Primary tabs

Dresher | Davel Invented Instrument Duo - Unseen | Unheard

Paul Dresher Ensemble

Paul Dresher Ensemble Dresher | Davel Invented Instrument Duo - Unseen | Unheard

The Dresher | Davel Invented Instrument Duo, formed in 2001 and after many national and international tours, will present of their first full-length concerts in San Francisco. The program includes a world premiere of a new work by Dresher as well as existing Duo repertoire. The instruments were created by Paul Dresher, Daniel Schmidt and the pioneering electronic music inventor Don Buchla. After the concert, the audience will be invited on-stage to play the instruments and interact with the performers.

Performing live on a unique set of huge invented musical instruments, the electro-acoustic duo of acclaimed composer, performer & instrument inventor Paul Dresher and percussionist-extraordinaire Joel Davel consistently generates excitement and wonder! Playing the 15-foot Quadrachord, the 10-foot Hurdy Grande (both invented and built by Dresher and Daniel Schmidt) and Don Buchla’s magical Marimba Lumina, Dresher and Davel create lush textures and rhythmically propulsive grooves that fascinate the ear and the eye. Exploring unique sound-colors and enhanced by live digital looping, this electro-acoustic duo creates complex sonic layers as rich as a full orchestra.

Audiences are sonically immersed and visually engaged by both the sight and sound of these sculptural inventions and by the energetic and imaginative choreography of Dresher and Davel’s physical interaction with the instruments and with one another.

The Dresher/Davel duo has performed to enthusiastic audiences across the US and in Australia. Concerts have been performed at Disney Hall (opening for the LA Philharmonic), Carnegie/Zankel Hall, Bard College, Detroit Institute of Art, Symphony Space, UT Austin, the Bowling Green Festival of New American Music, University of Southern California, University of Maryland, Penn State University, the Sydney Conservatorium and the Canberra International Music Festival in Australia.


World Premiere: Three for Two by Paul Dresher
(2019), with a video created by Naomie Kremer specifically for this concert. Dresher is composing a new work that for the first time combines his two primary concert music inventions, the Quadrachord and the Hurdy Grande, both played Dresher and percussionist Joel Davel, who will also play Don Buchla’s invention, the Marimba Lumina. Both instruments will be tuned in entirely new ways to create new harmonic possibilities for the composition. Painter/video artist Naomie Kremer is creating the video from source video and imagery of the invented instruments. The title is simply a reference to the three instruments played by two performers.

Glimpsed From Afar by Paul Dresher (2006-2016): for two invented instruments —Paul Dresher & Daniel Schmidt’s Quadrachord and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina. The work premiered at the San Francisco Jewish Music Festival in 2006 and continued its evolution until it was recorded in 2016. Its creation and development is indebted to percussionist Joel Davel, whose ideas and performance have been integral to both the composition and performance of the work.

Moving Parts by Paul Dresher (2012-18) – for Hurdy Grande (Dresher & Schmidt’s invention inspired in part by the Hurdy Gurdy - a medieval European folk instrument) and Don Buchla’s Marimba Lumina. The title of the work refers both to its musical form as well as to the unique mechanics of the Hurdy Grande, whose sound is produced largely by the mechanical bowing of it’s seven strings by a motor-drive wooden wheel.

The form of both these compositions is derived in part from such non-classical traditions as jazz and certain world music traditions, reflecting Dresher's musical roots improvised idioms like blues, jazz, and North Indian Classical music. While not sounding like any of these, these works both combine a fixed overall form, a sequence of contrasting structures consisting of multiple live-recorded loops upon which both performers freely improvise.

Out of Thin Air by Joel Davel (2014) for Buchla Lightning
Out of Thin Air draws from early autobiographical sound and music experiences: from my first percussion instruments to my brother’s cassette tape remix of “The Hustle” titled “42 that’s rights”. Included is an excerpt from a piece for choreographer Allyson Greene to commemorate her modern dance life in New York. A varied work, there is an emphasis on the transformation of timbres as a bridge between virtual instrument environments. A note about the technology: Two wands held by the performer are tracked optically from infrared light emanating from their tip. Each wand is tracked independently and therefore each hand is often programmed to perform different functions. Sounds are initiated or altered with pedals, wand button presses, and virtual strikes that vary according to the wands’ x-y position in space.

Paul Dresher
is an internationally active composer noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own coherent and unique personal style that integrates his formative experience with American blues, West African drumming, North Indian classical music and the music of Java and Bali. He pursues many forms of musical expression including experimental opera/music theater, chamber, and orchestral composition, live instrumental electro-acoustic music, musical instrument invention, and scores for theater and dance.

A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2006, he has received commissions from the Library of Congress, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the SF Symphony, Zeitgeist, SF Ballet, Walker Arts Center, and the Seattle Chamber Players. He has performed or had his works performed throughout the world at venues including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Alice Tully Hall, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and the Minnesota Opera.

Percussionist Joel Davel enjoys the diversity of his career, employing his classical training toward his love of adventurous new music, jazz, rock, and electronic music. This includes recording credits with groups led by electronic diva Amy X Neuburg (2 albums), violinist Kaila Flexer (2 albums), jazz guitarist Jack West (4 albums), percussionist William Winant, composer Guillermo Galindo, and guitarist David Tanenbaum. Davel is best known for his work with composer-performer, Paul Dresher. Davel is one-half of the Dresher-Davel Invented Instrument Duo and a long-time member of the Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band, an ensemble that has collaborated directly with dozens of today’s most innovative composers.

Video Artist, is a painter, multi-media artist, and stage designer. Her work has been exhibited widely in the US and abroad. Her video-based set designs include Tristan and Isolde, performed at the Herbst Theater, San Francisco, in 2018, Lucia Berlin Stories, performed by Word for Word Theater Company in San Francisco and Paris, France, in 2018; Alcina, by GF Handel, performed in Acre, Israel by French Baroque orchestra Les Talens Lyriques, in 2016; the world premiere opera The Secret Garden co-commissioned by San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances in 2013; Light Moves, a collaboration with Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, with Paul Dresher’s music, in 2011-12; and Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók, commissioned by the Berkeley Opera, in 2008. In 2016, she completed a 40-minute film, In the Beginning was Desire, with documentary filmmaker David Grubin, for which she conceived and created all the visuals.

Kremer’s work has been exhibited in the US and internationally, and is in collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Berkeley Art Museum, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the US Embassy in Beijing, China. She has taught and lectured widely including at San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts, the Syracuse University program in Florence, Italy, and the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University. She is represented in San Francisco by Modernism Gallery.

  • Venue: ODC Theater
  • Date: Sat June 15, 2019 8:00pm
  • City: San Francisco
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Price Range: $12 to $25
  • Tickets: (415) 863-9834
Additional Dates:
Sun June 16, 2019 3:00pm
ODC Theater

Buy Tickets


Paul Dresher

Three for Two (2019) with a video created by Naomie Kremer

Paul Dresher

Glimpsed From Afar (2006-2016) for two invented instruments

Paul Dresher

Moving Parts 2012-18) – for Hurdy Grande and Marimba Lumina.

Joel Davel

Out of Thin Air (2014) for Buchla Lightning


Paul Dresher

composer and invented electroacoustic and electronic instruments performer

Joel Davel

composer and invented electroacoustic and electronic instruments performer

Workflow history
Revision ID Field name Date Old state Broken handler workflow_node_history.sid By Broken handler workflow_node_history.comment Operations