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.

TICKET GIVEAWAY & CONCERT PREVIEW: City Arts Presents Genre Bender

by Maggie Stapleton

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Each year, City Arts pairs artists who work in different media, commissioning them to leap out of their comfort zones to create a unique experience. Genre Bender is a refreshing look at what interdisciplinary art can and should be in the 21st century – diverse, expressive, free, rich, thoughtful, and collaborative. Any one of these ten artists could hold their own for a solo set this Friday and Saturday evening, but the combined powers in these five duos is sure to spark emotion, inspiration, and optimism for the future of art.

Second Inversion is a Genre Bender sponsor this year and we want to give away two tickets (to either night) to a lucky winner! Simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post and let us know which of the 5 duos sounds the most intriguing to you! You can visit us on Facebook or Twitter to enter, too. The winner will be chosen and notified on Thursday, March 3 at 1pm. (Ticket giveaway has now closed – congratulations to our lucky winner, Cam!)

Genre Bender runs this Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm) at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Tickets are $20 in advance $30 at the door. The show is the same both nights, but a party in the lobby will follow the Saturday night performance.

Hear’s a taste of each of the duos by City Arts’ Jonathan Zwickel and Gemma Wilson – follow the links for more details!

Musician/producer Erik Blood + dancer/choreographer Markeith Wiley

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Photo by Megumi Shauna Arai.

Both Wiley and Blood are chameleon-like in their ability to adapt and evolve their output. Both are natural collaborators. Both have honed their own expressive personal style and are adept at drawing out the most expressive efforts in others. To paraphrase Blood, Wiley works with dancers the way Blood works with musicians. – by City Arts’ Jonathan Zwickel

 

Performance artist Alice Gosti + ritualist Timothy White Eagle

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Photo by Megumi Shauna Arai.

The two are preparing a symbolic setting within which they’ll present a new, modern myth about departure and nonattachment that personally involves the audience. – by City Arts’ Jonathan Zwickel

 

Actor/playwright/cellist Justin Huertas + composer/clarinetist/vocalist Beth Fleenor

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Photo by Bruce Clayton Tom.

“At Cornish Playhouse, Fleenor and Huertas will keep themselves as close to the audience as possible, and make the theatre as inviting and comfortable as they can. “We want to share light and space with the audience, and we want them to participate in our music,” Huertas says. Music will feature Fleenor on clarinet, Huertas on cello and the audience on…no one knows yet.” – by City Arts’ Gemma Wilson 

 

Writer/artist Tessa Hulls + performance/visual artist Kyle Loven

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Photo by Megumi Shauna Arai.

“Both Hulls and Loven bring an introspective lyricism and an earnest interest in humanity to their work, liberally sprinkled with a wry sense of humor. When they first met to discuss their collaboration for this year’s Genre Bender, they started with a Venn diagram that just kept overlapping. Last night at the Cloud Room, Hulls and Loven were decked out in matching houndstooth jackets as they talked about bonding over what Hulls called a “curmudgeonly distrust of/despair over technology and what it does to relationships.” At Genre Bender, they’ll jump from that theme into a piece blending ’50s camp with an apocalyptic flavor.” – by City Arts’ Gemma Wilson 

 

Dancer/choreographer Jody Kuehner + actor/solo performer Keira McDonald

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Photo by Megumi Shauna Arai.

“‘Someone falling down the stairs is really funny—unless they die,’ McDonald says. When Kuehner and McDonald first met and began working together, they found a common interest in exploring that intersection of laughter and death, humor and pain: the absurdity that comes from catastrophe. To get things rolling, they told a lot of stories about people dying in tragic ways, of which McDonald says she has many and Kuehner really has just one, about her cat.

“‘We’re all going to die, but we have no idea how or when. It’s the greatest mystery of being alive,” says McDonald.'” – by City Arts’ Gemma Wilson

NEW VIDEOS: Paul D Miller (aka DJ Spooky): Peace Symphony (excerpts)

by Maggie Stapleton

In December 2015, Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and The Nouveau Classical Project presented the world premiere of Miller’s Peace Symphony: 8 Stories at Seattle’s Cornish Playhouse. Second Inversion was able to capture some of this piece, which you can read about below.

