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Carla Kihlstedt studied violin at the Peabody Institute and the Oberlin Conservatory. While a student, she performed as soloist with many orchestras internationally, winning numerous competitions, including the Menuhin International Violin Competition.

Kihlstedt moved to San Francisco in 1994 to pursue her growing interest in contemporary music, composition and improvisation. She has worked with John Zorn, Roscoe Mitchell, Eugene Chadbourne and Earplay, and has contributed to recordings of Tom Waits, Ben Goldberg, and the Grassy Knoll. She has appeared twice on Philip Glass' series Musicat the Anthology in New York City.

A member of "tin hat trio", her talents both as a musician and visual artist are featured on the band's new release Memory is an Elephant (Sony/Angel), for which she did the cover art. She performs in Bay Area bands Charming Hostess and Sleepytime Guerilla Museum, and is a regular collaborator with choreographer Jo Kreiter and Flyaway Productions.

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