West Philadelphia Orchestra is a brass band inspired by the Romani brass “orkestars” and “fanfares” of Eastern Europe. Known for stellar musicianship and dynamic live shows, the band’s sound is large, loud and extremely danceable. WPO began as a village band for their neighborhood in 2006, performing at parks, rocking street festivals and collaborating with community theaters. They’ve released a few albums over the years – WPO in 2008, Live at Tritone in 2012, and Tour de Filli in 2016 – all of which are available on the band’s Bandcamp page and streaming platforms. And lots of new music is on the way, including The Cosmic Trilogy in collaboration with Oolala, an anthropocene-themed EP, and an LP of party jams.
You can find WPO on stages, beer gardens, protests and wedding celebrations throughout the Philadelphia region. WPO plays a wide-range of music, including traditional Balkan music (emphasis on Serbian and Macedonian repertoire), klezmer music rooted in Philadelphia’s klezmer tradition, NOLA style ‘jazz,’ and a bit of frevo, ska and American pop music. On stages and record, however, the band focuses on their original compositions which meld all of those influences together. They have collaborated with artists as varied as RJD2, Dr. Dog, Martha Graham Cracker, Johnny Showcase and the Trisha Brown Dance Company. With driving percussion, yawping tuba, wailing reeds and blaring trumpets, WPO’s sound hits hard and lifts the spirits.
“‘Zla S’dba’ is a joyful Balkan dance number that gets everyone in the room swaying. Bulgarian language skills not required; the song’s irresistibly celebratory spirit needs no translation.” – Rachel, NPR Tiny Desk Contest
“Despite a sizeable portion of the crowd likely not understanding the various languages of the southeastern Europe region, there always seems to be a supernatural synergy between them and the band.” – JUMP Philly
“– this is by far one of the most energetic acts in the city. Check them out, they host the Balkan Dance party at Underground Arts [now at Franky Bradley’s].” – Get Lucid
WPO has had the honor and pleasure of sharing the stage with a great many terrific bands, including:
Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar
Slavic Soul Party!
Raya Brass Band
Balkan Beat Box
Rebirth Brass Band
Too Many Zooz
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
YoungBlood Brass Band
What Cheer? Brigade
Hot 8 Brass Band
MarchFourth Marching Band
Opera Co. of Philadelphia
PitchBlak Brass Band
Ismail Hakki Fencioglu
…and many others.