+ STORE
+ CALENDAR

+ MAILING LIST



Bio



Music is a perfect vehicle for the alchemy of thoughts, instincts, emotions and ideas. It expands and contracts to reflect and create worlds that are intimate and expansive, crafted and spontaneous, ordered and cacophonous. My music lives in the fertile places where genres overlap and aesthetic values transmute. I play the violin, sing, improvise and compose, sometimes at the service of a simple song, and other times, a large-scale all-encompassing performance.

I have always been drawn to collaborations for the way that they keep my language and thoughts evolving in new ways. My 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, Minamo.

On the larger scale of a theater stage, with poet Rafael Oses, I’ve written a song cycle for seven musicians and narrator called Necessary Monsters, based on Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, and am currently developing a new piece with my husband, musician and actor Matthias Bossi, that looks at family histories as interpreted by personal memories and myths.

Though the cornerstone of my musical vocabulary comes from my classical training as a violinist (Peabody Institute, and the San Francisco and Oberlin Conservatories of Music) my world now comfortably reaches far beyond the concert hall. I’ve spent much of the last dozen years traveling in the U.S. and abroad with my 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. When you so much as blow on them, they all but disappear.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with many of my favorite musicians, including Fred Frith, Tom Waits, Blixa Bargeld, Zeena Parkins, Shahzad Ismaily, Matthias Bossi, Nels Cline, Ben Goldberg, Carla Bozulich, Lisa Bielawa, Colin Jacobsen and the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. I’ve written scores for dance and theater companies including Flyaway Productions, inkBoat, the Joe Goode Performance Group, and Deborah Slater Dance Theater, and concert pieces for The ROVA Saxophone Quartet, The Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the Eclipse String Quartet.




DISCOGRAPHY



Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Grand Opening and Closing (re-released, The End Records, 2006)
Live (Sickroom Records, 2003)
Of Natural History (Web of Mimicry, 2004)
The Face (a DVD with Shinichi Iova Koga) (Sleepytime Gorilla Press, 2005)
In Glorious Times (The End Records, 2007)

Tin Hat Trio
Memory is an Elephant (Angel/EMI, 1999)
Helium (Angel/EMI, 2001)
The Rodeo Eroded (Ropeadope, 2002)
Great Jewish Music: Sasha Argov (Tzadik, 2003)
Masada:Voices in the Wilderness (Tzadik, 2003)
Book of Silk (Ropeadope, 2004)

Tin Hat
The Sad Machinery of Spring (Hannibal/Rykodisk, 2007)
La Giusta Distanza (film soundtrack) (2007)
Foreign Legion (BAG, 2010)

Carla Kihlstedt
2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2003)

2 Foot Yard
Great Jewish Music: Jacob do Bandolim (Tzadik, 2004)
Borrowed Arms (Yard Work, 2008)

Causing a Tiger
Causing a Tiger (Victo, 2009)
How We Held Our Post (Twelve Cups, 2011)

Book of Knots
Book of Knots (Arclight Records, 2005)
Traineater (Anti-, 2007)
Garden of Fainting Stars (Ipecac, 2011)

Minamo (Carla Kihlstedt & Satoko Fujii)
Minamo (Henceforth Records, 2007)
Kuroi Kawa ~ Black River (Tzadik, 2008)

Carla Kihlstedt & Shahzad Ismaily
Flying Low (Holy Night in the Outhouse, 2004)

Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi & Dan Rathbun
Ravish and Other Tales for the Stage (music written for theater & dance) (12 Cups Records, 2008)

Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi
Still You Lay Dreaming: Tales for the Stage, II (12 Cups, 2011)

Maybe Monday
Unsquare: Fred Frith, Miya Masaoka, Zeena Parkins, Ikue Mori, Carla Kihlstedt, Gerry Hemingway, Larry Ochs (Intakt, Zurich, 2008)

Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt & Stevie Wishart
The Compass, Log, and Lead (Intakt, Zurich, 2005)

Lisa Bielawa
A Handful of World; Kafka Songs (Tzadik, 2007)
In Medias Res (BMOP, 2010)

