Hans Koch and Fred Frith: Duo Concert

swissnex San Francisco caps off its 2009 series of duo concerts with an exceptional encounter of two of avant-garde music’s biggest names: reeds and electronics maestro Hans Koch meets guitar luminary Fred Frith.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


November 11, 2009 from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$ 15

Hailing from Biel, reeds player Hans Koch has been a constant presence among improvised music’s global cream of the crop for over thirty years. Dropping a successful career as a classical clarinetist in mid-1970s Switzerland, he went ever further ahead on the path of improvisation, first exploring jazz-based idioms before venturing into more abstract forms of musical expression.

As we reach the end of the 2000s, Hans Koch stands as one of the foremost proponents of European improvisation, while still churning out some of the most explosive tunes around within the revered flagship of on-edge Swiss music, the Koch-Schütz-Studer Trio.  Koch has also been a pioneer in integrating electronic tools into his live performances, often using his laptop and software such as Max MSP to add unexpected twists and turns to his flights on the saxophone and the clarinet.

Koch’s appearance at swissnex San Francisco promises to be particularly unique, as he will re-encounter a legendary avant-gardist companion with long-standing ties to Switzerland, no less than Fred Frith.

One of the beating hearts of European improv since the late 1960s and a key component of New York’s legendary 1980s downtown scene, Frith has cast quite a shadow in the Bay Area as well: he heads the Music Department at Mills College, and his rare appearances as a performer are not-to-be missed events.

While it will be Fred Frith’s second appearance at swissnex San Francisco in 2009 (he performed here in February under the auspices of NEXMAP), this duo performance by Koch and Frith rounds out a series of three duo concerts of improvised music held by swissnex San Francisco this year, following Charlotte Hug with Guillermo Galindo (in May) and Urs Leimgruber with Gino Robair (in June).

We highly recommend getting advance tickets for this concert to secure your seats. Please click on the Brown Paper Tickets logo below to get tickets. Please note that tickets are non-refundable.

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8:00 pm    doors open

8:30 pm    Hans Koch (reeds, electronics) and Fred Frith (prepared guitar) duo concert performance

9:30 pm    mixer

11:00 pm  doors close



Hans Koch

Born 1948 and based in Biel, Switzerland, Hans Koch quit his career as a recognized classical clarinetist to become one of the most innovative improvising reed-players in

An early accomplice in his extracurricular activities was cellist Martin Schütz, with whom he zoomed through the Coltrane repertoire before drawing further inspiration from the American and European free jazz scenes. A number of years down the line, Koch and Schütz came into full swing when they founded the Koch-Schütz-Studer Trio with drummer Fredi Studer. The trio made a splash with their first and aptly-named record “Hardcore Chambermusic”, a high water mark for hard-edged experimental music way beyond the borders of Switzerland. Back then, in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Koch was already working with electronics as an extension of his reeds, as well as with sampling/sequencing.

In the years that have followed, the trio has recorded frequently and collaborated with a wide variety of musicians: from Egypt, from Cuba, with DJs, and with poetry/spoken word artists.

In the meantime Hans Koch kept his own career busy working on radio plays and fim music while joining a staggering number of collaborative projects with the likes of Andrew Cyrille, Evan Parker, Butch Morris, Shelley Hirsch, Cecil Taylor, and many others.

Fred Frith

Composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist, Fred Frith has situated himself for more than thirty years at the intersection of rock and new music. Co-founder of the British underground band Henry Cow (1968-78), he moved to New York in the late 1970s and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he has since been associated, including John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins, and Bob Ostertag.

Fourteen years in New York gave rise to groups such as Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher), Skeleton Crew (with Tom Cora and Zeena Parkins), and Keep the Dog, a sextet performing an extensive repertoire of Fred’s compositions.

In the 1980s, Fred began to write for dance, film, and theatre, which, in turn, led to his composing for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, and many other groups, including his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet.

Best known world-wide as an improvising guitarist, Fred has also performed in a variety of other contexts, playing bass in John Zorn’s Naked City, violin in Lars Hollmer’s Looping Home Orchestra, and guitar on recordings ranging from The Residents and René Lussier to Brian Eno and Amy Denio. Fred is the subject of Swiss and German filmmakers Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel’s award-winning documentary film, Step Across the Border, and he provided the score to another revered documentary, Rivers and Tides, about artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Fred Frith is currently Professor of Composition and Head of the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Additional Hans Koch concert dates in the Bay Area:

November 8, 2009 (Sunday) 8:00pm
Hans Koch (reeds) with Damon Smith (bass) and Kjell Nordeson (percussion)
21 Grand
416 25th St. (at Broadway) Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 444-7263
Tickets and location information here

November 9, 2009 (Monday) 7:30pm
Hans Koch (reeds, electronics) with Gino Robair (percussion), + Michael Evans (percussion), and Ryan Jewell (percussion)
Tom’s Place
3111 Deakin Street, Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 703-8195
Information here
Note: this is a “Tuesday at Tom’s Place” event, exceptionally taking place on a MONDAY!

With the support of the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia


Photo: Myleen Hollero