The Standing Room was started as a personal blog by the pseudonymous Monsieur C— back in 2004, when print style guides still demanded the use of the word “weblog” and there were only a dozen or so blogs about classical music on the Interwebz in total. During the years The Standing Room was active, M. C— appeared on NPR and in other old-school media outlets like the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Symphony magazine, Gramophone, and the Los Angeles and New York Times (albeit obliquely). TSR was consistently included in lists of the web's most influential blogs about music, classical music, and opera. The blog went dormant in 2010.
M. C— was the impish alter ego of Sidney Chen, who moved from New York to San Francisco in 1997. Sidney is a member of Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, currently performing internationally in Monk's music-theater work On Behalf of Nature. In 2012 he sang in the premiere performances of Monk's Realm Variations with the San Francisco Symphony in the orchestra's American Mavericks Festival, which toured to Carnegie Hall. His performance earned him the plaudits of The New Yorker's Alex Ross, who described him as "sound[ing] like a maverick frog."
Sidney is a founding member of The M6, a vocal sextet dedicated to continuing the legacy of Meredith Monk, which has performed at the Whitney Museum, La MaMa ETC and Symphony Space in New York, and appears on the ECM recording of Monk's Songs of Ascension. In 2009 he performed in Carnegie Hall's all-star 45th-anniversary celebration of Terry Riley’s In C, curated by the Kronos Quartet. Since 2000 he has sung with (and now is the artistic advisor for) Volti, a 20-voice ensemble that has the distinction of being the only chorus ever to receive six Adventurous Programming Awards from ASCAP.
Since 2012 he has been highlighting notable contemporary music activity in and around San Francisco as the Bay Area Regional Editor for NewMusicBox, the online publication of New Music USA. And on many days Sidney can be found at his standing desk in the offices of the Kronos Quartet, where he is the intrepid ensemble's artistic administrator, trying to get more engaging and thought-provoking music out into the world.
Next time you're at the San Francisco Opera, look for him at the standing room rail.
[If you need a real bio and/or hi-res photography, please email me.]