The Cardew Choir Celebrates its 15th Anniversary with May 1st and May 6, 2016 Performances

For the past fifteen years, I have performed intermittently with the San Francisco Bay Area-based choral ensemble, the Cornelius Cardew Choir. I was drawn to the group after having performed in many classical choral groups, jazz ensembles, and as a singer-songwriter.

The Cardew Choir appealed to me because it was experimental, using the voice as a starting point to create sound art and sound design, occasionally also with acoustic musical instruments, electronics, or “found object” instruments. The choir’s work is based on the Deep Listening techniques created and taught by composer Pauline Oliveros, with whom many of the choir members have studied or worked at Mills College, Deep Listening Retreats, or in other capacities.

In 2001, when I first performed with the Cardew Choir, I had been working in the field of Sound Design for media, as well as in other areas of the arts. Using the voice and body in a nontraditional choral format was very intriguing to me. Many of the past and current members of the choir are also instrumentalists and composers, so we have enjoyed a rare opportunity to workshop and perform each other’s compositions, as well as performing the works of notable 20th and 21st Century composers such as the choir’s namesake, Cornelius Cardew, Pauline Oliveros, Phillip Glass, and others in the “new music” or “avant-garde” genres.

DSCN5458We have also been invited to perform some amazing and magical site-specific works, such as Tower Ring, the Garden of Memory at the Chapel of the Chimes, performances at the old and new BAM/PFA (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive), and others, which have involved movement, gestures, text, and theatrical elements. Part of the joy of being a member of the Cardew Choir is that you never know when and where you might be asked to perform next, and it will probably be an experimental adventure that you can enjoy in community with your fellow choir members, and the individuals in our audiences, who are often invited to participate in one way or another. There is always a certain amount of risk, improvisation and fun involved in our work!


I can hardly believe that fifteen years have gone by, but they have, and I have enjoyed the friendships and feeling of community that has always been an essential part of the Cardew Choir experience. To celebrate, we are going to perform in two upcoming events, on May 1st and May 6th, and we invite our friends to come and join us!

This is the poster designed by co-founder Bob Marsh for the first Cardew Choir concert, on November 11, 2001. The Choir’s 15th Anniversary performances are taking place in May, 2016.

Program One:

Mayday Celebration!
Sunday, May 1, 2016, 8:00 p.m. PDT
Berkeley Arts (wheelchair accessible)
2133 University Av., Berkeley, CA 94704
Suggested donation: $10 at the door

Wind Horse, by Pauline Oliveros
Conduction, by Bob Marsh
Tuning Fork Mosquitos, by Tom Bickley
Frog Haiku, by Brenda Hutchinson
The Great Learning Paragraph 7, by Cornelius Cardew

Program Two:

Cardew Choir at Canessa Gallery (wheelchair accessible)
Friday, May 6, 2016, 7:30 p.m. PDT
Canessa Gallery, San Francisco
708 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California
Suggested donation: $10 at the door.

Conduction, by Bob Marsh
Forest Walk, by David Samas
Temperamental Vessels, by Brian Day
Frog Haiku, by Brenda Hutchinson
The Great Learning Paragraph 6, by Cornelius Cardew

Performers (in no particular order):

Tom Bickley, Director and Co-Founder
Bob Marsh, Co-Founder
Katherine Setar
Brad Fischer
Nancy Beckman
Joe Kuta
Rae Diamond
Cathryn Hrudicka
David Samas
Laurie Polster
Derek Drudge
Jaime Robles
Brenda Hutchinson
Eric Theise
Patti Deuter
Diane Caudillo
Dean Santomieri
Kalonica McQuesten
Suki O’Kane

In addition to the musical performance, there will also be an artwork exhibit in honor of the Cardew Choir’s 15th Anniversary:

Graphic Scores, Lab-Coats and Ephemera
Opening Reception: May 6, 5:00-8:00 p.m., prior to the performance

The retrospective exhibit at Canessa Gallery celebrates 15 years of experimental music and community with the Cardew Choir. The exhibit features original scores from choir members and other composers whose work we have performed, on display from May 4-29, 2016.

Exhibit of Graphic Scores by: Pauline Oliveros, Bob Marsh, David Samas, Rae Diamond, Bryan Day, Brenda Hutchinson, Phillip Greenleaf, Philip Blackburn, Jamie Robles, and Tom Duff, as well as text scores and ephemera by members and associates of the choir. For more information about the Cardew Choir, please visit our Facebook page. There are many web sites with information about composer/social activist Cornelius Cardew, including a Wikipedia biography.


After these two May performances, our next performance will be at the annual Garden of Memory walk-through performance event at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California, on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016, from 5:00-9:00 p.m. By popular request, we’ll be inviting audience members to join us for Heart Chant, by composer Pauline Oliveros. I’ll publish another blog post about that event in June.

Please come and say hello after the performances, if you’re able to attend. Watch or subscribe to this blog for updates about our future arts events!

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