The All Joan Show

The All Joan Show is a celebration of the pieces Joan Jeanrenaud has made in collaboration with choreographer Cid Pearlman.

The concert features three works from the Cid Pearlman Performance repertoire: 'Strange Toys' (2004), 'small variations' (2006) and excerpts from 'Your Body is Not a Shark' (2013).

Performances are in San Francisco September 21-22, 8:00pm at the Joe Goode Annex and in Santa Cruz October 19-21, 8:00pm at Motion Pacific.

In Santa Cruz a new work, 'Wasps & Ladybugs' will have its premiere.

All compositions are from Joan's recordings and will not be performed live.

About Cid Pearlman Performance: Inspired by the resilience, fragility and resourcefulness of the human body, CPP makes dances about how we negotiate being together in a complex world.

Jeanrenaud's music in 'Descent'

My music is being featured in the dance performance 'Descent' in NYC March 22, 23, 24.

The performances are at the NY Live Arts Theater at 7:30 pm.

This is a stunning work by Kinetic Light that features two amazing wheelchair artists!

'Knock' my new string quartet for KQ's 50FTF

I was very pleased to be invited to contribute a new string quartet to my old band's (Kronos Quartet) 50 For the Future project.

They have 10 (and counting) pieces available for download for young quartets to listen to, study and perform.

My work is 'Knock' and packs in lots of cool techniques that I learned over my 20 years with the group.

I hope you enjoy checking out my piece and all the others as well.



Deconet Records announces
the CD and digital release of


A Duet for Cello and Storyteller

featuring Joan Jeanrenaud and Charlie Varon


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (15 September, 2016) –  Renowned cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, a 20-year member of the Kronos Quartet, and award-winning performer/writer Charlie Varon, announce the release of their collaborative work, SECOND TIME AROUND, available on CD and as digital download.

            SECOND TIME AROUND is a unique listening experience: a fully-scored duet for cello and storyteller, a melding of music and literary fiction. The work was adapted from Varon’s fictional short story “Interview,” about a 92-year World War II veteran and the teenager who comes to videotape him for a him for a school history project. Jeanrenaud, Varon, and their collaborator/director, David Ford, spent eight months on the project, with Jeanrenaud herself spending over a hundred hours composing and refining the score. Jeanrenaud’s score grows out of her experience on the forefront of contemporary classical music, drawing a full range of expressive possibilities from her instrument.


A rehearsal of ‘Second Time Around’

            Just over an hour in length, SECOND TIME AROUND was first performed on stage, at The Marsh Theater in San Francisco, where it played to sold-out houses and critical acclaim. Reviewing the stage version of the piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Hurwitt wrote:

“The storyteller is a master of the craft, subsuming himself in the persona of his protagonist; switching pace, tone and character as the tale demands; building his narrative with canny twists and mounting intensity. The cello sets the tone; weaves in and around the story; illustrates, comments upon and supports it; and, when heightened emotion is called for, ventures where the actor dare not go. It’s two storytellers for the price of one.”


Joan Jeanrenaud is a cellist, composer, arranger, and improviser. She was the cellist of the Kronos Quartet for 20 years. Her work with Kronos included more than 30 recordings and over 2000 performances that took her to virtually every major concert hall worldwide. During those years the group became, in the words of The New York Times critic John Rockwell, “the world’s best known, most innovative contemporary-music quartet.” Jeanrenaud’s cello is a Deconet, ca. 1750. A copy of that cello was carved out of ice and played with “bows” made of saws, barbed wire and sandpaper in her four-hour performance piece Ice Cello, an adaptation of Charlotte Moorman's Ice Music for London. Her solo CDs include Visual Music, Pop-Pop, Strange Toys (“Haunting and compelling” – The New York Times) and Metamorphosis. She has also recorded with dozens of other artists, and performed on many film scores.


Charlie Varon has been credited with “redefining the medium” of solo performance (SF Chronicle). His hit shows at The Marsh have included Rabbi Sam, Rush Limbaugh in Night School, The People’s Violin and the recent Feisty Old Jew, which ran for over a year at The Marsh. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other publications.


David Ford (director) has been collaborating on new and unusual theatre for three decades and has been associated with The Marsh for most of that time. Rarely a week goes by when residents of the Bay Area cannot enjoy one of his productions. 




