From left to right Cathy Petrissans, Andrea Bidart and Begona Echeverria.


Composed of Andréa Bidart, Begoña Echeverria and Cathy Petrissans, NOKA specializes in songs about Basque culture, gender and identity. They are particularly interested in songs that use noka, a familiar form of address historically used in speaking to a girl or woman with whom one had konfiantza or trust. Noka use has almost disappeared from every day speech, but it is still used among some immigrants to Chino, CA, our home town.  By singing in noka, we hope to bring more awareness to this important aspect of the Basque language and, perhaps, increase its use.

Andréa, Begoña, and Cathy are the daughters and granddaughters of Basque immigrants who grew up together in Chino, CA.  All three women are members of the Chino Basque club and were raised speaking and/or singing in Basque. Together in 1997, these three women formed the singing trio NOKA and have since recorded three CDs and toured internationally.

Informed by life experiences and academic research, NOKA primarily gives lecture-recitals that are intended to entertain but also to educate their audiences. All songs are sung in Basque and as often as possible in noka.

In their lecture recitals the audience is provided with English translations via power-point projection or small pamphlets.  Those who attend a NOKA performance will leave with a catchy tune in their heart and a bit of Basque knowledge in their head.

NOKA offers a variety of performance experiences:

Music concerts - with minimal speaking between songs (often suited for international events).  Click here to see a list of past performances.

Lecture recitals - that about evenly divide music and song with information on the Basque culture, language, and noka. Our lecture-recitals are often accompanied by a power-point presentation which includes translations in English and usually end in a question and answer period. Lecture-recitals are particularly well suited for schools, academic settings, and conferences. Click here to see a list of past performances. Click here to see a list of past performances.

Sing-alongs - that teach children (or non-Basque speaking adults) simple Basque tunes as they simultaneously learn the Basque language (also includes a power-point with fun photos and words in Basque and English).

Book readings - and musical accompaniment with songs about witches from Begona Echeverria’s historical novel Hammer of Witches loosely based on the 1610 burnings of Basque “witches” from the Baztan Valley in northern Spain from which her family hails.
Mass cantering - in Basque for Easter, Christmas, weddings, funerals, baptisms and Basque picnics (NOKA also enjoys singing gospel hymns in English.)


NOKA has collaborated with a number of artists including:  Laurent Ascaran, Kepa Junkera, Mikel Markez & Arkaitz Miner, Erramun Martikorena, Xabier Euskitze, John Ehlis, Jean Bordaxareta Laukotea, Joxe Angel Elizalde, Kantiruk, Mikel Erramouspe, Pantxo eta Peio, and Mikel Markez.

National and International performances of NOKA

In USA, NOKA most recently performed at The Kennedy Center and for the Library of Congress’ Homegrown Concert Series, followed by an oral history for the American Folklife Center.  The 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival also invited NOKA to participate in its “Basques: Culture by Innovation” and “Sounds of California” programs -- the only group showcased in both programs. NOKA performances included the opening reception at the National Portrait Gallery; a Folklife Festival Evening Concert on the National Mall; and an additional 14 concerts on the “Musika eta Dantza” and “Sounds of California” stages.

NOKA also participated in several cross-programming panel discussions with other California groups:  “Women, Music and Cultural Heritage” with Nobuko Miyamoto, Elaine Fukumoto, and Nancy Sekizawa from FandangObon (moderated by ethnomusicologist Dr. Deborah Wong); “Preserving Language through Song” with the Kumeyaay Community (moderated by linguist Dr. Mary Linn); and “Language and Song in California Armenian (Armenian Public Radio) and Basque (NOKA) Communities” (moderated by Dr. Linn). NOKA has performed an additional 43 concerts or lecture-performances including: Stanford University; UCLA; UC Riverside; UC Santa Barbara; University of Nevada, Reno; and California State University, Bakersfield.

Internationally, NOKA has completed three European tours, including the 2015 Donostiako Musika Hamabostaldia, the premier Basque music festival founded in 1939. NOKA performed the inaugural concert at San Telmo Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship, the oldest such institution in the Basque Country, in addition to five other venues. In our recordings, we have collaborated with international artists such as Kepa Junkera, a Grammy Award winner for Best Folk Album in 2004; and 12-time Grammy award winner Rafa Sadina. NOKA’s music has been featured in the 2012 documentary “Basques in the West,” and multiple outlets on Euskal Telebista (Basque Television). Betto Arcos interviewed NOKA for an audio essay for the 2016 Folklife Festival Blog. NOKA has received positive critical reviews in domestic and international news media, such as Herriz Herri, Noticias de Navarra, Sud-Ouest, Diario de Noticias, and the Center for Basque Studies News. The group have been interviewed by such venues as Radio Bilingue, Voice of America (Russia desk), Euskal Irratia, Irulegiko Irratia and Xoroxin Irratia, with another in the works for KVCaRTs (91.9).

This information was used, by permission from the NOKA website:

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2014 - NOKA with Mikel Markez  at the Jacobs Uberuaga House