Berkeley Choro Ensemble
Flutist Jane Lenoir is the founder of Berkeley Choro Ensemble and the Berkeley Festival of Choro. 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. Other recent recordings include sessions with Léa Freire, Rogerio Souza, Paulo Sergio Santos, Caio Marcio dos Santos.
As a producer, she founded and is the artistic director of Third Sunday Concerts at St Alban’s Church in Albany, and is co-director of the Berkeley Festival of Choro.
São Paulo pianist and composer Silvia Goes was born in 1947. Her long and distinguished career has included performances and tours all over the world with Brazil’s greatest musicians. She became a professional at the age of 11, playing the guitar. At 20 she had the opportunity to work as an arranger at TV Tupi. At 27 she was enchanted by the piano, an instrument that continues today. Silvia, in these 60 years of musical activity, has recorded 9 CDs, released 8 books - among them "O Cebra Musical", "A Música no Divã" and the most recent "Ser Musician - Small Practical Manual". She gives courses and motivational lectures on “Human Development Through Musical Harmony”.
Roberta Cunha Valente
Berkeley Festival of Choro 2021 Artists
Ami Molinelli is an American percussionist and educator specializing in Brazilian and Latin percussion. She was awarded a San Francisco Arts Commission grant for her last album release "Historia do Choro" with acclaimed Brazilian guitarist and arranger, Rogerio Souza as well as Edinho Gerber. It received recognition as one of the "Best of the Bay Area Jazz albums by the San Jose Mercury for 2019." She is a founding member of the Bay Area choro group, Grupo Falso Baiano and teaches and plays pandeiro as often as possible.
São Paulo flutist/pianist/composer Léa Freire grew up surrounded by music. She began by studying piano, where she absorbed Brazilian composers such as Villa-Lobos and Lorenzo Fernandes, as well as Bach and Debussy. She later started playing and teaching herself flute, with which she made her musical reputation. A versatile composer, Léa released her first CD, “Ninhal,” in 1997, on her newly-founded label Maritaca. Many CDs followed, including “Cartas Brasileiras,” (2007) with her symphonic arrangements for 62 musicians in various formations, a contemporary overview of Brazilian instrumental music. The Cartas Brasileiras’s repertoire has had many presentations with various orchestras in Brazil and with the Guimarães Orchestra in Portugal
In 2008, Freire formed her quintet Vento em Madeira (Wind in Wood), with saxist/flutist Teco Cardoso, pianist Tiago Costa, bassist Fernando Demarco, and drummer Edu Ribeiro. They have released 3 CDs: “Vento em Madeira” (2011); “Brasiliana” (voted Best Instrumental Recording of 2013 by a group of critics representing all regions of Brazil); and “Arraial” (2017), all with special guest vocalist Monica Salmaso. Besides her label Maritaca, which has launched 50 titles, Léa is also a producer and editor of sheet music. She has an ongoing composing partnership with Joyce Moreno who is the lyricist of many of Léa’s songs, released in the USA, Europe and Japan. Léa has recently released a series of videos in collaboration with videographer Lucas Weglinsky celebrating her 40 years in the Brazilian music world, entitled “CINEPOESIA”.
Choro das 3
Francois de Lima
Past Choro Festival Artists
“A Brazilian-born genius with a blistering voice" (JazzTimes), the dynamic Rio-born artist Claudia Villela has developed a reputation as a singularly unique singer, pianist and composer, lending her five-octave voice to work with jazz luminaries including Kenny Werner, Michael Brecker and Toots Thielemans.