Jorge Liderman
Many Moons (Albany Records, 2007)

Fred Frith
The Happy End Problem (Fred Records, 2006)

Ben Goldberg
12 Minor (Avant, 1998)
The Door, the Hat, the Chair, the Fact (Cryptogramophone, 2006)

Wu Fei
A Distant Youth (Forrest Hill Records, 2007)

Peter Garland
Love Songs (Tzadik, 2005)

Rova :: Orchestrova
An Alligator in Your Wallet (ewe, 2004)
John Coltrane's Ascension (Black Saint, 2005)
Redressers (Free Porcupine Society, 2004)

Lesli Dalaba
Timelines (Tzadik, 2004)

Carla Bozulich
"I'm Gonna Stop Killing." (DiCristina Stair Builders, 2004)

Mr. Bungle
California (Warner Brothers, 1999)

Charming Hostess
Eat (Vaccination Records, 1998)
Punch (ReR, 2005)

DalabaFrithRiemanKihlstedt (Accretions, 2003)

Tom Waits
Alice (Anti-, 2002)
Orphans (Anti-, 2006)




COMMISSIONS



2011-12 In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni
for 9 members of the International Contemporary Ensemble + Carla Kihlstedt. Made possible by a grant from the MAPfund
2011 Still You Lay Dreaming: Tales for the Stage, II
a new score written with Matthias Bossi for the Deborah Slater Dance Theater
2008-9 PandÆmonium
written for the Rova Saxophone Quartet
(funded by a generous grant from the Gerbode Foundation)
2008 Wonder Boy
written with Matthias Bossi for the Joe Goode Performance Group
2007-8 Necessary Monsters
a staged song cycle based on The Book of Imaginary Beings
2006 Ravish
written with Matthias Bossi for Jo Kreiter
(Flyaway Productions' Live Billboard Project)
2005 The Long and Short of it…
a Brief History of Chatter written for Bang on a Can All Stars
2004 Confession
written with Matthias Bossi for Ame to Ame
(InkBoat)
2003 Adam's Misfortune
written with Dan Rathbun for Heaven's Radio
(InkBoat)
2002 Djerina the Damned
for David Krakauer, commissioned by Zoom, Composers Up-Close
2001 Flying Low
written with Shahzad Ismaily for Jo Kreiter
(Flyaway Productions)

AWARDS + RECIDENCIES



2011 MAP Fund Grant
for an upcoming piece for International Contemporary Ensemble
2011 Zellerbach Grant
for performance of staged song-cycle, Necessary Monsters, in San Francisco, CA
2008 The Ucross Foundation, Wyoming
Residency
2007 The Music Unlimited Festival, Wels, Austria
Curated Music Festival
2006 ASCAPLUS award
2006 The Civitella Ranieri Center,Umbria, Italy
Residency
2005 The Stone, New York City
Curated a month of shows
2002 The Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin Headlands, CA
Residency






PERSONAL






PROCESS






Photo by Piotr Redlinski

NECESSARY MONSTERS

We do not know what the dragon means, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of the dragon that is congenial to man’s imagination, and thus the dragon arises in many latitudes and ages. It is, one might say, a necessary monster, not some ephemeral and casual creature...
—Jorge Luis Borges
January 29, 1954


In his The Book of Imaginary Beings, Jorges Luis Borges assembled a compendium of 120 fictional beasts from the mythologies, stories and superstitions of cultures around the globe and through the ages. Though each being originates from a particular place and time, their resonance is universal. They are all manifestations of an aspect of the human experience, borne out of our collective imaginations. They are the embodiment of our hopes and fears, a multi-faceted depiction of the shadows in our human nature.

I developed Necessary Monsters as a song-cycle based on nine of the creatures from Luis Borges’ book. Each monster has been captured in a poem by Rafael Oses, set to music by myself and given visual form as a woodcut by print/design collective cumbersome multiples. It is a kind of psychological safari, complete with a poetically-rich field guide which introduces the audience to the character, habits and habitat of each monster.

