Born in the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, Neil Manel Frau-Cortes is a musician, scholar, writer, and ritual leader.
Author of numerous articles and books, Frau-Cortes has a PhD in Medieval Hebrew Literature (University of Girona, 2012), MLS (University of Maryland, 2018), Lic. in Hebrew Linguistics (Central University of Barcelona, 1996), MA in Cantorial Studies and Jewish Music by Gratz College (2010), and an ordination by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (2010).
A musician of both classical and contemporary education, Frau-Cortes studied at Palma's Professional Conservatory (piano, classical harmony and counterpoint with Joan Moll, Esther Vives, Bernat Julià, and Josep Prohens among others). At the same time, he learned jazz piano with Tito Capblanquet, as well as guitar and saxophone with private tutors. Later he attended Taller de Músics, a contemporary music school where he specialized in jazz piano, harmony and arrangements, with Toni-Olaf Sabater, Lluís Pardellans, Victor Vergés, Zé Eduardo, etc. Interested in the holistic effects of sound, he has participated in numerous courses with Ann Wilken, Guillermo Cazenave, etc.
As an educator, Neil Manel Frau-Cortes taught music theory, piano improvisation and harmony at Adagio, Rock’n’Jazz and Allegretto music schools in Barcelona, and at Bela Bartok Academy in Mallorca. He tutored guitar at Gratz College in Philadelphia, taught Hebrew language at the Harrisburg Area Community College, and music at the Silver Academy Yeshiva of Harrisburg PA. He is currently working as Hebraica, Judaica and metadata cataloger at the University of Maryland
Neil M. Frau-Cortes’ musical career as a composer, arranger, producer and performer is extensive and covers a variety of styles, from folk to liturgical music, kirtan, jazz-fusion, and New Age electronica. To mention a few, he was part of Caliu (with Francesca Patinyo), Circumstancial, Tradivarius, Café Soul, Orquestra Malpàs, Trio del Pol Magnètic and Esplendor Barroco (with the late clarinetist Rafel Adrover). Since 1999, Frau-Cortes takes to stage his own compositions for keyboards, in a very personal style that has been defined as Ethnic-Roots New Age. Together with Israeli singer Avi Benchamo, he offered a series of creative poetic-musical performances, widely broadcasted by Mallorca’s media. As a producer and arranger he has worked for Caliu, Marcos Vidal, Chango, Ruth Sales, etc. Frau-Cortes has composed soundtracks for several short films, including Drop Plot (1993), as well as music for theater plays, such as Memòria d’en Julià, by Iguana Teatre and Una Noche Contigo by Haché de Teatro.
After permanently moving to the US in 2001, Frau-Cortes composes choir and chamber music, and performs solo and with singers such as Jessi Roemer, Jill Pakman, Shefia Cohen, David Acker, Freyda Black, and Harold Messinger. He has worked as a hazzan in Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues. Frau-Cortes currently offers lecture-recitals on diverse aspects of Sephardic music, Kabbalah, chanting, and meditation, having participated in events such as the Albuquerque's Sephardic Festival, several Nehirim retreats, and the Society for Crypto-Jewish Studies convention, among others.