Leading up to the concert on April 24th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show.

Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!


Introducing composer Garrett Shatzer:


Name and trade?

I’m a professional composer based in Sacramento. I finished my Ph.D. last year at UC Davis and decided to forgo academia in favor of non-profit work, so I work at the Association of California Symphony Orchestras as well. Like many musicians, I started piano very young but eventually picked up the guitar as well. I spent some years playing metal guitar in bands and was active in the Detroit rave scene, so I also produced a bunch of electronic music. After a brief stint in music theory, I decided to give composing a try. It’s worked out so far, so I’m continuing to roll with it. I usually tell people that my style grows out of what the Russians of the 20th-century were doing. So I’m a traditionalist when compared to most of my colleagues, but there’s also a bit of an edge to my music…by which I mean that it’s almost always dark and brooding. I’m always out to create something that’s as hauntingly beautiful as possible, and thankfully listeners tend to pick up on that. I’m not sure what about my personality dictates my sound, but I’m also drawn to poetry and art that could be described the same way. My style could change, of course, but that’s the type of music that currently truly moves me, so I’ll continue down this path as long as that remains true.

How did you get involved? What was so appealing about Jarring Sounds?

About three years ago I saw Danielle sing with the American Bach Soloists, and I was compelled to email her that night to say how wonderful she was. From there our paths crossed a few more times and we got to know each other a bit better. So when this opportunity came to write for her, I was sold. I’d seen Jarring Sounds perform in SF about a year ago as well, so I knew what a great musician Adam was. And I’ve been writing a lot of guitar music lately, so the stars aligned so-to-speak.

What’s your inspiration? How did you find a poem for the project?

I’ve set the poem “Resonance” by Austin Smith, a current Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford. Poetry is my primary passion after music, and I had seen Austin read at a promotional event for his book “Almanac” (Princeton University Press 2013). I was captivated. Fortunately I have a friend who knows him, so I was able to get an introduction. I sent some of my music to Austin and told him I’d like to set something by him. He was into it and sent me some poems. (Our initial plan was for him to write an original piece, but he’s busy working on a book and simply doesn’t have the time.) I picked “Resonance,” and he was thrilled since he said he’d always considered that one somewhat musical in a way. The poem tells a story, but I didn’t want to “narrate” it with music. Instead I chose to focus more on the mood as it changes throughout.

What was it like workshopping your music with Jarring Sounds?

The workshop was very enjoyable, and it was incredible to hear the level of performance after less than a week of spending time with the song. Thankfully I didn’t have to change anything after discussing the piece with them, and I know it’s in very capable hands!

Garrett_Grays copy

What’s coming up for you?

Right now I’m working on a commission for guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan’s New Lullaby Project. As you’ll hear in “Resonance,” my style is currently focused on simplicity, so I was extremely excited to be contacted by Aaron for this project. And then I’ll spend the summer working on a large-scale song for blues guitarist Greg Glazner, jazz/gospel vocalist David Saul Lee, and new music sextet Citywater that’ll be performed at C4NM and elsewhere in the fall. Greg also happens to be a Walt Whitman Award-winning poet who’s been featured in many of the major publications, so he’s writing the text. The idea of the piece is for the text to “elevate” (I use that term *very* loosely) traditional blues lyrics to contemporary poetry and for the music to “elevate” (I use that term even more loosely) the blues to contemporary art song. I’m actually quite nervous about the piece because I do not under any circumstances simply want Citywater laying down a blues groove. We’ll see what happens!

Leading up to the concert on April 24th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show.

Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!


Introducing composer Jon Yu:


Who are you? How did you get here?

I’m Jon Yu. I got into music by playing guitar in punk bands throughout high school and started studying it formally during my junior year of college. The last couple of years have been an interesting, and on-going, process of reconciling my rock music roots and my current composerly pursuits. Because of that, I think a lot of my concert music has a strong presence of the former. One thing that I’ve found interesting and endearing about the new music community is that it’s very similar to the DIY punk rock community that I grew up around. People engage with one another on a personal level and take it upon themselves to get things done. I think the communal and collaborative nature of this process is one of the major things that drives me to write music.

What drew you to this project?

I love what GCG is doing. It brings performers and composers together in mutually beneficial ways. And it’s a luxury to be able to work closely with an ensemble as great as Jarring Sounds and write music for them. They even gave us a mini performance during the workshop so that we could see their dynamic as a duo. How great is that?

What’s your poem?

I chose a poem by James Joyce called “Nightpiece.” The thing that appealed to me about this poem is its relationship with the original source of inspiration: Joyce had visited the Nortre Dame cathedral of Paris in 1903. Later on, he had a dream about this experience which he recorded in his journal. And years later, in 1915, he wrote this poem based on the journal entry. So the original experience had gone through three layers of abstraction (i.e. a dream about an experience, the recollection of the dream, and a poem based on the recollection). I decided to add another layer to the mix by setting the poem to music. And the composition itself has a fractured and dissociative quality that is inspired by both the content of the poem and its genesis.


