VIDEO PREMIERE: Valencia by Caroline Shaw feat. Jasper Quartet

Fact: the Valencia orange was hybridized in Santa Ana, California in the mid-1800s and has survived through the decades. Whether you enjoy it soccer practice style in wedges or with slightly orange-tinted and moistened fingers after peeling the whole thing, the sweet flesh is a refreshing treat.

Fast-forward to 2017… we have a new interpretation of this fruit to enjoy, also tinged with a Valencia orange hue:

Cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel of the Jasper Quartet says, “the vibrancy of Caroline Shaw’s “Valencia” is both an evocative representation of a humble orange and a stunning example of the brilliant compositions on Unbound, releasing March 17, 2017. The Jasper String Quartet is delighted to present the definitive recordings of these 7 new remarkable pieces. Packed with energy and brilliance, ‘Valencia’ immediately piques the listener’s imagination.”

Unbound is co-produced by Sono Luminus and New Amsterdam. You can pre-order this March 17 release here.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Liquid Voices by Melia Watras presented with Sono Luminus

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photo: Michelle Lewis-Smith

Melia Watras: Violist, Chamber Musician, Composer, Professor of Viola, Sono Luminus Recording Artist, Chair of Strings at the University of Washington. And to top it all off? One of the nicest people you could possibly meet.

Second Inversion has had the opportunity to review her album Ispirare, film a video with her and Michael Jinsoo Lim in our studios, host the two of them on The Takeover, and now we’re thrilled to premiere the video for Liquid Voices, a piece from her upcoming album 26 to be released on Sono Luminus on January 27, 2017.

Melia Watras wrote Liquid Voices in 2013, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s short story, The Fascination of the Pool. Watras was taken with the story’s fluidity, imagery and depth, which helped shape the structure and basic concept for the piece: voices floating on top of each other. Liquid Voices was recorded by Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin and Melia Watras, viola and this video was created by Ha Na Lee.


If you’re in the Seattle area, take note that Melia’s 26 album release show will be on Friday, February 24 in Brechemin Auditorium (University of Washington School of Music) at 7:30pm. The program includes selections from 26, a video presentation, and commentary from the artist.

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VIDEO PREMIERE: Ken Thomson’s “Restless” featuring Ashley Bathgate and Karl Larson

On Friday, October 28 on Cantaloupe Music/Naxos releases Composer/Bang on a Can All-Star Ken Thomson’s new album, Restlessfeaturing cellist Ashley Bathgate and pianist Karl Larson performing two “vinyl-side-length pieces,” Restless for cello and piano and Me Vs  for solo piano.

We’re thrilled to premiere this video, by created Ken, Ashley, and Karl, giving you not only an earshot of the music, but great insight into the inspiration behind the music.

This primarily vinyl release harkens back to the classic approach of listening to art music, encouraging one “to sit down and listen to something for 20 minutes at a time,” explains Ken, though the album will also be available digitally.

We highly recommend throwing a listening party for this album which portrays Ken’s notorious difficulty (“It’s the kind of thing that pianists have looked at me and said, OMG you have to be kidding me!” – Ken on Me Vs.) and showcases “a major addition to the repertoire,” the unanimous comment they’ve received about Restless. Enjoy, and pre-order your copy today!

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VIDEO PREMIERE: Northwestern University Cello Ensemble presented by Sono Luminus

by Maggie Molloy

To many people, the cello is the most human of all musical instruments. Similar in range and timbre to the human voice and held closely against one’s body, the cello is known for its rich, warm tone and deeply intimate, expressive musical voice.

But the Northwestern University Cello Ensemble takes that analogy one step further: their new album Shadow, Echo, Memory on Sono Luminus features an entire choir of cellos performing contemporary works arranged and written for cello ensemble—some of which were originally conceived as vocal compositions.

In anticipation of the new album, which is out July 29 and available for pre-order now, we’re thrilled to present the premiere of the ensemble’s brand new video for composer Zachary Wadsworth’s mysterious and ethereal “Three Lacquer Prints”:

The original choral composition takes its lyrics from Amy Lowell’s Lacquer Prints: a series of poems inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Like Lowell’s poems, Wadsworth’s musical setting paints a picture of these printed scenes, with each movement wordlessly conveying its own vibrant and dynamic musical ideas.

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Shadow, Echo, Memory is the debut album of the NU Cello Ensemble, a group comprised of current and former cello students at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. Led by cello professor Hans Jørgen Jensen, the group performs and records works by classical and contemporary composers.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Heyr þú oss himnum á by Anna Thorvaldsdottir (Skylark Vocal Ensemble)

by Maggie Stapleton
8865168Skylark is a professional chamber choir of world-class musicians with a passion for small ensemble performance and their new album, Crossing Over, demonstrates a strong dedication to music composed in the 20th and 21st centuries.

To celebrate its March 25 release on Sono Luminus, we’re excited to present the video premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s gorgeous, evocative, and other-worldly setting of an ancient Icelandic psalm: Heyr þú oss himnum á. 


Skylark: Crossing Over 
Matthew Guard, Skylark Artistic Director
[1] Elegy by Daniel Elder (b. 1986) [4:16]
[2-9] Butterfly Dreams by John Tavener (1944-2013) [12:13]
[10] Otche Nash by Nicolai Kedrov (1871-1940) [2:03]
[11] Requiem by Jón Leifs (1899-1968) [4:41]
[12] Heliocentric Meditation by Robert Vuichard (b.1985) [9:12]
[13-15] Carols of Death by William Schuman (1910-1992) [9:42]
[16] Heyr þú oss himnum á by Anna Thorvaldsdottir (b. 1977) [4:27]
[17] Funeral Ikos by John Tavener [5:55]

Pre-Order the album here.

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Photo: artsatl.com

Skylark is a premiere a cappella vocal ensemble of leading American vocal soloists based in Atlanta and Boston. Formed in 2011 by Artistic Director Matthew Guard, Skylark has been described as “a gem… soloists who come together to create a dynamic and inspiring whole” (ArtsATL). Skylark strives to set the standard for innovative, engaging, well-researched, and dramatically presented programs that re-define the choral experience for audiences and singers alike. Since its founding five years ago, Skylark has branched out to perform its innovative programs in museums, concert halls, and churches in six states. In 2015, Skylark became one of the only chamber choirs in the U.S. to successfully perform Francis Poulenc’s Figure Humaine. In 2016, Skylark will make its Spivey Hall debut with a chamber performance of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil. Skylark Artists have performed with other internationally renowned groups including Blue Heron, The Handel & Haydn Society, Lorelei, The Pheonix Chorale, Sante Fe Desert Chorale, Seraphic Fire, Trinity Wall Street and the Yale Choral Artists. A not-for-profit entity, Skylark also performs educational outreach programs with high school students in Atlanta and Boston and across the U.S. during its concert tours.

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Photo: Saga Sigurdardottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.

Anna’s music is frequently performed internationally, and has been featured at several major venues and music festivals such as Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, the Composer Portraits Series at NYC’s Miller Theatre, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Klangspuren Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions – most notably, Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, and The New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer Award.

Some of the orchestras and ensembles that Anna has worked with include International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), BIT20, Musiques Nouvelles, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Yarn/Wire, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the CAPUT Ensemble, the Oslo Philharmonic, and Either/Or Ensemble.

Anna holds a PhD from the University of California in San Diego.