Music is a perfect vehicle for ideas, however intimate or expansive, crafted or spontaneous, ordered or cacophonous. Carla Kihlstedt's music lives in the fertile places where genres overlap and aesthetic values transmute. She plays the violin, sings, improvises and composes, sometimes at the service of a simple song, and other times, a large-scale multi-faceted performance.
Carla has always been drawn to collaborations for the way that they keep her language evolving in new ways. Her ongoing collaborative projects cover a wide spectrum of sounds from the rich and subtle acoustic composers' collective Tin Hat, to the dramatic and alarming experimental rock band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and from the intimate, incisive purveyors of song, 2 Foot Yard, to the fiercely spontaneous improvisational duo with pianist Satoko Fujii called Minamo.
On the larger scale of a theater stage, with poet Rafael Oses, she has written a song cycle for seven performers called Necessary Monsters, based on Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, and is currently developing a new piece with her husband, Matthias Bossi (musician and actor) that looks at family histories as interpreted by memory and myth.
Though the cornerstone of her musical vocabulary comes from her classical training as a violinist (Peabody Institute, and the San Francisco and Oberlin Conservatories of Music) her world now comfortably reaches far beyond the concert hall. She has spent much of the last dozen years traveling in the U.S. and abroad with her many bands, playing in concert halls, rock clubs, and theaters, for rock, classical, and experimental audiences. As it turns out, the things that divide one audience from another exist only on the very surface.
She has worked with many of her favorite musicians, including Fred Frith, Tom Waits, Ben Goldberg, Lisa Bielawa and Colin Jacobsen. She has written scores for dance and theater (Flyaway Productions, inkBoat, the Joe Goode Performance Group), created Causing a Tiger with Matthias Bossi and Shazad Ismaily based around field recordings from her travels, and written a piece for the ROVA Saxophone Quartet (thanks to a generous grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation) called Pandæmonium, based on observations from 1660-1880 of the coming of machine age. Four of the nine movements are graphic scores sewn by hand.