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About Berkeley Choro Ensemble

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.

Musician Bios


From a family of professional musicians, flutist Jane Lenoir grew up in Tampa, Florida, and left home at 15 as a scholarship student to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and then to Oberlin Conservatory of Music. A performer comfortable in many diverse styles, Jane appears regularly as a soloist, chamber player, orchestral musician, and jazz performer. A founder of Primavera Latin Jazz Band, Jane is particularly interested in Latin flute styles, which celebrate the instrument's ancient, rich history , virtuosity, and lyrical sound. She first began her study of Brazilian music in 2006, and has since performed with Marcos Silva, Jovino Santos Neto, Hermeto Pascoal, and recorded with Carlos Oliveira and Ceilia Medeiros, Live at Anna's Jazz Island and Brazilian Choro 2009. In 2010 she visited Brazil and studied with Hermeto Pascoal, Jovino Santos Neto, Paulo Sergio Santos, Allessandro Pennezzi and Ted Falcon.


Saxophonist/clarinetist Harvey Wainapel (pronounced "wine-apple") has performed with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, and Joe Henderson. Besides working with these and numerous other leaders, Wainapel has toured extensively under his own name, and has performed in 22 countries. His heavy involvement with the music of Brazil has led to performances with top-level musicians such as Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, and Jovino Santos Neto. Wainapel was a featured soloist on two CDs that were final nominees for Latin Grammy Awards™ "Best Latin Jazz Recording" (with Jovino Santos Neto in 2004 and with Mark Levine in 2003). Harvey has been called "one of the most promising and versatile players of his generation" (All Music Guide to Jazz 1998)


Originally from Rio de Janeiro and based in the Bay Area, guitarist/composer Ricardo Peixoto is among the top representatives of Brazilian guitar in the US, with a fluid melodic style and a keen compositional sense. His performances explore Brazil's rich and diverse traditions, both in his original work as well as in arrangements of Brazilian classics. His approach is grounded both in the jazz and Brazilian music traditions, but always ventures well beyond their borders, combining rich melodies, sophisticated harmonies, and the unmistakable rhythms of Brazil. Ricardo came to the US on a scholarship to the Berkeley School of Music in Boston, and later continued his studies in classical guitar at the SF Conservatory of Music. He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with, among others, Claudia Villela, Flora Purim and Airto, saxophonist Bud Shank, percussionist Dom Um Romão, Toots Thielemans, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, guitarist Carlos Oliveira, Harvey Wainapel, Marcos Silva and Terra Sul. He has performed throughout the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Brazil.


Percussionist Brian Rice graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a B.M. in Percussion Performance and Ethnomusicology. A well-rounded musician, Brian is a highly acclaimed performer, educator and recording artist adept at numerous musical styles ranging from classical and jazz, to Latin, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian, to contemporary and experimental music. Brian's study of the Brazilian pandeiro began in 1986 when the Sao Paulo State University percussion ensemble visited Oberlin and percussionist/composer Carlos Stasi, then a student at SPSU, gave Brian a quick pandeiro lesson after the concert. Since then Brian's obsession with the pandeiro has led him to study with Guello, Marcos Suzano, Airto, Claudio Bueno and Clarice Magalhaes, and his prowess on the instrument has led him to perform with numerous Brazilian artists including, Jovino Santos Neto, Paulo Sergio Santos, Danilo Brito, Dudu Maia and Jorge Alabe. It was studies with Marcos Suzano that inspired Brian to expand his use of the pandeiro outside the Brazilian music world and apply it to Balkan, Celtic, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Cuban music with great effect.


Guitarist, composer, arranger, and teacher Carlos Oliveira, originally from the state of Pernambuco (Northeast region of Brazil), started playing the guitar in his teens but has been living in the US since 1980 teaching and performing his native music in which he showcases a variety of Brazilian music styles. His CD Brazilian Origins was released in 2000, and his group Brazilian Origins has appeared as main and introductory acts for great Brazilian artists such as Sergio Mendes, Gilberto Gil, Jaques Morelenbaum Quartet, Rosa Passos, and has appeared at many important venues like Yoshis, Kuumbwa Jazz, San Francisco, San Jose and Monterey Jazz Festivals. Presently Carlos continues to develop his music, dedicating his efforts to the study of the Brazilian 7 string nylon guitar, composition, and the creation of a Brazilian guitar instructional method


Clarinetist Annie Lenoir, Jane's sister, began playing at 10 years old, and by the age of 16, was a member of the Tampa Philharmonic. She went on to graduate from Oberlin Conservatory. Well-known for her beautiful sound and soulful lyricism,her main influences were the late David Weber in NYC , her teacher , and Jon Manasse. A diverse and multi-talented instrumentalist, she was a featured member of Caledonia, a blues and swing band in Colorado for 30 years. Annie was mesmerized by the clarinet playing of Paulo Sergio Santos of Quinteto Villa Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, whom she heard in 2000 at a clarinet convention, and has pursued the study and performance of Brazilian music with great passion and dedication. In 2010, she visited Brazil to study with Paulo Sergio Santos, Hermeto Pascoal, jovino Santos Neto, Allessandro Pennezzi, and Ted Falcon.