"Goddess of Arno" is a quartet of talented women who have been performing Balkan folk music for over 20 years together. The group focuses on the music of the southern Balkans - Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, with an emphasis on the music and styling of the Rom (Gypsy) people of these areas. The musicians of Goddess of Arno love the exotic rhythms and scales, which the southern Balkans absorbed from the Ottoman Empire, and the passion of the Rom music, which also offers opportunities for instrumental improvisation.
"Goddess of Arno" members have been studying, performing and teaching Balkan folk music for over 20 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the USA. The band hopes to share its love, respect, and awe for this beautiful and unique music with you.
"Goddess of Arno" was originally formed as accompaniment to "Svirka", women's Balkan Chorus (a fixture on the ABQ folk music scene since 1980) and later developed its own identity (around 1994), known for exciting dance parties and concerts. The group has performed throughout the southwest and has recently released their full-length CD, "Balkan Dance Party!!" The CD was nominated for 2 New Mexico Music Industry awards (2002) in the categories of "Best Production" and "Best Instrumental Performance", and WON the "Best Instrumental Performance" category for their recording of "Beranche."
"Goddess of Arno" Musicians are:
Barbara Basinger - accordion, daire and vocals, has been studying and performing Eastern European, Balkan and Mid-Eastern music extensively since the late 1970's. She has studied accordion with Raif Hyseni (Albania), Simeon Atanasov (Macedonia-Rom), Angel Nazlamov (Bulgaria), Joshua Horowitz (Klezmer) and many other world-renown ethnic accordionists. Classically trained on the piano as a child, Barbara brings a technically polished sound to the band, which is complimented by her intricate improvisational style. With her in-depth knowledge of music, she contributes much to the band in the way of arranging and harmonizing. Barbara teaches piano and accordion in her private studio in Albuquerque, and she has also taught chorus in the public schools. Barbara is also a member of The Rebbe's Orkestra, Klezmer and Judaic band and she is a founding member of the popular Svirka, Women's Balkan Chorus, begun in 1979.
Beth Cohen - violin, guitar, tambura and vocals, is well known as a vocalist, string musician and music teacher in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area. She has been running her own music studio in Albuquerque since 1983, where she teaches voice, guitar and violin to students of all ages. In 1991, Beth received a Bachelor of Music degree in voice (performance track) from the University of New Mexico. Since 1995, she has been the musical director and cantorial soloist at Congregation Nahalat Shalom in ABQ, also directing their 20-plus-piece intergenerational Community Klezmer Band and teaches Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes. Beth began singing and accompanying herself with the guitar when she was 7, and studied jazz piano from ages 9-17. Beth performs in The Rebbe's Orkestra, and from 1984-1999 she was a member of Svirka, with whom she often performs as a guest artist. She is also a member of Gamelan Encantada and was a member of the vocal trio Earth Angels and the folk trio Village Idioms. Ms. Cohen has played in all kinds of bands including Celtic, cowboy/western, classical, reggae, international folk, blues and Middle Eastern.
Barbara Friedman - Bulgarian and Macedonian tamburas, electric bass and vocals, successfully combines expertise in Balkan singing, experience in instrumental music and undying enthusiasm. She supplies the band with source material, ideas, talent and excitement. For over 20 years Barbara has been singing and playing music professionally as a member of Svirka and many other Middle-Eastern and Balkan groups. An avid collector, student and performer of Eastern European music, she regularly attends workshops and studies with the top musicians and ethnomusicologists from Europe and the USA, as well as Esma, the Queen of Macedonian Roma (Gypsy) singers. Ms. Friedman contributes much to her bands with her knowledge of languages, vocal styles and ornamentation, as well as instrumental styles and techniques. Barbara is also a member of The Rebbe's Orkestra and she is a special guest member of The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezband. Barbara is also skilled on the baglama (Turkish lute), which she occassionally plays in Svirka and Goddess of Arno, and played for many years in the Middle-Eastern ensemble Erenler. Barbara also works as a public health nurse for the town of Los Lunas, NM.
Leanne Mennin - percussion and vocals, has been involved with Balkan music and dance since the 1960's. She was a dance director for eight years with the renowned, Los-Angeles-based, Aman Folk Ensemble, and has taught and performed extensively in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Leanne is a respected teacher of Balkan music who has taught workshops throughout the Western U.S. In Albuquerque, she is the founder and director of the popular Svirka, women's Balkan chorus. With her special gifts and knowledge of Balkan folklore and culture, Leanne has influenced and inspired a Balkan micro-culture to develop here in the Southwest; joining Balkan and non-Balkan Americans together through their enjoyment of music and dance. As a performing musician, Leanne's rich voice and her skills as a percussionist provide a strong foundation for the group's tight sound. Leanne is also the director of Senior Arts, Inc. and she works as a substitute teacher for ABQ public schools.
2002 New Mexico Mic-award winning CD "Balkan Dance Party!!" raves:
"I was just listening to your CD this morning while getting ready for work -- terrific! - Way better than Morning Edition!" - Mary B. "Bucky" (Program director at KUNM Public Radio station in ABQ, NM)
"I just got the package with your wonderful Goddess CD and I am enjoying it so much!!!!...A sheynem dank! ...I'm dancing to your CD!" - Margot Leverett (virtuoso Klezmer clarinetist and band leader of "Margot Leverett and The Klezmer Mountain Boys)
"...congratulations on your musical work! ...I've so much enjoyed hearing you through the years. I still remember playing with you in New Mexico, and what a great time I had with all of you and your warm musical energy." - Sonia Tamar Seeman (Phd, professor of Ethnomusicology, U.C. Santa Barbara, CA)
In addition to its regular dance parties at R.B. Winning Coffee Company, "Goddess of Arno" performs all over Albuquerque and throughout the Southwest area including: The Outpost Performance Space, The Placitas Arts Series, The New Mexico Jazz Workshop's "Women's Voices"concerts, The Las Vegas Arts series, The Durango (Colorado) Arts Center, Museum of Fine Art and Folk Art in Santa Fe, various live shows on KUNM including "Ear to the Ground", Summerfest, Magnifico and Sunport Serenades, The University of New Mexico, The Albuquerque Folk Festival, ABQ public and private schools, The Forest Guardians, The Harwood Art Center, and for various conventions, festivals, nightclubs, parties, and other concert venues.