Brian O'Neill: Artistic Director, Percussionist, Composer
Brian O’Neill is a versatile percussionist, drummer, and composer based in Boston, MA. Dubbed a “percussion master and musical polymath” by the Boston Phoenix, Brian has performed with Arizona Opera Company, Albany Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony (principal percussionist), Kristin Chenoweth, Donna Summer, Peter Erskine, and as a concerto soloist with the Sun City Symphony (AZ). Brian’s musical adventures have brought him to the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and prestigious venues in Hawaii, Mexico, Germany, and Japan. In addition to maintaining a diverse freelance career, Brian leads and composes for the unique dual ensemble Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, a “marvelously flexible unit” (Boston Globe) comprised of a vibraphone quintet playing global jazz and exotic chamber music, and the world’s only space-age pop big band performing Brian’s transcriptions of the lost music of Juan Garcia Esquivel.
In addition to the Orchestrotica, Brian also performs as a drummer or percussionist with Klezwoods, David Wax Museum, Jeni Jol, The Why, Ishnu, and Cordis. When not on stage, Brian can also be found underneath it in some of New England's best theatre pit orchestras playing drumset and percussion for Broadway shows that recently have included Shrek, West Side Story, Spamalot, and the national tour of Motown the Musical. In addition to his musical interests, Brian tries to keep up his Spanish and Portuguese, playing soccer, and throwing BBQs centered around his Big Green Egg and craft cocktail tiki bar. Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram (@orchestrotica) and through his mailing list at crashandboom.com.
Orange photo by Robin Holland.
Geni Skendo: Bass Flute, Flute, Shakuhachi
The Boston Globe calls flute and shakuhachi specialist Geni Skendo a “virtuoso,” creating a unique blend of jazz, free jazz and world music. After a successful performing career in his native Albania, Geni moved to the US in 2003 to raise his jazz playing to a higher level. Studies at the Berklee College of Music and The New England Conservatory (MM) led to a deep, ongoing involvement with the Boston music scene. Geni performs with Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica (Best World Music Act, Boston Phoenix Readers’ Poll, 2012), in both its quartet and big-band incarnations. The quartet utilizes Geni’s full palette, while The Esquivel Megaband relies heavily on Geni’s powerful bass flute in its recreation of long-lost arrangements by the legendary Mexican arranger Juan Garcia Esquivel. Geni also leads the free improvised chamber music group, Samurai Jazz Trio, consisting of shakuhachi, bass/shamisen and piano. Geni has released three CDs, most recently Acoustic Cowboy, featuring original compositions and new arrangements of songs from Olivier Messiaen, African pygmies and the Balkans.
More at GeniMusic.com
Michael Harrist: Bass
Michael K. Harrist is a musician and educator based in Watertown, MA. Michael performs and works with artists in a wide array of world traditions including Turkish art music, Hindustani music, Jazz, Western art music and American roots music. He has performed throughout North America, Europe and Turkey with various ensembles including Ameranouche, Cesni Trio, Ross Daly and Kelly Thomas, Sol & Kiel, Capillary Action and the Labyrinth Modal Music Orchestra. Michael teaches workshops and private lessons in world music traditions (primarily Turkish makam and Hindustani raga), monophonic and polyphonic composition and instrumental practice and performance. His workshops for children focus on pitch and rhythm acquisition through games and play.
Michael studied double bass with James Macdonald at the Open Music Collective in Brattleboro, VT. He received his BA in music and religion from Marlboro College under the tutelage of composer Stan Charkey and religion scholar Amer Latif. Michael continues his studies with composer W. A. Mathieu, sarangiya Pandit Ramesh Mishra, sarodiya George Ruckert, neyzen Fred Stubbs, and contemporary modal musicians Ross Daly and Evgenios Voulgaris.
More at michaelharrist.com
Tev Stevig: oud, tanbur, resonator guitar
Tev Stevig is a Boston-based guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in a variety of pluckedstring instruments from the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey. He joined the Orchestrotica's quintet in 2013 and had been playing guitar and steel guitar with the group's 22-pc Esquivel big band since 2011. Tev also performs with his solo/duo project called Jeni Jol, which incorporates elements of music from the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey in his original compositions and arrangements for clawhammer style fretless guitar. Jeni Jol's first CD was released in the fall of 2013 and is the first of an exciting new series of CD releases featuring solo clawhammer style guitar. Tev also plays electric guitar and oud with the klezmer/Balkan/jazz/rock band Klezwoods. He plays tanbur with the Ottoman art music group Orkestra Marhaba and acoustic guitar and oud for the Balkan/new-grass group, Hickory Strings. His musical travels have brought him to the main stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Apollonia Festival of Arts in Bulgaria, as well as many other music venues in North America and Europe. He has performed with such seminal Balkan folk artists as Yuri Yunakov, Goran Alachki, Gieorgi Yanev, Adam Good, Beth Cohen, and Walt Mahovlich. He has also performed with Ramon de los Reyes Spanish Dance Theater, Julia Madeson and Aljashu (Sephardic music), Zamir Chorale, and the Turkish art music ensemble, Dunya.
More at tevstevig.com
Jeremy Smith: Percussion
Jeremy Smith is a percussive artist whose unique versatility allows him to move seamlessly among numerous musical styles from around the world. While the foundation of his playing comes from his classical training at Juilliard, his passion lies in improvisational percussion traditions such as those found in South America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and jazz.
He has performed with ensembles and artists such as Alí Bello and the Sweet Wire Band, Ensamble a Contratiempo, Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros, Gian-Carla Tisera, Los Crema Paraiso, and Latin Grammy nominee Luisito Quintero. He is also a member of the innovative Middle Eastern music group Brooklyn Nomads led by oudist Hadi Eldebek.
As a composer, Jeremy has written two works for percussion trio. “In Unison” was written for and premiered by students at the 2013 Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar. In 2012, he premiered “5-7-9” at Juilliard’s electro-acoustic concert series Beyond the Machine 13.0. This work has also been performed at the Manhattan School of Music and had its Asia premiere in July 2014 at the International Percussion Festival in Seoul, Korea. Jeremy is an active freelance artist based in New York City where he is also an accompanist for modern dance classes at Peridance Capezio Center, Steps on Broadway, Paul Taylor School, Ballet Tech School, and Harkness Dance Center. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School as a student of Gordon Gottlieb and Markus Rhoten.
More at jeremysmithpercussion.com