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415.707.9489, [email protected]
Ryan Brown
415.407.9794, [email protected]
Innovative and Eclectic Music
from the Bay Area and Beyond
``photo by Bryce Davesne
Sunday, April 1, 2:00-10:00 PM
Brava Theater
2718 24th Street, San Francisco
“...a capacious home for all sorts of unpredictable musical goings-on.”
- San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO: Now in its fifth year, the Switchboard Music Festival is an 8-hour, non-stop
music spectacle presenting composers and musicians who push the boundaries of their respective
genres—be it rock, jazz, classical, hip-hop, world, or something less defined. It is a showcase for
innovative, accessible local music that easily traverses disparate musical worlds, a physical analog
for a borderless, digital world.
"We started the Festival to highlight Bay Area musicians who are making incredibly creative music
that, because it doesn't fall easily into a single style, has no obvious home of its own," says Ryan
Brown, one of Switchboard's co-founders. He, along with Jeff Anderle and Jonathan Russell,
have watched Switchboard grow tremendously over the past five years, becoming a non-profit
organzation, attracting national attention, and, last year, moving to Brava Theater—a larger venue
to accomodate an ever-increasing audience size.
The Switchboard Music Festival will feature some of the Bay Area’s most original performers,
including the groundbreaking chamber choir Volti and Oakland-based Faun Fables, whose
theatrical "songtelling" draws on folk music from around the world and through the ages. Included
among the eleven other acts are local performers Jeff Anderle, Beep, Cornelius Boots, Dan
Cantrell, Grains, Danny Holt, the Hurd Ensemble, Dominique Leone, The Living Earth
Show, Mercury Falls, Nonsemble 6, Ramon & Jessica, and the San Francisco Conservatory
Guitar Ensemble. Among these sets are works by composers whose work explores the intersection
of multiple cultures and genres, including Hauschka, Ryan Brown, Caleb Burhans, Anna Clyne,
Robin Estrada, Jonathan Russell, and many more.
Volti presents intelligent music for listeners who want both cerebral and emotional stimulation and
fulfillment – a visit to a modern art museum for your ears. Volti’s twenty professional singers, under
the direction of founder and Artistic Director Robert Geary, are dedicated to the discovery, creation,
and performance of new vocal music. Volti has collaborated with many distinguished theatrical
and musical organizations, both on stage and in recording, including among others George Coates
Performance Works, Earplay, SF Contemporary Music Players, the Berkeley Symphony, the
Oakland Symphony, and the Russian National Orchestra. For more information, visit
Faun Fables is the project of Dawn McCarthy­, a singer who has spent more than a decade building
up a body of work. The first Faun Fables were to be a series of illustrated stories that Dawn began
working on in 1993 when moving to New York City to become a story illustrator. In 1998 she
began collaborating with Nils Frykdahl, sharing an instinct to weave theater into music, and to
learn from each other’s contrasting approaches to songmaking. Over the course of eight years, they
have released four Faun Fables records on Drag City records, picking up critical momentum and
gathering a devoted and eclectic following along the way.
Clarinetist/bass clarinetist Jeff Anderle is currently enjoying an extremely diverse musical life.
He has also performed extensively in the SF Bay Area in diverse venues as a member of the Paul
Dresher Electro/Acoustic Band and Magik*Magik Orchestra, as well as with the San Francisco
Ballet, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Del Sol
String Quartet, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and Earplay.
Beep is a trio made up of bassist Nate Brenner, pianist Michael Coleman, and drummer Sam
Ospovat. All three are stalwarts of the Bay Area scene that have honed their interests in diverse
projects spanning indie rock, free jazz, and the avant-garde fringe. The trio has evolved into the
Bay Area’s most eclectically beautiful purveyor of avant-pop. The chemistry in the group is born
of friendship and a shared desire to open up new pathways for musical enjoyment. More info can
be found at
Cornelius Boots plays renegade nature music on giant Zen bamboo flutes. These raw bamboo flutes
evoke the breathy sound of sacred mysteries and have been used as meditation tools by esoteric
Zen monks and mountain hermits for over 1000 years. His Switchboard program will consist of
original compositions written by the performer, as well as an arrangement for three different size
shakuhachi of a late 14th century English motet.
