Miren Lete

2005, July - Miren Lete playing accordion.

Miren began playing the accordion at the first Basque Music Camp held at the Bogus Basin Ski Lodge in the foothills above Boise, Idaho in July 1972. She was 8 years old.  She was only signed up for dance so it was a little boring while all the other kids were learning the txistu or accordion.  Several adults convinced her to give the accordion a try.  The first song she learned was Goizeko Sei'ta erdietan.  She was taking piano lessons prior to the camp (approx. 1 year) so that did help to be familiar with the keyboard and reading the music.  Jimmy Jausoro and Harley Rott were the accordion instructors.

Following the camp, Harley offered to continue teaching accordion lessons to anyone interested.  He asked the students to meet at the Basque Center an hour before their usual dance class.  Harley ended up with quite a large group of kids learning to play the accordion.  He had Jimmy as a resource for Basque music but he also taught the students some fun German Polkas (he was German)!  In addition to the Basque functions, they would perform at nursing homes and other folk festivals.  This "band" lasted 3 to 4 years.

The summer of 1976 (Miren was 12), her family went to the Basque Country for the summer.  Her uncle, Juan Jose Ostolaza, made arrangements for her to take lessons from Pepe Yanci.  His studio was in the heart of the Old Part of Donosti.  It was an incredible experience for her.  He was an amazing musician!  She would arrive with her red accordion and music spiral binder.  Pepe would play a song or two and ask her if she liked them.  Then he'd hand write the music in her binder.  He could write it in just a few minutes!  Then she’d go to one of the practice cubicles and practice for the remainder of the hour.  He would stop by the door and listen to make sure she was "getting" the new music.

Miren attended several more Basque Music Camps...Boise, Elko, and San Francisco.  In Boise, Jimmy Jausoro was the instructor, in Elko, Bernardo Yanci (cousin of Pepe) and in San Francisco, Alain Erdozaincy.  All were very fun, positive experiences to play with other young accordionists.

Her junior year of college (1984-85) Miren did a year study-abroad in Donosti.  Once again she was able to take lessons from Pepe Yanci.  During her allotted time he was practicing with his two top students to do a recording.  Miren recalls that it was so incredible to listen to the three of them playing together!  By 1984, Pepe had access to a copy machine and had a great deal of music ready to pass along.  He was very gracious and wanted her to bring home lots of music and just to keep playing.

Miren has continued to play on and off over the years.  She began playing for Boise'ko Gazteak, the children’s dance group in Boise, and continues to play for them now. She appreciates all the time Jimmy Jausoro gave to the dancers and sees him as an example for her to emulate.

Miren had the privilege to attend the Smithsonian 2016 Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. with the Biotzetik Basque Choir.  Several of the songs they sang were more "festive" and they preferred to have accompaniment.  In addition to the workshops at the National Mall, they performed at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.  This was truly a fun experience for Miren.

2016, July - Miren Lete, with the Biotzetik Basque Choir - Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Wash DC.