Necessary Monsters began its life as a co-commissioning project by Alverno Presents in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the National Performance Network Creation Fund. The NPN Creation Fund is sponsored by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Altria, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). It has been performed as a theatre piece in both Milwaukee, Chicago and San Francisco. It has evolved into an elegant and dramatic song cycle for 7 musicians and a narrator, and had its most recent engagement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on July 29th and 30th, 2011.

You can watch a beautifully shot 15 min. trailer from the San Francisco performance here

Necessary Monsters is currently being recorded, with the album slated for release in mid 2012.

 

 

Necessary Monsters is:

Carla Kihlstedt - violin, voice, bass harmonica, percussion, piano, composition, musical direction
Rafael Oses
- text, libretto
RInde Eckert - co-direction
Dina Maccabee - viola, voice
Theresa Wong - cello, voice
Freddi Price - trumpet, voice, national steel guitar, euphonium, piano
Rob Reich - accordion, piano
Michael Mellender - bass, guitar, percussion, trumpet
Matthias Bossi - drums, percussion, piano
Denmo Ibrahim - narration
Allen Willner - lighting design
Alice Wu - costume design

MUSIC
The Odradek

The Ink Monkey

The Nisna

The Squonk





Photo by Peter Gannushkin: Downtownmusic.net

TIN HAT

The music of Tin Hat is born of age-old friendships and deep musical connections. It is subtle, introspective and generous. It has the uncanny ability to be both melancholy and joyful, both sprightly and sinister.* We’ve chosen to dig our heels in and embrace the limitations of our old acoustic instruments, letting the rich tone of 150-year-old wood speak for itself… and the accordion, of course, which always speaks for itself.

Collectively, our writing focuses on crafting evocative melodies, subtle textures and elegant arrangements. Though we never pitch our tent in any musical camp for very long, our atmospheric sound sways gracefully between the worlds of folk, classical, Americana and countless others.

We've released five studio albums, the most recent being The Sad Machinery of Spring (on Hannibal/Ryko), inspired by the writings and drawings of Polish surrealist Bruno Schultz. We’ve made it a tradition to always include a special vocal track, which has yielded guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, and myself.

For our next recording, we’re turning the tradition up-side down to make an album that is largely vocal with a handful of instrumental tracks. I’ll be singing songs that we’ve all written – settings of the wonderfully concise, bold and whimsical poetry of E. E. Cummings.

Tin Hat is:

Ben Goldberg - clarinet, contra-alto clarinet
Carla Kihlstedt - violins, viola, voice
Mark Orton - guitar, dobro, banjo
Rob Reich - accordion, piano

* Thank you, Chandler Travis, for those words 


MUSIC
Blind Paper Dragon

Daisy Bell

Compay

Sweep

Helium Reprise with Tom Waits

A Fata Morgana

Tannaim






Photo by Scott Greis

BOOK OF KNOTS

A studio project based out of Brooklyn's Studio G, The Book of Knots is the sonic equivalent of a bull in a china shop. The four core members grind out beautifully rough-hewn, dust-filled experimental rock songs, and then invite all manner of musical compatriots to add their voice to the mayhem. Our special guests have included Tom Waits, Mike Watt, Rick Moody, David Thomas, Carla Bozulich, Zeena Parkins, Jon Langford and Megan Reilley. The first CD, The Book of Knots (Arclight Records), is a waterlogged collection of songs chronicling mostly failed sea voyages. The second, Traineater (Anti-), is a portrait of crumbling mid-western rust belt towns. The third, called Garden of Fainting Stars, relates to experiments in flight and space travel, and completes the trilogy: by sea, by land, by air. Featuring vocal performances by Mike Patton, Blixa Bargeld, Nils Frykdahl and Dawn McCarthy, it is available now on Ipecac Recordings.

Purchase Garden of Fainting Stars here.

