thingamajigs - a nonprofit performing and arts education organization

music and art created with made / found materials and alternate tuning systems

15th Annual

Music for People & Thingamajigs
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August 6, 2012
Contact: Edward Schocker [ 510-418-3447 ]
For Immediate Release

Thingamagjigs announces two more concerts for the 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival

Who: Thingamajigs
What: 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival
Where: Vessel Gallery, Oakland; Mills College Concert Hall, Oakland; Berkeley Arts Festival, Berkeley
When: Oct 7th through 16th, 2012
Tickets: $15 General / $10 Students/Seniors available at the door and at
For more information: 510-418-3447 or

To celebrate 15 years of "music, people, and thingamajigs," Thingamajigs has added opening and closing concerts for the 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival. The opening show features Phyllis Chen, a New York artist who creates original works for toy piano, in concert with Thingamajigs Performance Group. The closing show features New Zealand instrument builder Phil Dadson, MacArthur fellow Walter Kitundu, and local builders Tom Nunn and Bart Hopkin. Both concerts take place at the Berkeley Arts Festival on University Street.

The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event featuring experimental and traditional musicians and performing artists who incorporate made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems in their work. Each year, MFP&T invites such artists to join in a festival of workshops, music making, and performances with the goal of reaching a large, diverse audience of all ages. People can participate in instrument building and tuning and educational workshops, as well as hear unique sounds and compositions from up and coming artists. Now in its 15th year, Thingamajigs’ genre-crossing MFP&T Festival is the only annual event completely dedicated to music created with made/found materials and alternate tuning systems. Past participants include Carla Kihlstedt, Walter Kitundu, Pauline Oliveros, Brenda Hutchinson, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, and Laetitia Sonami.

Thingamajigs is celebrating 15 years of "music, people, and thingamajigs" by presenting concerts and educational outreach events that feature 12 amazing artists. Noted works include a long anticipated piece by MacArthur fellow Walter Kitundu, a residency from legendary New Zealand instrument builder and performer Phil Dadson, and a new work from local composer Luciano Chessa.

On Saturday October 13th we return to Mills College, where the festival began 15 years ago, to feature the William Winant Percussion Group in works by Lou Harrison, an early supporter of Thingamajigs who would be celebrating his 95th year. The performance will feature Lou’s original instruments. Thingamajigs has also commissioned Mills graduate student Scott Siler to write a new piece for the Harrison/Colvig instruments that will be premiered for the concert.

With concerts, artist talks and instrument demonstrations, we expect the 15th Annual Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival to be our most far reaching and successful event to date.

Sunday, October 7th 3pm
Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704 ($10-$15 sliding scale)
Artists include Phyllis Chen and The Thingamajigs Performance Group with special guests

Thursday, October 11th 8pm
Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 ($10-$15 sliding scale)
Artists include Luciano Chessa + The Living Earth Show, Glou-glou (Arjun Mendiratta & Gretchen Jude), Rachel Trapp and Giacomo Fiore

Friday, October 12th 8pm
Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 ($10-$15 sliding scale)
Artists include Walter Kitundu, Tracey Cockrell and Marilyn McNeal

Saturday, October 13th 8pm
Mills College Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613
Thingamajigs Homecoming concert featuring William Winant Percussion Group and Phil Dadson

Tuesday, October 16th 8pm
Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704 ($10-$15 sliding scale)
Artists include Phil Dadson with special guests Bart Hopkin, Walter Kitundu, Tom Nunn, and Paul Winstanley

This year’s festival is supported in part by:

Walter Kitundu is a sound/visual artist, graphic designer, composer and instrument builder. He uses an interdisciplinary approach to develop compositions-installations-instruments that blur the boundaries between media. He has constructed elemental turntables that rely on wood, water, fire and earthquakes for their power and pitch. Kitundu is the creator of a family of Phonoharps, beautifully crafted multi-stringed instruments made from record players. He strives to reconnect the technology of new music to fundamental principles drawn from the natural world.