“Inspired by the everyday stories of the last remaining survivors of the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the idea behind this work came from Miller’s personal interaction with eight Hibakusha (被爆者 Atomic bomb survivors) on Peace Boat’s 83rd Global Voyage (Peace Boat is an international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment) where Miller recently served as a guest educator and artist-in-residence.  

Hibakusha’s stories highlight the humanitarian consequences of these weapons of mass destruction, educate youth, and help to bring about a nuclear free world.  Miller has sampled the words and stories of Hibakusha to create electronic and acoustic musical portraits that resonate with some of the deepest issues facing modern society.” – Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky)

The stories Miller engages come from several of the last survivors of the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and he takes their tales and weaves together a sound portrait of one of the most powerful moments of the 20th Century.

A few excerpts from an interview between the chair of Cornish College of the Arts with DJ Spooky about Peace Symphony:

Tom Baker: First of all, how in the world do you find the time for all that you do as a creative artist? And secondly, do you find the time to notice the rhythm of the space between things with what must be an incredibly busy life?

​Paul D. Miller: I would say everyone is feeling that they never have enough time in the 21st century. For me, music, art, and literature are all simply reflections of the same creative impulse. It’s a core issue in the 21st Century. Capitalism forces our attention span to be framed by the huge array of commercial advertising that inundate us. I guess you could say that I use my art and compositions to create more time and space to think about all the issues facing us, and distill it all in one form. Music is the language we all speak.

​TB: This new piece, Peace Symphony, draws on a dramatic and profoundly disturbing time in world history. I know that you were artist-in-residence for Peace Boat (an international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment). Was that experience an inspiration for this piece?

​PDM: Japan and Germany took radically different routes after World War 2. Japan has an amazing group of peace activists and so does Germany, but Japan has a very different relationship to its collective memory of the war. I wanted to talk about memory with the survivors to see what could be done with their story. It’s a story we Americans never get a chance to actually hear. That’s what this project bears witness to: it has to be about purple to people shared experiences. Anything else is government propaganda. I try make this as much about humanity as possible.

​TB: Your work encompasses so many disparate pathways, though there always seems to be singular vision at play, even in the midst of intertwined collaboration. How do you reconcile these diverse adventures and creative work into an aesthetic focus?

​PDM: Inter-disciplinary art is the legacy of some of my favorite composers – from John Cage on one hand and Nam June Paik on the other. Aesthetics in the 21st century is one of the most complex forces because it encompasses everything about what it means to be a creative person in this Era. DJ culture is a kind of template because it’s always about searching for new ways to reconsider history. That’s what a good mix does. It gives you a good idea of what is possible.

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Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. His written work has been published by The Village Voice, The Source, and Artforum, among others, and he is the Editor of Origin Magazine. Miller’s work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Miami/Art Basel fair, and many other museums and galleries.

Peace Symphony World Premiere: Q & A with DJ Spooky

by Jill Kimball

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Many musicians are eager to separate their art from current events, whether it’s from a desire not to get entangled or a wish to seem timeless. But Paul D. Miller, better known as DJ Spooky, is eager to do the complete opposite. This year, Miller has chosen to ruminate on some of the most wrenching moments in U.S. history, from Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

The composer, multimedia artist, and trip-hop DJ’s latest project takes on an even more controversial topic: the U.S. government’s decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, a move that killed 120,000 people and effectively ended World War II. Miller’s work, Peace Symphony, weaves together evocative music, historic recordings, and present-day interviews with eight survivors from that day 70 years ago.

Miller’s piece gets its world premiere at Cornish Playhouse this Friday, December 4, at 8pm, where he’ll be joined by musicians from the Nouveau Classical Project. You can buy tickets here for only $20 when you use discount code CORNISH.

This week, the music chair of Cornish College of the Arts caught up with DJ Spooky and asked him a few questions about Peace Symphony. You can read the Q & A below.

