Paul Hoffert (Poli) was born in Brooklyn, New York and studied classical piano when he was a young boy, but he was drawn to the popular music of Fats Domino, Little Richard, and the doo-wop vocal groups that were popular then. His first band was the Boptones, which released two singles, “I Wanna Love You” and “Betty Jean”, when Paul was just 13 years old. All the band members had nicknames—nickibop, johnibop, stevibop and, his own moniker, polibop.
He moved with his family to Toronto when he was 14 and, influenced by his older brother Marty’s love of jazz, took up the vibraphone (vibes). Within a year, his musical muse had become Milt “Bags” Jackson, the vibist with the Modern Jazz Quartet, and he was performing regularly at coffee houses and on network television. The popularity of the Paul Hoffert Jazz Quartet led to a record deal for his first album, “The Jazz Routes of Paul Hoffert”, which was released when he was 16.
Hoffert studied music composition, arranging, and orchestration with Gordon Delamont for six years and, by the time he was 22, he had composed several feature film music scores and written an Off-Broadway musical, “Get Thee To Canterbury”. He played regularly with jazz greats Moe Koffman, Ed Bickert, Guido Basso, and Rob McConnell. He worked with and performed the music of 20th century classical composers such as Harry Freedman, Harry Somers, Gunther Schuller, R. Murray Shafer, and Louis Applebaum. He was a percussionist with the Toronto Symphony for recordings of contemporary classical music.
In 1969, when he was 26, he co-founded the rock band Lighthouse with Skip Prokop. He toured with Lighthouse playing keyboards, vibes, and congas.
[For Lighthouse information , please visit www.lighthouserockson.com]
Poli stopped touring with Lighthouse in 1973 and turned to record producing. He founded Rock and Roll Records and produced artists such as Bob McBride, Bill King, Flower Traveling Band, Snakeyes, Robbie Rox, and Flying Circus as well as executive producing Lighthouse recordings. During that period, he was a founder of CIRPA, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association.
In 1975, he became music director, arranger, and pianist for Craig Russell, internationally acclaimed impersonator and star of the feature film “Outrageous”, for which Hoffert wrote the Genie Award winning film score. Poli conducted Craig Russel’s jazz orchestra in performances around the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Berlin’s Theatre Festival, Sydney’s Opera House, and Toronto’s Massey Hall.
Hoffert returned to Lighthouse in 1982, for its Ontario Place reunion, and since then has remained a performer with the band.
Hoffert has composed and conducted original music for more than thirty feature films, hundreds of television programs, and for orchestral music including his Concerto for Contemporary Violin, which won a Juno Award. He is the recipient of San Francisco Film Festival Award, Genie Award (best film score) as well as Gemini, Clio, and four SOCAN Film/ TV Composer awards.
He conducted orchestras for Lighthouse’s collaborations with symphonies, and composed, with Skip Prokop, the music for Lighthouse’s North American Ballet High concert tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company and for the South American Noah tour with the Desrosiers Dance Theatre, He has conducted recordings and performances of Orchestras in Canada, the United States, England, Germany, and the Czech Republic, including a Sony recording featuring Placido Domingo. In 2009, he conducted the children’s opera “Brundibar” at Koerner Hall in Toronto.
On the academic front, Hoffert was music director of the Blue Mountain School of Music 1975-77 at George Brown College. He was appointed adjunct Professor of Fine Arts at York University in 1984 and Research Professor at Sheridan College in 1999. Hoffert was a founder and Chair of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television and executive producer of the Gemini Awards in 1985 and 1986. He was Chair of the Ontario Arts Council 1994-97 and is currently Chair of the Guild of Canadian Film and Television Composers and Chair of the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund.
In 2005 he was appointed Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Law School (copyright) and in 2007 was appointed a director of McGill University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology. He has also taught at Beijing University and the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.
Hoffert has served on many other boards including the Canadian Performing Rights Society (1984-90); SOCAN Foundation (1993-2009); Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1998-2003); Virtual Museum of Canada (2000-2005); Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (1999-); the Glenn Gould Foundation (2000-), and the United Nations World Summit on Information Societies.
