Introducing the Kol Haruach Klezmer Band
Brian Choper – Drums – Band Manager
Drummer Brian Choper, Kol Haruach’s Manager, is a versatile musician, experienced in Rock, Jazz, Blues, Swing, Ragtime, Klezmer and musical theatre. His music career began at the prestigious Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland, in whose elite music program he performed with the Jazz band, concert band and symphony orchestras. These ensembles traveled and won numerous awards in competition both domestically and abroad. In 1983, Brian won first prize at the Vienna International Music Festival Competition for classical timpani. While in college, he studied with Marshall Maley, renowned drummer/percussionist, head of the Percussive Arts Society in Virginia. From 1983 to 1985 Brian studied with the late legendary drummer Buddy Rich. In 1985, Brian began playing Klezmer, as the first drummer to play with the Capital Klezmers (at the time one of the top three Folk bands in the country), where he participated in the International Music Festival in Safed, Israel.
Upon leaving Capital Klezmers in 1989, Brian joined the Machaya Klezmer Band, and in 1997 played in and produced the group’s second CD, “What A Machaya”. This recording became the number two selling Klezmer album for that year and was rated as such in the prestigious Moment Magazine (August 1997). In 1997 (while still with Machaya) he joined Nexus, a highly respected local Rock band. He left both Machaya and Nexus in 2001, and formed his own Klezmer band, The Kol Haruach Klezmer Band. With the Klezmer band moving forward, in 2007 Brian organized three other bands; The Choper Jazz Project (contemporary Jazz), The Jazz Connection (Swing Jazz) and Nexus (classic Rock & Roll), a band named after his 1990′s Rock band. He spends most of his time managing these groups.
Fred – Clarinet & Sax – Music Director
Fred, presently Principal Clarinetist in the Annapolis (Maryland) Symphony is a Juilliard graduate who studied with the late Leon Russianoff. Fred made his New York Debut at Carnegie Hall as the winner of the Artists International Competition.
Some of his awards include the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center Recital Contest, Montpelier, MD (1988); the Guggenheim Concerts Band Performance Award, New York City (1981); the Milton Kahn Memorial Concerto Competition, Westchester, NY (1979).
Lou – Keyboard/Vocalist/Composer
Lou is a pianist/singer/songwriter who has been playing piano and composing for nearly 50 years. In short, he grew up in south New Jersey where he started playing at age 5, started writing as a teen, became serious about music and began composing and arranging. He attended Rowan University and earned 2 BA’s, one in music with a concentration in composition and arranging, and a second in history/political science, with a concentration in Middle East politics and religion.
After college he toured with various Pop groups, performing extensively in Atlantic City, where he played shows at the casino resorts. He opened the Mandarin Hotel in ’59 and ran a jazz trio, performing smooth jazz there for about 2 1/2 years. Lou ran his own show band in the seventies and eighties while at resorts and casinos. Then it got interesting.
Lou joined the army in 1986. In 1994 he auditioned and won a spot in the Washington Premier US Army Band, Washington DC, picked himself up and moved to Stafford, Virginia near DC. He settled, and has resided in the DC area ever since, working for the Army Band. This year will mark his 24th year with that band, where he is both pianist, writer and arranger.
Some career highlights:
One of his compositions was premiered at Carnegie Hall. Another was premiered at a Washington annual 1812 Concert on the Mall, where he was given the honor of singing the song for the first time in public.
Lou has played for several presidents, vice presidents and foreign dignitaries. These include Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama. He has also performed for several cabinet members and senators including Senator Ted Kennedy. Lou played exclusively for Colin Powell while he was Secretary of State, and has played for the King and Queen of Sweden. Lou was Al Gore’s personal pianist during the Clinton years. He also played for Dick Cheney.
Lou has performed with many well known musicians, including Clark Terry, Lew Soloff, Dennis DiBlasio (of the Maynard Ferguson Band), Dave Koz, Darryl Worley, Trisha Yearwood, Mark Wills, Craig Morgan, The Soul Survivors, Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergast’, Billy Paul, Danny And The Juniors, The Crystals, the Ink Spots , Anna Marie, Alberghetti, Al Martin, Enzo Stuarti.
