West Philadelphia Orchestra is a brass band that specializes in klezmer, Balkan and New Orleans party music. Founded in 2006 as a village band, it quickly grew into one of Philly's favorite party bands. We have played countless weddings, celebrations and block parties, in addition to club shows and festivals throughout the country. In full on party mode, our sound is energetic, organic and powerful. Our core repertoire – klezmer and Balkan brass music – is actually wedding music, so joy is inherent in everything we play.
For weddings and private events, we provide a range of options and can customize our set up, configuration, song selections and style to best suit your vision. We are a collective of diverse and talented musicians. Many of our musicians are also Philly jazz musicians who love to play everything from Prohibition Era jazz to NOLA brass funk to the cool sounds of Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Others have classical backgrounds, while a few of us play a variety of instruments and various folk music. We start the event as a duo or trio for the ceremony and cocktail hour, playing 50s jazz or perhaps Brazilian samba choro, then grow into a full klezmer band for an epic hora, and close out the night with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or Philly classics like the Dead Milkmen's “Punk Rock Girl” or Robyn's “Dancing On My Own.” In everything we play, there's a flavor of joyous rebellion brewing and the whacky grit of Philly.
When we play klezmer, our repertoire and approach is rooted in Philadelphia's klezmer tradition that goes back over 100 years. And then we infuse those tunes with as much energy as possible. Our horas are often described as “epic” as we stack melodies and push the tempo for upwards of 20 minutes.
For our dance sets, we are happy to play the WPO classics that you've probably heard at our shows and on our records. We can also jump around in styles, mixing in our WPO-ified brass versions of Brittany Spears, Rihanna, The Cure, The Beatles, and so on. We feature a variety of voices, with up to 5 different band members jumping on the mic. And though we're generally a brass band, we will mix in guitar, accordion and/or keys if that suits the sound best.
We provide a great sound system, MCing, and can even compliment the band with DJing. We can parade down the street like a Brazilian bloco, play in an open field, or up in the barn loft. We love when clients come to us with crazy ideas and idiosyncratic themes.
We also work with a traditional dance leader, Miryam Coppersmith, who specializes in Yiddish dancing and Balkan folk dances. She's also available to help choreograph your featured dances. And would you like a badchen? Do you know what that is? Ask us!
How I cater to offbeat weddings
WPO is an offbeat multi-racial, multi-generational, pan-gender collective. We have marched and protested on the streets of Philly on behalf of LGBTQ rights, participated in the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter protests, Get Out the Vote and Count Every Vote initiatives, and we have partnered in fundraising for numerous Philly-based non-profits.
I wanted to send a big thank you to the band for playing at our wedding and to you for making it happen. We’ve been asking our friends what they liked best about the wedding, and I’m not kidding when I say that “the band” has been the most common thing. The band nailed it from start to finish. The ceremony vibe was perfect, the cocktail hour was perfect, and then the hora was somehow even better. Gabe & Sarah (May '23)
We attempt to be as carbon-neutral as possible. We appreciate when we can perform acoustically, without mics or electricity, It's also fantastic when we can ride our bikes to the gig or take public transportation. So we offer "green" discounts in some cases.