Is it a declaration of freedom or a note of defiance that leads the Switchboard Music Festival to proclaim, “No other Bay Area music festival or concerts series offers such an eclectic, genre-crossing, convention-breaking, bastardizing group of experimentalists, innovators and musical omnivores in a single event”?
Whatever the case, the Switchboard Music Festival’s nonstop eight-hour marathon at Dance Mission Theater on Sunday features some of the Bay Area’s most original music performers.
Rock, contemporary, classical, jazz, New Music, klezmer and lots more will find new expression, as artists whose work shatters neat little boxes synthesize multiple musical genres into daring new modes of expression.
Ryan Brown, currently a composition student at Princeton University, started the festival in 2008 with two fellow Bay Area boundary-breakers, clarinetists Jonathan Russell and Jeff Anderle.
As he explained by phone from his new base in New Jersey, “We created the Switchboard Music Festival because we felt there was nothing in the Bay Area that brings all these different groups together. We don’t think of ourselves as a new music festival; we instead think across many different genres.”
The festival lineup, which includes bass clarinet duo Sqwonk performing one of Brown’s aggressive, minimalist compositions, lists at least 10 performers or ensembles and 10 living composers.
Composer Luciano Chessa, for example, will offer chamber songs that draw on rock and Italian hip-hop. Composer Cornelius Boots of Oakland, who performs in a heavy metal bass clarinet quartet called Edmund Wells, will debut a new work that explores tumbrel shadings using very large gongs, overtone singing and shakuhachi flute.
Ensemble Thorny Brocky, created by Aaron Novick, will perform music from art song/pop band Floating World, clarinet metal band Simulacra, minimalist chamber improv group Crafty Apples, indie rock/experimental improv band Love Triangle Elementary School, and lord knows what else.
Next to them, pianist Kate Campbell, who specializes in late 20th century and contemporary works by leading composers such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich and David Lang, sounds positively old-fashioned. Which is anything but the case.
Are you ready for Sabbaticus Rex, an ensemble rooted in the supremacy of sound over music, and the triumph of tone over time and thought?
How about David Klein and Nick Woolley’s Billygoat, which performs live, original scores to their own stop-motion animated shorts? The only group in the festival from outside the Bay Area, their music is very mellow, textural and melodic, with an element of fantasy that matches the nonlinear flow of their animated tableaux.
And Zoe Keating (pictured) layers cello with electronics while dancing over pedals. You’ve got to be there.
IF YOU GO
Switchboard Music Festival
Where: Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., San Francisco
When: 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $10 to $40
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.switchboardmusic.com