Cardew Choir + Oa Perform First Music / The Human Instrument on Dec. 19; Long Tone Choir + Thicket Ensemble Perform on Dec. 20, 2015

A musical ensemble I often perform with, the Cornelius Cardew Choir, will be performing this Saturday, on December 19th, as well as another vocal group, the Long Tone Choir, on Sunday, December 20th, with several additional musicians. Members of both of these vocal ensembles compose original contemporary music pieces, which are often performed by each group. The two vocal ensembles have several members in common, so it seems appropriate to include them both in the same blog post.

If you’re interested in experimental, original, non-traditional choral music that features the human voice in all its sonic colors, and you’ll be in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, you might want to catch both of these performances. The one on Saturday, Dec. 19th, is in San Francisco; and the other, on Sunday, Dec. 20th, is in downtown Berkeley, a few minutes’ walk from the main Berkeley BART station:

First Music / The Human Instrument:
An Evening of, for, and from the Voice


The Cornelius Cardew Choir — Tom Bickley, Director

Oa (instrumentalists / electronics) — Matt Davignon and Hugh Behm-Steinberg


~ Paragraph 7, by Cornelius Cardew, the composer, musician, and social activist for whom the choir is named.

It is noteworthy that December 13th is the anniversary of Cardew’s tragic death from an auto accident in London, in 1981. Our performance will be in honor of the composer’s life. More information about the turbulent life of Cornelius Cardew is available here. We are glad to be performing one of Cardew’s most noteworthy pieces, Paragraph 7, which is part of his Paragraph series.

~ Ternary Canon, composed by Rae Diamond, for the Long Tone Choir

~ The Burning Book + The Ives Family Christmas, composed by David Samas, with community participation, and original improvisations for processed voice by OA.

Performers in the Cornelius Cardew Choir:

Nancy Beckman
Tom Bickley
Juliayn Coleman
Rae Diamond
Derek Drudge
Tom Duff
Cathryn Hrudicka
Joe Kuta
Suki O’Kane
Jaime Robles
David Samas
Eric Theise

The performance will take place on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. PST.


Turquoise Yantra Grotto (a house concert space)
32 Turquoise Way, San Francisco, California
Phone for information: (415) 218-9341

Tickets: $10-$15, sliding scale

Email in advance for reservations, due to limited space. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

Founded in 2001, the Cornelius Cardew Choir is a vocal performance ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The choir represents a dynamic intersection of community and experimental music brought together by singing. Occasionally, as in this performance, there are musical instruments or electronics in some of the pieces, along with vocal parts. The ensemble members collectively work to turn their ideas into improvisations and composed pieces. All participants feel free to make suggestions about ways of performing a given piece, or to try new approach to singing, and most of the choir members are also composers and instrumentalists. Sometimes, there are elements of text, gesture, movement, and video or visual art in the choir’s performances.

Some of the Cornelius Cardew Choir members are also members of the Long Tone Choir, and will be performing in both concerts, on December 19th and 20th (see below).

The Turquoise Yantra Grotto is located near the Diamond Heights and Glen Park neighborhoods in San Francisco. More information, and a map are available on the Facebook page (or see below).

The Turquoise Yantra Grotto is a cozy venue offering a diverse blend of ethno-modernist music in an intimate house concert setting.

The hosts curate a monthly concert juxtaposing acts from among the San Francisco Bay Area’s most notable contemporary composers, performers and instrument inventors. Chinese tea service in the planted atrium offers guests an opportunity to mingle with each other among a menagerie of tropical birds and unique invented instruments, including the gamelon piano (an upright re-tuned with two Indonesian scales, and a set of haunting bell tones), and the zen industrial carillon (an arrangement of over 20 bells cut from high pressure gas cylinders). A classic Steinway grand piano rounds out this Eichler-style environment, with an ever-changing gallery of artworks by local artists.

For more information about the Cornelius Cardew Choir, visit their Facebook page, or web site.

In one of the darkest days of the year, the audience is invited to close their eyes and open their ears, in an evening of immersive sonic experience with the Long Tone Choir and Thicket Ensemble.

The Long Tone Choir will steep the audience in a variety of mesmerizing vocal soundscapes, some of which will include optional audience participation. They will perform composer Rae Diamond’s Circling Intervals, along with other original pieces. Thicket Ensemble’s RITUAL 1 will bathe the audience in water-inspired sound from the inner ear-out.

RITUAL 1: Thicket Ensemble is comprised of musicians Mateo Lugo (Totonoko) and Suki O’Kane. They convened with Katherine McDonald and Tim Kim for the first time in early 2015 to accompany the movement performance of Mari Osanai, with Dana Iova-Koga and Shinichi Iova-Koga (inkBoat). Combining voice and acoustic strings with processed water and found objects, through the process of empathic listening, they later participated in a performance of inkBoat’s 95 RITUALS, presented in Summer, 2015. InkBoat is an artistic collective that developed and performed a monumental set of works informed by veteran Bay Area dancer/choreographer Anna Halprin’s work.

“Ritual is another word that needs a new definition… Ritual, as I use the term, refers to an artistic process by which people gather and unify themselves in order to confront the challenges of their existence.” —Anna Halprin

The Long Tone Choir, which celebrates its two-year anniversary with this performance, is a movement in several variations, based on the cornerstones of listening, breathing, mindfulness, and a biotic and responsive experience of time. The variations: 1), a loose community of listeners and sounders; 2), a growing body of meditation-compositions; 3), a path of exploration. The Long Tone Choir is facilitated by composer/performer Rae Diamond.

This performance will be held on Sunday, December 20, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. PST.


Subterranean Arthouse Collective
2179 Bancroft Way (near Fulton), Berkeley, California

(Directions are available on their Facebook page.)

Tickets: $10-$15, sliding scale at the door.

Phone for information: (510) 981-1281

This venue is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, visit the Long Tone Choir’s event Facebook page.

The Subterranean Arthouse Collective is an interdisciplinary community art space that offers diverse opportunities for local, national, and international artists to teach, create and present their artworks. Through weekly classes, performances, film showings and visual art exhibitions, the Collective encourages dialogue between disciplines and between artists. They inspire a sustained curiosity about life through the practice of art. The Subterranean Arthouse Collective is rooted in a tradition of experimentation unique to the Bay Area, as it extends its branches to the terrain of other arts communities.

We hope to see you at either or both performances, which promise to be intriguing, immersive experiences, and substantially different from each other. I’ll only be performing with the Cardew Choir on Saturday, 12/19, as I have a conflicting recording assignment with Links Sound on Sunday. Please stop by and say hello, if you come to the Cardew performance, and I hope you’ll also be able to enjoy the Long Tone Choir performance.

Happy Holidays to all my readers! I’ll be posting more in the next year about upcoming book, art, media, and music projects here at the Creative Sage Arts Blog…and email me to get on my mailing list! In the subject line, please indicate whether you only want to be on my arts mailing list, or if you also want to be on our company e-letter list as well. Season’s greetings!

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