¡Viva la Pepa! uses a variety of instruments, including Spanish lute, guitar, psaltery, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, tromba marina, accordion, woodwinds and percussion, combined with their voices. Their repertoire ranges from 13th century cantigas to contemporary village music of Spain and France, the Sephardic oral tradition as well as their own compositions.
The group’s music has been featured in two international documentaries so far:
- Return of the Horse, 2012. Ground Breaking Documentary on North American’s Wild Horse – the Mustang. Directed by Sharon Eliashar and Leo Hubbard. http://www.returnofthehorse.com/
- A documentary directed by Miguel Ángel Nieto, called: Tu boca en los cielos (Your Wishes in Heaven) https://vimeo.com/236884895 Aired on December 2nd, 2018, for the national TV in Spain, TV2 the documentary tells the stories of the Sephardim from North Africa.
In September 2004, after a fortunate encounter guided by the echoing sound of a hurdy-gurdy, the two couples met: Rima and Tom, Sharon and Juan. Three months later, they performed their first concert as Crisol Luz, name that Rima and Tom used as a duet. Needed was a new name that would embody all four members and characterize their new musical path and style. So in 2006 ¡Viva la Pepa! was born.
Sharon Berman has performed with ensembles specializing in early, traditional and/or new music. She studied musical traditions of Québec, medieval music performance and the American shape note tradition Sacred Harp. She holds master’s degrees in ethnomusicology and visual anthropology, and plays recorder, accordion, and hurdy gurdy.
Tomás Lozano was born in Barcelona, Spain, from Andalusian parents and raised between Granada/Almería and Barcelona. Lozano began as a self taught musician with a broken guitar from his uncle. As a young teenager, he began performing Catalan folk music. In 1993, through a sponsorship by the Spanish Ministry of External Affairs, Lozano toured Canada and the United States with the theater troupe Bufons. Lozano has since made the United States his home base, performing solo and with a number of other musicians across the country. In ¡Viva la Pepa! he sings and plays guitar, Spanish lute, hurdy-gurdy and the Galician tambourine. www.tomaslozano.com
Polly Tapia Ferber is a percussionist, music educator, performer, and recording artist who specializes in hand percussion from the Middle East, the Balkans, Spanish Andalucia, and North Africa. She is on the faculty in the music department at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, is researching Tunisian Sephardic music, and has recently embarked on making Albanian frame drums (daires). She played her first gig with ¡Viva la Pepa! in 2009. For more information about Polly Tapia Ferber visit: www.handsprings.com
Juan Wijngaard was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has lived in the Netherlands, Switzerland and England, where he first heard and fell in love with medieval and later French folk music. He made his first hurdy gurdy in 1976 whilst living in London and taught himself to play it by ear (he still does not read music). Juan became part of the first line up of the band Blowzabella. With his wife Sharon he formed the group Stop S’il Vous Plait which also featured the late Joe Moir and Ed Leddell. Shortly after moving to New Mexico, Juan and Sharon met Tom Lozano and his wife Rima Montoya and joined their group Crizol Luz which played a chiefly Spanish repertoire. ¡Viva la Pepa! is a reincarnation of that group. Juan also plays Border, Flemish, and Galician bagpipes.