Kamran Adib ’21 Crafts Music for Cincinnati and Washington Ballets
The TAC student’s collaboration with choreographer Dana Genshaft came about after an SFCM project with San Francisco Ballet School
Music producer Kamran Adib ’21 began his promising career while still a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Choreographer Dana Genshaft heard music that Adib crafted through a partnership between SFCM and San Francisco Ballet School and commissioned him to compose and arrange pieces for ultimately two dance film projects at Cincinnati and Washington Ballets.
“Dana loved the work that I did with the student choreographer and she reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I want to tell the story of Orpheus’ for a project at Washington Ballet,” recalls Adib, a senior in the Technology and Applied Composition Program (TAC). “She gave me examples of songs that she loves—things that she wanted to sample or use for inspiration—and the palette was surprisingly very electronic which excited me. I started putting something together and everything I sent Dana she loved. It was a great collaboration and there’s such a profound trust between us.”
Genshaft, a San Francisco-based choreographer and current faculty member at the San Francisco Ballet School agrees.
“Kamran has an undeniable sound that is unique, kinetic, and deeply moving,” she says. “He is a natural storyteller. His music is difficult to categorize—it’s genre-bending and always original, because whether he is composing or arranging, his voice is clear in the sound. I love working with him and it’s always surprising to see where he takes each new work. We made multiple ballets together this year—an amazing accomplishment under the best of circumstances.”
While working on what would become the 17-minute piece for Washington Ballet (which is currently filming and will be available to stream later this year), Genshaft brought Adib on to another similar project at Cincinnati Ballet. This piece, called “Wunderkammer,” premiered on February 25 as part of the company’s Kaplan New Works Series.
In all his ballets, Adib samples one, two, or three pieces (with permission) that are not his own and blends them with original music. “I use vocals or whatever else from some of my favorite artists and present them to you in a new way.”
He continues, “I try to tell a story with all these pieces I do for dance—like a journey you go on and can hear. For Cincinnati, the story is all about acceptance. I use a metaphor of going on an underwater journey as a way to find and accept yourself and then go back home and resurface.” This can all be heard on the track, which includes excerpts from “Wonder” by Galamatias and
“The Whole Universe Wants to be Touched” by Nils Frahm.
Adib describes his musical style as “psychedelic” and his ballets exist within that realm.
“I take the classical sounds you know and put them into fantasy dreamscapes,” says Adib. “I use an orchestral hybrid palette, so there's electronics, orchestral elements, bells, and a lot of shimmery, glittery sounds. I really like the pulsing, undulating sense that accompanies heart-wrenching strings.”
He began solidifying his style while at SFCM, particularly with an 18-minute piece created for Burning Man and funded by a grant from the Conservatory.
“That was the first piece I made that sounded like what I'm now doing for the ballets—they all live in the same sonic world,” says Adib. It remains one of his fondest memories.
He credits SFCM and the TAC program for helping him find his voice and begin building a career.
“TAC has been so amazing because every semester there are opportunities to do projects that give you real-world experience,” says Adib. “[The program] lets professionals glimpse the students in school and potentially find talent. I met Dana because of a TAC project.”
Through a partnership between TAC and SONY Playstation, Adib has had his music for a video game recorded professionally, an experience that he calls “really engaging.”
He highlights his teachers as the reason for his growth as a producer and person.
“I would love to tell you how amazing Taurin Barrera is—the new head of the TAC department,” says Adib. “He knows everything and can do everything.”
“It has been amazing to watch Kamran grow and evolve as an artist during his time at SFCM,” says Taurin Barrera, executive director of technology and applied composition. “His compositions and productions have taken on a sparkling and dazzling character that is absolutely original. It’s great to see all of the hard work and dedication to his craft culminate in these incredible opportunities to share music with wider audiences.”
“I think I’ve learned more from [Taurin], Daria Novoliantceva, Mike Morasky, and Matt Levine than anyone else in my life,” says Adib. “I’m so grateful to them and MaryClare Bryztwa—her Ableton live class changed my life.”
Get to know the exciting things happening in the TAC program and hear Kamran Adib’s music