and North America, the Guy Mendilow Ensemble operates on the notion that incredible stories and emotionally sweeping experiences can do far more than just entertain. They can give glimpses of the past and stir highly resonant, deeply moving connections to contemporary struggles and dilemmas. With this premise in mind, the Guy Mendilow Ensemble combines world-class musicianship with cinematic storytelling in shows that “explode with artistry, refinement, and excitement” (Hebrew Union College), conjuring voices lost to war and upheaval, whisking audiences to distant times and picturesque places and, ultimately, inspiring the motivation to care beyond our day-to-day.
The Guy Mendilow Ensemble tours four shows: The Forgotten Kingdom; Three Sides to Every Story (ft. Philadelphia Girls Choir); Heart of the Holidays — A Global Celebration in Song; and Around the World in Song family concerts. Highly skilled educators, the ensemble specializes in community engagement including tailor-made residencies, choral/string collaborations and a breadth of interactive workshops. The Ensemble is an artist-in-residence with Celebrity Series of Boston's Arts for All since 2014.
In 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts selected the Guy Mendilow Ensemble for its Art Works, a grant for the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
Alongside touring with the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, members are on the faculty of music schools like the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India and tour/record with the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Yo Yo Ma, Snarky Puppy, the Assad Brothers, Christian McBride, the Video Game Orchestra, Amanda Palmer and Simon Shaheen. Formed in 2004, the Ensemble is based in Boston, MA and New York, NY, USA.
Musical Director, Vocals, Overtone Singing, Berimbau, Guitar
Guy Mendilow grew up in what seemed like a global game of hopscotch, choosing between three passports in homes in the Middle East, North, Central and South America and Africa. He began his professional stage career at age ten, touring internationally and domestically with the American Boychoir and singing some two hundred concerts a year in venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Today, Mendilow is quickly developing a reputation as a leader in a wave of young musicians sparking fascination with traditional Ladino song. His gift is in connecting diverse audiences with the adventure, humour and grit of old Sephardi songs from Sarajevo, Salonica and Rhodes, sung in the endangered Judeo-Spanish language, Ladino.
Mendilow grew up listening to Ladino songs in his boyhood Jerusalem home and attended school in one of the area’s larger Ladino communities. Yet it wasn’t until later that he started listening through other artists’ interpretations to the traditional songs themselves and their tales — and got hooked. Today, Mendilow’s creative process with Ladino song begins with ethnomusicological field recordings, followed by research into the songs’ traditional function and context. Most of these songs were sung primarily by women, in the home or life-cycle events like weddings, unaccompanied except perhaps for a drum. The themes may be dark, but the songs were normally sung in a familiar way, without being taken overly seriously and certainly lacking much of the theatricality in which they are commonly presented today.
Mendilow’s next steps often lead him away from tradition, knowingly and deliberately. He asks compositional questions: “What can I imagine the mood of the story, or the emotions of some of the characters, to be, despite the traditional ways the song would have been sung? Was I to create a soundtrack for this story, how would I use the musical tools available to me, and the expertise of the Ensemble members, to bring these tales, moods and emotions to life in a way that will feel personally real, and that will give audiences a powerful emotional experience?” The result is a vivid, often daring recasting that springboards from tradition and into modern imagination.
Mendilow frequently presents in universities across the U.S. including Harvard University, University of Washington, Emory University, Cornell University, Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College. He earned his Masters in Music and International Certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA where he is currently a candidate for the advanced Dalcroze License diploma.
From Cordoba, Argentina, vocalist Sofia Tosello is part of an exciting group of young transnational artists advancing change in Latin American song. She brings her expertise in such Latin American Cancion traditions as Tango, Chacarera, Bolero, Son and Zamba into the broader “world” jazz scene, including Bossa Nova and Funk. Ms. Tosello has performed, recorded and toured worldwide with renowned bands and artists such as Horacio “El Negro Hernandez”, Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, Aquiles Baez, Julio Santillan, Alex Cuba, Pavel Urkiza, Marta Gomez, La Cumbiamba eneye, Thalia. She is on the voice faculty at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India and is a guest artist-educator at universities and schools throughout the U.S., Peru and Argentina.
Learn more about Sofia at sofiatosello.com
Drums & Percussion
Originally from Jerusalem, percussionist Tareq Rantisi began performing internationally in his teens with the Edward Said National Conservatory, appearing on such acclaimed recordings as the feature film soundtrack to Bird on a Wire. Tareq was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee School of Music. He regularly collaborates with such artists as Simon Shaheen, Majazz, Kudsi Erguner and Mangred Leuchter, performing on stages from the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation in the US to Montreal's Royal Conservatory of Music and the Chabada Festival in France. Learn more about Tareq at tareqrantisi.com
Woodwinds, Jawharps, Mbira, Saxophones
American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording artist Andy Bergman plays clarinet, saxophones, and a variety of other woodwind and percussion instruments. Grounded in classical technique, Bergman's musicality is informed by years of work with a wide range of ensembles from orchestras and theater pits to afro-funk, klezmer, folk, reggae, and jazz bands. His growing list of credits includes appearances at the Chicago World Music Festival, Oslo World Music Festival, Festival Mawazine (Morocco), Baloise Session (Switzerland), Cully Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Colours of Ostrava (Czech Rep), Ashkenaz Festival (Toronto), Cappadox Festival (Turkey), Women Of The World Festival (Frankfurt), Carthage Jazz Festival (Tunisia), Philadelphia Folk Festival, Celebrity Series (Boston). Current collaborations include tours and recordings with Iyeoka, Guy Mendilow Ensemble, The Macrotones, Destroy Babylon, and The Doped Up Dollies. Learn more about Andy at andybergman.com
Chris Baum is a contemporary violinist, composer, and educator who "ushers the violin into fresh sonic territory" (NPR). A pioneer of modern string technique, his strength lies in his versatility, consistently pushing boundaries while molding his playing to fit ensembles and genres often deemed unsuitable for the instrument. Trained in a demanding classical environment, Baum expanded his musical vocabulary at Berklee College of Music, where he graduated with honors, studying under cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Mimi Rabson, and composer Sheldon Mirowitz. Chris' growing list of credits include collaborations with Bent Knee, The Dear Hunter, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dropkick Murphys, Amanda Palmer, Symmetry, Art Decade, Ben Levin, Guy Mendilow, Jherek Bischoff, and the Video Game Orchestra, who recently featured him as a soloist at Boston’s Symphony Hall and on the ensemble's recent tours in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Learn more about Chris at chrisbaummusic.com