Tom Baker: First of all, how in the world do you find the time for all that you do as a creative artist? And secondly, do you find the time to notice the rhythm of the space between things with what must be an incredibly busy life?

​Paul D. Miller: I would say everyone is feeling that they never have enough time in the 21st century. For me, music, art, and literature are all simply reflections of the same creative impulse. It’s a core issue in the 21st Century. Capitalism forces our attention span to be framed by the huge array of commercial advertising that inundate us. I guess you could say that I use my art and compositions to create more time and space to think about all the issues facing us, and distill it all in one form. Music is the language we all speak.

​TB: This new piece, Peace Symphony, draws on a dramatic and profoundly disturbing time in world history. I know that you were artist-in-residence for Peace Boat (an international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment). Was that experience an inspiration for this piece?

​PDM: Japan and Germany took radically different routes after World War 2. Japan has an amazing group of peace activists and so does Germany, but Japan has a very different relationship to its collective memory of the war. I wanted to talk about memory with the survivors to see what could be done with their story. It’s a story we Americans never get a chance to actually hear. That’s what this project bears witness to: it has to be about purple to people shared experiences. Anything else is government propaganda. I try make this as much about humanity as possible.

​TB: Your work encompasses so many disparate pathways, though there always seems to be singular vision at play, even in the midst of intertwined collaboration. How do you reconcile these diverse adventures and creative work into an aesthetic focus?

​PDM: Inter-disciplinary art is the legacy of some of my favorite composers – from John Cage on one hand and Nam June Paik on the other. Aesthetics in the 21st century is one of the most complex forces because it encompasses everything about what it means to be a creative person in this Era. DJ culture is a kind of template because it’s always about searching for new ways to reconsider history. That’s what a good mix does. It gives you a good idea of what is possible.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: March 6-9

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s music calendar features a multitude of musical genres and artistic mediums!

Genre Bender 2015

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This weekend Seattle musicians are bending the rules. They’re bending the rules of functional harmony, they’re bending the rules of performance—in fact, they’re bending the very constructs of the music medium itself. City Arts Magazine’s annual Genre Bender event pairs innovative artists working in different media, inviting them to collaborate with one another to create the ultimate genre-defying performance.

This year’s artistic duos include conceptual artist C. Davida Ingram and composer/multi-instrumentalist Hanna Benn, rapper Raz Simone and multimedia artist Justin Roberts, photographer Steven Miller and actress/singer Sarah Rudinoff, vocalist/poet okanomodé and aerialist Lara Paxton, and last but not least, poet Sarah Galvin and musician/filmmaker/philosopher David Nixon.

Genre Bender 2015 is this Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. A party in the lobby will follow the performance on Saturday evening.

Seattle Rock Orchestra Performs Beck

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Beck shocked audiences around the world when he beat out Beyoncé for the Album of the Year at the Grammys last month. The lowly singer-songwriter who first made it big in 1994 with a song titled “Loser” (you know the one: “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?”) proved that maybe, just maybe, he’s not such a loser after all.

This weekend, Seattle Rock Orchestra is paying tribute to this musical underdog with a retrospective of Beck’s lengthy career. With his 12 studio releases, they definitely have a lot to draw from. From the lo-fi folk releases of “One Foot in the Grave” to the funky party music of “Midnite Vultures” to the pensive ballads of “Sea Change,” Beck has never written the same album twice.

The performance is this Saturday, March 7 at the Moore Theatre. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.

Seattle Composers Alliance’s 2015 Spring Fling

As the winter months melt away and the beautiful blossoms of spring begin to bloom, it’s always nice to get out of the house and go celebrate the new season. And what better way to do it than with an evening of new music?

Next week Seattle Composers Alliance is presenting its 2015 Spring Fling, featuring live music by a wide range of local musicians. From the jazzy jams of Industrial Revolution Trio and the Tim Carey Quartet to the folksongs of Alchymeia and Aslan Rife, this concert has it all! The evening also includes a silent auction and generous door prizes.

The performance is this Monday, March 9 at the Royal Room at 7 p.m.