The standout gig of the evening was Dan Cantrell's "The Rootabaga Opera," a musical-theatrical thrill ride through the Bay Area's American, Chinese, and Eastern European cultural roots, inspired by the children's stories of poet Carl Sandburg. The piece was done up in style with a massive cast of singers (including the luminescent Kitka), dancers, musicians, puppeteers, and performance artists.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Cantrell’s recent works include the score for three seasons of the Annie Award nominated cartoon television series Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack on the Cartoon Network, an Emmy Award winning scores for Home Front and Hope on the Streets (a PBS Documentary about gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area), and the Gerbode Grant sponsored commission of the Rootabaga Opera (a Fire Arts infused multimedia shadow play and lyrical ballet based on the children’s stories of Carl Sandberg) presented at The Crucible’s 2009 Fire Arts Festival.   Some of Dan’s other recent projects include the Golden Gate Award winning score for Divided Loyalties (a documentary about cultural identity on the divided island of Cyprus) and a commission from Kitka women’s vocal ensemble for the composition and direction of Musical Fortunes (A MAP sponsored collaboration featuring Kitka, Dan, Voice of Roma, and Brave Old World’s Michael Alpert) which was the opening and centerpiece of the 2007 Jewish Music Festival, and explores roots and ties between Romani (Gypsy) and Klezmer music traditions in Eastern Europe.

Dan’s music is influenced by the traditions of Eastern Europe from Bulgarian Roma Wedding Bands to polyphonic vocal laments, Early American Jazz and Film music from Busby Berkeley, and Cab Calloway to Scott Joplin, and modern alternative rock like Radiohead, Bjork, and Soundgarden. His extensive scoring catalogue for film and television is described as “hauntingly beautiful…quirky and energetic” (SF Bay Guardian). His soundtrack artistry spans a wide range of emotion and style, and has supported hundreds of cinematic works with rich with virtuosic performance, lush acoustic orchestrations, sonic textures resonant with sound design, and strikingly innovative melodic themes. 

Playing piano, accordion, musical saw, Hammond organ, harpsichord, and pump organ, his unique sound can be heard on the albums of Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, and the Toids, as well as in Major Motion Pictures such as Paramount Pictures’ Mean Girls, and Roberto Benigni’s The Tiger and the Snow.  Dan performs and tours regularly with several ensembles including Beats Antique, Fishtank Ensemble, Gaucho, the Toids, and in original Balkan inspired ensembles that he directs.  

Dan has numerous self-produced albums represented by the independent record label Odd Shaped Case.  Odd Shaped Case was co-founded by Dan and musical colleague Ryan Francesconi to represent intriguing and innovative new music using acoustic and often folk instrumentation infused and along side modern electronic and popular independent music styles.  Dan also is a founding member of Xenology, a licensing library featuring a unique blend of genre bending composers fluent in the vernacular of world music shaped by modern modalities and electronics.

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