Kitundu has been affiliated with the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception since 2003, where he is currently a senior designer. His work has been exhibited and performed at such national and international venues as the Singapore Science Centre, the Gunnar Gunnarsson Institute, Iceland; the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, and the Aukland Arts Festival in New Zealand. In 2008 he became a MacArthur Fellow.

Phil Dadson is a sound and intermedia artist with an interdisciplinary practice including solo performances and exhibitions, building experimental instruments and sonic objects, video/sound installation; music composition, graphic scores and improvisations on invented instruments. He is the founder of the sound-performance group, From Scratch, (1974 – 2002), known widely for it’s rhythmic and distinctive performances on original instruments.

Born in New Zealand, he later traveled to London and from 1968-9 was a member of the foundation group for a scratch orchestra with Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and others. In 1970 he founded scratch orchestra (NZ) and later in 1974, From Scratch. Until 1976 he worked as a moving image maker (SeeHear films), co-founded Alternative Cinema (Auckland) and was a lecturer in intermedia from 1977 – 2001. He has collaborated on two international award-winning performance films of From Scratch with director Gregor Nicholas and has released numerous LPs and CDs of FS over its nearly three decade history.

William Winant is principal percussionist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has been closely associated with NYC composer John Zorn, and has made numerous recordings, and performed in many projects throughout the world with the composer. Starting in 1995 he has been the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, has made two recordings ("Disco Volante" and "California" on Warner Brothers), and has toured throughout the world with this group. For many years he had worked with composer Lou Harrison, recording and premiering many of his works, and in March of 1997 he participated in the world premiere of Lou Harrison's quintet "Rhymes with Silver" featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Mark Morris Dance Group. His recording of Lou Harrison's "La Koro Sutro" (which he produced for New Albion Records) was the New York Times Critic's Choice for best contemporary recording of 1988. In 1999 he produced a recording of music by 20th-century avant-garde composers with the influential rock band Sonic Youth; "Goodbye 20th-Century" (SYR4) was hailed by both The Los Angeles Times and New York's Village Voice as one of the best compendiums of this type of music ever recorded. Most recently his recording with cellist Joan Jeanrenaud of her CD "Strange Toys" was nominated for a grammy in 2009.

He is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and teaches at Mills College and the University of California at Berkeley. For eight years Mr. Winant was Artist-in-Residence at Mills College with the critically acclaimed Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio. Formed in 1984, the ASW Trio has premiered over 25 new works for violin, piano, and percussion at major festivals and recitals throughout the world. Their recordings can be heard on the New Albion, Tzadik, and CRI/New World labels.

Phyllis Chen is a pianist, toy pianist and multimedia artist that performs original multimedia compositions  and works by contemporary composers. The Oregonian states  “her captivating performance was animated by unbridled inventiveness, the kind of joyous creativity that playing with toys is meant to inspire.” Phyllis’ artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, and composer, leading to her selection as a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artist Guild International Competition.

Phyllis founded the UnCaged Toy Piano, a composition competition to further expand the repertoire for toy piano and electronics. The competition has received works from composers all around the world and these compositions become an integral part of her repertoire.  In the Winter of 2011, Phyllis curated the first-ever three day toy piano festival in New York City. The next UnCaged Toy Piano Festival will be in the 2013.

A strong interest in interdisciplinary work led her to collaborations with video artist and electronic musician Rob Dietz with whom she created multimedia works such as  Looking Glass ReWondered, The Memoirist, Pearlessence, Chroma and Carousels. Upcoming projects for the duo include a micro-media toy piano opera commissioned by Opera Cabal, scheduled to be premiered at High Concept Laboratories this November in Chicago. Phyllis also received the Roulette Commission (funded by the Jerome Foundation) to create a new solo work to be premiered in October at Roulette’s new venue in Brooklyn.

