Sidney Chen, bass-baritone, specializes in the creation of new music for voice.
He performs with the internationally renowned Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, most recently in composer/choreographer Monk’s music-theater work On Behalf of Nature, which toured internationally and was recorded for ECM Records. With the San Francisco Symphony he traveled to Carnegie Hall to premiere Monk’s chamber work Realm Variations as part of the 2012 American Mavericks Festival. He is also a co-founder of The M6, a New York-based vocal sextet dedicated to continuing Monk’s legacy, which has been heard on NPR and featured in The New York Times.
In recent seasons Sidney has toured to Denmark with San Francisco Lyric Opera’s staged production of the little match girl passion by David Lang; premiered Ryan Brown’s theatricalized “medical oratorio” Mortal Lessons; collaborated with the Friction Quartet on a evening of four commissioned works for vocal quartet and string quartet; and performed Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia for eight voices and orchestra at the Mondavi Center in Davis, California. He was featured in the 23rd Other Minds Festival in Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s Capital Capitals for four male voices, with pianist Sarah Cahill. He has performed at Garden of Memory, an annual new-music extravaganza in Oakland, with sets of music for unaccompanied solo voice and arrangements for voice and DIY music boxes. In 2009 he sang in Carnegie Hall’s 45th-anniversary celebration of Terry Riley’s In C.
In the 2018–19 season Sidney began touring with ODC/Dance as a guest performer and musician liaison in KT Nelson’s immersive dance Path of Miracles, choreographed to a score by Joby Talbot. In June 2019, he returns to the Other Minds Festival for the premiere of Brian Baumbusch’s The Pressure; and joins SLOrk (the Stanford Laptop Orchestra) for excerpts from The Furies, a new opera by Anne Hege.
In his hometown of San Francisco, Sidney regularly performs with the new-music chorus Volti, the only group to have received the Chorus America/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award seven times. He is also the group’s Artistic Advisor, and has served as Executive Director. The ensemble has released four critically acclaimed albums on Innova Recordings, which he co-produced.
Sidney is a member of the nine-man vocal chamber ensemble Clerestory, which sings music ranging from Gregorian chant to the American songbook. He appears frequently as a guest soloist with Bay Area ensembles such as Marin Baroque, San Francisco Choral Society, and De Anza Chamber Orchestra.
From 1997 to 2018, Sidney worked for the Kronos Quartet, most recently as the famed ensemble’s Artistic Administrator, overseeing the production of dozens of recordings, managing countless commissions, and developing multi-faceted educational residencies at Carnegie Hall and in university presenter settings. Prior to that, while living in New York he worked for Nonesuch Records, where he managed the production of retrospective box sets for composers Steve Reich and John Adams, and worked as the Production Assistant for several iconic Reich recordings including Music for 18 Musicians and City Life.
Sidney’s writings about contemporary music have been published by NewMusicBox, for which he was the magazine’s San Francisco Bay Area Regional Editor, and by SFist. For about a decade starting in 2004, he wrote an influential blog called The Standing Room, one of the very first blogs about classical music; for several years it appeared regularly on lists of top classical music blogs, and was covered in traditional media from Gramophone to NPR.
His movement training includes regular Gaga movement language classes with James Graham and an Intensive course with Danielle Agami, several workshops with Joe Goode Performance Group, modern and contemporary technique classes at LINES Dance Center and ODC, and Alexander Technique study with Kari Prindl. Sidney is a dedicated practitioner of Ashtanga yoga and Vipassana meditation, and a novice calligrapher.
He and his husband make their home in San Francisco. He is a graduate of Harvard University.
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