The Ensemble

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Beau Bledsoe - Artistic director, guitars, oud

Beau Bledsoe’s performances have been described as “pointedly musical” by Paul Horsley of The Kansas City Star. This stylistically eclectic musician performs and records classical music, jazz and folkloric music from around the world as he seeks to integrate different musical cultures with diverse audiences. With his many varied projects and ensembles, Beau has performed extensively throughout Europe, Russia, Asia, South America and North America. In addition, he has produced fifteen recordings under his recording label Tzigane. Beau is currently a member of classical chamber music group, the Bach Aria Soloists and is artistic director and founder of Ensemble Ibérica which explores the music of Spain, Portugal, and the colonial Americas while educating the public about Iberian cultural influence.

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Amado Espinoza - charango, flutes, percussion

Amado Espinoza, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, is a unique performing artist that respects his folk traditions of the Andes mountains while creating compositions that are sincere to his musical-wanderlust personality. He specializes in the Bolivian charango, a small ten-stringed guitar, but demonstrates mastery of over 40 instruments, including Latin, African and Arabic percussion, and native flutes from all over the world. A multi-faceted performer, Amado also guides sound meditations, recycled instrument workshops, and is a respected instrument maker in South America and beyond.

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Zsolt Eder - violin

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Zsolt has established himself as an international soloist and chamber musician. Zsolt is in his fifth season as Concertmaster of the Topeka Symphony and enjoys being an active freelancer and violin teacher in the Kansas City area. He is a faculty member at the UMKC Conservatory’s Academy and performs regularly in the Kansas City Symphony. He also works for outreach programs Musical Bridges and Harmony Project KC. Zsolt’s interest in different musical cultures and traditions led him to establish folk music group Ensemble Amarcord in 2014.

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John Currey - percussion

John Currey is a freelance percussionist with more than 20 years experience as an in-school presenter and clinician. John specializes in Modern dance accompaniment and has toured extensively throughout the US, Mexico, and Western Europe. Teaching credits include at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Graceland College, and Pittsburg State University. John currently directs the Mexican marimba quartet, Sol de Chiapas.

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Victoria Botero - soprano

Victoria Botero, Soprano, enjoys a wide-range of work in opera, concert, and new music. Recently she was a soloist in Mozart concert works with the St. Joseph Symphony, Grace Cathedral, Topeka, and the International Center for Music. In new music, she has taken part in premieres with Atemporchestra at TEDxKC, newEar Contemporary Music Ensemble, Owen/Cox Dance Group, and Black House Collective. In opera, she has performed with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Union Avenue Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera and Tulsa Opera. Victoria’s combined interests in early music and musicology led her to a Lighton International Artist Exchange residency in Milan resulting in the formation of her own ensemble, curating and performing the music of women. She is a founding member.

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Michael McClintock - guitar, Cuban Tres

Michael McClintock graduated from the nationally acclaimed University of Missouri Kansas City Music Conservatory with a Bachelor of Music in guitar performance in 2006. At the conservatory, Michael studied under the classical guitar master Douglas Niedt. Since graduation, Michael has taken his place squarely in the Kansas City music scene. In 2016, Michael and his wife Dálida T. Pupo Barrios, decided to create their cultural project “Cubanisms,” trying to spread the Cuban culture in the USA. The project includes travel guided services to Cuba and Michael’s music ensemble performing Cuban-Latin songs with arrangements made by Michael in his Cuban inspirational style. Cubanisms has released its debut album “Acento Cubano” (Cuban accent) in October 2017.

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Bruno Bessa - vocals

Bruno has performed in many Jazz venues in Kansas City. Alongside guitarists Jordan Shipley and Michael McClintock, he is one of the vocalists of the Cubanisms project in Kansas City. He has also worked with many local Jazz musicians including Mark Lowrey, Rod Fleeman, Doug Auwater. Current member of Arara Azul Band where he shares the stage with vocalists Shay Estes and Angelique Staggs. Bruno has been greatly influenced by artists from his native Brazil such as Lenine, Ednardo, Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa. His vocals blend the old and the new sounds of the Lusophone World.

