"I'm a huge admirer" - Leslie Feist
MISTRĀL COMING MAY 2019
Tamar Ilana & Ventanas present their new multimedia show, MISTRAL. Tamar Ilana’s “potent, vibrato-drenched vocals” (Downbeat Magazine), backed by virtuosic musicianship, are framed by visuals relating to MISTRAL's overarching themes of migration and Tamar’s childhood experiences gathering songs from across the Mediterranean. With songs in Ladino, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, Romani and Arabic, Tamar Ilana & Ventanas intertwine composite rhythms with flamenco dance to create an all-encompassing world of their own, leading audiences down the less traveled paths of the Mediterranean and mixing in contemporary interpretations of ancient ballads, original compositions and new choreographies. “I’m a huge admirer,” says Leslie Feist."
Tamar Ilana & Ventanas is a six-piece Toronto-based world music ensemble fronted by powerhouse vocalist and dancer Tamar Ilana and featuring the city’s finest world musicians. Drawing inspiration from such legendary artists as the Silk Road Ensemble, Paco de Lucía, and Yasmin Levy, they reimagine Mediterranean melodies and flamenco grooves, and mix contemporary interpretations of ancient ballads with original compositions.
Awards and Nominations:
Unsigned Only Semi-Finalist for "Marbella", off MISTRĀL (2019)
Outstanding Ensemble Performance, Dora Mavor Moores Award
Lemon Bucket's Counting Sheep (Toronto, 2017)
Best Ensemble Helen Hayes Award
Yaël Farber’s Salomé, (Washington, DC; 2016)
Ontario Arts Council Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts
Emerging Artist Nominee (Toronto, 2016)
- Four time Canadian Folk Music Awards Nominee:
Best World Music Group of the Year; Best Traditional Singer of the Year
Ventanas' Arrelumbre (Canada 2015);
IAP Indie Acoustic Project “Best World Music CD of 2015” runner-up
Best Ensemble of the Year; Best Traditional Singer of the Year
Ventanas self titled debut (Canada 2014)
Tamar Ilana is a Toronto-born multifaceted artist who grew up touring internationally, singing in multiple languages and dancing flamenco.
Tamar spent much of her childhood performing throughout the Mediterranean and North America with her ethnomusicologist mother, Dr. Judith Cohen, and gathering semi extinct songs in remote Spanish and Portuguese villages, literally following in Alan Lomax’s footsteps. By the age of five, Tamar was singing Ladino, Balkan and Medieval music in multiple languages and had already recorded on her first album. At eight, she began studying flamenco dance with Esmeralda Enrique in Toronto, Canada. Throughout her teens she continued to perform, travel and record, however upon graduating with a Bilingual Degree (French and English) from the International Baccalaureate program, she decided to delve into her other passion and pursue a degree in Biology and Human Evolution at the University of Toronto. In her third year, Tamar did an international exchange at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and while living there, she re-immersed herself in the flamenco world, which is where she met Montse Cortés and began singing flamenco.
Upon her return to Toronto to finish her B.Sc., Tamar discovered that although there was a strong dance and guitar presence in the local flamenco community, there was little to no professional flamenco singing. She was immediately in high demand, performing regularly for the various tablaos, and dance companies, including the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company, with whom she had begun her studies so many years before. Shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto, Tamar decided to seriously invest in her flamenco singing career and moved to Seville, Spain to study full time for a year at the prestigious Fundación de Arte Flamenco Cristina Heeren. She studied daily with some of the greatest masters including Arcángel and Calixto Sánchez, and established life-long connections with the flamenco community worldwide. She returned to Seville in 2013 with a Chalmers Professional Development Grant from the Ontario Arts Council to study privately with Rocío Márquez and Esperanza Fernández.
In 2011, Tamar again returned to Toronto and founded her band, Ventanas, meaning windows in Spanish, reflective of Tamar’s life as a series of window onto numerous cultures and styles of music, dance and art. Of mixed Jewish-Indigenous-Romanian-Scottish descent, Tamar is well versed in the music and cultures of the Sephardic Diaspora and the Iberian Peninsula. Thanks to living in the heart of Toronto’s thriving world music scene, Tamar has also been performing professionally in the Afro-Brazilian style of Maracatú since 2006, and in the Ukrainian polyphonic a Capella style since 2011.
With Ventanas, Tamar mixes her lifetime of musical knowledge with her own cultural backgrounds and those of the ensemble. On her newest album, Tamar sings in Ladino, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, Romani, and Arabic and together with Ventanas rearranges traditional forms and creates original compositions. The album draws inspiration from today’s worldwide themes of migration and the questioning of one’s identity, as well as from Toronto’s growing multicultural music scene. Tamar Ilana & Ventanas released Ventanas in 2013 and Arrelumbre in 2015, both nominated for two Canadian Folk Music Awards including Best Traditional Singer, and their third album, MISTRĀL, released in May, 2019.
Tamar has also been involved in numerous musical theatre projects at La Mama Theatre in New York, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, the Huntington Theatre in Boston, and toured internationally with Lemon Bucket Orkestra’s Counting Sheep. In 2018, Tamar received a full scholarship for Canada’s Music Incubator Artist Entrepreneur program with Coalition Music, and recorded on Jesse Cook’s newest album. Tamar Ilana is currently working with various pop producers to create her own sound and genre relevant to today’s worldwide music industry and based on her lifelong accumulation of musical knowledge and experience.
Tamar would like to acknowledge the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council for their continuous and generous support over the years.