Mafer Bandola (Maria Fernanda Gonzalez) is a Venezuelan bandola llanera player, community organizer, self-thought composer, and educator. With a grounded understanding of the male-dominated bandola llanera traditions, she focuses on bringing the instrument to a new artistic path through composition, performance, and improvisation.
As co-founder and current member of Ladama, a collective of four female musicians from four different countries, Mafer combines her oral traditions and musical approaches to create collectively original music in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. The Pipiris band is borne out of Mafer’s Pipiris nights, a bi-monthly event that has become increasingly popular in NY’s Venezuelan’s diaspora – and the community at large – and recreates the free spirited gatherings that are at the heart of los Llanos’ social life. She is currently the creator and host of Pipiris Nights, the first and only community gathering event where you can play and dance Venezuelan Joropos in New York.
Mafer occupies a unique place as a composer, educator, and artist, and has won multiple residencies and been the recipient of many grants for her work. She has performed at institutions such as MassMoca, WOMAD, Womex, TED, TEDx, National Sawdust, NPR TinyDesk, among others, as well as presented in spaces in Latin America as varied as Teatro Juares, Teatro Teresa Carreño both in Venezuela, Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and Paco do Frevo in Recife, Brazil. As an educator, she has worked with El Sistema in Venezuela, has developed open sourced, culturally-responsive curriculum in partnership with TeachRock for American students, and has taught at multiple universities as an artist in residence such as Dartmouth College, George Mason University, and Butler University, among others. From July 2020 - March 2021, she produced the international online conference Latínica where more than 200 Latinas from around the world gathered together to discuss in Spanish the different issues affecting them in the music industry.