Hoffert spent much of 2006-8 in China, working with Harvard University and the Chinese government to monetize music file sharing in that country. During that time, he toured China as a performer with world music diva Dadawa (Zhu Zheqing).
He is the author of five books, including The Hoffert Guide for Synchronizing Music with Media and Composing Music for Videogames, Web, and Mobile. In 2005 Poli received the Order of Canada for his contributions to music and media.
In 2009, Mr. Hoffert conducted the Netivot choir and the Glenn Gould Orchestra in performances of the opera, Brundibar. He has conducted his orchestral compositions for film, television, and sound recordings with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, Bavarian Film Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Prague Opera Orchestra, and studio orchestras. His conducting of non-original works includes a Placido Domingo disk for SONY records and an Igor Stravinsky (L’histoire du Soldat) CD for Marquis records.
Jazz Pianist, Vibraphonist: 1958-1969, 2009-
Mr. Hoffert recently returned to his jazz performance roots and performs regularly with the Jim Gelcer jazz trio.
Lighthouse Keyboardist, Vocalist, Percussionist: 1968-1972, 1982, 2001-
Mr. Hoffert is founder of and lead performer with Lighthouse (www.lighthouserockson.com). Lighthouse has headlined more than 500 concert performances. Lighthouse is currently touring to support the 2009 release of its DVD/CD, 40 Years of Sunny Days. Previous concert performances include: Carnegie Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Fillmore East, Fillmore West, Atlantic City Pop Festival, Isle Of Wight Festival (England), Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Expo ’70 (Osaka, Japan), Massey Hall, National Arts Centre, Place des Arts, North American tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company (1971), South American tour with Oscar Peterson and Desrosiers Dance Theatre (1995), Canadian National Exhibition, and the Calgary Stampede.
As Lighthouse’s music director, Hoffert broke new ground in the fields of both pop and classical music. He was one of the creators of what is now known as fusion music, the blend of rock and jazz genres. He composed and conducted the first performances anywhere by a rock band with a symphony orchestra (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Edmonton symphonies). He also composed and performed the first ever collaboration between a rock band and a classical ballet company (The Royal Winnipeg). These were great critical and commercial successes and brought new and younger audiences to appreciate the treasures of classical music and dance.
Lighthouse earned eight gold, platinum, and diamond albums for record sales and is a three-time Juno Award winner as Canada’s top band. Mr. Hoffert was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Canada) in 1995.
Performer: One Fine Story, 2009-
Mr. Hoffert is a lead performer in this presentation of the history of the music business, seen through the eyes of a musician in a band that experiences the ups and downs of fame, fortune, failure, and resurrection, directed by David Acomba.
Musician, Performer: Dadawa (Zhu Zheqing), 2006
Mr. Hoffert performed in China with world music diva Dadawa (Zhu Zheqing)l
Musical Director, Arranger, Pianist: Craig Russell, 1975-1981
Mr. Hoffert was the music director, arranger, and pianist for Craig Russell, internationally acclaimed impersonator and star of the feature films “Outrageous” and “Outrageous 2”. After composing the music score and signature songs (It Ain’t Easy and Step Out) for Outrageous, Mr. Hoffert traveled with Craig Russell performing concerts throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall (twice), Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Berlin Theatre Festival, Sydney Opera House, and Massey Hall. Mr. Hoffert conducted the twenty-two piece jazz band from the piano.
Studio Percussionist: Mallet specialist, 1959-1969
Mr. Hoffert began working as a professional percussionist when he was fifteen (1958). Before he founded Lighthouse, he played on hundreds of television programs, commercials, and recordings and performed live concerts in both the jazz idiom and for serious music concerts including premiers of many contemporary classical works. He played regularly with jazz greats Moe Koffman, Ed Bickert, Guido Basso, Rob McConnell, Sonny Greenwich, and the like. He worked with and performed the music of 20th century composers including Harry Freedman, Harry Somers, Gunther Schuller, R. Murray Shafer, and Louis Applebaum. Hoffert also recorded as a percussionist with the Toronto Symphony for its 20th century music recordings (Pierre Mercure, etc.)
