Women in (New) Music: NOCCO Concert Preview and Q&A with Angelique Poteat

by Maggie Molloy

With the Winter Solstice rapidly approaching, the days are shorter and the nights are colder. Daily temperatures hover just around freezing and the sun sets before most people even leave the office.

It’s been a trying year in more ways than one, and as winter winds blow us straight toward the end of 2016, it’s easy to feel that the world is dark and cold—both literally and figuratively.

noccoBut the North Corner Chamber Orchestra (NOCCO) is combatting that coldness with music that is warm, radiant, and bursting with light. Their annual Winter Solstice Celebration this weekend offers a sonic respite from the cold and dreary December temperatures with performances Sunday at Magnolia United Church of Christ and Monday at the University Christian Church.

The celebration pairs classics by Stravinsky, Respighi, and Bach with a West Coast premiere of a new work by Seattle composer and clarinetist Angelique Poteat. Titled Floral Interactions, the piece is a garden of swirling melodies composed for eight wind players and two percussionists.

And since this is its very first Seattle performance, we asked Poteat to give us a sneak peek at what’s in store:

Second Inversion: How would you describe your compositional style? What are some of your major influences?

angelique-poteatAngelique Poteat: As a performer of a melodic, or linear instrument (clarinet), my music tends to be fairly melodic and very thematically oriented.  There is a great deal of layering of lines, which in turn influences my use of harmony.

I grew up listening to a plethora of musical styles, from country music and rock ‘n roll to church hymns and jazz.  A lot of this has found its way into my music, aside from classical influences like Bartók and Messiaen.  I feel that my music and style is constantly evolving.

 

SI:  What was the inspiration behind Floral Interactions? What does it sound like, and how did you choose this instrumentation?

AP: I wrote Floral Interactions in 2006 for the 21/21 New Music Ensemble at Rice University.  The instrumentation was requested by the ensemble.  My inspiration for the work came from several friends of mine, who at the time were reassessing their relationships with one another.  I wanted to capture some of the emotions involved with feeling like a friend is drifting away because of the introduction of a significant other.  With the exception of the climax, much of the piece is dynamically understated, with swirling, dense textures that are juxtaposed with moments of awkwardness and solitude. The title is a play on Florid, which describes the writing for each instrumental part.

SI: Women are extremely underrepresented in musical leadership roles, and especially in composing.  How has being a woman shaped your experiences in this role?

AP: In a society that promotes ideas like Affirmative Action, extra effort is being made to assure that female composers are given opportunities to have their music recognized.  As a composer in the “minority,” I have felt extra pressure to create music that is significant not only within my gender, but compared to all contemporary classical music that is being written today.

I don’t want to be categorized as a good “female composer,” or programmed as the “token female composer,” but instead thought of as an “outstanding composer,” period.   It is not so easy to cross that gender line, and maybe that means that my music has to be better than better.  I think all women, to some extent, feel that they have to put forth more effort than they should in order to be taken seriously.

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SI: What advice do you have for other women who are fighting to have their music heard?

AP: Writing music is not easy!  Music has a great potential to affect people differently in very strong ways; someone out there will love what you write, and someone out there will hate it.  With that in mind, write what YOU love.  

If you’re writing music for live musicians, remember that you’re writing for people, and put care into writing each part.  Share your music with as many people as possible, and your excitement about it!  In today’s world, you have to be the greatest advocate for your music, especially in the face of adversity.  Your enthusiasm about your music will be contagious, and others who hear and like your music will also fight to have it heard again.

SI: What are you most looking forward to with the NOCCO Solstice Celebration, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?

AP: This weekend’s NOCCO performances will be the first time Floral Interactions will be performed without a conductor!  I’m excited to hear the difference that a more “chamber music” approach to performing the piece will have on how the music is interpreted and coordinated.  I made a few small revisions to the work earlier this year, so we could call this the world premiere of the updated version and, at the very least, the West Coast premiere of the piece.

I love NOCCO’s idea of creating light during the darkest time of the year by sharing warmth and beautiful music, and this program will certainly feature plenty of that!  I’m grateful to be included in the Celebration, and I hope that audiences will feel inspired and moved by the experience.


