Though Carla Kihlstedt began her journey with music as a classical violinist, she has become equally committed to the craft of singing, songwriting, composing, and improvising. She is a founding member of a wide variety of ensembles, including Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Rabbit Rabbit, The Book of Knots, Minamo, and Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava.
In all of her music, regardless of the genre, she explores illusive aspects of human experience and connection: She has written a song cycle for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a musical/radio piece for the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, a reflection of the surreal photography of Shana and Robert Parke Harrison for Brooklyn Rider string quartet, an audio travelogue for Causing a Tiger, and a song cycle with poet Rafael Osés called Necessary Monsters, based on Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings. Her 2015 song for the San Francisco Girls Chorus, inspired by the herring’s annual pilgrimage from salt to fresh water, has become one of the their signature pieces.
Recently, her voice has defined the sound of three significant and genre-defying song cycles: Ben Goldberg’s Orphic Machine, Jeremy Flower’s The Real Me, and live performances of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope.
Kihlstedt has performed at many festivals as both a singer and a violinist, including the Armenian Gallery Festival; the Vancouver, San Francisco, and Saalfelden Jazz Festivals; and the Ojai Music Festival, Moers, Caramoor, and Other Minds. She teaches young musicians in the Contemporary Improvisation department of the New England Conservatory and is currently working on a new song cycle with her band Rabbit Rabbit about the oceans and their mythological and emotional significance.