The 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival

Sun Oct 7, 2012 - Tue Oct 16, 2012
Multiple locations
$10 - $15
Experimental Music, Music, Music Festival


To celebrate 15 years of “music people and thingamajigs”, Thingamajigs has added opening and closing concerts for the 15th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival. The opening show features Phyllis Chen, a New York artist who creates original works for toy piano, in concert with Thingamajigs Performance Group. The closing show features New Zealand instrument builder Phil Dadson, MacArthur fellow Walter Kitundu, and local builders Tom Nunn and Bart Hopkin. Both concerts take place at the Berkeley Arts Festival on University Street.

The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event featuring experimental and traditional musicians and performing artists who incorporate made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems in their work. Each year, MFP&T invites such artists to join in a festival of workshops, music making, and performances with the goal of reaching a large, diverse audience of all ages. People can participate in instrument building and tuning and educational workshops, as well as hear unique sounds and compositions from up and coming artists. Now in its 15th year, Thingamajigs’ genre-crossing MFP&T Festival is the only annual event completely dedicated to music created with made/found materials and alternate tuning systems. Past participants include Carla Kihlstedt, Walter Kitundu, Pauline Oliveros, Brenda Hutchinson, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, and Laetitia Sonami.

Thingamajigs is celebrating 15 years of 'music, people & thingamajigs' by presenting concerts and educational outreach events that feature 12 amazing artists. Noted works include a long anticipated piece by MacArthur fellow Walter Kitundu, a residency from legendary New Zealand instrument builder and performer Phil Dadson, and a new work from local composer Luciano Chessa.

On Saturday October 13th we return to Mills College, where the festival began 15 years ago, to feature the William Winant Percussion Group in works by Lou Harrison, an early supporter of Thingamajigs who would be celebrating his 95th year, played on Lou’s original instruments. Thingamajigs has also commissioned Mills graduate student Scott Siler to write a new piece for the Harrison/Colvig instruments that will be premiered for the concert.

With concerts, artist talks and instrument demonstrations, we expect the 15th Annual Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival to be our most far reaching and successful event to date.

Sunday, October 7th 3pm: Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704 ($10-$15 sliding scale). Artists include Phyllis Chen and The Thingamajigs Performance Group with special guests
Thursday, October 11th 8pm: Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 ($10-$15 sliding scale). Artists include Luciano Chessa + The Living Earth Show, Glou-glou (Arjun Mendiratta & Gretchen Jude), Rachel Trapp and Giacomo Fiore
Friday, October 12th 8pm: Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 ($10-$15 sliding scale). Artists include Walter Kitundu, Tracey Cockrell and Marylin McNeal
Saturday, October 13th 8pm: Mills College Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613. Thingamajigs Homecoming concert featuring William Winant Percussion Group and Phil Dadson
Tuesday, October 16th 8pm: Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704 ($10-$15 sliding scale). Artists include Phil Dadson with special guests Bart Hopkin, Walter Kitundu, Tom Nunn, and Paul Winstanley
This year’s festival is supported in part by:

Alameda County Arts Commission
Meet The Composer
Westaf TourWest Grant
Puffin Foundation
San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music

Artists Information:
Walter Kitundu is a, sound/visual artist, graphic designer, composer and instrument builder. He uses an interdisciplinary approach to develop compositions-installations-instruments that blur the boundaries between media. He has constructed elemental turntables that rely on wood, water, fire and earthquakes for their power and pitch. Kitundu is the creator of a family of Phonoharps, beautifully crafted multi-stringed instruments made from record players. He strives to reconnect the technology of new music to fundamental principles drawn from the natural world.

Kitundu has been affiliated with the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception since 2003, where he is currently a senior designer. His work has been exhibited and performed at such national and international venues as the Singapore Science Centre, the Gunnar Gunnarsson Institute, Iceland; the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, and the Aukland Arts Festival in New Zealand. In 2008 he became a MacArthur Fellow.

Phil Dadson is a sound and intermedia artist with an interdisciplinary practice including solo performances and exhibitions, building experimental instruments and sonic objects, video/sound installation; music composition, graphic scores and improvisations on invented instruments. He is the founder of the sound-performance group, From Scratch, (1974 – 2002), known widely for it’s rhythmic and distinctive performances on original instruments.