Rachel Devorah Trapp began her musical studies at the age of seven when she was awarded a scholarship to study an “endangered instrument” and chose the French horn. She moved to New York City ten years later to study horn with David Jolley and earned a Bachelor of Music degree with highest distinction from the Copland School of Music at the City University of New York in 2007. She has since divided her time between Brooklyn and Oakland, composing and performing adventurous music that explores the boundaries between improvisation and notation, acoustic and electronic sound, “art” and “pop,” and the transference of abstract meaning between mediums of artistic expression. Her current and upcoming projects include an instrumental chamber work derived from two plays by Edward Albee; an overdub operetta based on the Jersey Shore reality TV show; and a spatially-engaged liturgical vocal work that employs 18th century agnostic poetry and Appalachian shape-note notation. Rachel is in the process of earning her Master of Arts degree in composition at Mills College where she studies with Fred Frith, Chris Brown, and David Bernstein and where she also teaches undergraduate musicianship. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2013.

Glou-glou [pronounced glue-glue], active in the Bay Area since the beginning of 2012, is dedicated to creating improvised electronic music that is primarily ambient and consonant. Gretchen Jude plays koto, Roland SP-404 and sings (among other things); Arjun Mendiratta plays violin, laptop and rocks (and such). glou-glou is the birdsong of the future. glou-glou is concerned with texture, timbre, tonality, post-human improvisation, and whimsy.

Marilyn McNeal is a San Francisco-based musician, instrument builder and composer who records and performs original and traditional songs from the American old time music idiom. Marilyn’s compositional approach varies from simple chanting and body rhythm to working with live looping and pre-recorded audio (historic speeches, field recordings, ambient sound). She is particularly inspired by rural black folk music which includes laments, ballads, work songs and spirituals. Marilyn plays piano, ukulele, wooden flute and spoons and also makes her own folk instruments out of cardboard boxes, coffee cans, cookie tins, plastic water bottles, sticks, wire and string. The instruments are influenced by early American roots music and allow her to 'get lost in the sound, rhythm, energy, chaos, guts and magick of American folk music.'

Giacomo Fiore has performed professionally across the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Europe. An ardent advocate of new music, he has presented world premieres of pieces by Ron Nagorcka and Larry Polansky. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Musicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Mr. Fiore’s research focuses on U.S. experimental music, organology, and alternative intonations. He has presented at regional and national meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music; his article Reminiscence, Reflections, Resonance: The Just Intonation Resophonic Guitar and Lou Harrison’s Scenes from Nek Chand is scheduled for publication in the Journal of the Society for American Music in Spring 2012.

Tracey Cockrell completed her MFA with a focus in Sculpture at the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. An interdisciplinary artist, Cockrell has cultivated a studio practice that synthesizes sculpture, experimental music, linguistic theory, and collaborative strategies. She has taught in MFA, BFA, and non-profit institutions including Pacific Northwest College of Art, Maine College of Art and The Crucible. Most notably, her work has been featured at Boston Center for the Arts, Institute for Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine, Oakland Arts Council, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Reviews of her work can be found in Sculpture Magazine, ArtNewEngland, the Boston Sunday Globe, WGBH tv’s ‘Greater Boston Arts,’ and Maine Public Radio’s ‘Maine Things Considered.’ Her studies include a fellowship to Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture, post-baccalaureate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture Department, and a BA from the College of William and Mary. She is currently Associate Academic Dean and Chair of the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Her work was most recently seen in the exhibit POEMOPHONE: a cacophonous collaboration and reading series at WorkSound in Portland Oregon, and can be found at and

Luciano Chessa is active as a composer, performer, and conductor. His scores are published by RAI TRADE and Carrara and have been performed in Europe, U.S., and Australia. Recent compositions include A Heavenly Act, an opera with video by Kalup Linzy commissioned by SFMOMA for Nicole Paiement and Ensemble Parallèle. Chessa is the author of “Luigi Russolo, Futurist” (University of California Press), the first English monograph dedicated to Russolo’s Art of Noises. His Futurist expertise resulted in a commission by NYC’s Biennial PERFORMA to direct the first reconstruction of Russolo’s intonarumori orchestra and to curate/conduct concerts which received a ‘Best of 2009’ mention in The New York Times.

In March 2011 Chessa conducted a sold-out intonarumori concert for Berliner Festspiele-Maerzmusik Festival; in December, for Art Basel | Miami Beach, he conducted the New World Symphony + Lee Ranaldo in the premiere of Ranaldo’s It All Begins Now! Chessa teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, serves in the Advisory Board of TACET, the international research publication dedicated to Experimental Music from the Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne, and collaborates with SF’s Italian Cultural Institute.Guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andrew Meyerson are dragging chamber music kicking and screaming into the future as The Living Earth Show, a San Francisco-based classical duo.

The Living Earth Show’s dynamic performances draw from Andrew and Travis’ diverse musical backgrounds performing rock, Celtic, jazz, metal, and Polynesian music. The Living Earth Show exists to commission and perform compositions for guitar and percussion, with or without electronics. The Living Earth Show’s upcoming commissions include works written for the group by Luciano Chessa, Dan Becker, Chris Cerrone, Nick Vasallo, and Ken Ueno. Also in the works is new arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for guitar, percussion, and two bass clarinets by Jon Russell to be performed alongside bass clarinet duo Sqwonk. The Living Earth Show has been featured on numerous festivals in the Bay Area, including Garden of Memory, Hot Air Music Festival, Switchboard Music Festival, and the Tangents new music series. The current season will feature the United States premiere of Brian Ferneyhough’s Renvoi/Shards, composed in 2008 for quartertone vibraphone and quartertone electric guitar.

The Thingamajigs Performance Group emerged from long-term collaborations between the individual artists that now make up this dynamic ensemble. Using a mix of home-built and esoteric musical instruments, TPG combines traditional Eastern sensibilities with modern American technologies and performance practices. Creating pieces in a group collaborative process that sometimes incorporates voice and multimedia elements, this ensemble of musicians expands and contracts for each performance situation.

Since 2006 TPG has been collaborating with poet Stephen Ratcliffe to create long-scale multimedia works, each based on 1,000 of Stephen’s poems. Each work is approximately 14-hours in duration. The first piece of this trilogy is called Human/Nature and premiered at UC Davis in 2008. The second piece called Remarks on Color/Sound was premiered at Headlands Center for the Arts in 2010, and the last work called Temporality premiered this year at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz. In Spring 2013 TPG will be in residency at the Berkeley Art Museum.

TPG core members include Suki O'Kane, Zachary Watkins, Dylan Bolles and Edward Schocker. Key collaborators over the years include poet Stephen Ratcliffe, visual artists Michael Meyers and Keith Evans.


Thingamajigs is a genre-crossing arts organization that promotes, presents and performs music and other art forms created with made and found materials or alternate tuning systems.

Our mission is to develop and nurture the exploration of alternate materials and methods of creating sound, as well as promote collaborative efforts within other artistic disciplines. With open workshops, performances, artists exchanges and an educational program, we welcome audiences/participants of all ages and backgrounds to join in a wonderful tradition started in the Bay Area by such composers as Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and John Cage.

Thingamajigs was founded as an art project in 1997 at Mills College, Oakland California. Created by Edward Schocker and Dylan Bolles, the project was originally conceived as a forum for composers/performers who develop new and unique ways of producing sound. The project soon broke out of the college environment and into an annual music festival called Music for People & Thingamajigs (now in its 15th year). In 2004 a permanent group of unpaid volunteer organizers and advisors was created. Together they expanded the yearly festival as well as created a season of international artist exchange programs (The Pacific Exchange) and an education program (Thingamakids!).


Please file under Events, Festivals or Music
Who: Thingamajigs
What: 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival
Where: Vessel Gallery, Oakland; Mills College Concert Hall, Oakland; Berkeley Arts Festival, Berkeley
When: Oct 7th through 16th, 2012
Tickets: $15 General / $10 Students/Seniors available at the door and at
For more information: 510-418-3447 or

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