Articles by Beth

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Hello there,

Thanks for stopping by. A few things to announce including a very exciting commission wherein I’ll be composing for 30 bass clarinets! The piece will be composed by five composers in dedication to legendary clarinetists Harry Sparnaay and Guido Six. It will be premiered at ClarFest 2018 in Ostend, Belgium this July. I hope to then arrange to have it performed in the Bay Area with the bevy of excellent clarinetistry we have around here. If you’ve got any spare change in your pocket you can become a part of commissioning this new work by donating here. Thanks in advance.

Trance Mission is toiling away at a new release in hopes of returning to Europe and the US in the fall. Meanwhile….Stephen Kent and I will be performing our duo version at the ever shiny Red Poppy ArtHouse on Saturday, May 12th, 7:30pm. Tickets are only available at the door that opens at 7pm.

Way in advance….Club Foot Orchestra will be doing a retrospective of our live music to silent film scores at the Castro Theatre on Saturday, September 15 at SF Silent Film Festival.

And closer to now…on June 9th, the as-yet-un-renamed Beth Custer/David James Ensemble (send me your ideas for a band name please!) will be making it’s premiere performance at the legendary Bird & Beckett music series. This is sponsored by the wonderful Jazz in the Neighborhood

…the organization that strives to help musicians garner living wages. Imagine that?I have seen some incredible musicians on this little stage in the back of a great, and I mean great, bookstore in Glen Park. More details as we get closer.

Peace love and harmony, please



I have been collaborating with Cathy Lee Crane for many years. From her doc Pasolini’s Last Words to the Unoccupied Zone: The Impossible Life of Simone Weil, to the experimental On the Line, to the Eighty Mile Beach Red Helicopters video, we’re a team, she calls me ‘her Nino Rota’ ;).

Her latest film, The Manhattan Front, is premiering at the Roxie, February 10th at SFIndie Film Festival. There’s two screenings, February 10 & 14, and I’ll be performing with members of the Dave Len Scott Quartet on the February 10th screening. DLSQ played on much of the soundtrack. Big shout out to my Ithaca musician pals who were filmed playing as the DLSQ, especially Danny Spear and Mark Sammo, who also recorded the singers. It’s a treasure of a film, don’t miss it!



It’s been a minute since I’ve posted….I’m not much of a blaaahger as you can see. Thanks to all of you who’ve attended my concerts this year, without my fans I would not have a career in music, thank you for your continued fandom!

Trance Mission Duo

My last show of the year is in one of Bernard Maybecks gorgeous homes, a sweet Berkeley micro-venue: Saturday December 16th, 3pm, with Clarinet Thing. If you missed our recent sold-out concert at the Hillside Club, this is your chance to hear what we’re up to.

In the new year on January 6th, 7:30, we’ll be presenting playwright/performer Joy Cutler at Red House Speak Easy in her solo show Anatomy Lesson. Joy lives in Philadelphia, this will be her first performance on the west coast of this poignant work.

In January~February I’ll be touring parts of Europe with the ever fabulous musician Stephen Kent. As most of you know, we founded Trance Mission together in ’91. Check my homepage for tour details as they develop.

Happy holidays,



I really had no idea this would occur but…I just received an Emmy award for my score for Mantis Shrimp, an episode of KQED’s fine Deep Look series. Maybe it was the bassoon patch I used? What a thrill to have such a prestigious award, I’m speechless.

For the past year I’ve been working on Water Worship, an oratorio about our most precious resource with live original music and films. It premieres Sunday, June 11th, 4pm, at the Luggage Store Gallery. Performed by The Beth Custer Ensemble, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble string quartet, Dean Santomieri narrating, Bart Hopkin on experimental instruments.  There will be some gorgeous water footage by William Farley , Federico Cusigch, and others. Craig Baldwin will be projecting found footage from his massive archives.

Advance tickets highly recommended!

See you there!

Hey Everyone,
Where would I be without you? I’m in deep gratitude to you all. To mom Jean Huffman who bought me my first clarinet, mail order, the same one I play today! To Lucija Kordic and Alexander Bailey who’ve designed cool media for me for decades, and Anne Hamersky who’s taken gorgeous press photos of all my ensembles. To media peeps Derk Richardson, Joel Davis, Sandy MirandaSedge Thomson, Ton Maas, and countless others running vital media around the globe.To the directors who’ve hired me Cathy Lee Crane, Bill Farley, Joe Goode, Brad Coley, Octavio Solis, Jo Kreiter.…and so many others. To SF Arts Commission who are funding Water Worship and Blue Mountain Center, where I began composing it.

And…..I’m Emmy Nominated. Thank you KQED.

And to all my musician collaborators, and to my great husband Federico Cusigch, love you.
Very special thanks to all my fans. I’m truly nothing without you.

I’m restarting our Red House Speak Easy house concert series again with amazing Rinde Eckert. An amazing musician with a voice like no other, I got to perform with Rinde in the early ’90’s on Gina Leishman‘s lovely Burning Dreams opera in San Diego. Don’t miss this cherished musician in our intimate, acoustically wonderful house concert setting.

Stephen Kent and I will be toiling away on a new CD during the months of October and November. To celebrate our toils, we’ve got another Maybeck Studios gig on October 16th, 3pm. Don’t be square!

I have the premiere of my first foray into composing for orchestra coming up. Thanks to Bernie Weiner, three songs I composed, two with lyrics by Weiner, will be performed by the Mill Valley Philharmonic November 4, 5, 6 in Mill Valley and San Rafael. Check their site for times.

Can you believe I’ve never been to New Orleans? I can’t. I remedied this quandary by putting two plane tickets on a credit card for early October in celebration of my husband’s 65th birthday. If you’d like to buy us a meal or a beignet, a concert ticket or a plane ticket, go here to contribute. Much appreciated.



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