In the Recording Studio with C.F. Kip Winger: On Our Upcoming CD Release

Kip Winger

C.F. Kip Winger

As the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra gears up for its special 40th Anniversary concert on March 25, 2016, the musicians also eagerly anticipate the forthcoming release of a new album by composer C.F. Kip Winger.

Recorded at Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound, this album will include Winger’s Ghosts (from his acclaimed 2010 collaboration with Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon), as well as his A Parting Grace, and Conversations with Nijinsky. The latter piece will have its performance premiere at the SF Ballet Orchestra’s March 25th anniversary concert. (Performance details:

On his latest project, C.F. Kip Winger had this to say…

A Chance Encounter

Kinga Nijinsky Gaspers and Tamara Nijinski

Kinga Nijinsky Gaspers and Tamara Nijinsky

“I wrote Conversations with Nijinsky while reading several biographies of the legendary dancer. Later, while recording a demo of the piece at Oberlin College, I got a message on Facebook from Kinga Gaspers — the granddaughter of Nijinsky. I immediately took the opportunity to send her the demo, to which she replied, ‘My grandfather would have loved this!’ 

“So, as fate would have it, George Hanson, conductor of Tucson Symphony, emailed me to ask for new music. I sent him the piece and he programmed the 4th Movement of Conversations with Nijinsky into Tucson Symphony’s 2013 season. 

“Well, it turns out that Kinga lives in Tucson, Arizona, so I emailed her to invite her to the performance. She replied, “I’d like to bring my mom…Tamara Nijinsky.” (The daughter of Nijinsky!) 

“So, there I was sitting next to Tamara and Kinga for the performance. It was surreal!” 

In relating her thoughts on the piece, Tamara Nijinsky said,

“Kip Winger has captured my father’s heart and soul. Many have been inspired by Nijinsky in words and dance, but no one, until now, in music. Nijinsky was inspired by music he heard, and now, Kip Winger, reminds us of Nijinsky’s genius, with his work.”

On Working With the SF Ballet Orchestra

“Martin West and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra brilliantly captured the intention of this music with incredible passion and energy. It’s a huge honor that they have recorded my music!” — C.F. Kip Winger

SF Ballet Orchestra in rehearsal hall at Herbst Theatre

SF Ballet Orchestra rehearsing in Bryan Education Studio of the Veterans Memorial Building

And what did the musicians have to say?

Robin Hansen, Violinist

Robin Hansen, Violinist

Robin Hansen — “It was an enriching and rewarding experience for the SF Ballet Orchestra to have the opportunity to play Kip’s pieces in the recording studio. Although we had performed one of the pieces, Ghosts, in previous repertory seasons, Kip worked closely with us from the booth during the recording sessions guiding us and fine-tuning the works much like a choreographer would dancers. We were able to concentrate our attention on our ensemble while enjoying the lush orchestrations in his music.”


On C.F. Kip Winger’s Compositions

Rufus Olivier, Jr., Principal Bassoon

Rufus Olivier, Jr., Principal Bassoon

Rufus Olivier, Jr. — “Kip’s music follows a natural musical line that feels easy to figure out and is a joy to play.”


On ‘Conversations with Nijinsky’

Natalie Parker, Principal Clarinet, performs clarinet cadenza in "Conversations With Nijinsky."

Natalie Parker, Principal Clarinet, performs clarinet cadenza in “Conversations With Nijinsky.”

Natalie Parker — “I really enjoyed working on this project. Conversations with Nijinsky had so much energy– the bookend movements really rollicked, and the middle two sections had some truly beautiful moments.

“What struck me in particular about this piece was that there was much more to it than what was notated on the page. For example, Kip writes a large solo for the clarinet in the last movement, but it’s not marked as a solo. The only notation is that it be played ‘freely.’

“It took some time and thought for me to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with those few lines—how I could most effectively take the notes off the page and bring them to life. For me to do that, I had to almost disregard the specific notes and rhythms and interpret the music in an intuitive, rather than a technical way. I had to see it from my own point of view—as my solo—one that I was making up as I went along, something that had never been written before. I loved it! That, for me, was the most interesting, challenging, rewarding and fun part of the whole experience.”


Bill Klingelhoffer, Horn

Bill Klingelhoffer, Horn

Bill Klingelhoffer — “Kip Winger’s Conversations with Nijinsky was well crafted music and contained several expressive solos beautifully played by principal players in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. The recording sessions went smoothly, monitored by the composer, and the full orchestra parts were exciting to play.” 


Freelance Artist Brenda Tom Vahur reflects on her experience with this project: 

Brenda Tom Vahur, Pianist

Brenda Tom Vahur, Pianist

“As happens so often when I have the opportunity to play with the SF Ballet Orchestra family, I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude. To be in the company of such incredible musicians is very special; that these same musicians are also so warm and welcoming is rare, indeed. I often think, ‘It doesn’t get better than this.’

“Well, apparently it does. Playing with the SF Ballet Orchestra, in a recording session at Skywalker, having a killer piano part in Kip Winger’s Ghosts… it can’t possibly get better than this!” — Brenda Tom Vahur



Thank you Kip, Brenda, Bill, Natalie, Rufus and Robin, for sharing your thoughts and insights! Coming soon: We’ll announce the CD release date with details for where to listen, purchase or download a copy. Until then

Join us on March 25th!

Herbst Theatre

Herbst Theatre

The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra will present its special 40th Anniversary concert on March 25, 2016 in San Francisco’s newly renovated Herbst Theatre.

With a program personally selected by Music Director Martin West to showcase the musicians’ “incredible versatility and depth of talent,” this concert will mark the performance premiere of Conversations with Nijinsky by C.F. Kip Winger, and will include works by Chausson, Moszkowski, and Stravinsky.


For tickets, visit:


Video Flashback to NBC Bay Area Interview with C.F. Kip Winger for “Ghosts,” (Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon)

View more news videos at:

“Danced to C.F. Kip Winger’s dramatic and lyrical, Sibelius-meets-Stravinsky music composed for Wheeldon, and featuring exquisite diaphanous costumes “constructed” by Mark Zappone and company, “Ghosts” is all beauty in motion. The classically trained Winger spent some time as Alice Cooper’s bassist, but one would never know that from this score.” – San Francisco Examiner

2 comments for “In the Recording Studio with C.F. Kip Winger: On Our Upcoming CD Release

  1. deborah
    March 10, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    What a great article. Congrats to Kip for bringing another of his classical visions to fruition (and that experience w/ Nijinski’s daughter and grandaughter… just… wow…) Can’t wait to hear it!

    • March 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks, Deborah! Isn’t that a cool story about Kip actually meeting Nijinski’s family members?! We’re excited about hearing the final recording as well.

Comments are closed.