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Brandon Draper - percussion

Brandon’s extensive resume includes performances with both the New Mexico and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestras and the Kansas City Symphony. In contemporary and jazz settings, Draper has performed and/or recorded with Particle, Ottmar Liebert, DJ Logic, Donna Summer, Mose Allison, Steve Coleman, Dick Oatts, Mike Moreno, Bobby Watson, and Kevin Hays. Draper currently performs as a solo artist, multi-in- strumentalist, and with the Turkish-Jazz ensemble - Alaturka, whom he recorded, co-mixed and performed on the 2013 release Yalniz (4.5 Stars - Best albums of 2013 - Downbeat Magazine). Brandon plays guitar with his father (a renowned Hammond B3 organist) in the Draper Family Band, and he runs the acclaimed children’s interactive music program Drum Safari with his wife of 14 years Teryn. Currently, Draper is on the music faculty at the University of Kansas.

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photos: Jeff Evrard

Jordan Shipley - guitar, cavaquinho

Jordan studied jazz guitar at the University of Missouri – Kansas City with renowned guitarist Rod Fleeman and under the direction of the great jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson. While at UMKC he also studied classical guitar under Douglas Niedt. Since his studies at UMKC, Jordan has sought out studies of Brazilian music under percussionist Doug Auwarter and classes with renowned Brazilian jazz educator Antonio Adolfo. Jordan is fully immersed in Brazilian music and culture, and as a result, he is well versed in many musical styles and instruments from Brazil and speaks Brazilian Portuguese. He has traveled and performed throughout the Southeast region of Brazil, in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, as well as many venues in the Kansas City and greater Midwest region. Jordan Shipley’s passion and dedication to the music of Latin America has come to fruition in his most recent project, Mistura Fina.

Board of Directors

Bill Cutler - President

Prior to retirement, Bill worked with non-profit agencies and state government delivering legal and social services. Since retirement, however, he has traveled, urban-farmed, and often ventured east from Topeka to Kansas City to explore its vibrant art and music scene. This has led him to offer his experience from the non-profit world to help Ensemble Iberica become a reality. As a novice ukelele and guitar player, he appreciates the skills of this ensemble and their guest musicians in bringing such fantastic music to the Heartland.

Nicholas Grünauer - Vice President

Nicholas Grünauer has been working in and around the restaurant business for nearly fifteen years, leading him through a tour of the Kansas City restaurant scene sprinkled with international experience in Vienna and New York. After working at various Kansas City institutions while finishing his undergraduate and graduate business degrees from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Nicholas has been the owner/general manager of Grünauer Kansas City for the last 4 years. Nicholas has combined an academic prospective with his years of hands on work to develop a well-rounded philosophy of the restaurant business.

Norma Pacheco O'Neil - Educational Outreach Coordinator

Norma Pacheco O'Neil has lived and danced flamenco in the Kansas City area for over 20 years. Using her educational background in both general education as well as bilingual education, she created the program: Introduction to Spain through Dance and Music over 8 years ago as a supplement to the elementary Spanish curriculum. The program introduces the students to the music, dance, history of Spain and Flamenco. She, along with her guitar accompanist, have educated and entertained over 4,000 students in the Kansas City area in grade levels K-12. She continues to teach and attend flamenco classes both locally and internationally. In addition to her dancing and educational activities, Norma works as a Spanish interpreter for the Blue Valley School District.

Neil Battrum - Treasurer

Neil Battrum owns Orange Technologies, an IT firm supporting Kansas City businesses since 2003 when he graduated from UMKC with a BS in Computer Science and Telecommunications. Neil is also an avid sailor, mountain biker and music lover. Neil previously sat on the board and volunteered with Earth Riders Trail Association and was directly involved with starting and building the Liberty Missouri trail system. He has owned a restaurant, spent a year in England studying recording and guitar and has many unique skill sets to offer. His enjoyment of music from the Iberian peninsula has led to studying Flamenco guitar for the past 3 years, including a trip to southern Spain in 2013.

Beau Bledsoe - Artistic Director

Advisory Board

Patrick Neas
Ed Reyes
Richard Keith

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