Music to Dream By: An Evening with Erin Jorgensen and Cristina Valdés

by Maggie Molloy

Photo by Dave Lichterman.

You’ll find Seattle artist Erin Jorgensen right on the corner of waking and dreaming life, floating above her five-octave marimba and whispering elusive melodies amidst a cloud of sleepy radio snippets and atmospheric static.

Or at least, that’s where you’ll find her this weekend. The Universal Language Project is proud to present Undertones: a concert experience that invites you to dream. The performances, which take place this Friday and Saturday, feature a rare collaboration between Jorgensen and pianist Cristina Valdés, one of today’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music.

Photo by James Holt.

Curated by Seattle new music luminary James Holt, the concert is based on Jorgensen’s weekly podcast series of the same name, which is perhaps best used as a soundtrack for dreaming, staring out the window, or receiving outer space transmissions. The music blends together marimba melodies, improvisation, spoken word, radio scraps, found sounds, and anything else that happens to float through Jorgensen’s dreaming or waking life that week.

“The podcast’s only specificity is its relation to what is happening in my life at the moment,” Jorgensen said. “I often use snippets of things I am obsessed with on the internet, or things I happen to hear on the radio, or musical improvisations I come up with that day or week or right in the moment of recording. It might sound like a slowly drifting change of radio stations or the randomly associated thoughts and patterns that drift through one’s mind as they stare out a window or are in a state between sleep and wakefulness.”

Photo by James Holt.

The atmospheric podcast, which Jorgensen began about a year and a half ago, caught hold of Holt’s ear—and when Common Tone Arts asked him to curate a performance on their Universal Language Project series, all of the pieces came together.

“Erin Jorgensen is one of the most inspiring musicians I know, a longtime friend, and someone with a wholly unique musical voice,” Holt said. “The mix of live performance, improvisation, spoken word, and creatively mixed sound design really blew me away—and when I saw that she could do all of this live, kind of like a one-woman-band, I wanted more people to experience it.”

Jorgensen and Holt worked together to integrate these nebulous musical musings with additional solo piano music by three other composers. The result is an evening of music which seamlessly drifts between (and beyond) Jorgensen’s surreal musical subconscious and Valdés’s ethereal piano performances.

“I love the atmosphere that Erin sets up in her podcasts,” Valdés said, “Where the listener feels almost as if they’re having an out of body experience and is able to see and hear things both close up and from afar.”

Photo by James Holt.

At this weekend’s concerts, Valdés will become a part of that musical atmosphere with her performances of Ryan Brown’s softly twinkling “Ceramics,” Madeleine Cocolas’s interstellar “Static” and “If You Hear Me, I Hear You Back,” and two piano miniatures from Whitney George’s somber Extinction Series, which is comprised of musical obituaries for extinct animals. Though wide-ranging in their musical inspirations, each work connects back with Jorgensen’s original podcasts through a larger musical stream of consciousness.

“Erin has a gift for creating musical worlds that encourage you to retreat into your mind and contemplate ideas, think about the world around you, and ponder why we do and say the things we do and say,” Holt said. “The audience can expect the opportunity to do that during these performances. It will be something beautiful and it will be something you surely haven’t experienced before, but will want to experience again.”

Of course, Jorgensen’s music presents an opportunity to not only look inward, but also far beyond ourselves—to quietly dream into distant galaxies and imagine the space between the stars.

Photo by James Holt.

“‘Outer space’ in this context is more of a poetic metaphor for me,” Jorgensen said. “I like the idea of floating in space or the idea of the undiscovered space around us—“us” being individual humans or the entirety of planet earth.”

Though as Jorgensen points out, humans can’t actually hear anything in outer space, at least not in our traditional understanding of sound.

“I think the actual music of outer space would sound like something humans aren’t able to comprehend yet,” Jorgensen said. “For me personally, outer space music could be tuning in to all the different sounds and thoughts that are happening all over the universe, just for a second.”


Performances of Undertones are this Friday, March 31 at 8pm at Resonance at SOMA Towers and this Saturday, April 1 at 8pm at the Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse. For tickets and more information, please click here.

New Composed Music: March 2017 Seattle * Eastside * Tacoma

SI_button2Second Inversion and the Live Music Project create a monthly calendar featuring contemporary classical, cross-genre, and experimental performances in Seattle, the Eastside, Tacoma, and places in between! 

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Keep an eye out for our this flyer in concert programs and coffee shops around town. Feel free to download, print, and distribute it yourself! If you’d like to be included on this list, submit your event to the Live Music Project at least 6 weeks prior to the event and be sure to tag it with “new music.”


