Award-winning ensemble visits UW-Eau Claire

Me La Amargates Tú brings culture to musical experience

More stories from Jessie Meyen


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

The five members of Me La Amargates Tú (Estaban Manzano, Doret Florentin, Tulio Rondon, Dieter Hennings and Juan Martinez) performed songs with emotion and culture Tuesday evening in Schofield Auditorium.

Me La Amargates Tú visited UW-Eau Claire on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium to share an emotional and poetic performance of Jewish Sephardic music with Renaissance instruments.

The ensemble is a musical group that mixes Jewish Sephardic melodies with traditional Spanish music from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

The group consists of Esteban Manzano singing tenor, Doret Florentin on the recorders, Tulio Rondon on the viola da gamba — an instrument similar to a mixture between the violin and cello — Dieter Hennings on the guitar and Juan Martinez on percussion.

Rondon, an associate professor of music at Eau Claire welcomed and introduced the cross-cultural group before the show.

“The day of my phone interview to become a professor, I was with these people (the group members),” Rondon said. “So, I’m very happy to be here now and to share with you my other life.”

The auditorium was about half-filled, and the Eau Claire Service Center counted nearly 205 community members and students who came to hear the cultural sounds of Me La Amargates Tú.

The group performed a number of Spanish-inspired songs by the names of “The Paths of Sand,” “My beloved, my Husband” and “At One I was Born,” among others.  

The band’s recorder player, Florentin, said she loves the passion in the songs the group chose.

“We have different kinds of songs and some of them are romances,” Florentin said. “I like the Sephardic romances because they tell a story.”  

The group has been playing together for over 10 years. They have performed at numerous concerts across the globe including countries like the United States, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Greece and Israel. They are one of the leading Sephardic music ensembles in the world and hold the title of the 2008 International Jewish Music Competition winner.

The artists come from a variety of different countries, such as Greece, Mexico and the United States. The musicians met each other through a mentoring program called Informed Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in The Netherlands.

According to the university activities page, the group’s songs are influenced by Spanish, Turkish, Arabic and Balkan music and tell their tales through power and emotion. Their music twists past and present cultures in a modern way.

Virginia Fritz, a junior social work student, said she enjoyed the cultural experience.

“I thought it was very expressive with emotion,” Fritz said, “I was impressed with the blend of cultures they represented.”

This year marks the 53rd year for the UW-Eau Claire Artist Series, and they plan to keep adding to their lineup of musical groups.

Kristin Schumacher, the university centers director, said the most important part about finding artists for the Artist Series is that they’re unique.

“The committee for the Artist Series wants to bring a diverse representation of artistry,” Schumacher said, “so we have to do our research and keep it interesting.”

As soon as the concert was over, people gathered for a reception in Dulany Inn, located in the Davies Center. People could also purchase the group’s new CD “Scalerica de Oro” after the performance.

The next musical group to perform as part of the Artist Series will be Eighth Blackbird. They will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 in Gantner Hall. For more information on the artists and the Artist Series, check out the Eau Claire webpage.