Threnody Ensemble

Last updated
Threnody Ensemble
Origin California, United States
Genres Indie
Years active 1997-present
Labels ATP Recordings
Associated acts A Minor Forest
Members Dave Cerf
Dominique Davison
Erik Hoversten

Threnody Ensemble are a three piece experimental classical music group who formed in 1997, first as a two piece made up of Dave Cerf and Erik Hoversten, but soon as a trio when cellist Dominique Davison joined a year later.


The band are unusual in that they are former rock musicians playing experimental music and recording for a classical music label, thus setting them apart from any particular music scene. Threnody Ensemble's music is neither strictly "classical" nor "popular"; it is both part composed and part improvised, part acoustic and part computer-generated. They fuse elements of non-Western musical traditions with their own contemporary compositions to create new hybrid forms. Their stated intent is to complicate traditional notions of musical identity and authenticity.


Though the group's material was originally based around the interaction between two acoustic guitars and a cello, the members decided to develop in a more fluid way with each project, and have since eliminated this structure entirely. The group members collaborate with a variety of musicians from disparate musical traditions and assemble different groups for each tour or project.

The Ensemble's core members come from diverse musical backgrounds. Erik Hoversten studied ethnomusicology and composition at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on Javanese, Balinese, Korean, Indian, and Ghanaian traditions. He played in the noted San Francisco math rock band A Minor Forest from 1993–1998 and later did graduate work in music at the University of California, San Diego.

Math rock style of rock music

Math rock is a style of indie rock that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States, influenced by post-hardcore, progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, and 20th century minimal music composers such as Steve Reich. Math rock is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures, counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords. It bears similarities to post-rock.

A Minor Forest was a San Francisco-based math rock band in the 1990s.

Dave Cerf studied film as well as West African, Indonesian, and Indian music at California Institute for the Arts. He was a member of the Washington D.C. based group Lorelei and played in numerous heavy metal bands. In addition to his musical activities, Dave has been active in photography, film and video, and radio drama. Cerf and Hoversten have supposedly been collaborating since they were three years old, [1] and have now been making music together for over 25 years.

Lorelei rock on the eastern bank of the River Rhine in Germany

The Lorelei is a 132 m (433 ft) high, steep slate rock on the right bank of the River Rhine in the Rhine Gorge at Sankt Goarshausen in Germany.

Dominique Davison has performed in orchestras since childhood. She played bass in the punk band Spitboy and later she met Hoversten while playing cello in A Minor Forest and New York's 33.3. She is an architect.

The debut album by Threnody Ensemble, Timbre Hollow, [2] was produced by Brian Paulson, and took a number of years to be finished. During the process of recording the album the trio was expanded to include cellist Amy Domingues. As well as Domingues, the album would also feature supplementary musicians playing piano, contrabass, clarinet, and percussion. It was finally released on the classical based New Albion label in 2000, to some critical acclaim, Mark Athitakis of SF Weekly stated that "it's one of the most remarkably giving, accessible, and simply beautiful records to come from these parts in some time. Neither rigidly chamber pop nor wildly experimental, its spare, slow, organic sound is utterly entrancing." [3] Two years later was given a European release on the All Tomorrow's Parties-affiliated ATP Recordings.

New Albion

New Albion, also known as Nova Albion, was the name of the continental area north of Mexico claimed by Sir Francis Drake for England in 1579. This claim on the Pacific coast, which became the justification for English charters across America to the Atlantic coast, soon influenced further national expansion projects on the continent. Today, it is known as Point Reyes, California, a marine environment which is the setting of several small towns, ranches, and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

SF Weekly is a free alternative weekly newspaper in San Francisco, California. The newspaper, distributed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area every Thursday, is published by the San Francisco Newspaper Company. Founded locally in the late 1970s by Christopher Hildreth and Edward Bachman and originally named ‘San Francisco Music Calendar, the Magazine or Poster Art’, Christopher saw a need for local artists to have a place to advertise performances and articles. The key feature was the centerfold calendar listings for local art events. Bought by Village Voice Media in 1995, SF Weekly has garnered notable national journalism awards. The paper sponsored the SF Weekly Music Awards, also known as the "Wammies."

ATP Recordings British independent record label

ATP Recordings is a British independent record label that was started in 2001 by London-based concert promoter Barry Hogan of Foundation/All Tomorrow's Parties. It was originally created to bring out a compilation cd (ATPRCD01) after the Tortoise-curated All Tomorrow's Parties event. First, everyone who attended the first festival was given a limited edition promotional sampler (PROATPFCD01), the packaging of which echoed the Factory Records style of Peter Saville. The full compilation followed later, and indeed a number of other ATP festivals would also receive the compilation treatment, the most recent being the 2006 Nightmare Before Christmas, for which ATPR and Plan B Magazine collaborated on a free cd given out to attendees.

Members of Threnody Ensemble have also composed music for soundtracks, including Sam Green's documentary The Weather Underground , and Scott Hamilton Kennedy's OT: Our Town.

<i>The Weather Underground</i> (film) 2002 documentary film

The Weather Underground is a 2002 documentary film based on the rise and fall of the American radical organization Weather Underground. Using much archive footage from the time as well as interviews with the Weathermen today, the film constructs a linear narrative of the organization.

In the live arena the band have toured with The Sea And Cake, The Mountain Goats, Pinback, Nina Nastasia and The Black Heart Procession. They have also appeared at two All Tomorrow's Parties festivals, in 2002 and 2004 respectively, where they were asked to play by festival curators Shellac and Sonic Youth.

The Mountain Goats band

The Mountain Goats are an American band formed in Claremont, California by singer-songwriter John Darnielle. The band is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

Pinback band

Pinback is an indie rock band from San Diego, California. The band was formed in 1998 by singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Rob Crow, who have been its two consistent members. They have released five studio albums and several other releases.

Nina Nastasia American musician

Nina Nastasia is an American folk singer-songwriter. A native of Los Angeles, she first came to prominence in New York City in 2000 after Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel began giving her debut album, Dogs, airplay. The album earned Nastasia a cult following, and was re-released in 2004. Her third album, You Follow Me (2007), was a collaboration with Australian drummer Jim White of Dirty Three.




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