“Pershing’s Own” (The US Army Band) regularly performs numerous patriotic compositions written by Lou. Recordings include 4 CD’s of patriotic music featuring two of Lou’s scores the CD’s were named after. He also has a composition featured in the award winning documentary, “Why We Fight”. One of these CD’s won him a Grammy nomination.
Some of the compositions he wrote for the Army include The Flag Still Flies High, Here’s To America, The Homeland, America Means Everything to Me, An Affair of The Heart.
Ephriam – Bass
Ephriam is a native of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, a city known as the “The Land of the Giant Killers”, and has performed with some of those Giants to include: Ahmad Jamal and Joe Kennedy.
He is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory, has studied with solo performance studies at the University of Maryland, and with renowned private teachers.
Ephriam served 26 years as a member of the NORAD, US Air Force Academy, and USAF Bands, and also as Principal Bassist with the Annapolis and Colorado Springs Symphonies. Ephriam has performed for US Presidents, many US and foreign dignitaries, at the National, Warner, and Fords theaters, and at many national and international music festivals.
As a versatile musician, Ephriam regularly performs with Klezmer, Jazz, and classical groups, and is a proud teacher of several professional bassists, and upcoming students.
Robert – Saxophone
Born in Philadelphia, Pa, Robert began his studies at the prestigious Settlement music school. Drawing on the rich Philadelphia heritage, he eventually studied with John Coltrane’s mentor Dennis Sandole. After mastering the clarinet, he began a serious focus on the Alto and Tenor saxophone. Borrowing his sound concept from the warmer tenor sax, he developed a sound that was Warm, and yet penetrating. It is this sound which garnished him recordings and performances with Odean Pope, Wallace Roney, Teddy Pendergrass, Fiidla, Joey DeFrancesco, Christian McBride, and his current assignment as a multi reedsman for the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Alan – Violin
Alan has been a freelance musician for forty four years and is a retired public school instrumental music teacher, serving for over thirty-six years. He is a founding member of the Fabrangen Fiddlers, a Jewish liturgical folk band based in the Washington, DC area since 1971. His work on violin and mandolin can be found on albums by the Fabrangen Fiddlers and David Shneyer (including Smokey Mt. Shabbes and Psalm Songs). He was also the fiddler and mandolinist in The Fast Flying Vestibule, an old-time country and Irish traditional band which performed frequently in the DC area from 1971 until 1978. He collaborated on Irish traditional music albums by the Fast Flying Vestibule, Seamus Kennedy and Iona, plus albums by Joe Glazer (“labor’s troubadour”). More recent album credits include CDs by Flory Jagoda and Cantor Charles Bernhardt. A Dream of Peace is his solo album, originally released in May, 1994.
A Dream of Peace, his first solo and self-produced commercial recording, encompasses a wide variety of musical styles and has significant spiritual content. It features the supporting talents of some of the most prominent musicians in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area, among them Mike Auldridge on pedal steel. It received critical acclaim in the Sounds Write Publications (San Diego, Ca.) catalog, Moment magazine (August, 1994) and the Washington City Paper (September 30, 1994).
Alan currently freelances in the Baltimore/Washington area and is a member of the Mark Novak Band. He is also the first mandolinist in Flory Jagoda’s Altaras Ensemble. He also plays in a bluegrass band with several other seasoned professionals, the Lonesome Pine Band, based in Silver Spring, MD. Recently, he has been a guest violinist and mandolinist in The Hot Club of DC, a band specializing in French Gypsy jazz, a style originally developed by the late, great Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. He is still actively freelancing, playing on recordings, concerts and life cycle events.
Annika – Vocalist
Debuting with a song at a Christmas function when she was only 4 years old, Annika has been singing most of her life. A natural with harmonies and foremost a vocalist, she also plays acoustic, rhythm guitar and hand percussion. Being multi-talented, she has worked in a variety of electric and acoustic music projects, including vocal jazz, folk, classical, pop and church music shows, as well as rock, country, R&B, blues and soul works. A true multi-linguist, she has performed in a multitude of public and private productions in the US, Europe and Russia, and in a variety of languages, including Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, Czech, Polish, Turkish, Icelandic… to name a few. After Brian heard her at an audition, he invited her to join the band, adding Israeli, Klezmer, Yiddish and Ladino music to her vast repertoire and experience.