Book of Knots is:

Matthias Bossi - drums, voice, keyboards
Joel Hamilton - guitars
Carla Kihlstedt - violins, voice
Tony Maimone - bass 

MUSIC
Tugboat

Traineater

The Hands of Production

Microgravity

Obituary for the Future





Photo by Eurydice Thomas

NOW YOU

(now called Hello Dust, formerly Now You)

Drawing on our love of art song, folk song, industrial music, improvised music and heart-wrenching balladry, drummer/keyboardist Matthias Bossi and I have formed Hello Dust (formerly Now You). If you listen closely, though you'll hear traces of our other musical associations (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat, 2 Foot Yard, The Book of Knots, Fred Frith's Cosa Brava) this project is our own personal challenge - a dare to peel back influence and to reveal a music that is stripped down and intimate. Armed with a motley assortment of instruments from a motley assortment of eras (pump organ, cajon, Fender Rhodes, foot accordion, bass harmonica, flour sifter, wooden doll house, and others), Now You is raw and beautiful, sparse and rich, lighthearted and full of pathos. We bring to life the small stories of unsung heros... and almost always tell the truth.

Hello Dust is:
Carla Kihlstedt - voice, violin, nyckelharpa, bass harmonica, bass foot accordion
Matthias Bossi - drums, percussion, keyboards, voice

 

 

MUSIC
Juggler's Thought

Tonz Ufem Babihaus





Photo by Peter Gannushkin: Downtownmusic.net

CAUSING A TIGER

"As I sleep, some dream beguiles me, and suddenly I know I am dreaming. Then I think: This is a dream, a pure diversion of my will; and now I have unlimited power, I am going to cause a tiger."

— Jorge Luis Borges

Causing A Tiger is always unpredictable, especially in dreams. The tiger may have the head of a fish, or the tail of a mouse. It may be green, or it may be covered entirely in buttons. In these inspirations and aberrations, all is revealed, nothing is sacred. This band never rehearses, but plays a rigorous, improvised set that at times sounds like devotional meditation, other times like a travelogue written while dreaming, and still other times like it might have been ripped from the pages of the American Songbook. For each live show, we set parameters that allow us to test the boundaries of expression and logic, often evoking a puzzling sense of familiarity. We are, all three, hopelessly dedicated to each other both onstage and off. Regardless of the tenor of the music, be it gross or delicate, subtle or squirmy, we remain accepting and exposed to anything forged in the heat of sonic congress.

Our new album, How We Held Our Post, will be released on Twelve Cups Records on Nov 1st, 2011. 

Get your copy of How We Held Our Post here.



"Causing a Tiger... went off the deep end in all the right ways... Textures were intermingled beautifully, and this group truly improvised as a collective... They created their own musical world in which they were all-powerful and which the rest of us could merely observe. It was quite an experience."

-- Mathew Cmiel, New Music Box



Causing a Tiger is:

Matthias Bossi - keyboards, percussion, drums, voice
Shahzad Ismaily - bass, guitar, percussion, electronics, voice
Carla Kihlstedt - violin, voice 

MUSIC
Hills Made of Wool

Sixsixsixamore

No Funeral At All

Spells and Incantations

Dem Bones

Stare at It Until Your Eyes Drop Out








PANDÆMONIUM

Pandæmonium is based on nine texts from a book of the same name by Humphrey Jennings. The book is a collection of writings that document "the coming of the machine as seen by contemporary observers" between 1660 and 1886. This compilation of personal accounts from journals, newspapers, and letters between friends creates a wonderfully varied portrait of a rapidly changing society.
Every new technological innovation is a stunning manifestation of the human imagination, yet is often a harbinger of massive cultural shifts, the results of which we often take for granted. For example, the book provides an incredulous description of a new system of central heating and cooling (Artificial Spring) that has since led to endless housing developments in naturally untenable landscapes. With a few word changes, any of these texts could just as well be about our current era of digital development and the speedy world that it has plunged us into. What seems preposterous and unfathomable to one generation is utterly unremarkable to the next.
My goal was to create a distinct setting for each of the nine texts, capitalizing on the unique language that ROVA has developed in their thirty years of playing together. Just as the book is pointillistic in its approach, I allowed each text to direct my process in its own way. Some movements are written with traditional musical notation, others are sewn graphic scores, and it only seemed appropriate to sew the graphic elements of the score, given how dramatically altered the textile industry was by the Industrial Revolution. The fourth movement is a tip of my hat to Gabriel Orozco's Yogurt Caps.
Part musical suite, part radio drama, and part historical collage, Pandæmonium is the culmination of a multi-faceted process that was as unpredictable for me as the history on which it is based.