Born in New Zealand, he later traveled to London and from 1968-9 was a member of the foundation group for a scratch orchestra with Cornelius Cardew, Michael Parsons and others. In 1970 he founded scratch orchestra (NZ) and later in 1974, From Scratch. Until 1976 he worked as a moving image maker (SeeHear films), co-founded Alternative Cinema (Auckland) and was a lecturer in intermedia from 1977 – 2001. He has collaborated on two international award-winning performance films of From Scratch with director Gregor Nicholas and has released numerous LPs and CDs of FS over its nearly three decade history.

William Winant is principal percussionist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has been closely associated with NYC composer John Zorn, and has made numerous recordings, and performed in many projects throughout the world with the composer. Starting in 1995 he has been the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, has made two recordings ("Disco Volante" and "California" on Warner Brothers), and has toured throughout the world with this group. For many years he had worked with composer Lou Harrison, recording and premiering many of his works, and in March of 1997 he participated in the world premiere of Lou Harrison's quintet "Rhymes with Silver" featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Mark Morris Dance Group. His recording of Lou Harrison's "La Koro Sutro" (which he produced for New Albion Records) was the New York Times Critic's Choice for best contemporary recording of 1988. In 1999 he produced a recording of music by 20th-century avant-garde composers with the influential rock band Sonic Youth; "Goodbye 20th-Century" (SYR4) was hailed by both The Los Angeles Times and New York's Village Voice as one of the best compendiums of this type of music ever recorded. Most recently his recording with cellist Joan Jeanrenaud of her CD "Strange Toys" was nominated for a grammy in 2009.

He is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and teaches at Mills College and the University of California at Berkeley. For eight years Mr. Winant was Artist-in-Residence at Mills College with the critically acclaimed Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio. Formed in 1984, the ASW Trio has premiered over 25 new works for violin, piano, and percussion at major festivals and recitals throughout the world. Their recordings can be heard on the New Albion, Tzadik, and CRI/New World labels.

Phyllis Chen is a pianist, toy pianist and multimedia artist that performs original multimedia compositions and works by contemporary composers. The Oregonian states “her captivating performance was animated by unbridled inventiveness, the kind of joyous creativity that playing with toys is meant to inspire.” Phyllis’ artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, and composer, leading to her selection as a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artist Guild International Competition.

Phyllis founded the UnCaged Toy Piano, a composition competition to further expand the repertoire for toy piano and electronics. The competition has received works from composers all around the world and these compositions become an integral part of her repertoire. In the Winter of 2011, Phyllis curated the first-ever three day toy piano festival in New York City. The next UnCaged Toy Piano Festival will be in the 2013.
A strong interest in interdisciplinary work led her to collaborations with video artist and electronic musician Rob Dietz with whom she created multimedia works such as Looking Glass ReWondered, The Memoirist, Pearlessence, Chroma and Carousels. Upcoming projects for the duo include a micro-media toy piano opera commissioned by Opera Cabal, scheduled to be premiered at High Concept Laboratories this November in Chicago. Phyllis also received the Roulette Commission (funded by the Jerome Foundation) to create a new solo work to be premiered in October at Roulette’s new venue in Brooklyn.

Born in Hartford, Rachel Devorah Trapp (1986) began her musical studies at the age of seven when she was awarded a scholarship to study an “endangered instrument” and chose the French horn. She moved to New York City ten years later to study horn with David Jolley and earned a Bachelor of Music degree with highest distinction from the Copland School of Music at the City University of New York in 2007. She has since divided her time between Brooklyn and Oakland, composing and performing adventurous music that explores the boundaries between improvisation and notation, acoustic and electronic sound, “art” and “pop,” and the transference of abstract meaning between mediums of artistic expression.


Berkeley Arts Festival
2133 University Avenue, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
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Vessel Gallery
471 25th Street
Oakland, CA
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Mills College
5000 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA
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  1. Berkeley Arts Festival
    2133 University Avenue, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  2. Vessel Gallery
    471 25th Street, Oakland, CA
  3. Mills College
    5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA