Skip to main content

Kihlstedt Joins Faculty

Alternative, Multi-instrumentalist Latest Addition to Contemporary Improvisation

Carla Kihlstedt Joins NEC Contemporary Improvisation Faculty

Multi-instrumentalist, Composer/Improviser, Genre Explorer Known for Projects with Wide Range of Musicians, Ensembles

Carla Kihlstedt, the violinist, vocalist, composer and improviser, has joined the Contemporary Improvisation faculty of New England Conservatory.  A fearless musician with a voracious curiosity to explore new musical avenues, Kihlstedt is known for her multi-faceted collaborations with, among others, the rich and subtle acoustic composers' collective Tin Hat; the dramatic and alarmingly experimental rock band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum; the intimate, incisive purveyors of song 2 Foot Yard; and her fiercely spontaneous improvisational duo Minamo with pianist Satoko Fujii.

Her description of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum offers a flavor of her musical aims and sensibility: “We are collectively (but not all) makers of instruments, investigators of trees and lichen, entertainers of slugs, barkers and bakers, finders and fixers, drawers and snappers, and brave putters-together of thought into great big orderly messes of sound and fury.”

Though the cornerstone of her musical vocabulary comes from her classical training as a violinist at the Peabody Institute, San Francisco Conservatory, and Oberlin Conservatory, Kihlstedt's world now comfortably reaches far beyond the concert hall, as she has spent much of the last dozen years traveling in the U.S. and abroad with her many bands, playing in concert halls, rock clubs, and theaters, for rock, classical, and experimental audiences.

Kihlstedt has written scores for several dance and theater companies, including Flyaway Productions, inkBoat, and The Joe Goode Performance Group. Other compositions include Causing a Tiger, with Matthias Bossi and Shazad Ismaily, based around field recordings from her travels; and Pandæmonium, written for the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, which is based on observations from 1660-1880 of the coming of machine age. Four of the nine movements of Pandæmonium are graphic scores sewn by hand.

Kihlstedt is currently developing a new piece with her husband, musician and actor Matthias Bossi, that looks at family histories as interpreted by memory and myth.

For further information, check the NEC Website.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115