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Music for Hard Times (a collaboration with The Living Earth Show, Danny Clay, and SF Girls Chorus)


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What’s cool about this evening:

It’s a culmination of a workshop world-renowned ensemble The Living Earth Show (guitarist Travis Andrews, MM ’09, and percussionist Andy Meyerson, MM ’10) held with SFCM students. 

  • Composer Danny Clay crafted a living score that students added to throughout the workshop.

  • Experience a peaceful expression created during and for the last year and performed by members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus as we explore what music will mean post-pandemic. 


About Music for Hard Times


Music for Hard Times was constructed as an act of experimental music in the truest sense, asking a fundamental research question: can the tools of the classical music tradition be used to make people feel better?

Synthesizing concert length composition, socially distanced work practice, and flexible digital curriculum, Music for Hard Times gives students access to new ways of thinking about, listening to, interpreting, and creating work in the classical tradition.

The living score and flexible digital curriculum (adaptable to in-person instruction when safe) features workshops on improvisation, deep listening and its historical Bay Area context, graphic and text scores, creativity, and collage as a compositional technique.

The score is designed to be performed and recorded in isolation, using the tools at each musicians’ disposal to enact and record the score—a series of musical “calming strategies”—designed by composer Danny Clay.

In a series of workshops and masterclasses over the course of a semester, The Living Earth Show and Danny Clay worked with SFCM students to realize and add their own new pages to the living score.

The project culminates in a new recorded album, performed by the students and The Living Earth Show.


Get to Know The Living Earth Show


Celebrating ten years of “outstanding” (San Francisco Chronicle), “transcendent” (Charleston City Paper) and “awesome” performances, (I Care If You Listen), The Living Earth Show (guitarist Travis Andrews, SFCM MM ’09, and percussionist Andy Meyerson, SFCM MM ‘10) is a megaphone and canvas for some of the world’s most progressive artists. One of the premiere contemporary chamber arts ensembles in the United States, The Living Earth Show received the grand prize in the SAVVY Chamber Arts Competition and runner-up in the open division of the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, has commissioned and premiered over 60 new works by some of the most vital composers in the world, released four critically acclaimed albums, and has performed, lectured, and given masterclasses across the country in the service of presenting music that reflects and responds to our world.

Memorizing every work it performs, The Living Earth Show thrives on pushing theboundaries of technical and artistic possibility. It has presented seasons of commissioned multimedia productions since 2011, working with dance companies, visual artists, sculptors, poets, and other musicians to craft compelling, immersive, San Francisco-centric work. Many of these commissions can be found on the group’s critically acclaimed albums “High Art” (Innova Records, 2013), “Dance Music” (New Amsterdam Records, 2016), and “Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman”(Negrogothic Records, 2019).

Committed to supporting the next generation of musicians, The Living Earth Show has recently been ensemble in residence at Stanford University (2019), University of Michigan (2019), University of California Davis (2018), and University of South Carolina (2018).


Its most recent live season (2019-20) included featured performances at the Spoleto Festival USA, Sutro Baths (a collaboration with the National Parks Service), Davies Symphony Hall (a collaboration with the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus), The Met Cloisters (a collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and ODC Theater: a presentation of a festival in honor of The Living Earth Show’s 10th anniversary.


Get to Know Danny Clay


Danny Clay (SFCM MM ’11) is a composer whose work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things with people of all ages and levels of artistic experience.


Working closely with artists, students, and community members alike, he builds worlds of inquiry, play, and perpetual discovery that integrate elements of sound, movement, theater, and visual design. Children's games, speculative systems, cognitive puzzles, invented notation, found objects, imaginary archives, repurposed media, micro-improvisations, and happy accidents all make frequent appearances in his projects.


Recent collaborators include Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Volti,the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Wu Man, Sarah Cahill, Phyllis Chen, and printmaker Jon Fischer. His work has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) Ensemble.

Dal Niente, and has been presented by the deYoung Museum, San Francisco Performances, the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts at the Minnesota Street Project, the Grey Area Foundation for the Arts, the Meaney Center for the Arts in Seattle, and university programs throughout the United States.


About the SF Girls Chorus
Established in 1978, the mission of the San Francisco Girls Chorus is to create outstanding performances featuring the unique and compelling sound of young women’s voices through an exemplary program committed to education and visionary leadership in the development of this art form.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices fused with expressiveness and drama. As a result, the Chorus vibrantly performs 1,000 years of choral masterworks from plainchant to the most challenging and nuanced contemporary works created expressly for them in programs that are as intelligently designed as they are enjoyable and revelatory to experience. 

Each year, hundreds of singers from 45 Bay Area cities ranging in age from 4 - 18 participate in the SFGC’s programs. The organization consists of a professional-level performance, recording, and touring ensemble and a six-level Chorus School training program. A leading voice on the Bay Area and national music scenes, the Chorus has produced award-winning concerts, recordings and tours, empowered young women in music and other fields, enhanced and expanded the field of music for treble voices and set the international standard for the highest level of performance and education.

Commissions of new works from the leading composers of our time, collaborations with renowned guest artists, and partnerships with other Bay Area and national arts organizations provide the young women of SFGC with matchless performance experiences among powerful adult role models. In addition to its annual engagements with the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony, recent and current/upcoming artistic partnerships include the San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Film Festival, Opera Parallèle, Kronos Quartet, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra, TEDxSanFrancisco, and Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky. SFGC has also traveled to the East Coast on a number of occasions in recent years for debut concert engagements, including for the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL FESTIVAL at Lincoln Center in collaboration with The Knights orchestra, for SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras in April 2017 with The Knights at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and at Carnegie Hall in February 2018 with the Philip Glass Ensemble, for a sold-out performance that was broadcast around the world by Medici TV. 

SFGC's commitment to artistic excellence has been recognized through many awards and honors, including five GRAMMY Awards; four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming; and, in 2002, becoming the first youth chorus to receive Chorus America's prestigious Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence.

SFGC was founded in 1978 by Elizabeth Appling, who served as Artistic Director until her retirement in 1992. Other Artistic Directors during SFGC's illustrious 40-year history include Sharon J. Paul (1992 - 2000), Magen Solomon (2000-2001, interim), Susan McMane (2001 - 2012), Brandon Brack (2012-2013, interim), and Lisa Bielawa (2013 - 2018).

SFGC owns and operates the Kanbar Performing Arts Center, which has become a hub for small to mid-size arts organizations in the Bay Area. In addition to SFGC’s own rehearsal and performance programs, the Kanbar Center provides long-term leased office space to such organizations as American Bach Soloists, Opera Parallèle, Jewish LearningWorks, and the Chinese-American International School, as well as rehearsal space for groups including New Century Chamber Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Merola summer opera program, and the San Francisco Boys Chorus.