Raphael Ortasse was born in Khartoum, Sudan, to parents of Sephardic origin,who were also Zionists.When Raphael was at an early age, the family decided to immigrate to Palestine/Israel.
Raphael, completed his elementary and high school education, he attended simultaneously a Talmud Torah,which was under the auspices of Rishon Lezion, Rabbi Hayim Uziel. There he studied liturgical musicunder the auspices of the well known Hazan, and composer, and Choir Master Nissan Cohen Melamed. Mr. Melamed was a foremost composer of many modern Sephardic melodies that combined both Westernand Eastern style music. Some of his compositions are currently being sang by the Kol Sephardic Choir.Raphael, joined the choir led by Nissan Cohen Melamed, and performed in a number of Synagogues,in Tel Aviv where Mr. Melamed was the Hazan (Cantor).
After completing his high school education, Raphael, volunteered to serve in the Jewish Settlement Police for a year, after which he left for the US to studyAeronautical Engineering. He worked as an aeronautical engineer for various well know companies, and on the most advance aircrafts built by the US. After the six day war, he was approached by Israel Aircraft Company to come and help build the first Israeli fighter plane the Kfir. Raphael quit his job withLockheed, and went to Israel with his family for three years. Upon his return, he joined Rockwell International Space Division (now Boeing), where heworked on the Space Shuttle program for 22 years.
In 1990, Raphael felt that there was a need to boost the attendance in the Sephardic Hebrew Center Synagogue, where he was a member, and whereattendance was dwindling. He approached the then newly hired Rabbi Kaizer, about forming a choir. Rabbi Kaizer was very enthusiastic and receptive to theidea. Shortly thereafter the Sephardic Hebrew Center Choir was formed. Twice a month the choir performed, and during theFriday nights service that the choir performed, the attendance increased extensively. Because of thepolitics that took place in the Synagogue, Raphael decided to leave the Synagogue Choir and form the independent KOL SEPHARDIC CHOIR.
At first the group was only on the West side but later formed another group in the Valley. The Valley group meets on Tuesdays and the West side Group onThursday. Every six or eight weeks or on special occasions the two groups meet to rehearse together.
Raphael was fortunate to learn some of the Romanceros from his parents, and in particular his mother. Every day when he came home from school, he wouldhear from distance away his mother singing the Romanceros while cooking for a family of nine. These beautiful songs, never left him even when he wasworking as an aeronautical and later as a Space Engineer. The first chance he had to fulfill his dream he formed a Sephardic Choir with the objective of revivingthis beautiful music among the Sephardim in Los Angeles, and to disseminate that culture to the Ashkenazic community as well as to the generalcommunity. That is the present goal of Kol Sephardic Choir.
Daud Peres (music director - deceased)He was born in Amsterdam to Sephardic parents, and grew up there until the age of 5. He receivedhis education in Harlem, Holland, where he started his music learning and career at the age of 5, when helearned to play the accordion, violin, and piano and gradually to other instruments such as: guitar, flute, cello,and vibraphone. As if that was not enough, he got to play every Sunday morning the organ in the local Church.
At the age of 6, he made his first public appearance. At the age of 16, he already had his own danceband Orchestra, but was stopped abruptly when World War II broke out in Europe, and Hollandwas occupied by the Germans. Daud and his family were lucky enough to be able to hide in a chicken coup.He used his time in hiding to teach himself to read music, which enabled him to write several compositions.
In 1948 he married Belina his deceased wife, after she survived the concentration camp. She was a strong woman, but a sweetheart of a person. Also ofSephardic parents who lived in Holland. It was Michael Pereira’s grandfather who married Daud and Belina in Amsterdam, Holland. We remember tonightBelina, because she too was a member of Kol Sephardic Choir. May Her Memory Be Blessed.
After the war, which Daud and his family survived, he formed a 37 piece orchestra. He toured all over Europe with his Orchestra. In 1950 he expanded hisactivities in music by forming a jazz combo that played for American troops and for the American Network. Until 1956 he toured with his combo and orchestra,and had many appearances on radio and later television. He wrote many arrangements for his orchestra, as well as for American artists such as Ella Fitzgeraldand other contemporary American stars, that appeared with his jazz combo.
In 1956 Belina and Daud immigrated to the USA. After vacationing six weeks in New York they proceeded to Los Angeles, California, where they settled. Shortlythereafter, he formed a dance music orchestra, and taught private lesson and continued to write new compositions. In 1994 shortly after Kol Sephardic Choirwas formed, he and Belina joined the choir. Being part of the choir, he did not only accompany us with his flute, he is the person responsible for writing most ofthe arrangements of the Romanceros that we sing in our repertoire.
