Matt Small's Chamber Ensemble has been heard in performance since 2002, including its 2005 Carnegie Hall debut. Born of the composer's desire to write complex material with a strong improvisatory concept, the quintet (bass, piano, saxophone, clarinet, violin) / sextet (with the addition of drums) blends elements of a modern classical ensemble with those of a flexible jazz/improvisatory group. Paula Dreyer (piano), Kymry Esainko (piano), Mitch Marcus (saxophones), Steve Adams (saxophones), Rachel Condry (clarinet / bass clarinet), Sarah Jo Zaharako (violin), and Micah McClain (drums) are some of the Bay Area's most talented players, assembled uniquely for this project. The Ensemble’s repertoire is comprised of Small’s compositions, many of which can be heard on the group’s two CD’s, On the Verge of Sentiment (2005), and The Royal Collection of Exotic Beasts (2006). Matt Small’s Chamber Ensemble is also a member of Intersection for the Arts’ Incubator Program.

Small had his Carnegie Hall debut as a composer in April 2005, when Matt Small's Chamber Ensemble was chosen to participate in a workshop sponsored by The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and led by renowned trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas. The week long workshop focused on developing the Ensemble's repertoire, expanding the compositional scope of the music, and broadening the improvisational capabilities of the Ensemble. Along with Mr. Douglas, workshop sessions were led by Greg Cohen (bass), Marilyn Crispell (piano), and Andrew Cyrille (drums). The workshop culminated with a public concert in Carnegie's Zankel Hall, in which the Ensemble premiered three, eight-minute works composed by Small.


Steve Adams


Steve Adams composes and plays saxophone and flute. He is a member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, which has be hailed as "one of the most daring ensembles of any instrumentation to emerge in recent years" by Downbeat. Steve can be heard on more than 50 recordings, including 22 with Rova and six as a leader or co-leader for the 9 Winds and Clean Feed labels. Steve received a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2000 and a Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest grant in 1993, and currently teaches at Mills College. He also plays with the Bill Horvitz Band and the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble.


Mitch Marcus


Mitch Marcus is a performer, composer and arranger who has been an integral part of the Bay Area music scene since 1998. In 1999 he founded the Mitch Marcus Quintet (MMQ) and the MMQ + 13 (an 18 piece big band). These groups deliver a unique brand of original music from post-apocalyptic jazz to trance hypnotism, and feature many of Mitch’s extended compositions. In 2004, he was awarded a Subito grant from the American Composer’s Forum for his work with the MMQ + 13. As a composer, his commissions include chamber and orchestral scores for original ballets with Ballet Counterpointe Repertory.

Sarah Jo Zaharako


Sarah Jo Zaharako is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory where she completed degrees in music performance and arts education. Sarah spent two summers at the Tanglewood Music Festival and has performed in Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions, including as part of Matt Small’s Chamber Ensemble. Since moving to the Bay Area, Sarah has incorporated free improvisation, Klezmer, Balkan, jazz, and fiddle music into her performance and teaching repertoire. In 2002, she completed her Mills College where she studied violin with David Abel and improvisation with Fred Frith. She is a cofounder of the band Gojogo and founder of the group Scrappy.


Rachel Condryn

Clarinet / Bass Clarinet

Rachel Condry, clarinetist and composer, has been an advocate and promoter of new music for over a decade. She has premiered multiple works for solo clarinet, clarinet with tape, and clarinet with orchestra, as well as recently commissioning several chamber works. In addition to performing with Matt Small, Rachel is a performing member of the San Francisco Composer's Chamber Orchestra where she is often a featured soloist. Rachel is committed to innovating new music programs that feature local composers, such as “Clarinetist as Rockstar” and “Weapons Pointed Out, Weapons Pointed In.” She is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.



Kymry Esainko


Kymry Esainko has been principal pianist for the Santa Rosa Symphony since 2002, making his solo concerto debut in December 2008. As a vocal and choral accompanist, Kymry has performed in concert halls around the globe. An active jazz musician, Kymry plays piano, celeste and pump organ in Iron & the Albatross, a chamber jazz group that made its SF Jazz Festival debut in March 2008. Kymry graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music with degrees in piano performance and American history. He studied classical piano with Frank Wasko, Peter Takacs, and Sanford Margolis, and jazz piano with Neal Creque and Ed Kelly.



Paula Dreyer


Pianist Paula Dreyer has played all over the world, including engagements with the Santa Rosa and Monterey Symphonies and at Carnegie Hall with Matt Small’s Chamber Ensemble. In addition to working with Small, she is half of Duo Cantando with cellist Kelley Maulbetsch, and performs in the Latin group Potaje, led by Chus Alonso. Paula is a band member for Steve Silver’s legendary show "Beach Blanket Babylon.” Paula is on faculty at San Francisco’s Community Music Center, she directs a private piano studio, and is the author of the instructional book For the Aspiring Pianist. M.A., SF State; B.A., McGill University.

Micah McClain


A student of drumming for over 20 years and a teacher for over 15, Micah has performed with artists representing a rich cross-section of musical traditions - jazz luminaries Red Rodney, David Baker and James Moody, MTV favorites Oh My God, traditional Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Ugandan, Ghanaian, and Native American ensembles, the rockabilly circus music of The Kehoe Nation, and bass clarinet quartet Edmund Welles. His current projects include the Terrence Brewer Quintet, Stanley, Project Pimento, Water Babies, and all of Matt Small’s current ensemble projects. Micah attended Indiana University, where he studied with Kenny Aronoff and David Baker.