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Deborah Leah Ungar is a pianist and multi-instrumentalist with a background in world music, International Studies and economics. She is a recognized performer and educator in the classical genre, studying and earning degrees in piano, music theory, and music education at San Diego State and Washington State Universities.  Further studies include Aspen Music Festival and School, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and the Eastern European Folklife Center.  


The catalyst for reconnecting with her love of studying and performing world music began at San Diego State University, where she studied Finnish, Indian, and Afro-Cuban music in addition to clarinet and piano. After moving to Santa Fe in 2007 she began intensively studying and performing music of the Balkans. She has performed at world music festivals and in a variety of musical settings across the US, Europe, and Turkey.


Her recent work explores the roots of the interconnectedness of Turkish, Greek, and Sephardic music through performances, workshops and lectures including Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM and the Society for Ethnomusicology's Regional Conference in Albuquerque, NM.  


She performs with Sourena Sefati, Zevk Ensemble, Rumelia Klezmer Band and works as a freelance accompanist and chamber music performer in and around the southwest.

Her former project, the Balkan group Rumelia, was known for contemporary and traditional interpretations of Balkan folk dance classics.  The group performed across the country at workshops, music festivals and International folk dance events.  Their debut album, Lost and Found, was received to critical acclaim in 2014, earning several NM Music Award nominations.

Deborah Leah Ungar is Adjunct Faculty at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design Contemporary Music Program, Music Specialist at the arts-based Nava Elementary School, Director of Education and Outreach for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and serves as a consultant with non-profit chamber music organizations and festivals around the country to develop meaningful arts programming for their youngest audiences.

Deborah Leah Ungar performs on Bugari Armando Accordions,

Amati G and LeBlanc Bb Clarinets, and uses Vandoren reeds exclusively.

Music Lessons: Rumelia is going to teach you how to play before it blows your minds live

by admin | Sep 2, 2015 | Performances & Workshops, Press |

Santa Fe Reporter – September 2, 2015

Think of the term “Balkan music” for just a second. Can you hear it in your head? Sort of, maybe? It’s actually a tricky proposition, thanks in part to acts like Gogol Bordello or even the superhuman Beirut adding a sort of indie-rock (read: hipster) layer to the traditionally southeastern European style of folk music and diluting some of the cultural norms. Thank goodness, then, for Rumelia. The local quartet has been kicking around town for ages, slowly but surely developing its style and winning fans while cultivating a more authentic homage to the folk music of Greece, Turkey, Romania, Macedonia and oh-so-many other countries.

Read the article in the Santa Fe Reporter »

ABQ Journal: Rumelia ensemble of women has its musical roots in the Balkans

by admin | Apr 18, 2015 | Press |

Albuquerque Journal, Friday, April 17th, 2015

Exploring the music of Rumelia is akin to taking a melodic tour from Greece to Turkey, Hungary to the Ukraine, and all points in between and around the Balkans.

With some 200 songs in its repertoire, this all-woman band has been serenading Santa Feans in both sit-down and folk dance concerts since 2010.

Read the article in the Albuquerque Journal »

Watch Video of Rumelia on KUNM

by admin | Apr 21, 2014 | 

From the KUNM website:

“Recorded on March 21, 2014, this edition features the Balkan sounds of Santa Fe’s Rumelia. After recording their debut CD “Lost and Found” the group has expanded their repertoire of traditional songs from Southern and Eastern Europe and the Balkans to over 200 pieces.”

Alicia Shaw: lead vocals, dumbek
Sitara Schauer: parlor guitar, violin, vocals
Deborah Ungar: accordion, clarinets, vocals

Engineered by Roman Garcia with Marshall Broyles with camera/videography by Jefferson White

Ushti, Ushti Baba/Ramo, Rumelia, 2012
zevk ensemble, Istanbul, 2016

Hello Friends!  


I'm excited to debut beautiful arrangements of Persian folk 

tunes and new compositions by santour master, Sourena Sefati, with Gregory Gutin next Saturday, April 1 in Albuquerque and Thursday,

April 6 in Santa Fe!  


I hope you can join us for one of these special concerts.


It will be a sweet and soulful evening of beautiful and enchanting music. 

Date: Saturday, April 1, 2017

Where: First Unitarian Church

     1400 St. Michael's Drive

     Santa Fe, NM  87505

Time: 7:00 (doors, 6:30)

Tickets: $20 suggested donation; 

            SFUAD students & kids free

Advance Tix: Eventbrite, at the door or 

More Info: 505-577-2676;

Date: Thursday, April 6, 2017

Where: The Forum @ Santa Fe University of Art and Design

     1400 St. Michael's Drive

     Santa Fe, NM  87505

Time: 7:00 (doors, 6:30)

Tickets: $20 suggested donation; 

            SFUAD students & kids free

Advance Tix: Eventbrite, at the door or 

More Info: 505-577-2676;


Deborah Leah Ungar


Performances 2017

July 2017

Alborz Trio @ Esther Bone Memorial Library

Alborz Trio @ Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

August, 2017

8/11 Partizani Brass Band @ Santa Fe Bandstand

September, 2017

9/23 Alborz Trio @ Globalquerque!

October, 2017

10/14 Partizani Brass Band @ Antieu Gallery for Second Line Jazz Funeral

10/31 Partizani Brass Band @ Meow Wolf 

November, 2017

11/3 Alborz Trio @ Oasis Albuquerque

December, 2017

12/17 Zevk Ensemble @ St. John's College

January, 2018

1/21 Alborz Trio @ St. Francis Auditorium, Santa Fe, NM

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