Accordionist/pianist/saw player Dan Cantrell is an Emmy-winning composer known for his
soundtrack work on Cartoon Network’s Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack series and his
innovative and energetic approach to documentary film and television scoring. Recent collaborators
include Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, and the San Francisco Symphony.
Grains was founded in San Francisco in 2009 after drummer Marc Deriso met guitarist Brendon
Randall-Myers through a Craigslist posting entitled "Math Rock". Whether performing in dive
bars, all-ages punk clubs and new music concerts, the group marries the energy and aesthetic of
DIY punk to the precision and rigor of contemporary chamber music and the spontaneity of free
Called “exceptional” by the Los Angeles Times, pianist Danny Holt specializes in performing
contemporary works, 20th century music, and obscure and neglected repertoire from past centuries.
His set at Switchboard will feature newly commissioned works in which he plays piano and
percussion simultaneously.
Performing original music by San Francisco-based composer George Hurd, The Hurd Ensemble
unifies the worlds of electronic and classical music. Made up of violin, viola, cello, bass and piano
alongside an array of electronics, Hurd’s music is both wildly, intricately rhythmic and aglow with
shimmering harmonies and melodies. Accessible and daring, its percussive yet lyrical qualities
make it at home in both concert halls and nightclubs. Their first album will be out spring 2012.
Dominique Leone is a composer and performer based in San Francisco. His music is a mix of pop,
avant-garde, electronica, minimalism, progressive rock and noise, and has been compared to artists
ranging from Paul McCartney to France’s Magma to Giorgio Moroder. Having released records
on European dance labels and American experimental imprints, his sound is tough to pigeonhole,
but he’s worked with many great musicians in the Bay area, including Matmos, William Winant,
and Fred Frith. Switchboard will feature his most recent project: a radical reinterpretation of Igor
Stravinsky’s classic ballet Les Noces (The Wedding).
Guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andrew Meyerson are The Living Earth Show, a San
Francisco-based chamber ensemble. The Living Earth Show performs commissioned compositions
for guitar and percussion, drawing on its members’ diverse musical backgrounds performing rock,
Celtic, jazz, and Polynesian music.
Mercury Falls exists in the endless space between dreaming and awareness, light and dark, thought
and expression. The quartet brings years of experience in jazz, folk, pop, experimental, electronic
and world music. The music can suggest West Coast cool jazz, the sounds of a tropical forest,
experiential indie rock and the dark, creaky rhythms of a passing carnival, but doesn’t really sound
like anything you’ve heard before.
Nonsemble 6 is a contemporary chamber group based in San Francisco, California. Formed in 2009
as students in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s chamber music program, Nonsemble 6
has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, at Willamette University, as artists-inresidence at the Astoria (Oregon) Summer Music Festival, and on tour in Illinois at Augustana,
Monmouth, and Knox Colleges, plus Western Illinois University.
Ramon & Jessica played the uke before it was cool. But then, multi-instrumentalists Dina
Maccabee and Jesse Olsen have been making music together since becoming pals in high school
over 15 years ago. The comfort and closeness of their long-standing friendship is apparent in Fly
South, their upcoming third album, and the quirky and experiment-friendly qualities of their music
that have been central from the start.
The San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Ensemble, directed by David Tanenbaum, explores
repertoire from all periods, but it specializes in new music written for the ensemble. The Ensemble
performed the U.S. premiere of Terry Riley’s Y Bolanzero, and in 2007 it gave the world premiere
of Steve Mackey’s Measures of Turbulence.
WHEN: Sunday, April 1, 2:00-10:00 p.m.
WHAT: Switchboard Music Festival
WHERE: Brava Theater
2718 24th Street
San Francisco, CA
(between York and Hampshire)
Food and drink available for purchase.
