Elgarrekin Basque Choir

Elgarrekin Choir under the direction of Jeanne Mazeris at the Basque Cultural Center in 1982.

The Basque Club’s first choral group, the Elgarrekin (Together) Choir, was established in San Francisco in 1979 under the direction of visiting musician Martin “Mattin” Zubieta, director of the homeland choir Oldarra, from Baiona.  Zubieta was born in 1925 in Kanbo and has directed several choirs in the province of Nafarroa Beherea, including Arraga and Garaztarrak.  Shortly after that, Jeanne (Esperben) Mazeris, former director for Notre Dame des Victoires’ choir, became the director of Elgarrekin.  Mazaris was born in San Francisco. Her father, Philippe Esperben was from Uharte Garazi, and her mother, Marie Bordelampe, was from Armendaritze, Nafarroa Beherea.  The choir first performed at the Basque Club New Year’s Eve celebration in 1979.  When it began, the choir would practice at the residence of Jean Leon and Bernadette Iribarren.  After that, the choir practiced at Notre Dame des Victoires, and later on at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. 

Father Martxel Tillous began his role as director of the choir in 1997 until his return to the Basque Country in 2008.  Charles and Jean Baptiste Moustirats, from Mehaine, have also helped direct the choir and in 2016 the choir was under the direction of Jean Baptiste. 

Elgarrekin members of the choir still gather together and are present at Masses and funerals and the annual picnic and Basque Cultural Center festivals.  The choir remains an integral part of all Basque events and they can be counted on to be present at both fun and solemn celebrations.

Elgarrekin Choir – 1984

1992 -Elgarrekin Choir Performing at the Zazpiak 30th Anniversary Celebration.

Information from: “Gardeners of Identity: Basques in the San Francisco Bay Area” an Urazandi Publication and photos courtesy of “Oroitzapenak – A Forty Year Retrospective of the San Francisco Basque Club.”