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article imageDavid Elaine Alt blends classical music with jazz Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 15, 2016 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - The shift in socio-economic demographics that has occurred in the City over the past decade has not stopped composer-musician David Elaine Alt from pursuing his creative and artistic endeavors.
While his home base of the Mission District might be undergoing a drastic change — pushing artists out in favor of an IKEA-like complex with a constant flow of consumers to match, he is determined to survive…and thrive.
As part of the artistic community that lives and works at 1890 Bryant in San Francisco's Mission District, Alt has seen lots of change in a brief amount of time. While he admits (almost) 20 years in one of the world's most exciting cities is a short span, to him and others who have dedicated all their efforts to creative endeavors that is a lifetime's worth.
"I came to San Francisco in 1997 and what attracted me was that I was at a point in my life where I wanted something different." Alt grew up in the New York area and had been rooted in the East Coast. "I went to college in Cambridge, and along with earning a technical degree, immersed myself in producing new music and studied curriculum at an established and respected music conservatory in Boston."
"I strongly connected with Jazz as the most important American cultural tradition, but I felt that I didn't even really know what most of America was like. So, I wanted to explore somewhere different. I wanted to be at a place with good art, a music scene but something that was not so expected and taken as granted."
Of course, having friends who migrated out to California helped point the way. Still, as he noted, "It felt like home." Fortunately for Alt, San Francisco is listed among the top ten for "The Best" music conservatory schools in the nation. And, while he had already completed his music education back East, Alt sensed that what San Francisco offered was a place where something perhaps a bit of experimentation in style or composition would be not only allowed but encouraged.
"I am in shock," said surrealist artist Cynthia Tom. "I knew he was brilliant, but didn't know how much. And, he is working full-time as a web engineer, she added David is my neighbor and long-time friend at 1890 Bryant Street Studios."
As someone whose father loved jazz and played it, Cynthia grew up with music. She supports and helps promote the band, Manicato, which often plays a mix of Salsa, Timba, Reggae, Hip Hop and Rock. Founded in 2004, Manicato is a multicultural, socially-conscious band, firmly rooted in the spirit of the indigenous, Latin-MesoAmerican energy that is The Mission District.
Cynthia considers music as part of the artistic experience which is San Francisco. Spots like the Mission and The Fillmore are where music resounds, drawing people to it like no other. The eclectic and multicultural is something that blends in San Francisco. In some ways it always did, and now as the nation and the world face global challenges, eclecticism is only natural to an ever-changing world.
"My favorites are his jazz compositions, Cynthia said. But the classical movie soundtracks David composes are inspired. He is looking to break into the recording industry if anyone out there has any leads, please reach out. So amazing, David is, she said. I'm shaking my head in disbelief."
Alt mentioned that, "These days I am focusing on on composing for film and TV. I can see opportunities out there through my composing for recordings (soundtracks, etc), leading towards the goal of orchestral film scoring.
I did have a concert back in February and hope to get back to that in the next several months." But, Alt is realistic when it comes to making a living and pursuing artistic goals. Putting together a concert or music event takes time, planning and, of course, money.
Alt has put together music for an 11-piece big band, for chamber orchestra, and incorporated approaches from the Hindustani Indian Classical tradition in the context of a Jazz trio.
"When I was young growing up, I was a little upset that I missed Woodstock. Music on the radio is something I grew up with and I did enjoy rock and roll like that of Jimi Hendrix."
But as Alt explained, a musician/composer who wants to pay bills must follow where work is. Playing more than one instrument helps in his composing. And, this ability also encourages eclectic freedom. "My composition for the ensemble alt.musica blends classical sound with infused jazz, a flute, bass-clarinet and English horn." "I have played in lots of bands, he said. But as of lately, I like quieter settings for use of the clarinet."
"2006 was a breakthrough year for me," he said. And, it was then that his eclectic ability really pulled together helping him to not only express himself in new ways musically but to find work.
The balance between work for earning a living and work to compose and release one's creative force can often be frustrating. Yet, Alt like many others understands and carries onward. "I feel as if I am still evolving and have not reached that pinnacle of establishing myself yet."
For more information about musician/composer David Elaine Alt, visit his web site. To hear samples of his compositions visit the David Elaine Alt site at SoundCloud.
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