 

Racer Sessions
A weekly showcase of original music with a jam session based on the concepts in the opening presentation.
Every Sunday, 8-10pm, Cafe Racer | FREE

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electronic/electroacoustic music, & more.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
waywardmusic.org (check website for complete listings)

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Utterances
James Falzone and Bonnie Whiting present a seamless evening of original, composed, and improvised music based on text, spoken word, and translation.
Thurs, 3/2, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
waywardmusic.org

4
The Sound Ensemble: From Page to Stage
TSE melds the artistic mediums of art and literature in this concert in which each piece is inspired by texts from different authors.
Sat, 3/4, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

5
sound|counterpoint: The Red Earth Project
Curated by Seattle composer Adam Haws, this program spans centuries and genres with a re-imagining of Bach, tunes from jazz and rock greats, & more.
Sun, 3/5, 4pm, Waterfront Park Community Center, Bainbridge Island | $10-$20

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Second Inversion Presents: Gabriel Kahane
Kahane presents his song cycle Craigslistlieder, Schumann’s Dichterliebe, and songs from previous albums and brand new, unreleased material.
Weds, 3/8, 7:30pm, The Triple Door | $15-$18

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On Stage with KING FM: Seattle Marimba Quartet
SMQ showcases classical favorites and modern marimba repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries plus drumming styles from around the world.
Sat, 3/11, 7:30pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers, Bellevue | $20

11
Seattle Modern Orchestra: Double Portrait
SMO celebrates the centennial of American composer Robert Erickson and the 80th birthday of legendary Seattle trombonist and composer Stuart Dempster.
Sat, 3/11, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10-$25

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Sound of Late: 2000 Moving Parts
Harpist Jennifer Ellis invites the audience to experience the customarily inaudible elements of this grand instrument. Music by Ellis, Andrew Stiefel & more.
Sat, 3/11, 8pm, FLUTTER Studios | $15

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Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra: Hearing Nature
SMCO partners with Seattle Art Museum to trace the natural inspirations of composers of four different time periods, comparing their music to the visual art of their contemporaries.
Fri, 3/17, 8pm, First Free Methodist Church | $15-$20

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Cursive: Tall Wind
Specializing in performing hidden gems of modern classical music, Cursive presents a unique program inspired by the passions and unease of changing seasons.
Thurs, 3/23, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

24-26
Choral Arts Northwest: A Kipling Passion
John Muehleisen uses the passion form to explore how we might find healing in the face of unspeakable tragedy, honoring and bringing voice to veterans and families.
Fri, 3/24, 8pm, Plymouth Church, Seattle | $24-$28
Sat, 3/25, 8pm, Everett First Presbyterian | $24-$28
Sun, 3/26, 2pm, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton | $24-$28

25
Philharmonia Northwest: An Afternoon of PDQ Bach
Philharmonia Northwest presents the West Coast premiere of PDQ Bach’s Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra with pianist Jeffrey Biegel.
Sat, 3/25, 2pm, Benaroya Hall | $20-$30

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Universal Language Project: Undertones
Marimba sounds merge with intimate whispering, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, DIY life philosophy, and beautifully minimal music. Featuring Erin Jorgensen and curated by Jim Holt.
Fri, 3/31, Resonance at SOMA Towers, Bellevue | $15-$20
Sat, 4/1, Cornish Playhouse’s Alhadeff Studio | $15-$25

CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: “The Way West” presented by the Universal Language Project

by Maggie Stapleton

“An event with music, words, and smoke inspired by the optimism and grandeur of the West.”

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Photo Credit: Kimberly Chin

Brian Chin has added something unique and fresh to the already forward-thinking music community in Seattle. The Universal Language Project is an innovative concert series rooted in the commissioning and performance of 21st century music and interdisciplinary collaboration. It turns the traditional classical music concert on its head by presenting the music in informal settings, premiering commissioned music by local composers, and collaborating with other art forms. AND! The experience doesn’t stop when the music ends; the audience is encouraged to mingle with the musicians and composers over a glass of wine afterwards to get a personal, inside scoop into the music.

Last season, ULP gave musical birth to works by Sean Osborn, Wayne Horvitz, and Jovino Santos Neto. (You can listen to them on our live concerts page!) Their new season kicks off this Friday, January 22 at Resonance Hall at SOMA Towers in Bellevue & Saturday, January 23 at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle and features musicians from Inverted Space, the contemporary music ensemble of the University of Washington. The program includes“Campfire Songs” by Brian Cobb (including a commissioned concert overture and a new piece to complete the cycle), “The Lone Ranger,” a theatrical work by Karen Thomas, and the commissioned premiere by young composer Tim Carey.

 

Second Inversion is proud to be a sponsor of this concert series. We’ll see you there on Saturday, January 23 at Velocity Dance Center!