STAFF PICKS: Friday Faves

Second Inversion hosts share a favorite selection from their weekly playlist. Tune in on Friday, April 14 to hear these pieces and plenty of other new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre!

Valgeir Sigurðsson: “Architecture of Loss: The Crumbling” (Bedroom Community)

Valgeir Sigurðsson’s “Architecture of Loss: The Crumbling” is five minutes of bold, emotive, string-heavy resonance sweetened with silvery piano and sharpened by nearly subliminal scratches and creaks. The music is drawn from the concept of “formation and disintegration,” so the sparse notes and lingering strings serve the theme well. It’s a piece evocative of splintering glaciers: beautiful yet uneasy.
Rachele Hales

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 11m hour today to hear this piece.


Danny Clay: “Two and Six” (Ignition Duo)

Unlike some stuff we play on Second Inversion, Danny Clay’s “Two and Six” is an example of music best experienced in headphones. The interplay of harmonics between the two guitars is more engrossing and intimate in stereo, especially if the audio is piped straight to your brain. So, I advise you to put your cans on and chill out to this introspective conversation between twin electric guitars. Whether you need to focus or relax, this track is an excellent choice. – Seth Tompkins

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 3pm hour today to hear this piece.


Terry Riley: “Venus in ’94″
Performed by Gloria Cheng (Telarc Records)

He’s one of the world’s foremost boundary-bursting minimalists; she’s a Grammy-winning pianist known for championing new music—it’s a match made in musical heaven. The world premiere recording of Terry Riley’s “Venus in ’94” sparkles under Gloria Cheng’s free-spirited fingers, which gracefully soar up, down, and around an utter obstacle course of intricate voicings and rhythms.

Half waltz, half scherzo, the piece is a delicate but deftly virtuosic lesson in extravagant romanticism—or as Riley himself describes it: “A tip of the hat to early Schoenberg, Chopin, and Brazil.”
Maggie Molloy

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 7pm hour today to hear this piece.

New Music Concerts: November 2016 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! 

thvLYmNB

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 drop us a line at least 6 weeks prior to the event.

 

program-insert-november-2016-onesided

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
Check website for complete listings

3
patchtax at Vermillion
patchtax is a viola/saxophone duo based in Boston who explore unconventional performance practices within the realm of classical chamber music.
Thurs, 11/3, 8pm, Vermillion Art Gallery & Bar | Pay-what-you-can

3
Seattle Modern Orchestra: Reflections on Sound and Silence
SMO presents Andrew Waggoner’s Concerto for Piano featuring soloist Gloria Cheng along with works by Wolfgang Rihm & Vykintas Baltakas.
Thurs, 11/3, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10- $25

4
Cornish Presents: Bora Yoon
Korean-American composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Bora Yoon presents audiovisual storytelling through music, movement and sound.
Fri, 11/4, 8pm, Kerry Hall | $10-$20

4
Seattle Composers’ Salon
Composers, performers, & audience gather in a casual setting that allows for experimentation & discussion of finished works & works in progress.
Friday, 11/4, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

7
PLU Symphony Orchestra: Kracht, Copland, Youtz
Svend Rønning premieres a violin concerto by Jerry Kracht. Also on the program: Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
Mon, 11/7, 8pm, Lagerquist Concert Hall, Tacoma | $5-$8 (PLU Students/18 and under free)

11
Seattle Symphony: Sonic Evolution Co-Presented with Earshot Jazz
The Garfield High School Jazz Band & singer Grace Love join SSO in celebrating Quincy Jones & Ernestine Anderson with a world premiere by Kenji Bunch.
Fri, 11/11, 8pm, Benaroya Hall | $21-30

12
Cornish Presents: Inverted Space
Seattle’s Inverted Space Ensemble presents two continuous sets of music from Anthony Braxton and Morton Feldman.
Sat, 11/12, 8pm, Kerry Hall | $10-$20

12
On Stage with Classical KING FM: Multimedia/Art Mashup
Art leaves the gallery and becomes an interactive and musical experience led by artists from Gage Academy and the Skyros Quartet.
Sat, 11/12, 7:30pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers | $25

