The Berkeley Choro Ensemble will perform with guests Natalie Cressman, trombone, and Ian Faquini, guitar, in a concert of Brazilian music, including traditional choro classics by Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, as well as contemporary choros and music by Brazilian composers, including Ricardo Peixoto, Guinga, Ian Faquini, and more.
Band Members & Instrumentation
Jane Lenoir – flute
Ricardo Peixoto – 7-string guitar
Brian Rice – pandeiro
Natalie Cressman – trombone
Ian Faquini – guitar
The Berkeley Choro Ensemble (pronounced “shoro”) 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.
Their repertoire also includes samba, bossa nova, jazz, and the music of Northeast Brazil. The ensemble’s first CD, The View from Here(2018), features contemporary Brazilian choros composed by living composers, including 4 original selections by members Harvey Wainapel and Ricardo Peixoto. Recent projects include 2 performances in 2022 with Echo and the US premiere of symphonic arrangements of music by São Paulo composer Léa Freire. In May 2023 with ensemble will perform with Diablo Symphony in the Brazilian Choro Suite as well as the world premiere of a pandeiro concerto by Felipe Senna commissioned by Brian Rice.
Flutist Jane Lenoir is the founder of Berkeley Choro Ensemble. Trained classically as a young student at Interlochen Arts Academy and the Oberlin Conservatory, she has performed as an orchestral musician and soloist in many diverse styles, including new music, jazz, world, latin styles, and early music. Her love of Brazilian music dates to her introduction to Rio clarinetist, Paulo Sergio Santos, in 2008, by her sister, the late clarinetist Annie Lenoir. She has recorded two recent albums of Brazilian music: The View from Here (2018) with Berkeley Choro Ensemble, and Jane Lenoir plays Penezzi (2017), with São Paulo guitarist/composer Alessandro Penezzi, featuring his compositions. She is co-director of the Berkeley Festival of Choro. Other recent recordings include sessions with Léa Freire, Rogerio Souza, Paulo Sergio Santos, and Caio Marcio dos Santos.
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. Brian is on the faculties of UC Berkeley and UC Davis as a percussion instructor in latin and Brazilian styles.
Ian Faquini is a Brazilian composer, guitarist, and vocalist who was born in Brasília and has lived in Berkeley, California since the age of eight. He was a member of the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz program, and at the age of 15, Ian met the legendary Brazilian composer Guinga, who became his mentor and inspired him to pursue a career in music, drawing on the rich musical traditions of his Brazilian heritage. Ian went on to study at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley and immediately after graduating joined the faculty there. He is also on the faculty at California Brazil Camp, alongside musical legends including Ivan Lins, Guinga, Chico Pinheiro, and Spok. Ian has become one of the most unique and respected guitar players in the San Francisco Bay Area, with his distinct compositional style and harmonic sense. He is also a brilliant accompanist, which has made him an in-demand collaborator with vocalists in the Bay Area and beyond.
Possessing a voice as cool and crystalline as an Alpine stream, Natalie Cressman is a rising singer/songwriter and trombonist who draws inspiration from a vast array of deep and powerful musical currents. Auburn Whisper—her latest album with guitarist, composer, and vocalist Ian Faquini—not only serves as a testament to the couple’s symbiotic musical partnership but also to their resilience during unprecedented times. Written and recorded in 2020, Auburn Whisper finds the two artists blending traditional Brazilian rhythms with modern, expansive arrangements—reflecting on people and places they miss while discovering joy within the present moment.
Steadily evolving in many directions, Cressman has already put down deep roots in several overlapping scenes. Currently splitting her time between New York City and the Bay Area, Cressman has become an accomplished trombonist and vocalist, performing in Broadway pit orchestras, recording a variety of solo projects, and building a following in the diverse realms of jazz, funk, and jam, including 12 years touring the jam band circuit as a horn player and vocalist with Phish’s Trey Anastasio. Deeply versed in Latin jazz, post-bop, pop, and Brazilian music, she tapped the interlaced traditions on her first two solo albums, 2012’s Unfolding and 2014’s Turn the Sea.
Learn more at berkeleychoroensemble.com