Daud had another career as well. He worked for Hughes Aircraft, and Packard Bell as a Mechanical Design Engineer. At Hughes he also became involved in thedesign and development of Electronic Laser components.
AVLI (Avi Avliav) (music director & conductor)
AVLI is a Music Producer, Songwriter and Composer. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, he started studying music at the age of 6with Sharon Farber who is a music composer for the film industry. At the age of 13 he trained with the orchestraleader and conductor Sarah Feigin, and later continued his education at the “Rimon School of Jazzand contemporary music” with a dual major of MP&E (music production and engineering) and film scoring.
Avli’s productions range from dramatic, action-adventure, oriental and Arabic music to modern, electronicrock and pop. He specializes in the use of synthesizers, midi programming, and audio processing.By the age of 25 AVLI produced over 40 live concerts and over 30 records, including two for Israeli artistswho were award winners in 2003 and 2006.
At the age of 27, he moved to Los Angeles and started working with young talents in “artist’s development.”In addition, he currently works with several choirs, among them the Kol Sephardic Choir where he holds theposition of Music Director and Conductor. Because of his multiple talents in the fields of music and recording,AVLI made a dream come true by producing the first CD in Ladino of the Kol Sephardic Choir and Ensemble.
Awards:Through the years AVLI received many awards for his musical work, too many to enumerate here. For more details, visit his website at
Inna Royter (accompanist: Piano)
Inna was born in Odessa, USSR, today Ukraine, where she attended public schools and music schools.She later transferred to the Music College in Chisinau (Kishinev), Moldova. After graduation, Inna was employedat the Odessa State University as a piano accompanist. Upon arriving to the United States in 1990, Inna workedfor various ballet companies while at the same time teaching in music schools as well as privately.She was invited to play at many national ballet festivals in Washington D.C., Texas, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada.She was also a guest accompanist with Matthew Bourne’s production company, Adventures in Motion Pictures,and with the International Summer Program of the Susan Robinson School of Ballet, both of England, as well as with the Universal Ballet of South Korea.
Currently she is working with many well-known individuals from the world of ballet, such as Marat Daukaev of the Kirov Ballet, Yvonne Mounsey of the New YorkCity Ballet, Roberto Almaguer of the Cuban Ballet and the Los Angeles Ballet. These professionals are associated with well-established Ballet Schools like theWestside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, the Marat Daukaev school of Ballet in Los Angeles and the Peninsula School of Performing Arts in Palos Verdes,California.
Inna continued her music studies in the US with concert pianist Kirill Giadkorsky of USC. She tried her hand at composing music for the video, “ CaliforniaShores: A Quiet Journey for the Soul.”
Inna has been the accompanist for the Kol Sephardic Choir for the past 13 years. She quickly and almost magically mastered the flow of the Spanish/Orientalmusical nuances of our Sephardic repertoire.
Hubert Pralitz (accompanist: Violin, Viola)
Hubert Pralitz studied the art of violin playing with Stefan Herman, Jean Fournier, Henryk Szeryng, Zino Francescatti,Sбndor Vйgh, Gйrard Poulet, Herman Kienzl, Szymsia Bajour and Diane Kitzman. He attended the StanislawMoniuszko Music School of Sopot (Poland), the Fryderyk Chopin Music College in Wrzeszcz (Poland), theNational Superior Conservatory of Music in Paris (France), the Academy of Music and Performing Arts“Mozarteum,” Salzburg (Austria) and the Southern Methodist University, Dallas (Texas, USA) Hubert Pralitzperformed extensively throughout Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. Besides the wonderful music he plays, Hubert is a great photographer with a deep appreciation for the visual arts.We are fortunate to have Hubert as an active member of the Kol Sephardic Choir and Ensemble.
Jaime Papish (accompanist: Percussions)
Jaime is experienced in the Middle Eastern and Far Eastern, African and Eastern Europeanstyles of percussion. He studied under the master drummers Souhail Kaspar and Mehrdad Arabifard.Since 1995 Jamie has played oriental drums and percussion with multi- ethnic orchestras and chamberensembles as well as in his own “Ensemble of Eastern Fusion Jam,” blending ancient and contemporary sounds.
With a number of recording credits to his name, he is sought after for his uniquely sensitivestyle and sound as well as for his passion for music. He joined the Kol Sephardic Choirand Ensemble severals years ago.
Fredy Schiftan (accompanist: Guitar)
Originally from Honduras, Fredy Schiftan is an outstanding classical and Flamenco guitar player whohas received rave reviews for his inspiring performances. He is the winner of the prestigious Kinor David(The Violin of David) Award in Israel. He comes to Kol Sephardic Choir with a rich heritage of Flamencomusic upon to which he added Middle Eastern musical influences from his years of living in Israel.