BETH CUSTER

  • RESIDENCY DATES : Aug 1st 2009 to Aug 31st 2009 | Mar 2nd 2010 to Mar 31st 2010 | May 2nd 2012 to May 30th 2012
  • PRACTICE : Composer
  • FROM : USA
  • MEMBER OF Club Foot Orchestra

Beth Custer is a San Francisco based composer, performer, bandleader, and the proprietor of BC Records. She has collaborated with a myriad of artists from around the world.

Beth is an original member of the Club Foot Orchestra, the first band in the US to score and perform with silent era films since 1986. She is a founding member of the 4th world ensemble Trance Mission, the trip-hop duo Eighty Mile Beach, and is the founder of the quartet of esteemed jazz clarinetists Clarinet Thing and The Beth Custer Ensemble. She has released over twenty-five recordings and toured internationally with her ensembles.

Beth composes for theatre, film, dance, television, installations and the concert stage. Theatre productions include four musicals with writer/director Octavio Solis at Campo Santo Theatre Company of San Francisco, Cornerstone Theatre and Overtone Industries of Los Angeles. Beth has scored productions for San Diego Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival and A Traveling Jewish Theatre with directors that include Penny Metropolis, Jonathon Moscone, Karin Coonan, Tod Salovey, Joan Shirle, and Delia MacDougal.

Film scoring is Beth’s passion. The Pacific Film Archive commissioned Beth to compose a live score for My Grandmother, a rare Soviet film that she was awarded the Aaron Copland Recording Fund for. With Club Foot Orchestra, Beth has scored scenes from the CBS/Film Roman cartoon The Twisted Tales of Felix The Cat, and the silent feature films Pandora’s Box, Sherlock Jr., and Metropolis. Other films include those of George Spies, Melinda Stone, Betsy Bayha, Karina Epperlein, Will Zavala Koohan Paik (1st place, Berlin Film Festival 1994), and Peter MacCandless (Sundance 1991).

For the concert stage, Beth created Vinculum Symphony under a Phyllis Wattis Residency at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Vinculum brought together a chamber orchestra with experimental instrument builders. Left Coast Chamber Ensemble has commissioned three chamber works as have Zeitgeist Ensemble of Minneapolis, writer Bernie Weiner, SPaNK ensemble of Wyoming, San Francisco City Winds, Kronos Quartet, and Turtle Island Quartet. She’s currently composing a a work centered on the inventions of Buckminster Fuller.

Beth has composed for seven productions of the dance/theatre troupe the Joe Goode Performance Group. Excerpts form her score for JGPG’s The Maverick Strain, which won an Isadora Duncan Award, will enjoy a run at the Joyce in NYC during April ’09. She has also composed for Flyaway Productions, Roco Dance Company, Knee Jerk, and for butoh dancers Koichi Tamano and Ledoh.

Beth has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists including MacArthur Fellow inventor Trimpin; artists Vladimir Kokolia and Billie Grace Lynn; musicians Fred Frith, Miya Masaoka, Joan Jenrenaud, Amy Denio, Tin Hat, Tango No. 9, Pamela Z, Will Bernard, Sex Mob, John Schott, Grassy Knoll, ROVA, Violent Femmes, J.A. Deane, Snakefinger, Greg Goodman, William Cepeda, Elaine Buckholtz, Mark Eitzel, Penelope Houston, Anna Homler, Ollin, and Connie Champagne.

Beth was the first Bay Area artist to receive a second artists residency at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. Other residencies include Montalvo, University of Wyoming, and Civitella Ranieri. Beth received the prestigious Meet The Composer New Residency and Commissioning grants, a McKnight Fellowship, two San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist grants, two Zellerbach Family Fund awards, a Gerbode award, an Argosy Foundation recording grant, and three American Composer’s Forum grants.

Beth is an Adjunct Professor of Composition at Mills College and has taught private clarinet, voice and composition lessons for over thirty-five years. She holds a Masters Degree in Clarinet Performance from San Francisco State University and a Bachelors Degree in Musical Studies from the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York in Potsdam.