AboutThe Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra (KCJO) was founded by Bands and orchestras are living ensembles that must continue to evolve artistically and musically while remaining connected to society. The Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra (KCJO) formerly KCO, was founded on that principal in 1997 by Aaron Kula , with a mission to reimagine vintage melodies for the next generation and perform interdisciplinary music that is multi-cultural. The ensemble performs a unique blend of folk and ethnic jazz as well as classical, and musical theatre, using a roster of accomplished jazz and classical musicians. In 2009, KCJO released its award winning CD Beyond the Tribes, which was selected in 2011 by the Library of Congress (LOC) for inclusion in the Copyright Acquisitions Division. The juried committee stated that this creative work represented an important cross section of American culture and would “enrich the collections.” In 2012, the Kula and the band released its second studio produced album titled Klezmerology and in March 2016 released its newest CD album called JubanoJazz, celebrating the fusion of Latin Jazz and vintage Klezmer melodies Having toured in 2011 and 2014, Kula led KCJO on concert tours to California, Arizona, Rhode Island, and in 2015 was invited to perform in Canada at Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto and the Montreal Jewish Music Festival.
Aaron Kula, music director and accordion, is an accomplished conductor, composer, accordionist, and educator. He follows in the great tradition of his mentors such as Gunther Schuller and Leonard Bernstein who followed an interdisciplinary career. His lifelong interest in Classical, Jazz and Folk music led him to form the award-winning Klezmer Company Orchestra in 1997, renamed Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra (KCJO), a cross-genre performing ensemble. He has conducted several orchestral premiers in south Florida including Duke Ellington’s Black Brown and Beige in 2011, Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town in 2014 and Jeremiah Symphony in 2016. In 2003 Kula was invited by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida to create an interdisciplinary music performance and education department inside the library that would serve as a catalyst to increase the library’s profile nationally and internationally. Kula’s transforms the concert experience with both orchestras and bands by juxtaposing and fusing unrelated genres in an activity called “Shelf to Stage.” As a composer and folk jazz artist, he has produced three studio albums of new compositions including Beyond The Tribes (2009), Klezmerology (2011), and JubanoJazz (2016). In 2011 Beyond the Tribes was selected by a juried committee from the Library of Congress (LOC) for inclusion in the Copyright Acquisitions Division. The LOC determined that the album represented an important cross section of American culture and would “enrich the collections.” In 2011 and 2014, Kula led his KCJO on concert tours to California, Arizona, Rhode Island, and in 2015 was invited to perform in Canada at Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto and the Montreal Jewish Music Festival. As an orchestral conductor, Kula has led orchestras throughout the US, Europe, and Israel and served on the conducting faculty at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (1986 to 2013), Boston University, and Chautauqua Music School in New York. An active guest conductor, he has worked with Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Erie Ballet (PA), Boston Conservatory Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, Boca Raton Sinfonia, and New Hampshire Ballet. He has worked with renowned artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Stoltzman, Colin Carr, Denise Graves, as well as members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and has led numerous international orchestra tours with New England Conservatory, Harvard and Stanford universities. As an accordionist, he performs regularly with KCJO and collaborates with artists from other organizations including University of Miami and New World Symphony in Miami. From 2009-2011 he served as a special consultant for the Klezmer exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Melodies. Maestro Kula holds a Bachelor of Arts in music theory and Judaic studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Music in theory and conducting with Distinction in Performance from New England Conservatory of Music.
Chaim Rubinov, trumpet, flugelhorn, and arranger, is a native of Montreal, Canada. He has toured the U.S. and South America and has performed with renowned artists including Marvin Hamlisch, Nestor Torres and Tito Puente, Jr. A talented composer and arranger, Chaim composes many new Latin-Klezmer arrangements which have been performed and recorded by KCO. He has led bands for cruise ships and worked as a studio musician for radio and television commercials. Chaim holds a bachelor of music from the University of North Texas, where he studied with jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd.
Randi Fishenfeld, violin, studied with Juilliard professor Sylvan Schulman and developed an eclectic style of performing across genres including rock, blues, jazz, klezmer and gypsy swing. She is in demand as a recording artist and has performed with Kansas, America, Air Supply, B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Valentine, Clarence Clemons and Nestor Torres. Randi tours nationally and leads her own group, Bluefire Band.
Scott Klarman, saxophones and flute, a native of South Florida, is a multi-talented instrumentalist who began musical studies with his father, an accomplished classical, commercial and recording musician. Scott attended Miami-Dade College and studied with international recording artist Ed Calle. He has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival. An innovative improvisational musician, he is in demand as a freelance and recording artist.
David Levitan, trombone, a native of South Florida, received a bachelor of music degree from the University of Florida and attended the University of North Florida's Jazz Studies Program. He worked as a musician and performer for the Walt Disney Company and has performed with internationally renowned artists including Joe Williams, Louis Bellson, Herbie Hancock, Clint Holmes, Lisa Donovan, Debbie Boone and the national tour of Hello Dolly.
Valerio Cantori, piano, a native of Cento di Ferrara, Italy, earned his degree in classical piano from the Conservatorio di Carpi. He started his professional career as a pianist on cruise ships at the age of 23 performing classical, jazz, opera, pop, Latin and R&B. He has worked with international artists such as Charles Dumont, Sam Moore, Charo and Andrea Bocelli and arranged and produced the opera-show Café Fantastico for PBS.
Jeffrey Kipperman, bass, a native of Yorktown Heights, NY is pursuing a DMA in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. He has shared the stage with a wide range of musicians, including Terance Blanchard, Marc O' Conner, Florida Grand Opera, and The New World Symphony. Before moving to Miami, Jeff lived in Merida, Mexico where he was a member of the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra and was also a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.
Teresa Flores, percussion, is a native of Los Angeles where she received her bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California. She has performed with such artists as Louie Bellson, Poncho Sanchez, Glen Velez and Mick Fleetwood. Teresa received her master of music degree from Florida International University and teaches music in the Miami-Dade school system.
George Mazzeo, drums and percussion, is a South Florida native and began his professional career while attending Nova High School and the University of Miami. He has performed or recorded a range of artists from Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Julio Iglesias, Ray Charles, Henry Mancini, Sammy Davis Jr., the Florida Philharmonic and the Miami City Ballet, among others. George has an extensive background playing Broadway shows,is currently the drummer for the legendary conductor Peter Nero, and teaches drums at Miami Dade College-Wolfson.
Doug Friend, drums and percussion, originally from Sacramento, California, attended the world-renowned Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington where he studied percussion with Richard Johnson and George Gaber and jazz with David Baker. Doug regularly performs with Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Palm Beach Symphony, Gold Coast Singers and the Boca Raton Symphonia. He was a member of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra from 1986 through 2003.
Klezmer Company Orchestra Roster
2004 - 2016
Joan Faigen, concertmaster
Dina Kostic, concertmaster
Mei Mei Luo
Geremy Miller, concertmaster
Erika Venable, concertmaster
Sha Sha Zhang
Jackie De Los Santos
Juan Carlos Peña
FLUTES & PICCOLOS
Eric Van de Veer Varner
Carlos Felipe Viña
Ebony Chorale of the
FAU Libraries Judaica
First Baptist Church
Piney Grove Choir
Karl Van Richards
Lloyd Reshard, Jr.