15
Meany Center for the Performing Arts: Imani Winds
Joined by pianist Fabio Bidini, Imani Winds presents a program of Piazzolla, D’Rivera, Mozart, Valerie Coleman (Imani Winds flutist), and more!
Tue, 11/15, 7:30pm, Meany Hall | $40-$45

17
Music of Today: DXARTS Fall Concert
The Cuong Vu Trio collaborates with UW faculty composers Richard Karpen and Juan Pampin and Vietnamese master musician Nguyễn Thanh Thủy (Six Tones Ensemble).
Thurs, 11/17, 7:30pm, Jones Playhouse | $10-$15

19
John Cage Musicircus
Music & lectures written and influenced by John Cage. Dance inspired by Cage & Cunningham. Live art inspired by the I Ching & chance operations.
Sat, 11/19, 7pm, Town Hall | $5-15 (youth free)

19
Tacoma Symphony Orchestra: Copland and Glass
Saxophonist Amy Dickson presents her transcription of Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No.1. Barber, Copland, and Bernstein round out this all-American program.
Sat, 11/19, 7:30pm, Pantages Theater, Tacoma | $19-80

20
Second City Chamber Series: Looking Back – Looking Forward
A program exploring the great chamber music of the past AND present composed by former SCCS Artistic Directors William Doppmann & Jerry Kracht.
Sun, 11/20, 7:30pm, Great Hall at Annie Wright School, Tacoma | $10-$25 (18 and under free)

CONCERT PREVIEW: Q&A with Andrew Waggoner (Seattle Modern Orchestra)

Seattle Modern Orchestra opens its 2016-17 season with a concert featuring works by three composers who reflect on the past, both personal and cultural, to create an expressive piece of music for today. Both celebrated German composer Wolfgang Rihm and Lithuanian composer Vykintas Baltakas recontextualize ideas from other works in their respective catalogs, with a language of gesture linking us to past traditions.

andrew-waggoner_composer_november-2015

We had the great pleasure of chatting with Andrew Waggoner, the third composer on the program, whose Concerto for Piano will be premiered by Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng:

Second Inversion: How did the collaboration between you, Gloria Cheng, and Seattle Modern Orchestra come about?

gloria_cheng_photo_b

Gloria Cheng. PC: Lefteristphoto.com


Andrew Waggoner:
My relationships to Gloria and to Julia and the SMO are representative of what I love most in my compositional life: the chance to work over many years with small and intersecting groups of close friends who are also beautiful artists. Gloria and I met in 1989 when I went to Los Angeles for concerts with the L.A. Phil. Soon after that we started working together on a range of projects, including two large-scale solo piano pieces I composed for her and the durable, collaborative L.A. series Piano Spheres. She also picked up another piano piece that I had written for myself as a kind of compositional etude and gave its first performances, just because she liked the piece. Everything she does, from her Grammy-winning disk of Stucky, Salonen and Lutoslawski, to the concerto she’s premiering with the SMO, is a labor of love, which is one of the main things I love about her.

I met Julia through Michael Jinsoo Lim. Both Mike and Melia Watras knew Julia well from her time at UDub, and Mike had performed the Scelsi violin concerto with her and the SMO. He suggested that we meet and so we did, and almost immediately started looking for ways to work together. Julia and Mike collaborated on the premiere of my violin concerto with Philharmonia Northwest, another labor of love! The piece had been commissioned by an orchestra in the UK, then had gone begging for four years before Julia picked it up. Once Gloria and I had decided the time was right for a concerto we offered it first to Julia and the SMO and were thrilled when she responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” (this both for the idea of the piece and for the chance to work with Gloria!).

dsc_7764

Julia Tai. PC: Amy Vandergon Photgraphy.

Gloria was also part of the original personnel for our group Open End, with Mike; Melia; my wife, cellist Caroline Stinson; and me, so the Seattle connection is deep and multifaceted.

SI: What does it mean to you to be working with such a young, yet thriving, ensemble here in Seattle on the premiere of your piano concerto?