Distributed live performances (via broadband networks), 1995-present
Mr. Hoffert was the first professional performer to embrace live distributed musical performances, using analog TV and telephone networks at first to connect musicians distributed in different locations and then digital networks when they became available. His demonstration at the InterActive ’96 Cyber Soiree (see below) of feasible technologies and performance environments for networked performances led to the use of these for the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Olympics, for which Seiji Ozawa conducted Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with orchestras and choruses distributed throughout the world.
Vibraphonist, Animator: Supercomputing 2001 Conference, Denver. Hoffert was animator-performer (Vibraphonist) of a distributed WAN live performance, with Hoffert in Denver + dancer, visual artist, and additional music in Toronto, February 2001
Featured Vocalist: Canada Day Celebrations at Parliament Hill, 2000, CBC Television, Ottawa
Pianist: Liszt’s 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, 2000, , 2 pianos 4 hands, with Bramwell Tovey, , Winnipeg
Performer: Smart Toronto, 1999. Toronto BCE Place + Brampton City Hall + Richmond Hill Library, Lighthouse at one location, string orchestra at the second and assorted percussionists at the third. The connectivity was by direct fibre end-to-end with no codecs (compression) so the network latency (delay) was minimal.
Conductor: Prague Opera Orchestra, 1996, Louis Danto, tenor, recording 1996
Jazz Pianist,Vocalist: distributed live performance, Cyber Soire ’96, Hoffert at Bravo! television studio, guitarist at York University, drummer and bass player at the Communications Institute for Technology Innovation in Quebec and the trumpet and saxophone players at the Bamboo Club, Queen Street Toronto, 1996
Keyboardist, Vocalist: distributed live performance, Smart Cities’95 , half of Lighthouse at the Harbour Castle Hotel and the other half at Centennial College 20 km distant, 1995
Keyboards, Percussion, Piano; Vocalist: Lighthouse Reunion – One Fine Weekend; critical acclaim, thirty-five thousand attendance, 1982
Performer, Composer: The Lizard People, concerts for children, 1979
Lead Performer: Lighthouse, 1969-1973
Jazz Vibraphone, Piano: House Of Hamburg, Cellar Jazz Club, and First Floor Jazz Club, 1958-1967
Television Performer: Time of Your Life, CBC variety series, 1963-1965
Television Performer: While We’re Young, CBC variety series, 1959-1961
Pianist, Vocalist: Boptones, doo-wop vocal group, 1954-1956
Latin Percussion; piano: Happy Zabezi Caribbean Band, 1955-1956
Alto Vocalist: Oscar Julius Choir, 1954-1956
Networked Artist Performances
Supercomputing 2001 Conference, Denver
Hoffert was the animator-performer (Vibraphonist) of a distributed WAN live performance, with Hoffert in Denver + dancer, visual artist, and additional music in Toronto, February 200
Smart Toronto, 1999, P. Hoffert, Host, Performer
Toronto BCE Place + Brampton City Hall + Richmond Hill Library, Lighthouse at one location, string orchestra at the second and assorted percussionists at the third. The connectivity was by direct fibre end-to-end with no codecs (compression) so the network latency (delay) was minimal.
Cyber Soiree, 1996-1997, P. Hoffert, Producer, Host, Performer
Cyber Soiree demonstrated a distributed low-latency live performance network using symmetrical audio and video feeds to four sites across the continent in two countries (US and Canada). Cyber Soiree 96 featured jazz musicians, dancers, and painters collaborating in real time at four locations in Quebec and Ontario. Cyber Soiree 97 expanded the horizons to Los Angeles at the official residence of Canada’s Consul General where one hundred Hollywood denizens were partied (virtually) with suburban residents in Newmarket Ontario, conference attendees in downtown Toronto and one thousand party-goers at Citytv’s ShmoozeFest – a party for Toronto’s International Film Festival.
Smart Cities Conference, 1995, P. Hoffert, Producer, Performer
The closing ceremonies of the international Smart Cities conference featured a distributed live music performance with half the musicians live at one site and the other half at another site twenty kilometers distant. The two locations were telepresenced bi-directionally with life-sized screens using broadband audio and video.
Television & Radio Performer
Mr. Hoffert is a frequent guest on television and radio programs. Recent appearances include Canada AM and Squeezeplay, Breakfast Television, and Ontario Today (guest host)