Los Angeles-based percussionist Kristen Klehr tours with Scrap Arts Music, teaches Music Business and Arts Entrepreneurship at Mount St. Mary’s University, owns Produced by BEAR and The Den, and enjoys a multifaceted career path within the music industry.
2019 has been an exciting year for Kristen and you can hear her sound on “Phoenix of Atlantis” by Nadeem Majdalany, as well as “Sekou Andrews & The String Theory,” a recently dropped album of spoken word + contemporary orchestra as a Berlin, Gothenburg, Paris, and LA collective collaboration. Kristen was thrilled to be a featured guest at Marimba + Voice Festival 2019, and most recently was on faculty for Malletlab 2018. She played marimba for the premiere of rock musical “Skullduggery” in Hollywood, drums for rock-soul recording artist Miss Dana James and singer-songwriter guitarist Sonja Midtune, percussion for Grammy-Award winning singer Hila Plitmann, and explorative new music with arts collaborative “Trespass Project,” a dance and visual arts partnership with the Highway Performance Series. You still might find her playing the occasional orchestral percussion gig in Los Angeles or with the brilliant conductorless chamber group One Found Sound up in San Francisco, as well as some drum set and percussion sessions for various pit orchestra musicals in the South Bay come summertime. A few career highlights include performing on the Sahara Stage at Coachella 2019 with Gryffin and at PASIC 2015 with NEXUS. In her spare time she enjoys working on an evolving marimba/voice project, collaborating with other singer-songwriters both in LA and New York. Kristen is proudly endorsed by DREAM Cymbals and Gongs, Vater Drumsticks and Mallets, and Marimba One.
Kristen was classically trained at Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and has studied primarily with Josh Ryan and Joel Smales. Additionally she earned a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Florida State University in 2014, and a continuing education certificate in "Business of Art" from the Los Angeles Center for Cultural Innovation in 2016.
The longer story…
Kristen Klehr was born in Binghamton, New York into a musical home, surrounded by jazz and classical LPs played on repeat by her mother, and 1920-1940s folk/popular tunes played on banjo, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, and guitar by her father. This unique blend of musical influences from her upbringing has greatly shaped her approach to melodic and rhythmic musical interpretations, as well as her thoughts on cultural value within music. She jokes that this is why she’s never been able to settle on playing only in one genre of percussion. Her appreciation of music spans further in playing Brazilian batucada (repique), Trinidad and Tobago steel pan (lead), West African music (Ghanaian gyil and Ewe drumming), and Cuban guaguancó (congas). Her additional influencers include Valerie Naranjo, Michael Spiro, and Dr. John Parks IV. Additionally Kristen is classically trained in voice from Dr. Joanne Uniatowski and Randy Messing, has a heightened awareness to the body and performance, and in 2006 was a national competition winner in modern dance. The physicality of performing comes naturally to her, and this has led her to an interest in musician fitness/wellness integration programs targeted at injury prevention, performance anxiety reduction, and streamlined body performance.
Within the fitness realm, Kristen is a running coach and specialty fitness instructor exclusively for Equinox and ca fitness model and brand ambassador for Respect Your Universe (RYU), a high-end technical apparel company based out of Vancouver, Canada. Her athletic background also includes tennis, basketball, powerlifting, rock climbing, hiking, and cycling, having most recently completed the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and personally raising over $4,000 in an effort to help end AIDS and support the LA LGBT Center.
In addition to performing, Kristen loves expanding upon the immersive performance experience and challenging traditional concepts on ‘what a concert should be' with her LA-based company, Produced by BEAR. She’s been called "relentlessly resourceful" as an “innovator,” “entrepreneur,” and perhaps her favorite: “a professional instigator.” Prior to launching BEAR, she spent seven years as an arts administrative professional helping numerous non-profits launch, expand, thrive, and strengthen their own missions. You can find her fingerprints on ChamberFest Cleveland (Ohio), nief-norf Summer Festival (Greenville, SC), Lev Aronson Legacy Festival (Dallas, TX), Kaleidoscope (Los Angeles, CA), Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (Santa Cruz, CA), Ohio Arts Presenters Network (Columbus, OH), Salastina Music Society (Pasadena, CA), BW PRISM (Berea, OH), Zeltsman Marimba Festival (Lawrence, WI), and the Roberto Ocasio Latin-Jazz Project (Cleveland, OH). Within artist relations and event production, Klehr has worked with The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Percussive Arts Society. Kristen’s passion for arts advocacy and consulting has led to her election into the Emerging Arts Leaders of Los Angeles 2016-2017 Leadership Council, a branch of the nationally acclaimed Americans for the Arts.