About the Artists

Check out the artists that makes out the Ladino Project.
Contact us to book us for your next event! 

Rachel Valfer

Rachel Valfer

Rachel is a passionate vocalist and oudist (Middle Eastern lute) who brings depth of feeling to every song. Born to a family of esteemed musicians, she began studying music at the age of 6. Upon arriving in Israel/ Palestine, Rachel studied maqam and Persian dastgah modal systems for six years at the Center for Middle Eastern Music Studies, with masters such as Eyhab Nimir, Piris Eliyahu and Shlomo Takhalov. Over the years Rachel has performed with many ensembles in the Bay Area, California, and toured the country with the Qadim Ensemble. With vocals touted as ‘succulent’ by NPR, and dubbed ‘the golden throated one” by fans, Rachel is known both here in the Bay Area as well as in the Middle East for her authenticity in representing the vocal traditions, from cultures spanning Central Asia, the Balkans, Caucauses, Greece/Turkey and the Levant.  She is known for keeping the beautiful Ladino song tradition alive and evolving.

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Eliyahu Sills

Known for his authenticity and soulful musicianship, Eliyahu Sills has been performing music for over 20 years on multiple instruments, including bansuri (the bamboo flute of India), Turkish and Arabic ney (the reed flute of the middle east),  upright bass and electric bass.  He performs throughout the country with his critically acclaimed band, The Qadim Ensemble, whose CD reached #7 on Billboard's World Music charts, as well as collaborating with many highly acclaimed musicians. His new band, BOLO has already received rave reviews in several jazz and ethnic music magazines.

Eliyahu studied for over ten years with the Hindaustani bansuri flute master G.S.Sachdev, one of the worlds most highly esteemed musicians in that ancient tradition.  In Istanbul, Turkey, he studied with Neyzen Omer Erdogdular and Neyzen Ahmet Kaya, in Morocco with Akdii Abdelsalaam, and in Israel with Itamar Shachar. 


Faisal Zedan

Born inBeirut, Lebanon, and raised in Oum Dbaib, Syria, Faisal Zedan began his study of the darbekki at the age of 15, through exposure to a wide repertoire of Arabic classical and folk music.  Arriving in California in 1992, Faisal met UCLA’s noted ethnomusicology professor Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and joined the acclaimed UCLA Near East Music Ensemble.  A great love of drumming and years of practice resulted in a mastery of Arabic percussion instruments including Derbekki, Dahullah, Riq and Def.   Faisal has worked with a diverse array of musicians including Khaleel Shaheed, Yuval Ron, Salim Sesler, Faruk Taqbilek, Hasan Iskul, Yair Dalal, Eliyahu Sills and Rumen Shopov.

Faisal’s playing embodies the elements essential to Arabic drumming‭ combined with a deep understanding of complex Arabic musical structures‭. ‬From the classical Muwashahat and Adwar style, to folkloric traditions‭, to belly dance, Faisal is studied and nuanced in his solo, ensemble, and accompaniment playing. As a master percussionist, Faisal studies and performs various Arabic styles of music and drumming, from Moroccan to Iraqi, including music of the Arab peninsula and Yemen. He is versed and adept in middle eastern and eastern European musical traditions, moving fluently between Turkish, Armenian, Persian, Afghan, Balkan and Greek rhythms. Faisals unique approach to percussion is strongly rooted in the fundamentals of technique and cadence, with dexterity for incorporating a contemporary feel and creating new, nuanced compositions.

Dan Cantrell

Dan Cantrell is an award winning composer known for his innovative and evocative film and theatre scoring approach, as well as his virtuosic playing abilities on the accordion, piano and musical saw.  He holds a BFA degree from CalArts where he majored in Composition and Piano performance.  Dan is a self taught master of the accordion, excelling at Balkan, Romani, Eastern European, and Klezmer styles.   In recent years, Dan has performed and recorded with Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, Bono, Danny Elfman, members of the Klezmatics and Fishbone.  Dan’s broad ranging musical portfolio, including compositions for video games, cartoons, film, television, web broadcast, and self produced albums can be heard on his website. 

Miriam Peretz

Miriam Peretz is an internationally acclaimed dancer specializing in traditional, mystical and contemporary dances from the Silk Road(Persia & Central Asia,) Middle East and beyond.  She has an extraordinarily diverse dance background including- Persian, Central Asian, Flamenco, Contemporary, Sacred dance practices from around the world, and various Martial Art forms.  Over the years she has crafted her own signature style that draws from her extensive training in traditional forms, however incorporates her own personal voice and devotional practices.  Drawing on her diverse training and Sephardic Jewish cultural roots, Miriam has crafted a beautiful signature style of dance for the Ladino song tradition.  The Ladino form was really only a vocal tradition, however Miriam is expanding this tradition through innovating a dance form that honors the many aspects of the Ladino songs.  She offers the audience a new layer of emotional and spiritual depth to the experience of this beautiful and very old song form.

  Miriam performs with her international group, Nava Dance Collective, as well as performs as a featured soloist in festivals throughout the U.S., Middle East and Europe.  Miriam’s love of dance has led her on a life long journey in search for ways to use the arts as a bridge between people of different backgrounds and spiritual traditions.  She sees dance as a uniquely powerful means of expressing deep emotion and spiritual yearning, and therefore the perfect embodiment of prayer.