AW: I’m deeply honored to work with the SMO. Everything about the group, from the scope of its season to the depth of its programming, is unique on the current new music scene. To commit to doing full concerts of large, sinfonietta-scale works, many of which are among the most sophisticated in recent memory, is really remarkable. There’s not a whiff of political convenience or professional grandstanding in anything they do; as a composer one feels safely tucked into a program of complete integrity, one that, at the same time, is vivid, exciting and welcoming to the audience. That the group exists in Seattle and not New York is telling, and a wonderful corrective to the (still weirdly persistent) notion that the East is where it’s at. Not so!

dsc_7681

Seattle Modern Orchestra. PC: Amy Vandergon Photgraphy.

SI: What would be helpful for audiences to know about the piece before hearing it? And what kind of impression do you hope to leave?

AW: Probably the most important thing for the audience to know in advance about the concerto is that it is highly personal; I was well into composing it when it occurred to me that it’s very much a diary piece. This was unintentional, but is certainly an outgrowth both of the depth of my affection for Gloria and her playing, and of my relationship to concerto writing in general: I can’t get anywhere with a concerto until I know who the soloist is, that is, who the instrument is in dramatic terms. I need to hear the instrument’s voice as a character with a whole backstory that defines its expressive personality. Once I have that the piece takes shape fairly quickly, and in this case it became clear that the backstory was in large part mine, and that the piano both gives voice to and comments upon that story over the course of the piece. The piano, then, is a trusted friend with her own emotional response to what is, at least to some degree, a shared history.

The large-scale trajectory of the piece takes the listener from an interlacing of dream- and waking-states, sometimes violently juxtaposed; through an extended rumination on the necessity and challenge of compassion, for others and for oneself, that seems to grow directly from the dream encounters of the first movement; to an extended reminiscence that has a kind of incandescent quality, called Quantum Memoir. While I was deep in the heart of this movement we lost Steven Stucky, one of the strongest, most significant musical voices of the last 40 years, and a very close friend and mentor. Steve, then, impresses himself upon this memoir that seems to be inscribed in pulsating quanta. Exactly how is difficult to say, but I feel him there, and so the movement is dedicated to him.

Both the first and second movements jump off from literary points of reference, Carl Jung’s The Red Book in the first, Whitman’s poem Reconciliation in the second, at the center of which are these lines:
For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near;
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

As for the impression I’d like to leave, it’s fairly simple: I want listeners to have an experience that is both strange and beautiful. Strange in that they feel pulled in a direction, to a place, they would neither have anticipated nor, perhaps, chosen for themselves; beautiful in that when they’re in it they find that they’re happy for it, even if they can’t quite say how or why.

dsc_7290

PC: Amy Vandergon Photgraphy.

SI: Outside of any concert-related activities, what are you looking forward to doing in Seattle while you’re in town?

AW: I’m looking forward to seeing friends and to eating at Poppy! Beyond that, I’ll be there with my son Henry, who came with me the last time I was in town for the violin concerto with Julia and Mike. He and I can’t wait to: visit the aquarium; eat Top Pot doughnuts; and swim in the local pools.

dsc_7653

PC: Amy Vandergon Photgraphy.

SI: What’s next for you this season?

AW: On the near horizon is another piano piece; and a new movement for a six-voice chanson I wrote two seasons ago for the virtuoso vocal collective Ekmeles, based on a poem by my oldest daughter Sally Williams. This coming spring will see the premiere of a new string octet, Ce morceau de tissu, for two string quartets, (inspired by the writing of Fatima Mernissi) commissioned by the Lark Quartet for their 30th anniversary. The first performances will be given by the current and founding Larks, in Weill Hall at Carnegie on May 1st, and next season at the Schubert Club in Saint Paul. After that I’ll spend some quality time writing songs, and get started on a new orchestra piece that will be in some way be constellated around Michelle Alexander’s epic (and shattering) study, The New Jim Crow.

Seattle Modern Orchestra’s season opener is Thursday, November 3 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. For information and tickets, please click here.