Inspired to sing from hearing the intoxicating sounds emanating from the samba school behind her grandmother’s house, Villela began singing professionally as a teen and eventually moved to the Bay Area. A scholarship to New York’s Manhattan School of Music and studies with the legendary Sheila Jordan cemented Villela’s jazz credentials, and she returned to California as an artist on a mission to create fresh, original music born of her Brazilian upbringing and passion for jazz. She blends the ever-present samba of her native Brazil with jazz, blues, and songs from around the globe, inspiring the iconic San Francisco Chronicle critic Phil Elwood to enthuse, “Villela doesn't just sing – she actually dances with her voice on top of Brazilian beats.” Her recorded albums, including Inverse Universe (2003, with guitarist/composer Ricardo Peixoto and the legendary harmonica player Toots Thielemanns as guest artist), and in 2004, with pianist Kenny Werner, entitled Dream Tales, demonstrate her amazing abilities as a composer an vocal improviser. She frequently collaborates with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lumbabo, Vitor Gonçalves and others.
Rio composer Carol Panesi plays violin, trumpet, piano and sings.
An alumnus of the intense ensemble classes of Itiberê Zwarg in Rio, Carol was a member of "Itiberê Orquestra Família" and "Itiberê Zwarg & Grupo" for 13 years. Carol has emerged as one of the most innovative musicians of the young generation in Brazil today. She is the winner of the 2018 Professional Music Award in the author category and winner of the 2018 MIMO Instrumental Award. She recorded CDs, DVDs and shared the stage with great names from the Brazilian and international music scene, among them Hermeto Pascoal, Daniela Spielmann, Quinteto da Paraíba, Léa Freire, Nicolas Krassik, Ricardo Herz, Edu Lobo, Clarice Assad and Jongo da Serrinha. At the end of 2017 Carol recorded her first album entitled Primeiras Impressões, and throughout 2018 released in several cities.
Roberta Cunha Valente is a pandeiro and cavaquinho player from São Paulo. As a percussionist and producer, her participation in the choro world of Brazil is massive. The list of musicians she has worked with include literally all the well-known performers of Brazilian popular music: Alexandre Ribeiro, Beth Carvalho, Yamandu Costa, Duo Assad, Hamilton de Hollanda, Badi Assad, Banda Mantiqueira, Wanderlea, Altamiro Carrilho, Paulo Moura, AndrÃ© Mehmari, Danilo Brito, Alessandro Penezzi, Dominguinhos, Luiz Nassif, Renato Braz, Izaias do Bandolim, Orquestra Jovem Sinfonica, Raul de Barros, Wilson das Neves, D. Ivone Lara, Arismar do Esprito Santo, Léa Freire. She plays pandeiro with Choro Rasgado, Chorando as Pitangas, Panorama do Choro, Bola Preta, and others.
As a producer and scholar of choro music, her dedication to choro as an art form has built the audience for choro not only in Brazil, but the US as well. She was the director of Clube do Choro de São Paulo and editor of samba-choro news, the first site of samba and choro. Roberta wrote for Guitar Pro Magazine, specialized in guitar, where she interviewed many performers of choro. In 2019, she performed at Yerba Buena Center in SF with the Real Vocal String Quartet, led by Irene Sazer, in a program representing Brazil, and celebrating guest artists from around the world.
Irene Sazer is an improvising violinist, composer, arranger, and singer whose unique style combines world and roots music with classical, jazz, and pop sensibilities. Known internationally as a founding member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Sazer’s career has encompassed success as a concerto soloist, concertmaster, established recording artist, and a recognized educator of music and improvisation. In 2018, Irene collaborated with percussionist Roberta Valente and clarinetist Ale Ribeiro in a sold-out concert celebrating composers and musicians from all over the world in collaboration her Real Vocal String Quartet at Yerba Buena Center.
She founded and directs the School of Strings and String Improvisation in Berkeley, California. Sazer’s own recording First Things First highlights her original voice as a singer and songwriter. An in-demand genre-hopping violinist and fiddler, Irene has recorded and/or performed with Jai Uttal, Ali Akbar Khan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Smoky Robinson, David Grisman, Linda Rondstadt, Bjork, Maria Marquez, and Billy Joel. Passionate about combining her musical interests in new ways, Sazer continues to push boundaries, exploring the world with her violin, her voice, and her imagination.)
Grupo Falso Baiano
Choro de Ouro
Gileno Santana/Enrique Neto Duo
Duo Violao Brasil
Amilton Godoy Lea Freire Duo