Switchboard festival defies genres 

click to enlarge Kronos Quartet
  • Courtesy photo
  • The seventh Switchboard Music Festival features an appearance by the renowned San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet.
The indefinable is the norm at the annual Switchboard Music Festival.

Now in its seventh year, the eight-hour, come-and-go-as-you-please musical smorgasbord marathon this weekend at Brava Theater has a delicious lineup of artists, culminating with the first festival appearance by the boundary-breaking Kronos Quartet.

Yet the festival has evolved since its inception, says co-director Ryan Brown, who teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

“When we began, Switchboard was meant to be a home for music that fell between the cracks of different genres, as well as music that blends genres in organic ways and doesn’t easily fit into one category,” he says. “It has since taken on a slightly broader scope, but it’s still filled with music that blends genres and isn’t so beholden to the classical tradition. We present lots of different styles, but within each, you’ll always find artists who push the boundaries.”

As an example, Brown cites the 8:15 p.m. appearance by Dublin, a rapper who performs and writes lyrics for hip-hop and big-band favorite Jazz Mafia. As if that combination wasn’t mind-blowing enough, Dublin will also blend in bluegrass elements when he performs with his own group.

Brown is also excited about the 3:20 p.m. performance by The Operators, a self-proclaimed “supergroup of local new music aficionados” he hopes will become the festival’s house band. The Operators will play “Deerhoof Variations” by drummer Greg Saunier, a classically trained musician with a deep love for rock.

Without question, the big-name attraction is the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet, featuring David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Sunny Yang (cello).

Following through on the band’s 40th anniversary intention to team with local up-and-coming organizations they find appealing or like-minded, members of the quartet will premiere works by local composers: “Tar o Pood” (“Warp and Weft”) by Sahba Aminikia and another by festival co-director Brown.

Also on Kronos’ 45-minute set are works written especially for the group by Wojciech Kilar, Nicole Lyzee and Michael Gordon.


Switchboard Music Festival

Where: Brava Theater, 2718 24th St., S.F.

When: 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $15 to $25

Contact: switchboardmusic.com

About The Author

Jason Victor Serinus

Jason Victor Serinus

Jason Victor Serinus is a music and high performance audio critic, whistler, and lecturer on opera and vocal recordings. He is editor of Psychoimmunity and the Healing Process: A Holistic Approach to Immunity & AIDS. In addition to writing for the San Francisco Examiner, he has written about music for Opera News,... more
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