From John Cage to Afro-Cuban Jazz: Concerts You Do NOT Want to Miss This Season

by Maggie Molloy

Ahh, fall. The leaves are changing, the rain is sprinkling, the sky is cloudy, and the pumpkin spice marketing is in full swing. Those hot summer days are finally behind us and we’re back to our familiar, cozy, flannel-covered fall in Seattle. After all, October is a time for new beginnings, new adventures, and—most importantly—new music.

bridget-kibbey

Seattle’s 2016-2017 concert season is jam-packed with fresh new music of every shape, style, and structure (or lack thereof). From John Cage to Afro-Cuban jazz,  Astor Piazzolla to Andy Warhol, Benjamin Britten to Brazilian poetry—there is something for everyone. Here are some of our top picks for the season:

On Stage with KING FM: Second Inversion is thrilled to host two concerts this year as part of the second season of On Stage with Classical KING FM! In March, we’ll present the Seattle Marimba Quartet with an eclectic program of classical favorites, modern marimba repertoire, and interactive drumming rhythms drawing from Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and African musical traditions.

Then in May, back by popular demand, we present the Seattle Rock Orchestra Quintet with the mesmerizing Tamara Power-Drutis for a program that transforms pop songs into art songs, reimagining both classic and modern tunes as intimate chamber works for the recital hall. Check out our videos from last season for a sneak-peek of what you can expect.

seattle-rock-orchestra-quintet

Seattle Symphony: Ditch the conventional concert-going experience of strict seating, fancy attire, and three-hour long performances with Seattle Symphony’s [Untitled] concert series. This season you can catch landmark works by Witold Lutosławski (arguably Poland’s most innovative composer since Chopin), drench yourself in the dramatic soundscapes of Polish composer and singer Agata Zubel, explore the wide-ranging musical styles of Soviet era composers, and even enter into the twisted worlds of two of America’s most confounding cultural icons: pop artist Andy Warhol and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.

And speaking of jazz: Seattle Symphony will also co-present their annual Sonic Evolution concert with Earshot Jazz this November. Grace Love and the Garfield High School Jazz Band join the symphony for an evening celebrating two extraordinary Seattle musicians: the incomparable composer and record producer Quincy Jones and the legendary blues singer Ernestine Anderson, both of whom attended Garfield High School.

Untitled Concert

Meany Center for the Performing Arts: Formerly known as the UW World Series, Meany Center is still just as committed as ever to bringing music from around the world to their Seattle stage. In November, they’ll feature the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds quintet, known around the globe for their dynamic playing, culturally conscious programming, and adventurous collaborations. Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Cuban-born jazz saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, and Palestinian-American oud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen are just a few of the composers listed on this program.

In January, the New York-based Jack Quartet presents an evening of composed and improvised music along with visiting artists from the internationally acclaimed Six Tones Ensemble and UW School of Music faculty members Richard Karpen, Juan Pampin, Cuong Vu, and Ted Poor. And if you can’t make it to these concerts, don’t sweat—Second Inversion will be broadcasting them live on our online stream.

imani-winds

John Cage Musicircus: Come one, come all to the John Cage Musicircus this November 19! This multimedia concert “happening” features over over 60 musicians, dancers, performance artists, and poets simultaneously performing pieces from Cage’s expansive body of work, including the Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, In a Landscape for (unprepared) piano, Child of Tree for amplified cactus, Third Construction for unorthodox percussion instruments, Cartridge Music for amplified small sounds, 45’ For A Speaker for spoken voice, and much more!

Performers will be stationed all over Town Hall, with audience members encouraged to explore how the sonic and visual experience shifts as they wander freely throughout the building. Plus, Second Inversion’s own Maggie Molloy will present the pre-concert lecture, perform two piano works, and distribute free copies of her John Cage Diary series as a zine for audience members to take home!

john-cage-musicircusNorth Corner Chamber Orchestra: Celebrate those cozy winter nights with NOCCO’s annual Solstice Celebration, this year featuring the music of Stravinsky, Respighi, Bach, and Seattle composer Angelique Poteat. Then in February for Black History Month, NOCCO performs a program featuring a newly commissioned work by local composer Hanna Brenn and performance artist C. Davida Ingram alongside classics by two Pulitzer Prize-winning African American composers: Scott Joplin and George Walker. And in April, their season wraps up with a brand new world premiere by NOCCO’s principal clarinetist and composer, Sean Osborn, along with well-loved works by Rossini and Haydn.

noccoSeattle Modern Orchestra: These guys are starting their season off with a bang: three new premieres by living composers. First, a U.S. premiere by Lithuanian composer Vykintas Baltakas, then a West Coast premiere by German composer Wolfgang Rihm, followed by a world premiere by American composer Andrew Waggoner featuring Grammy-winning guest pianist Gloria Cheng.

