An unmistakably singular sound.”

— No Depression

Tenzin Chopak

Tenzin Chopak (vocals, guitar, piano, double bass, cello), is an artist and songwriter based in Ithaca, NY.  The son of a minister and an artist, and the brother of a fellow musician and songwriter Greg Horne, Tenzin learned to love music in his father's church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  He studied voice, piano, and guitar in his childhood and youth, frequently performing his original music publicly.  In 1999, after some years of a burgeoning devotion to the study of Tibetan language and religion, he traveled to North India.  It was during his eight month stay there that he was given the name "Tenzin Chopak".  For the following twelve years, while continuing his study of Tibetan in upstate, NY, Tenzin kept music a quiet if not hidden part of his life.  

In late 2011 he began to write and perform publicly again. Teaming up with renowned banjo player Richie Stearns, violinist vocalist Rosie Newton, violinist Eric Aceto, Harry Aceto, and bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, he formed an ensemble he called Rockwood Ferry as a vehicle for his music. Since then, he released three albums under the Rockwood Ferry name (bringing in other respected players such as bassist Rich DePaolo, drummer Bill King, and horn player/multi instrumentalist Peter Dodge), then a fourth and fifth album under his own name, and has composed music for film, and has rapidly gained recognition for his songwriting, singing, and for his presence and joyful abandon in live performance.  

Chopak now performs and records simply under his name "Tenzin Chopak", and is known for composing and performing music across the genres of roots and progressive chamber folk, world beat influenced rock, and experimental and improvisational music including analog electronica (Moog) and trance mixed with instruments such as cello, piano, double bass, acoustic/electric guitars and voice.  Most commonly, he performs with guitar and voice.

Chopak recently released his fourth and fifth albums within a few months of each other.  The fourth album "Awful Good" (11/16) is an old-fashioned acoustic live in-studio style performance album with deep roots influences and sweet vocal harmonies featuring ensemble players Nicholas Walker on double bass, Rosie Newton on violin and vocals, and Greg Evans on drums. His fifth album "Alone in the House" (3/17) is a solo guitar and voice project recorded with one microphone in one day.  Both albums were produced by multi Grammy winning engineer Brian Dozoretz.  Chopak frequently performs both as a solo act as well as with backing musicians such as Dan Africano, Angelo Peters, Nicholas Walker, Greg Evans, and Rosie Newton.

Fool's Fire

Review of "Awful Good" No Depression

Part of the communal combine that frequently bills itself as Rockwood Ferry, Tenzin Chopak has assumed many guises throughout his career, regularly veering into the realms of prog, chamber folk, world beat, trance, electronica and improvisational music while enthusiastically collaborating with whatever musicians are eager to embrace his vision. Chopak’s versatility on a variety of instruments (guitar, piano, bass, cello and voice) and his deeply rooted spiritual beliefs (a devotee of Tibetan culture and religion, he was given his present name during an eight month sabbatical in northern India), imbue his music with both a rustic and religious regimen, providing his work with a mystic sheen in the process. Awful Good is the fourth album under his own aegis, and with songs that veer from mournful to mirthful, it’s an unmistakably singular sound that’s grounded in rootsy reflection and timeless trappings, yet as earnest and assertive as any heartland homily. Many of the entries convey a certain solace -- the fiddle-strewn title track, the hushed "Wild Boys," the reflective “Tell Queeny,” and the mellow “Let Yourself Fall” in particular -- the soothing sentiments are consistently affecting, allowing most of these tracks to offer an immediate if somewhat eerie impression. Being the son of a minister who was reared in the rural environs of East Tennessee could account for Chopak’s grounded delivery, but it likely also has to do with his thoughtful mindset as well. While Awful Good certainly lives up to its name, it also harbors a deep sense of thoughtful propriety, which makes these songs all the more auspicious, and lovely as well. 

Just Don't Go

Press photos

Photo by Aaron Winter

Photo by Aaron Winter