Leading up to the concert on April 24th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show. The rehearsals are going great, and I know everybody involved couldn’t be happier with how things are moving along.

Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!


Introducing plucked string master and half of Jarring Sounds, Adam Cockerham:

Friend or foe?

My name is Adam Cockerham, I’m a Bay Area guitarist and early music specialist. I grew up playing trumpet in Maryland and picked up guitar in high school to join a rock band. Electric guitar wasn’t a great fit, but when I first started learning classical guitar it came pretty naturally. I moved to San Francisco seven years ago to study guitar. Right now, I work mostly as an ensemble player, whether its baroque accompaniment or doing ensemble work with vocalists and instrumentalists. Performing in ensembles, especially with someone like Danielle, is much more rewarding to me than solo work.

Working on brand new pieces… why would you ever do this to yourself?

Working directly with composers is always a huge pleasure for me. This opportunity was pretty unique, seven world premieres in one concert?! That many composers at once made for really interesting comparisons in writing style; some people started the composition with the text, some with the music; some people have a guitar background, some don’t; there were jazz influences, microtonal influences, baroque opera influences….I’m really impressed and delighted by the variety of pieces we ended up with.

crater lake pic
What’s it been like so far?

Our first workshop with partially finished pieces was really interesting with so many composers in the room at the same time. Composers weren’t just getting mine and Danielle’s feedback from a technical standpoint, but were also hearing compositional suggestions from fellow composers. I had fun hearing suggestions from another composers perspective, something that’s hard to get when you’re working one on one with a composer.

Anything people should know about leading up to the show?

Jarring Sounds has one more full program before we take the summer off. To balance out all of this new music, we’re playing a concert at the Berkeley Early Music Festival. Concert will take place on Friday, June 6th, at St. Joseph of Arimathea Chapel in Berkeley at 12 pm. Program will include lute songs, airs de cour, and baroque monodies.

Photo by Betsy Kershner.

Leading up to the concert on April 24th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show.

Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!


Introducing a two time GCG participant and beer aficionado, Winton White:


Who are you, anyway?

My name’s Winton Yuichiro White.  I’m a Japanese/American hybrid originally from Japan but was made in America (wink wink).  My musical influences began with orchestral video game music and have branched out to jazz/hiphop/funk, folk/bluegrass, and the French Impressionists.  I enjoy strong melodies and rhythms to drive the emotional content I try to convey in my music.

What made you want to sign up for this crazy project?

I knew Danielle previous to this project having sung gigs with her several times.  She is a very fun, easy to work with gal that would make any composer want to work with her.  She’s also one of the most versatile vocalists I know in the Bay Area that can sing in various styles; not to mention her sight-singing skills.  Adam’s pretty cool too.

What is your process like? How did you find your poem and work with it?1978791_977584850647_195941146_n

Typically, a composer finds a pre-existing poem and have the text inspire their writing, allowing their music to be a conduit to deliver the text.  I ended up taking an unorthodox approach where I 1) came up with the music before the text and 2) wrote the poem myself.  Sort of a singer-song writer approach where the music and the poem were created organically side-by-side.  I’m not a writer of any sorts (including term papers) but with the help from my poet friends I was able to come up with a poem that I’m quite happy with.

Workshopping with Jarring Sounds was a rewarding experience.  It was an informal yet intimate setting where we freely asked questions.  Both Adam and Danielle explained to us thoroughly their instruments so that we can best write for them.  Extremely helpful, informative, and most definitely worthwhile.

Anything coming up that folks should know about?

On April 29th, my solo flute piece “Erratic Tale” will be performed at the 30th Anniversary Composers, Inc Concert.  I have the honor to have my piece performed along side with some of Bay Area’s top composers.


Look for our ad at the Switchboard Music Festival tomorrow, April 12th, at the Brava Theater!


The Guerrilla Composers Guild


Jarring Sounds
(making our own)

We are happy to announce our upcoming concert onApril 24th with Jarring Sounds at the Center for New Music. Read the preview in the Examiner here. We’ve been hard at work getting these pieces prepared, and it’s going to be an incredible night! Come to the show, have a listen, and then in true GCG fashion mingle with the artists and talk about the music. Not only did we write for guitar & voice, but we also threw in some lute and theorbo. We are incorporating everything from jazz-inspired harmony to gorgeous melodies to environmental activism to quarter tones to local poets.

