Smashing Classical Boundaries at Switchboard Music Festival

Categories: Music Festivals
Zoe Keating

The Bay Area is at the center of one of the most radical movements in music these days: the joyful destruction of the boundary between so-called "classical" music and "popular" music. The two worlds have been cross-fertilizing for years -- see Lou Reed and John Cale hanging with minimalist radical La Monte Young in their pre-Velvet Underground days, among many examples.

But an adventurous crop of classical musicians is currently aching to convince pop and indie-loving listeners that experimental music descended from Beethoven and Bach can be as exciting and accessible anything the Beatles birthed. Among the recent local examples, we saw the two worlds mingle at Noise Pop, when the Magik*Magik Orchestra played with local indie faves the Dodos, and we'll see it again this Sunday, when the annual Switchboard Music Festival takes over Dance Mission Theater for a day-long series of performances one would be hard-pressed to classify.

Among the performers at Switchboard is Luciano Chessa,a professor at the San Francisco
Conservatory of Music who counts Jay-Z among his influences and is an expert
on Italian hip-hop. Past Chessa shows have been known to include stuffed animals, toothbrushes and 16mm film projectors.

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