Pandæmonium is performed by:
ROVA Saxophone Quartet:
Bruce Ackley - Soprano Saxophone
Steve Adams - Alto Saxophone
Larry Ochs - Tenor Saxophone
Jon Raskin - Baritone Saxophone
and
Matthias Bossi- narration
Joan Mankin- narration

MUSIC
Almost Organic

The Engine is the Favorite - The Devil

The Monster






Photo by Merri Cyr

2 FOOT YARD

2 Foot Yard is a songwriting collective. Our music grows in the fertile cracks between art song and pop song. With instrumentation that conjures both chamber group and rock band (violin, cello, voice, drums and guitar) we are always exploring what songwriting can or should be. Sometimes this leads us towards simple, elegant forms, and other times towards more abstract and unpredictable structures.

Our first cd, Carla Kihlstedt - 2 Foot Yard, is available on the Oracles series of Tzadik. Our second cd, 2 Foot Yard - Borrowed Arms, is self-released, and is available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/2footyard. We have also released a track entitled 'Falta me Voce' on Tzadik's Great Jewish Music series, A Tribute to Jacob do Bandolim.

We are currently working on a new 3-song single, intended for self-release sometime in 2012.

2 Foot Yard is:

Marika Hughes - cello, voice
Shahzad Ismaily - drums, guitar, voice
Carla Kihlstedt - violins, voice


 

MUSIC
Hold My Own

Flash Flood






Photo by Scott Irvine

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is many things. It is, first and foremost, a deranged musical collective as dedicated to metal and rock as it is to modern classical and experimental music. It is also a family, a traveling circus, a soothsayer, a call to arms, a blind man standing naked in the middle of a bridge, a Saturnalian celebration, and yes… a Museum. SGM are collectively makers of instruments, barkers and bakers, finders and fixers, drawers and snappers, and brave putters-together of thought and theory into great big orderly messes of sound and fury.

Built on a long and bewildering mythology, SGM has released 3 studio records: Grand Opening and Closing (The End, 2001), Of Natural History (Mimicry, 2004) and In Glorious Times (The End, 2007). The fourth and final record, Of the Last Human Being, will be released in late 2011, followed by an educational film about the Last Human Being, and a live concert DVD.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is:

Matthias Bossi - drums, marimba, melodica and voice
Nils Frykdahl - guitars, flutes, and voice
Carla Kihlstedt - electric violin, voice and percussion guitar
Michael Mellender - percussion, guitar, trumpet, glockenspiel, Valhalla, Vatican, electric pancreas, lever, and voice
Dan Rathbun - bass, sledgehammer dulcimer, pedal-action wiggler, cockroach, and voice

MUSIC
Sleep is Wrong

The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion

Phthisis






CLASSICAL ENDEAVORS

Even in the context of projects that seem culturally and/or aesthetically unrelated to anything you'd hear in a concert hall, my experience as a classical violinist is the cornerstone of my musical language. After I graduated from Oberlin Conservatory, my fight or flight instinct took hold and I chose to flee, which brought me to the Bay Area. I landed in the midst of an innovative community of improvisers and experimental rock musicians. The rest is a multi-faceted history recorded on the pages of this website.

I am happy to have one foot once again on my home territory of contemporary classical music, this time, bringing with me the influence of the other aspects of my music. As a composer, I've written for Bang on a Can All-stars, The ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and the Eclipse String Quartet. As an player/interpreter, I've gotten to work closely with several composers over the years, most notably Lisa Bielawa, Fred Frith and the late Jorge Liderman.

Much of my current life in the world of classical music has developed around my friendship with composer and singer Lisa Bielawa. She drew me back into the world of contemporary classical music with a set of intellectually rigorous, musically intricate, and utterly beautiful songs composed specifically around my strange penchant for singing and playing the violin simultaneously. Kafka Songs are a set of seven songs based on excerpts from Kafka's Meditations and Parables. Several years later, during her residency with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, she wrote the Double Violin Concerto for me and for the wonderful violinist Colin Jacobsen.

