The Berkeley Choro Ensemble (pronounced "shoro"), is a group of world-class musicians from the SF Bay Area that made its debut in January, 2010, at the Berkeley Public Library. The group celebrates the music, culture and history of Brazil, with a special emphasis on the Choro genre, a style of music which emerged in the 1800's in Brazil, fusing the music of Brazil's European immigrants and the native music of Brazil's indigenous and African-Brazilian population. In particular, the choro sound is somewhat akin to a combination of European classical music, ragtime, and blues. Historically, the choro style influenced Brazil's most famous classical composer, Heitor Villa Lobos, to compose some of the world's most hauntingly beautiful music, the Bachianas Brasileiras. Our repertoire also includes samba, bossa nova, jazz, and the music of Northeast Brazil.
Flutist JANE LENOIR grew up in Tampa, Florida in a family of professional musicians, and left in her teens to study at Interlochen Arts Academy and later Oberlin College Conservatory. Trained classically and comfortable in many genres, she has performed with symphony orchestras, new music ensembles, chamber and early music groups, as well as jazz, latin and Brazilian groups. She has recorded with the Seattle Group for New Music, Matiz Ensemble, as well as Brazilian artists Paulo Sergio Santos, Rogério Souza, Caio Marcio Dos Santos, Netinho Albuquerque, and Alessandro Penezzi. Founder of the Berkeley Choro Ensemble and Co-Director of the Berkeley Festival of Choro, her CD “Jane Lenoir Plays Penezzi,” featuring the music and participation of guitarist Alessandro Penezzi, was released in August, 2017.
Saxophonist/clarinetist HARVEY WAINAPEL has his feet firmly planted in two musical worlds. His jazz experience includes performances and/or recordings with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Kenny Barron, Joe Henderson, Johnny Coles and the Metropole Orchestra. He has toured internationally with Ray Charles, Joe Lovano, and Airto Moreira & Flora Purim. Wainapel’s deep love for and research into Brazilian music has led to lengthy annual visits to that country since 2000, and resulted in performances and recordings with Guinga, Jovino Santos Neto, Marco César, Spok, Nelson Ayres, Filó Machado, and Paulo Bellinati, among many other notables. His own CDs include three recordings done in Brazil: “New Choros of Brazil” (co-produced with Paulo Bellinati), “Amigos Brasileiros” and “Amigos Brasileiros vol. 2”, the latter two featuring a different group on each track. To date Harvey has presented his work in clubs, festivals, workshops, and studios in 22 countries.
Percussionist BRIAN RICE has devoted much of his musical career to playing Brazilian music, and choro in particular. His great expertise on the pandeiro (“Brazilian tambourine”) has led to performances with Mike Marshall, Jovino Santos Neto, Danilo Brito, Dudu Maia, Alessandro Penezzi, Paulo Sergio Santos and Rogerio Souzaamong others. He has performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Savannah Music Festival with the Danilo Brito Quintet. Brian teaches Brazilian percussion at UC Davis, California Jazz Conservatory and California Brazil Camp and has taught workshops at several universities in the US as well as in Brazil. He is the co-founder and artistic director of the Berkeley Festival of Choro, now in its fourth year presenting choro music to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, RICARDO PEIXOTO came to the US on a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and subsequently settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a guitarist and composer, he has continued to explore elements from his Brazilian roots, with their rich and diverse musical traditions, integrating them with the freedom and improvisational approach of jazz. Ricardo has recorded, performed, and collaborated with, among others, Claudia Villela, Flora Purim and Airto, Bud Shank, Dom Um Romão, Sivuca, Claudio Roditi, Raul de Souza, Toots Thielemans, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, Arturo Sandoval, Spok, Jovino Santos Neto, Marcos Silva and Terra Sul. His compositions have been featured on “Inverse Universe” with vocalist Claudia Villela, “Kindness of Strangers” with Terra Sul, and on Bud Shank’s “Tomorrow’s Rainbow,” among others. He has performed throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Brazil. Ricardo teaches at the California Jazz Conservatory and has also been on faculty at Jazz Camp West and California Brazil Camp.