Dan Cantrell is an Emmy award winning composer and multi-instrumentalist known for his innovative film scoring approach, and his virtuosic abilities on the accordion, piano and musical saw.
“Hauntingly beautiful…quirky and energetic” says the San Francisco Bay Guardian. His extensive scoring catalogue spans a wide range of emotion and style.
Dan’s compositions for film and television have earned him numerous awards including an Emmy Award for KQED’s Home-Front, a Golden Gate award for the soundtrack to the documentary Divided Loyalties, and an Annie nomination for his work on three seasons of Cartoon Network’s the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
His Orchestral music was recently featured by the Oakland Symphony, and his chamber music was performed at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the arts, and in Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Dan also recently composed a suite of choral music performed by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir as part of their yearly concert series.
Dan received the Gerbode grant to create the Rootabaga Opera, (a multi-media fire opera setting of Carl Sandberg’s classic American fairy tales) as well as the MAP grant to create Musical Fortunes, informed by Klezmer and Romani music, and performed by Kitka Women’s vocal ensemble.
Dan is appreciated by directors and collaborators for his collection of odd instruments from around the world, his love for the idiosyncratic and flawed beauty found in live acoustic performance, his exploration of haunting and mysterious ambient sound textures, and a proclivity for experimentation with arcane recording techniques. His resulting compositional artistry supports hundreds of cinematic works and performances.
A impulsive decision in his teenage years lead him to buy an accordion in a thrift store in Hemet, California. From that fated day, he pursued the instrument, learning in schools, music camps and eventually traveling to Eastern Europe to learn from Bulgarian Macedonian, and Turkish Romani masters.
Dan has now emerged as one of the most well known living American accordionists. His unique sound can be heard on the albums of Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, and Beats Antique, in Major Motion Pictures such as Mean Girls, and The Tiger and the Snow.
Recently a featured soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Dan performed with the Oakland Symphony, and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, gigged and collaborated with Danny Elfman, Bono, Joan Baez, Anoushka Shankhar, the Klezmatics, and Angelo Moore of Fishbone.
Dan has also collaborated extensively within the medium of dance. He has composed and collaborated with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, San Francisco based ODC dance, Ballet Afzaneh, FACTSF, his wife Elizabeth Strong, UltraGypsy belly dance, as well as international touring shows such as Bellydance Superstars, and Bellydance Evolution. He has created innovative dance shows such as Waxing Cinematic (A two act musical dance drama integrating shadow puppetry and projections), The Cabbage Sellers of Haities (a dance based theatrical musical based on Diaspora culture in 1920’s Greece in the emergence of Rembetico music) Miriam’s Well, and Madre (a theatrical setting of music and dance from Ladino roots). Dan’s music can also be heard accompanying individual choreographers and performers such as Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Zoe Jaques, Miriam Perez, Mardi Love, Mira Betz, and Samantha Emanuel on stage and in film.
Dan Cantrell is an Emmy award winning composer known for his innovative and evocative film and theatre scoring approach, as well as his virtuosic playing abilities on the accordion, piano and musical saw. He holds a BFA degree from CalArts where he majored in Composition and Piano performance. Dan is a self taught master of the accordion, excelling at Balkan, Romani, Eastern European, and Klezmer styles. In recent years, Dan has performed and recorded with Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom, Beats Antique, Bono, Danny Elfman, members of the Klezmatics and Fishbone. Dan’s broad ranging musical portfolio, including compositions for video games, cartoons, film, television, web broadcast, and self produced albums can be heard at www.bellowhead.com