Here is Derk Richardson's review for DEEP ROOTS of VISUAL MUSIC



Joan Jeanrenaud

Deconet Records

In her 20 years as the cellist in Kronos Quartet, Joan Jeanrenaud played music by an extraordinary, unprecedented range of composers including Terry Riley, John Adams, John Cage, Astor Piazzolla, Philip Glass, Henryk Gorecki, Steve Reich, George Crumb, John Zorn, Thelonious Monk, Raymond Scott, David Byrne, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Dixon and Frank Zappa. In the 17 years since leaving Kronos, the Memphis-born San Franciscan has weaned herself from dependence on other people’s pens. It was a gradual process. Her initial forays as an independent artist included a performance of Kevin Volans’ Cello Concerto, contributions to Rhymes with Silver, a rapturous album of Lou Harrison music, and her restaging of Charlotte Moorman’s 1972 Ice Music for London(as Ice Cello). Jeanrenaud’s 2002 debut solo CD, Metamorphosis, found her playing pieces by Glass, Steve Mackey, Hamza El Din, Karen Tanaka, Yoko Ono and Mark Grey.

But Metamorphosis also included one Jeanrenaud composition, Altar Piece, and her subsequent recordings—2008’s eclectic Strange Toys, and 2010’s Pop-Pop, a quirky and playful crossover collaboration with percussionist and electronic beat artist PC Muñoz—are collections of original works, realized through sometimes elaborate processes of looping and overdubbing as well as collaboration with other instrumentalists.


Those previous solo recordings laid the groundwork for Jeanrenaud’s latest, but they don’t really prepare you for the depth and range of its emotional wallops. The metrics of Visual Music are interesting—17 pieces that vary in length from just under one minute to just over eight and feature anywhere from one to nine cellos. So are the collaborators—Korean avant-garde performer Dohee Lee on one track; improvising and contemporary classical percussionist William Winant on two tracks; and the aforementioned Muñoz (marimbata, cajon, drum kit) on three.

But facts and truth are not necessarily the same thing. Numbers and names inform the listening experience, and so does the knowledge that Jeanrenaud wrote this material to complement different visual projects in dance, theater and art: a 2010 evening-length piece, ODD, choreographed for San Francisco’s AXIS Dance Company by Shinichi Iova-Koga, who drew inspiration from the Norwegian figurative painter Odd Nerdrum; a 2014 sculptural exhibit, Viewpoints: Body Language, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; choreographer KT Nelson’s Dead Reckoning, inspired by Nelson’s images and photographs of a trip to Death Valley and staged by San Francisco’s ODC Dance Company; dancer Cid Pearlman’s and poet Denise Leto’s collaborative work, Your Body Is Not a Shark; and an unrealized commission for two dancers, which yielded the tunes “Harmonic Harlem” and “Harlem Strut.”

But while Jeanrenaud’s reference points may have been very specific, the music will likely conjure, for every listener, unique and varied mental pictures or, as in my case, bodily sensations and emotional states—warmth, coolness, shivering cold, tension, anxiety, playfulness, ease, desolation, hopelessness, longing, nostalgia, redemption. Take the seven short pieces inspired by the MET exhibition. One needn’t actually see the sculptures to get the gist of Jeanrenaud’s reaction to them. In spans ranging from 39 seconds to a minute 51, she presents pithy thumbnail sketches of passion. For “St. Paul,” she sought to capture the figure’s intensely focused stare and the energy of its carved swirling robes, and she does so in just over a minute by layering six cellos and playing a plaintive melodic line over a bed of fifths and thirds.


When the pieces are longer, Jeanrenaud taps her full repertoire of musical knowledge and instrumental techniques, both conventional and extended. Only on the opening “Solo Prelude” and her duets with Dohee Lee (a reverberant high-pitched recorder and judicious electronics on “Isola”) and William Winant (vibraphone on “Puzzle,” vibraphone and wood block on “This Is Not a Duet”) does she stick to solely one cello—the trusty acoustic model she has played since 1973, made in Venice in 1750 by Michele Deconet. Even then, her rapidly slurring harmonic glissandos, pizzicato ostinatos, impeccably precise and evocative bowing, and playing above and below the bridge create the sonic impression of multiple string voices. And when she does multitrack it two, three, four, five, six, seven, or nine times, the accrual of sonorities and effects becomes subtly orchestral and exquisitely, never gratuitously, complex (one pizzicato track layered a 16th, 8th, or triplet off the beat of another pizzicato track in “Moon Above,” triplets over 8ths and 16ths in “The Ethereal Tree”).

Jeanrenaud spent much of her career as an ensemble player, but she is first and foremost a cellist, and it’s no wonder that her post-Kronos work has principally been solo or with a few carefully chosen instrumental collaborators—those here, plus koto player Miya Masaoka, saxophonist Larry Ochs, guitarist Fred Frith—and composers and choreographers. In places—in pulses, repeated and hocket riffs, ostinatos, textural sweeps—her writing does reflect her familiarity with modern, post-modern, and so-called minimalist classical composers such as Riley, Reich, Adams, and Glass. But on Visual Music you will also hear not only insinuations of African music and funk but also songlike melodies that either break your heart or lift you up and assuage your sorest suffering. Of all instruments, the cello may be the most in tune with the inestimable vibrations of the human body; uncannily in tune with her cello, Jeanrenaud finds ways to make us feel them all.

