“one of the area’s most innovative music showcases”-KPBS

“magnificently enlightening”- Los Angeles Times

"phenomenal" - U-T San Diego

"starry array of new-music specialists." - Alex Ross

“The Carlsbad Music Festival has quickly made a name for itself as one of the best single gatherings of diverse, avant-garde musicians in Southern California.” -San Diego City Beat


Carlsbad Music Festival is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to engage and inspire local, national, and international communities of composers, performers, creators, and concert-goers through world-class performances of adventurous music.

CMF is committed to premiering new works, programming fresh and compelling music, and providing professional opportunities for established and emerging performers. Founded in 2004 by composer Matt McBane, CMF strives to enhance Carlsbad, California as a cultural center, engaging diverse audiences and providing wide accessibility by integrating events within community spaces. 

Programming Philosophy

The Carlsbad Music Festival is both a gathering place for some of the most interesting musicians – and interested audiences – working across genres nationally and internationally, and an event showcasing the broad diversity of talent of local musicians and bringing together the community.

The Mainstage concerts are the ticketed events of the Festival. The Mainstage programming consists of a wide range of national and international musicians working in contemporary classical, indie, world music, jazz, electronic and (most interestingly) unnamed genres, and finds the places where these musical cultures interact. These programs highlight the work of both established masters and give a platform and launching pad to emerging composers and performers. The Mainstage programs showcase the most creative, compelling and thought-provoking music being made today and facilitate collaborations across genres.

The free concerts of the Festival feature creative local musicians from across genres presented in the most accessible way to the most diverse audience possible in a variety of public spaces with a spirit of community-minded openness. The range of musicians spans creative up-and-coming rock bands, DIY instrument builders, folk musicians from a variety of traditions around the world, forward-looking jazz musicians, and much more. These concerts are curated in such a way to allow large audiences to hear as wide a variety of music as possible, and to encourage them to make connections between these musics and rethink their previous assumptions about what music can be, all in a fun, festive environment.

The programming of the Festival also seeks to build awareness of the public spaces of the Village of Carlsbad by creatively reimagining them for a variety of performances. In doing so, the Festival seeks to highlight the Village as a walkable urban environment surrounded by natural beauty and full of potential public gathering spaces.

The adjective that serves as the broad umbrella under which the Festival’s diverse musicians and audiences can come together is ‘adventurous’: it describes both the unifying spirit of the musicians’ approach to creating and the audience’s approach to experiencing.

-Matt McBane, February 2017