Ramon & Jessica
``photo by Peter Varshavsky
PROGRAM: Non-stop, 8-hour marathon concert with performances by Volti, Faun Fables,
Jeff Anderle, Beep, Cornelius Boots, Dan Cantrell, Grains, Danny Holt, Hurd Ensemble,
Dominique Leone, The Living Earth Show, Mercury Falls, Nonsemble 6, Ramon & Jessica,
and the San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Ensemble; and music composed by Hauschka,
Ryan Brown, Caleb Burhans, Anna Clyne, Jonathan Russell, and many more.
TICKET INFO: $15 ($10 pre-sale), come and go as you please. For tickets, full schedule, and
audio/video clips, visit
Music review: Switchboard Music Festival
Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
If a new-music jamboree is a fine thing - and there's no doubt that
it is - then why not spread the bounty across an entire afternoon
and evening? That would seem to be the thinking behind the
Switchboard Music Festival, which took up most of an exuberant
Sunday at the Dance Mission Theater in the Mission District.
Curated by composer-performers Jeff Anderle, Ryan Brown and
Jonathan Russell under the umbrella of New Music Bay Area, this
eight-hour marathon provided a capacious home for all sorts of unpredictable musical goingson. The offerings ranged from rock-tinged improv to traditionally scored concert pieces, and
from traditional Chinese instruments to the klezmer-polka-tango mashup of the band Japonize
Along the way, the lineup of performers included a few Bay Area new-music luminaries - among
them the vocal-electronics diva Pamela Z and the composers and instrument inventors Paul
Dresher and Joel Davel - as well as host of younger artists clearly intent on blurring the
boundaries between styles and genres.
Naturally, no one was expected to sit politely in their seats throughout the festivities. The ethos
for Switchboard Music, now in its second year, involves plenty of in-and-out privileges, so that
audiences can sample what they want for as long as they want, coming and going as they please.
Attendance on Sunday peaked at around 100 late in the afternoon, dwindling to perhaps half
that number as the festival reached the finish line. When Anderle, introducing the final set of the
schedule, asked whether anyone had stuck it out for all eight hours, a few doughty souls raised
their hands and were suitably applauded for their stamina.
The DNA for this project goes back to Opus 415, a similar marathon presented periodically
during the 1990s by San Francisco composers Dan Becker and Belinda Reynolds, and before
that to the 24-hour marathons in New York a decade earlier that launched the seminal
contemporary-music festival Bang on a Can.
Issues of logistics are almost as central to the success of these undertakings - and every bit as
tricky -as artistic considerations, and in that respect the curators of Switchboard Music were
largely on their game.
Most impressive, perhaps, was the simple fact that careful planning and swift set changes
allowed the festival to stick to its timetable. Few things gladden the heart of a coming-and-going
music listener like returning to the scene at a specific time and finding events moving along
exactly as promised.
Conversely, the floor plan of the Dance Mission Theater - where patrons can only enter and exit
by traipsing conspicuously between the stage and the front of the audience - tended to inhibit
people's ability to move freely, and led to awkward pileups near the entrance. Nothing to be
done about that, I suppose.
The musical wares on display during a day's worth of intermittent visiting fully lived up to the
promise of the event. I was particularly struck by Brown's "Same Mistake Twice," a jumpy, vivid
fugue-like entertainment for two electric guitars and electric bass, and by Ken Thomson's brief
"Throw Back," for a chamber ensemble supplemented by several stick-wielding percussionists.
"Many Thousands of Airplanes," a catchy, surprising and often witty chamber piece by Damon
Waitkus, got a vivacious performance under Russell's musical leadership; the piece builds surely
to the final movement, a jazzy strut that suddenly gets stuck in a groove and has to be rescued
and restarted.
Later, the Adorno Ensemble gave a gorgeous performance of Mason Bates' "Red River," as well
as a forceful but sometimes unsteady account of David Lang's "Cheating, Lying,
Stealing" (dedicated, according to cellist Michael Graham, to Bernard Madoff).
Pamela Z delivered a handful of her solo numbers, ranging from intricate abstractions to a cover
version of The Troggs' "Wild Thing," and Japonize Elephants put the seal on a long day with
some up-tempo dance tunes. A fine time was had by all.
E-mail Joshua Kosman at [email protected].