The creation of Milo Ke Mandarini was the result of sharing a very personal way to feel the traditional music and folk culture from the Mediterranean. The musicians Carlos Ramírez and Isabel Martín, both native to Toledo, formed this duo in 2008, going on stage in different places and folk festivals of the Iberian Peninsula.
Encouraged by their incessant passion for travelling and discovering other cultures, during the following years they continued their instruction with top class maestros of modal music in places like Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, as well as the Iberian Peninsula.
Their music finds inspiration in subtle things like water flowing, the sound of goat’s bells or the heat of a winter bonfire. They have created this project on a slow burning fire.
It nourishes itself on pure Iberian songs, it tells of the sephardic diaspora and is performed with instruments that come from the eastern Mediterranean countries and sometimes that they build with their own hands. The sounds, merged and recreated, become familiar to us, as in earlier times.
Their live performances bring us closer to these styles of music, played with a great deal of sensitivity and respect, performed in a fresh and genuine way, and at the same time retaining the identity and distinctive nuances of this music. The result is an acoustic and minimalist sound both deep and meaningful.
Without losing sight of the modal tradition, they open up to the creation of new compositions and improvised performances, retaining the essence of the traditional cultures they appreciate so much and to which we all belong.
ISABEL MARTÍN: voice, bendir, pandero cuadrado de Peñaparda (square tambourine), tambourine, riq, davul, spoons and other (grandma’s) kitchen tools
She felt attracted to folk culture from a young age and started studying Iberian singing and percussion with Eliseo Parra, Vanesa Muela and Mónica de Nut. Later on, at the Labyrinthos Center of Crete, she came into contact with Bulgarian and Turkish singing techniques with Tsvetanka Varimezova and Mercan Erzincan. She was instructed in percussion by Zohar Fresco and Vassilis Sarikis and in modal music by Efrén López, Hristos Barbas.
Her interest, not only in studying music but also in human culture, led her to graduate in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the UNED.
CARLOS RAMÍREZ: yayli tanbur, baglama, hurdy gurdy, lavta, dutar, ud, çümbüs, bouzouki, rabab and lutherie at the carpentry workshop of El Arca de Ambroz in Mazarambroz (Toledo).
He has been studying classical guitar from the age of 8. In 2004 was living in Crete (Greece), where he became interested in the music and culture of this island. Since then, he has travelled on countless occasions, studying baglama with the turkish maestro Erdal Erzincan, yayli tanbur with Evgenios Voulgaris, turkish makam theory with Ross Daly y Christos Barbas, modal music composition with Efrén López and percussion with Zohar Fresco.
He comes from a family of artisans and started to build his own percussion and string instruments, some of which are used in his concerts.
In recent years, while continuing their instruction, they have been performing in some of most important folk festivals of the Iberian Peninsula with Milo ke Mandarini and are currently members of the new band of his maestro Efrén López, “Abracadabra”.
After several trips, different learning experiences and their passion for traditional music and cultures, Carlos Ramírez and Isabel Martín met again in their native land, between Sonseca and Mazarambroz (Toledo), to give life to this project in 2008. With the help of Antonio Ramírez they recorded their first songs with great care and started to share them at different concerts and institutions. This work brought together Greek and Turkish traditional melodies, Sephardic poems and an Iberian element, which acted by giving a personal character and vision to all this music. Their selection in 2009 for the program “Circuitos de Música” del Injuve allowed the duo to receive support from this organization to develop a musical training project at the Labyrinth Music Center in the beautiful island of Crete, in Greece.
During 2009 and 2010 they had the opportunity of being taught by important maestros like Ross Daly, Efrén López, Erdal Erzincan, Mercan Erzincan, Zohar Fresco, Eliseo Parra, Vanesa Muela, Mónica de Nut… Learning directly from all of these admired and brilliant musicians was a real honor.
During this period, combining trips and studies, they performed at different concerts and important folk festivals on the Iberian Peninsula, like Folk Segovia or the Festival Internacional de Fregenal de la Sierra in Badajoz. Thanks to their Mercedes Benz 208 they were able to travel hundreds of kilometers to bring their music to a multitude of places as diverse as cliffs and caves. In May 2010, the Agencia de Cooperación Española (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation) invited them to participate in the 2nd Bienal de Músicas del Mundo de Quito (Ecuador), a beautiful experience at the beginning of their career as a duo.
In 2011 they won the Spanish National Youth Prize Premio Nacional Injuve a la Interpretación Musical “Creación Joven” (Injuve National Youth Prize for a Musical Performance) for their new musical pieces performed with Darío Bermúdez playing the flamenco guitar. Together with him and José Alberto Ramírez playing the accordion, they gave some concerts on renowned stages. In May 2012, invited by the Spanish Embassy in Ghana, they made two performances at the European Culture Week in Accra, an unforgettable experience.
During this time they returned to Crete on different occasions to continue their musical instruction at the Labyrinth Music Center with Evgenios Voulgaris, Svetanka Varimezova and Zohar Fresco. They also travelled to Bulgaria to learn from Vladimir Vladimirov and Mariana Pepelyankova at the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv. In Istanbul they visited the Research Center of Sephardic Culture to find out the reality of this community in Turkey.
Since autumn 2012 they have been living in Villanueva de la Vera, a little village in the North of Extremadura, rich in nature and a very alive Iberian folklore. In recent years they have consolidated their experience at renowned festivals like the Festival Internacional de Música Sefardí (International Festival of Sephardic Music) in Córdoba, have taken on new influences and feel very greatful for all the teachings and enthusiasm they are encountering on their way.
Their instruction continues through the regular seminars and workshops they attend in Spain with Christos Barbas and Efrén López. Sharing the stage with other musicians and artists like David Larrínaga, Christos Kanellos, Josep Bedmar or Vassilis Sarikis has been and still is a great source of learning. Most recently they have joined the new project of Efrén López and his band Abracadabra, formed also by Miriam Encinas Laffite, Alexandre Guitart and Christos Barbas. They consider this experience as being “dream come true”.
At present they are making, with great enthusiasm, their first recording work, “La Vereda de la Gitana”, to pay tribute to the 3 km long path linking their home towns, Sonseca and Mazarambroz, in Toledo. Their curiosity continues to nourish itself from their research into the modal music of the Mediterranean and Middle East, flavoured with the distinctive Iberian touch. This is what will be shown in their new work, their personal vision of these traditions, including some of their own compositions.