Joan Jeanrenaud’s Visual Music is available at and at the artist’s website,




Visual Music CD release

I'm really excited about my new record, "Visual Music".

On Saturday March 26 come celebrate with us as we launch "Visual Music" with a champagne and small bites listening party at The Marsh in San Francisco. That night, everyone who attends the 8:30pm performance of "Second Time Around" (Joan's cello + storytelling project with Charlie Varon) at The Marsh will automatically gain admittance to the listening/launch party and hear the new album in full! CDs will also be available for purchase.

Info on "Second Time Around" below....hope to see you there!

SECOND TIME AROUND: A DUET FOR CELLO AND STORYTELLER Written and Performed by Charlie Varon Original Cello Score Composition by Joan Jeanrenaud Develope


Jeanrenaud scores for ODC Dance Downtown

I've created the scores for two of the pieces being performed at ODC Dance Downtown!

Here is a great discount for the performance


See stunning contemporary dance at ODC Dance Downtown, 3/17-27 at YBCA

Enjoy 15% off Silver, Gold & Platinum tix with code FRIEND15.

Second Time Around

Charlie Varon & Joan Jeanrenaud Debut SECOND TIME AROUND Set for The Marsh, 3/5


Opening Night-Dead Reckoning

Tonight is opening night for 'Dead Reckoning', a piece I composed for choreographer KT Nelson and the ODC Dance Company.

The show is part of their ODC/Dance Downtown series at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.  The show will run through Sunday (March 19-22)


It has been great fun working with KT and the amazing dancers, so it will be an exciting show!

Soon I'll be posting some of the music on my stay tuned.


writing music for the MET

Viewpoints: Body Language at the Met

I just participated in a project with Jason Reinier of Earprint Productions to write some musical impressions of sculptures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Along with my six short pieces on six of the sculptures in the collection are additional interviews and impressions from dancers, scientists and others artists.  If you are in New York...check it out!

Here is more info and downloads for the MET


Reading about Charlotte Moorman

Yesterday I finished reading the book, "Topless Cellist" - the improbable life of Charlotte Moorman, by Joan Rothfuss.

Everyone interested in contemporary music, the avant-garde, Fluxus, Nam June Paik, John Cage, Yoko Ono (just to name a few of its characters) and of course Charlotte Moorman should get this book.  It is awesome!  It is a great story, beautifully written and a sensitive, thoughtful response to Charlotte's life and work that Rothfuss researched meticulously.

I was introduced to Joan Rothfuss (then a curator at the Walker) back in 1999 when attending an art opening for the work of Bruce Conner at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis.  On the second floor of the gallery was another exhibit that featured 'TV Bra for Living Sculpture' by Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman.  I first encountered Moorman when she was a guest on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show in the late 60's.  I was a young girl who had just started playing the cello, so I was fascinated by what I saw and heard.  But it wasn't until I left Kronos that I had time to consider some research into her work which was prompted by seeing 'TV Bra' in the gallery.  

Rothfuss noted my interest and recommended I contact several people who could give me information into Charlotte's world.  Due to Joan's generosity I connected with many of them and started my quest to find a piece from her repertoire I might be able to perform.  The result was the remounting of 'Ice Music for London' by Jim McWilliams.  A frequent collaborator of Charlotte's, Jim was living in San Diego at the time and agreed to a new interpretation of the piece.  Jim suggested updating the work by working with SoCal Ice Productions and Julian Bayley at Ice Culture who fabricated an ice cello based on the measurements of my 1750 acoustic cello.

With the assistance of Alessandro Moruzzi (designer, artistic consultant)), Daniel Collard (technical director) and Greg Kuhn (composer, engineer) 'Ice Cello' was performed on May 20, 2001 at the Walker Art Center.

First post!

I am very happy to launch my new site today with the wonderful animated images created by Joe Maslov that celebrate Halloween, Day of the Dead and you could even argue the San Francisco Giants who just won the 2014 World Series!  

In compiling these pages I was overwhelmed by all the great artists and musicians I have had the good fortune to work with over these past 35 years.  I've gotten to play a lot of great music so it is hard to know where to begin.  But look around, check it out and hopefully something will interest you or lead you to another artist that will.  

And in the spirit of Halloween here are past photos from the 'Haunted Garden', a collaborative musical installation with talented friends we performed for ten Halloweens.

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