I've played on several of Fred Frith's film and dance soundtracks, and in the U.S. premiere of his chamber piece Water Stories. In 2005, Jorge Liderman wrote a lovely and challenging piece for me (also a solo piece for voice and violin) called Many Moons as well as a concerto for violin and chamber ensemble, Furthermore… that I premiered in 2008 with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

This year, my history with music conservatories comes full circle as I join the faculty of New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation Department.
 

MUSIC
Dharma Pops

Kafka Songs - Finally

Double Violin Concerto movement 2






MINAMO

Minamo is a Japanese word meaning 'the surface of water'. It is an apt moniker for my improvised duet with pianist Satoko Fujii. The pieces we create together move fluidly from one idea to another, and pull from a deep source of experience and influence. Our music lives at the place where openness and decisiveness, spontaneity and architecture meet. It is an exercise in concentration and clarity. It demands that we balance being present with each other and with our own thoughts, and that we both lead and both follow. It is an animated, yet subtle conversation that always surprises me, and there is always an underlying search for structure that emerges as we play.

Our debut cd, self-titled, on Henceforth Records, documents the very first concerts we ever played together, one in San Francisco, CA and one in Wels, Austria. Our latest album, Kuroi Kawa - Black River on Tzadik, is a double-cd— a set of miniatures recorded in the studio, and a live performance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Minamo is:

Satoko Fujii - Piano
Carla Kihlstedt - Violin

MUSIC
Shiroi Arashi - White Storm






COSA BRAVA

Photo by Heike Liss

Fred Frith has been an inspiration for musicians and listeners alike for decades. I’m no exception. Hearing Art Bears in 1990 was a seminal moment in my life. Little did I know that 20 years later, playing music with Fred would be a regular and wonderful part of my life, including reimagining the Art Bears Song Book with Dagmar Krause, Chris Cutler, Zeena Parkins and Kristin Slip.

From the breadth of Fred’s musical output, it is clear that he is more interested in ideas and processes than he is in fixing an aesthetic identity for himself. Fans of Art Bears and Skeleton Crew have been patiently waiting for his next song-based band, and Cosa Brava is finally here. It’s a wonderful vehicle for his intuitive yet elusive melodies, intricate yet transparent rhythms, and wildly satisfying anthems. Our debut cd, Ragged Atlas, was released on the Swiss label Intakt in 2010. The second album is on its way!

Cosa Brava is:

Matthias Bossi - (drums, percussion, voice)
Fred Frith - (guitar, bass, voice)
Shahzad Ismaily - (guitar, bass, percussion)
Carla Kihlstedt - (violin, voice)
Zeena Parkins - (accordion, keyboard)
The Norman Conquest - (sound manipulation)

MUSIC
Lucky Thirteen

For Tom Ze






CONCURRENCE

Concurrence is a 4-speaker sound installation created for the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria in November, 2007. It is a collaboration between me and Wellington Bowler made entirely from our respective field recordings collected on travels throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. Using hand-held recorders, we captured sounds and events separately in 16 countries over 8 months. Assisted by Dan Rathbun of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, we distilled countless hours of recorded material into a 36-minute piece played across four speakers inside a small trailer.

Taken out of their original context, some of the sounds and textures remain familiar and some become beautiful sonic abstractions. The piece is an undulating sonic tapestry rich in juxtapositions, associations and evocative imagistic implications. 

"The song at the end of Concurrence is sung by a young Sudanese boy who I found sitting, chanting his prayer board with many other men and boys at sunset on the edge of a refugee camp. Beyond them was an area not safe for them to travel for fear of Janjaweed attacks. I closed my eyes and used my microphone as a diviner's rod to find the owner of the voice in the midst of the crowd. He is singing a belief of the Koran that those who commit bad deeds in this life will have to answer to God when they die—their deed will not go unpunished. I was moved to tears standing there before I even heard the translation. Carla was moved without any information at all about the scenario. His voice stands in stark contrast to the opening minutes and we hope this leads the listener to ask interesting questions of the piece and of themselves."

