The beginning of June has taken on a certain meaning to the San Francisco Bay Area new music community, and every single one of us would erase that meaning if we could. It’s once again time for the Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival, held every year around this time in memory of one of our own, lost to us in a tragic accident on June 5, 2003.
The eighth annual festival happens this week, and the theme is “Homegrown”, since organizers are taking a break from the out-of-town headliners who’ve graced the event each year up till now.
First up, on Thursday evening June 3rd, dozens of improvisers will convene in a Tag Team Trio Shift at the Luggage Store Gallery. Refereed by Matthew’s close friend John Shiurba, the performers will play continuously, but only three at a time. The Luggage Store Gallery is located at 1007 Market Street near 6th Street in San Francisco, and donations will be accepted at the door — from $6.00 all the way up to any amount the donor desires.
On Saturday, June 5th, the somber date we all remember, the mood shifts to contemporary classicism, and the festival shifts to the other side of the bay. Two precious handwritten scores from Matthew’s notebook — “Wadadaism” (1991) and “Veins” (1995) — will share the program with works by Anthony Braxton, Cornelius Cardew, and James Tenney, all of whom inspired and influenced Matthew. The Bay Area’s renowned sfSound ensemble holds the reins of this concert at 21 Grand, located at 416 25th Street in Oakland. The same $6.00-to-infinity sliding donation scale applies.
All proceeds from the festival benefit the Matthew Sperry Memorial Fund, which is the new music community’s way of caring for Matthew’s surviving family in his absence.