Woodwind Chamber Music
Clarinet Studio Class
MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
BA, Music, University of California, Los Angeles
Switchboard Music, Co-director
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
Awards and Distinctions
Winner, Chamber Music America grant, 2016
What is your hometown?
Walnut Creek, CA
What is your favorite recording?
This is a bit of an odd pick, but the Italian ensemble Sentieri Selvaggi released an EP of music by Philip Glass and Gavin Bryars — just one piece from each composer. It's haunting and captivating.
Sentieri Selvaggi: "Plays Bryars and Glass" (Cantaloupe Records)
What are you passionate about outside of music?
One of my main interests outside of music is aikido, which is a type of martial art best described as "compassionate self-defense". In addition to really fun rolls and throws, there are interesting psychological and spiritual aspects that have permeated into both my daily and musical life. It's also fun for me to be a beginner at something and remember what it's like to learn!
Who were your major teachers?
Gary Gray and Luis Baez.
What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?
“If you can make something interesting to you, it will definitely be interesting to an audience.”
What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?
"Why do I play music?"
It's really important for students to know what motivates them and why they're on their current path. There are many ways to have a rewarding, music-filled life, but you need to figure out what kind of rewards you want and what kinds of things you enjoy doing first! (This question is somewhat inspired by a TED talk by Simon Sinek.)
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?
I don't think there has been a single defining moment where I decided to pursue music as a career. The closest is probably when I was applying for college — I had applied to half of my schools as undecided and half as a music major, and the process of preparing for and taking auditions really made me want to stay with music. But mostly my career feels like a series of small achievements and advancements that has led to where I am today.
What was a turning point in your career?
After finishing school, I had built up quite a few misconceptions on what a career in music should look like, with the main issue being that I thought I needed to do what everyone else was doing. For me, that meant taking orchestral auditions, which I did dutifully a few times until I realized I didn't enjoy either the preparation or the process of the audition, and wasn't even particularly excited about some of the jobs! The turning point was realizing that I had other musical opportunities at the time (Sqwonk, Edmund Welles, Switchboard Music, Redshift) that were much more satisfying to me and I decided to pursue those with all of my effort instead.
Now, many of those groups are in or near their 10th season, and have become the central pillar of my career. I've since taken some auditions and found a way to enjoy them, and perform regularly with orchestras across the Bay Area, none of which I expected when I made what I felt like was a radical choice after graduation.
If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?
This is a bit unfair to ask of clarinetists, since most composers only have a few works that feature us, and even more unfair for someone specializing in contemporary music because I'm sure the answer is someone who might not be born yet! That being said, I think I could live with just two: Marc Mellits and Johannes Brahms. Mellits to sate my groovy/post-minimal needs (plus, he's still composing!), and Brahms because everything he wrote for clarinet is so incredible.
From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?
San Francisco, 1964. In November 1964, Terry Riley's In C premiered at the San Francisco Tape Music Center and was hugely responsible for breaking classical music out of the academic world of strict serialism. Minimalist music (which I love) started soon after and has evolved through Post-minimalism (which I also love) and into the "Totalist" or "Post-genre" music that I'm particularly passionate about.
What recordings can we hear you on?
Got Stung, Splinter Reeds
What is your unrealized project?
I'd love to start a San Francisco clarinet ensemble or collective. There are so many amazing clarinetists here across several genres and it would be amazing to gather them all in one place for concerts and to share ideas.
Jeff Anderle is a pioneer in the world of low reeds, helping to popularize the role of the modern clarinet and bass clarinet through his innovative and diverse performances, ensembles, and commissions. He is the bass clarinetist in Splinter Reeds and half of the bass clarinet duo Sqwonk, as well as a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He is a former member of the virtuosic, heavy metal bass clarinet quartet Edmund Welles, as well as REDSHIFT contemporary music ensemble and the Paul Dresher Electro/Acoustic Band. In addition, he makes regular guest appearances with a wide range of music institutions from orchestras to diverse chamber music ensembles. Jeff is a founding co-director of Switchboard Music, and serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he teaches clarinet, chamber music and professional development, and is the chair of the woodwind department. He is a Selmer Paris performing artist.