—Wellington Bowler

Wellington Bowler - field recordings
Carla Kihlstedt - field recordings

 






PANDÆMONIUM

Pandæmonium is based on nine texts from a book of the same name by Humphrey Jennings. The book is a collection of writings that document "the coming of the machine as seen by contemporary observers" between 1660 and 1886. This compilation of personal accounts from journals, newspapers, and letters between friends creates a wonderfully varied portrait of a rapidly changing society.
Every new technological innovation is a stunning manifestation of the human imagination, yet is often a harbinger of massive cultural shifts, the results of which we often take for granted. For example, the book provides an incredulous description of a new system of central heating and cooling (Artificial Spring) that has since led to endless housing developments in naturally untenable landscapes. With a few word changes, any of these texts could just as well be about our current era of digital development and the speedy world that it has plunged us into. What seems preposterous and unfathomable to one generation is utterly unremarkable to the next.
My goal was to create a distinct setting for each of the nine texts, capitalizing on the unique language that ROVA has developed in their thirty years of playing together. Just as the book is pointillistic in its approach, I allowed each text to direct my process in its own way. Some movements are written with traditional musical notation, others are sewn graphic scores, and it only seemed appropriate to sew the graphic elements of the score, given how dramatically altered the textile industry was by the Industrial Revolution. The fourth movement is a tip of my hat to Gabriel Orozco's Yogurt Caps.
Part musical suite, part radio drama, and part historical collage, Pandæmonium is the culmination of a multi-faceted process that was as unpredictable for me as the history on which it is based.

Pandæmonium is performed by:
ROVA Saxophone Quartet:
Bruce Ackley – Soprano Saxophone
Steve Adams – Alto Saxophone
Larry Ochs – Tenor Saxophone
Jon Raskin – Baritone Saxophone
and
Matthias Bossi – narration
Joan Mankin – narration

MUSIC
Almost Organic

The Engine is the Favorite - The Devil

The Monster






RAVISH

Ravish, and Other Tales for the Stage, I,  is music written for the dance and theater by Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi. 

Ravish is available here

MUSIC
Ravish

Confession

Sea of Stars

Adam's Misfortune






STILL YOU LAY DREAMING

In a damp basement, a man and a woman try to record intimate chamber music while a crew of landscapers create a terraced garden next door. The Roto-tillers and weed-wackers threaten to overpower the breathy acoustic violin and mason jar percussion, but the duo forges on, determined to transcend these difficult conditions.
The woman is nine months pregnant. Her husband marvels at her glorious shape. This is the last piece they will write together before their child is born. There is an air of expectation.
The music they write is humorous. It is buoyant and sad. Rubbery. Intricate percussion mingles with wheezy field-organ. Lo-fi vocals drift over distorted Wurlitzer. The songs are short, squeezing every possible drop of storyline out of their last days of life as they know it. There are hooky melodies, jubilant dance beats, and lullabies. With their minimal tools and an irrepressible sense of possibility, they will into existence a children's choir, the ghost of Darth Vader, and a field recording of the obtuse broken chantings of a long lost aboriginal culture.

Still You Lay Dreaming: Tales for the Stage, II, is available here.

MUSIC
Subsequently

Red Orbit

Relentless Pursuit






FLYING LOW

Two new friends rent a small houseboat and dive headlong into the process of writing music together for the first time. They have been commissioned to score and underscore an hour-long dance performance. Their deadline fast approaches. They don't sleep. They hang a time-line on the wall and fill it minute by minute, playing all manner of instruments, some which they are at ease with, and some they are discovering note by note. Searching for the right sound for every moment on the time line leads them to the docks with pen and paper, to the redwood forest with an accordion and a dictaphone, and finally to an honest recording studio to dry out and sift through their delirious seascapes.
Flying Low was written by Carla Kihlstedt & Shahzad Ismaily for Jo Kreiter and Flyaway Productions.

Flying Low is available here.

MUSIC
Apology Knot

Flying Low

Dolmen

Dishes in a Red Dress, II