“Reutter-Harrah’s mezzo voice is equally well suited to those darker shades and the brighter pastoral tones. Cockerham is always the sensitive accompanist…” – Stephen Smoliar


With pieces by:

Nick Benavides, Danny Clay, Kyle Hovatter, Justin Ralls, Garrett Shatzer, Winton White, & Jon Yu.

Thursday, April 24th

The Center for New Music
55 Taylor St.
San Francisco, CA 94102Tickets: $15/$10 students/$8 members @ the door
Refreshments will be available (donation)
Read a preview in the Examiner
RSVP on Facebook and invite others!

Being fans of all that is good and new music-y in the Bay Area, we will not only be at the festival enjoying all it has to offer but we are also fortunate enough to have an ad this year! If you’re in the audience then look for it on the screen between sets. It should look like…

Photo by Betsy Kershner.

The month of April is upon us, and we can’t wait for our upcoming concert with Jarring Sounds! Danielle Reutter-Harrah and Adam Cockerham are some of the best performers we have ever met, and they have never ceased to amaze with every turn of their career. Being able to work with them is a dream come true for us, and this concert is going to be pretty ridiculously great.

Read all about it below, and we can’t wait to see you there!aa2bb8db60b502567246ccaca65329bb

April 24, 2014, 7:30PM, at the Center for New Music (55 Taylor St., San Francisco.)


The Examiner recommends attending Hot Air Music Festival on March 2nd for your health, and definitely recommends checking out the Guerrilla Composers Guild & International Low Brass Trio collaboration set! The second half will be theirs with pieces by Nick BenavidesShahab Paranj,Matthew Joseph Payne, and Lillian Yee that were workshopped last fall.

The first half will have brand new pieces by Benavides, Clay, Brendon Randall-Myers, and Ben Wallace for flute, cello, marimba, and electric guitar. The list of performers is impressive as each composer is using a dedicated group assembled for this show specifically, but the performers hail from the likes of PhonochromeMobius Trio, and Friction Quartet.

1pm is the kickoff in the Recital Hall and we can’t wait to see you there!

Preview program notes 2 out of 4:

Bog Bodies & other Macabre Miniatures, by Nick Benavides, is a collection (with video projections) inspired by the lives and stories of ancient, preserved corpses found in bogs, glaciers, and rocks throughout Europe. All of these bodies were analyzed by forensic experts, sometimes before it was known that they were thousands of years old. Because of the degree of preservation, these bodies allow us to peer into the lives of real human beings that lived not such different lives from us. While we are able to know almost everything about how they died and how they lived, there is just enough room for the imagination to fill in the rest…

Preview 1 of 2:

shadows cast shadows, by Danny Clay – a work that parks itself in that little nook between ¾ and 6/8 time and sits there for a while, just to see what happens.

And for your viewing pleasure, a shadowy picture of Danny doing what he does best on his favorite pink Valentine’s Day toy piano.




We should mention, that Voodoo donut fuel was supplied by Phonochrome founder Liz! Without those donuts, we never would have made it.

Phonochrome is hot on the scene and have finally found their companion composers for George Crumb’s “Vox Ballaenae.” We’re so happy to be returning to the Center for New Music with our crazy projects, and this will be on May 29th, so keep your eye out for it. Filling out the rainbow and joining Nick Benavides, Danny Clay, and special guest Benjamin Pesetsky will be:

Mark Ackerley
Nathan Campbell
Alex Christie
Matthias McIntire

The three core members of Phonochrome will be joined by a few special guest performers to help round everything out, and we can’t wait to get started on them.

Congratulations to our selected composers, and a HUGE thanks to all who applied. We had a super fun time listening to your hard work, and there was talk of cloning Phonochrome so we could play it all, but time is so limited. Clone-o-chrome, anybody? Seriously though, thanks for the music you all make, and we hope you can make it to the show!webPhonochrome-076


So after much deliberation and a lot of back and forth (fueled by donuts by none other than Voodoo Donuts,) we have finally figured out who we are working with!

First we would like to say that Jarring Sounds is one of the best duos ever and we can’t stress enough how much they are going to put on a ridiculously good show. It will be on April 24th at the Center for New Music in San Francisco.

Joining Guerrillas Nick Benavides and Danny Clay will be:

Kyle Hovatter
Garrett Shatzer
Justin Ralls
Winton White
Jon Yu

We had SO many good options and possible combinations, it’s always a pleasure to hear from so many talented people not only across the state but across the country!

Everybody should hear Danielle Reutter-Harrah sing, and Adam Cockerham will be juggling guitar, lute, and theorbo like the masterful player he is.

These composers will be participating in workshops to get their pieces in tip top shape, and we can’t wait to show them off to you.

Congratulations to these five, and look for the concert details as we get closer to April!Photo by Betsy Kershner.