Well dressed in suits, ties, and the occasional fedora, the choir brings an energized live choral music experience out of churches and tabernacles and into the taverns, art houses, and theaters of the Bay Area and beyond. Transforming Cohen’s lyrics and simple melodies into complex 4- and 5-part harmonies, and with a wide variety of small ensemble and full choir pieces, Conspiracy of Beards achieves a sound that is both robust and tender. Drawing on influences ranging from jazz and gospel to barbershop and doo-wop, the unique arrangements that choir members create capture all of the emotion and humor of Leonard Cohen’s original music and inspire audiences to ponder common human experiences like romance, heartbreak, politics, sex, longing, and spirituality.
Formed in 2003 through the inspiration of the late San Francisco performance artist Peter Kadyk, his brother Patrick Kadyk, along with friend and composer Daryl Henline, gathered a small group of friends to learn and sing a couple of Leonard Cohen songs as a tribute. Since then the choir, still directed by Daryl Henline, has grown to over 30 members.
Conspiracy of Beards has become an integral part of the San Francisco music scene with performances at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, The Jewish Music Festival, Cafe du Nord, Great American Music Hall, San Francisco City Hall, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as dozens of bars, bookstores, galleries, hospices, and various other community centers. The choir has also been featured on several radio programs including NPR’s West Coast Live, The California Report, Weekend Edition, KQED, KFOG, KPFA, WFMU, and on PBS television. In 2018 the choir created the San Francisco Leonard Cohen Festival, an annual multi-event celebration to honor the memory, poetry, literature, and music of the late singer, songwriter, author, and poet.