Performances of NOCCO’s Winter Solstice Celebration are this Sunday, Dec. 18 at 7:30pm at Magnolia United Church of Christ and Monday, Dec.19 at 7:30 at the University Christian Church in Seattle. For tickets and additional information, please click here.

WEST COAST SPOTLIGHT: Carlsbad Music Festival

by Maggie Stapleton

Beer garden, food trucks, adventurous music by the beach? Yes, please, all of it.

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That’s what you’ll get at the Carlsbad Music Festival, the brainchild of Matt McBane: a 3-day summer music festival in his hometown of Carlsbad, California. McBane is no stranger to Second Inversion listeners and blog readers, who have undoubtedly heard his compositions recorded by Build and the Jake Schepps Quintet on our 24/7 stream. He’s twice been featured on our regular “Staff Picks,” blog posts for pieces “imaginary winter” and “On and On and”. This year’s festival is happening this weekend, August 26-28 with over 60 shows!

With an eye toward embracing the entire west coast a bit more, we have a snapshot of our wish-we-could-be-there picks for CMF, whose programming is very well aligned with Second Inversion’s: an eclectic mix of creative and adventurous music ranging from contemporary classical, to indie rock, to world music, to electronic, to jazz, to musicians who work across genres and fall between the cracks.If you’re in the vicinity of Carlsbad, get yourself there over the weekend to catch one of these fantastic performances!

MATT MCBANE AND FRIENDS: Friday, August 26, 7:00-7:30pm

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Festival Founder and composer/violinist Matt McBane and friends perform his critically-acclaimed suite of compositions for bluegrass string band, “Drawn.” concert program and more info

“a natural composer, a fresh voice and, from the evidence of his festival, a first-rate organizer with a broad range of musical interests” -Los Angeles Times


WILD UP perform FUTURE FOLK: Friday, August 26, 8:00-9:15pm

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Modern music collective slash chamber orchestra wild Up creates a communal concert of sound/noise/experience that celebrates old-world ways of living in the modern era. Featuring works by Meredith Monk, Julius Eastman, members of the ensemble and more. concert program and more info

“All the performances, led by Rountree, were exceptional, the ensemble turning on an astonishing stylistic dime.” -Los Angeles Times


LA PERCUSSION QUARTET: Saturday, August 27, 5:00-6:00pmdownload

Grammy-nominated LA Percussion Quartet performs newly commissioned music by Ellen Reid, Daniel Bjarnason, Kevin Volans, and a west-coast premiere by Matt McBane for triangle quartet. concert program and more info

“mesmerizing.., colorful, atmospheric and…supremely melodic music.” -New York Times


HOCKET: Sunday, August 28, 1:00-2:00pm

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LA-based contemporary piano duo HOCKET comprised of composer-pianists Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff, performs recent works written for the group including world premieres by Alexander Elliott Miller and Michael Laurello, plus their arrangements of Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th and Nanou 2, concert program and more info

“Their teamwork was exemplary, their playing was a delight… They not only showed a commitment to the music, but to communicating with each other.” -San Diego Union-Tribune


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Matt McBane

“a natural composer, a fresh voice and, from the evidence of his festival, a first-rate organizer with a broad range of musical interests” -Los Angeles Times

Matt McBane founded the Carlsbad Music Festival in his hometown of Carlsbad in 2004. In addition, he is a composer whose music ranges from visceral rhythms and complex grooves to delicate melodies and rich textures, freely and intuitively incorporating a wide array of influences including: minimalism, avant pop, experimentalism, European classical music, art rock, jazz, film music, fiddle music and electronic music. He is the composer and violinist for his band Build which received widespread critical acclaim for its two albums (Place 2011 and Build 2008) on New Amsterdam Records. In 2015 his 5 movement suite for bluegrass string band “Drawn” was released on the Jake Schepps Quintet’s album “Entwined” which was selected as a top album of the year by Colorado Public Radio. He is currently a Doctoral Fellow at Princeton University.