The Vasconians

Back Row-Standing: Rosie Asumendi & Bene Aldecoa. Seated, Left to Right: Joe Yriondo, Richard Ondarza, Alfonse Aldecoa, John Asumendi, Fidel Uranga, John Luque, Joe P. Uberuaga, John Lejardi, Ramon Ysursa & Manuel Aldecoa. Kneeling, Left to Right: Carmen Aldecoa, Abarrate Sisters –Bennie, Mary Louisa or Angela, Ruby Ysursa Basabe.

The Basque Orchestra "The Vasconians" (1933-1934) was a band made up of young, second generation Boise Basques. According Joe P. Uberuaga, one of its members, the band was formed to keep the kids out of trouble and doing something productive.  Ramon Ysursa, another member of the band, told the story that his father, Benito, and other community members took their children to the music store and had them pick out an instrument that they would then learn to play.

The first instructor was a non-Basque from Nampa. His brief tenure was followed closely by a Basque musician, Jose Villanueva, who was originally from Bilbao, but was living in Boise at the time and later moved to Emmett.  His formal music training and musical studies as a youth in Paris combined with his experience playing in various brass bands in Bilbao and the US gave him the skills to teach each young musician to play the instrument he/she had chosen. Under Jose Villanueva the band reached a good level of musical ability, practicing several times per week and playing at least four performances a month. They played waltzes and marches but also Basque music for various Basque communities in Idaho. Benito Ysursa accompanied the young band members by playing jotas and porrusaldas on the guitar.  

The"Vasconians" traveled around southern Idaho and played in balls and dances in Boise, Mountain Home, Jerome and Shoshone. For example they used to play for Basque dances during the summer on Saturday nights in the Elk’s Club (6th and Idaho Street, Boise) according Joe P. Uberuaga. 

Band members included the following:

·         Joe Yriondo - banjo

·         Richard Ondarza - trombone

·         Alfonse Aldecoa - trumpet

·         John Asumendi - trumpet 

·         Fidel Uranga - drums

·         John Luque -b flat saxophone

·         Joe P. Uberuaga - saxophone

·         John Lejardi -Flute

·         Ramon Ysursa - clarinet,  and e flat saxophone

·         Manuel Aldecoa - clarinet

·         Virginia Iriondo - piano

·         Bene Aldecoa - piano

·         Benito Ysursa - sousaphone

Source: Oral interview from Begoña Pecharroman with Joe P. Uberuaga on 01/07/1999.

Pictures donated by Joe P. Uberuaga -April 1998. Accession number: 1998.009.001

Same order as top picture, plus standing in back are Bene Aldecoa & Jose Villanueva.