Caroline Penwarden is an Oakland-based composer and multi-instrumentalist with a broad range of musical passions including film scoring, original composition, improvisation and live performance. Through improvisation and intuition, she creates work known for a soulful vulnerability with delicate timbres and interwoven rhythms. She is inspired by music's ability to transcend cultures, space, and time, and, similarly, to move the individual to transcend the self. Her music is influenced by her childhood immersion in Russian Orthodox liturgical music and classical piano studies, intersecting with expansions into sound design, Afro-Cuban percussion, a variety of other traditional folk musics, rock, and jazz.
Caroline earned her MA in Music Composition from Mills College. There she studied under recording/performing artist Fred Frith and held a position as modern dance accompanist, working with multiple dance instructors including world-renowned choreographers Molissa Fenley and Sonya Delwaide.
Caroline has performed original compositions with AXIS Dance Company at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Montalvo Arts Center, and Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, and with choreographer Sonsherée Giles at the Marion E. Green Black Box Theater at the Fox Theater, Counterpulse and The Garage. Additionally, she has performed with numerous artists and ensembles, including Beth Custer, Aram Shelton, Agnes Szelag, and in Jem Finer's Longplayer, and is featured on albums with Flockterkit, Myrmyr, Eli Wise, Vanessa Beggs, EFFT, and The Co-op.
Original film/video music scores include the stop motion animation film "The Moon's Milk" (by Ri Crawford) narrated by Tom Waits, the award-winning PBS special Nourish (Worldlink) narrated by Cameron Diaz, Matinee (Blue Artichoke Films) which won “Best Short Film” at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Save Our Snow (Clif Bar/Unparalleled Productions), Greening the Empire State Building (Clinton Climate Initiative/Rocky Mountain Institute), and the ambitious web TV show Chasing Glaciers (Matter Network) which entailed nearly realtime composition against satellite uplinked footage from an international climbing expedition in the Karakorum region of Pakistan.
Longplayer, by Jem Finer
Singing bowls, presented by The Long Now Foundation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
The Co-op (band)
Percussion, pump organ, vocals for Bay Area based indie group with collaborators Sacha Galvanga and Jennifer Harper. The trio has performed in San Francisco with AXIS Dance Company at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, at The Rite Spot, The Penny Archade, The Make-Out Room, and the El Rio, and in Oakland at the Totally Intense Fractal Mindgaze Hut and Cafe Van Kleef.
Beth Custer (band)
Accordion, melodica, backup vocals for performances at The Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley and The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley
Flockterkit, a suite by Aram Shelton
Pump organ for a performance at The Uptown, Oakland
One Breath Is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart
Accordion, percussion for a live dance score by Jerry Smith. Choreographed by Sonsherée Giles. Performed at Mills College, Oakland. Recorded version presented at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC.
Unweathered Embers, by Myrmyr
Accordion for a large chamber ensemble piece at St. Mark’s, San Francisco
Experimental vocals and live looping for a performance at The Stone, NYC
Keyboard, clarinet, vocals for a performance at El Rio, San Francisco.
Eli Wise (band)
Pump organ, percussion, backup vocals for a performance at Smiley’s, Bolinas