Dan Cantrell began composing at age 11. Since that time he has continued performing and writing music of all kinds featuring his main instruments, accordion, piano and musical saw. Dan received a rigorous training in Classical, Jazz, and improvisational performance styles as well as extensive formal composition training from an early age. He attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts studying piano performance and musical composition. Drawing from his rich musical experience, he strives to bring exciting new sounds to the world in collaboration and composition for interdisciplinary art. In recent years his attention has been focused on the study and performance of Eastern European folk music as well as compositions for film, dance, and theatre.
As a composer, Dan has scored over thirty films and numerous plays. He has been commissioned by several dance companies and circus arts groups to produce live and recorded scores. His work has been premiered by a variety of ensembles ranging from brass bands, to chamber orchestras, Balkan women’s choirs, to the California Shakespeare Festival ensemble cast. Dan has been musical director for ensembles in theatre, dance and for television with the PBS children’s series Mark Kistler’s Imagination Station.
Last year, Dan received a commissioned from the Creative Work Fund, the East Bay Community fund for Artists and the MAP fund, to create new work based on Romany (Gypsy) and Jewish traditions. This work, set for Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble and a large ensemble of folk musicians, premiered at the opening of the Jewish Music Festival in 2007 with great success.
In recent years, Dan received an Emmy award for his soundtrack to KQED documentary Home Front, as well two Golden Gate awards from the San Francisco International Film Festival for his work on local films. He crowns his scoring career this fall with the television premiere of The Misadventures of Flapjack, a cartoon series produced by the Cartoon Network.
As a performer, Dan recently had the honor of recording with legendary songwriter Tom Waits. He has also recently toured and recorded with emerging and internationally celebrated independent artist Joanna Newsom.
At home in the Bay Area, he is focused on his own musical projects and compositions, performing and touring with the Toids, People’s Bizarre, and various other ensembles. He often visits local artists and songwriters for collaborations in live performances and recording sessions. His performances range in style from Jazz, to Experimental, to World music, to Rock.
Dan is the co-founder of the record label Odd Shaped Case that celebrates unique Bay Area artists and showcases modern Balkan inspired groups. He is also co-founder of a new Bay Area film composer’s collective designed to connect film-makers with innovative composers and sound designers.