The rest of the season features cutting-edge collaborations with University of Washington’s Solaris Vocal Ensemble and the Paris-based clarinetist Carol Robinson, a world premiere by SMO co-artistic director Jérémy Jolley, the 80th birthday of legendary Seattle trombonist Stuart Dempster, the 90th birthday of renowned Seattle clarinetist and composer William O. “Bill” Smith, and the centennial celebration of American composer Robert Erickson.

gloria-chengUniversal Language Project: ULP is back for another season of interdisciplinary and out-of-the-box collaborations between 21st century musicians and artists of all disciplines. In October: a multi-media work by Marcus Oldham about racial reconciliation (featuring Second Inversion regulars the Skyros Quartet). In January, composer Chris Stover showcases his works for chamber jazz ensemble featuring spoken word, found sounds, and dance inspired by Brazilian poets. Then in March, the season wraps up with a surreal, outer space-inspired performance featuring artist Erin Jorgensen with local musicians, the overtones of her 5-octave marimba merging with intimate whispering and beautifully minimal music in a small stab towards enlightenment.

erin-jorgensenEmerald City Music: Now in its inaugural season, Emerald City Music is on a mission to make classical chamber music accessible to broader audiences in Seattle and Olympia. And they’re not wasting any time: their inaugural season features 45 renowned guest artists from around the world. Each of the concerts offers a uniquely thematic glimpse into the chamber music repertory, featuring classical masterworks and newly composed music alike. Bookended by concerts featuring familiar works by Bach and Beethoven, this year you can also expand your classical music palette with cutting-edge performances of works by the likes of Henri Dutilleux, Thomas Adès, Benjamin Britten, Bohuslav Martinů, Percy Grainger, David Schiff, Per Nørgård, Ryan Francis, Thomas Koppel, and more.

dover-quartetTown Music Series: Curated by Second Inversion Artistic Advisor Joshua Roman, the Town Music Series programs cutting-edge and virtuosic chamber works which bring together the best of old and new classical traditions. Their 2016-2017 season kicks off with cellist Joshua Roman joined by violinist Caroline Goulding for an evening of dynamic duets by Halvorsen, Kodály, and Ravel. Stay tuned for details on the rest of the season!

joshua-romanWayward Music Series: If you’ve got wayward or otherwise unconventional music taste, the Wayward Music Series will keep you satiated all year long. Check their online calendar or subscribe to their newsletter for specifics on upcoming events, which span the new music gamut from contemporary classical to the outer limits of jazz, electroacoustic experiments to explorations of the avant-garde, eccentric instruments to unorthodox sound art, multimedia collaborations and much more.

wayward-music-seriesThese are just a handful of the new music happenings we’re most looking forward to this season—for more up-to-the-minute details on experimental, avant-garde, and otherwise unconventional music events around the Northwest, check out Second Inversion’s full event calendar!

ALBUM REVIEW: “MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano”

by Maggie Molloy

montageAs award season comes to a close, film composers tend to fall out of the limelight—they collect their sparkling Oscars and, presumably, they return to their studios to begin work on their next major motion picture film scores. But what do these famous composers do on their days off from the movie set? What music do they write after the credits stop rolling?

Renowned concert pianist Gloria Cheng asked just that.

Cheng invited six of today’s most prominent film composers to create new music for a relatively unfamiliar medium—solo piano. In doing so, she stripped away the glamorous movie stars, the booming studio orchestra, and all the Hollywood movie magic to reveal who these composers are deep down as their most honest and intimate selves.

(purchase the album here!)

Her new album, titled “Montage: Great Film Composers and the Piano” is a collection of solo piano works by esteemed film composers John Williams, Randy Newman, Bruce Broughton, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, and Don Davis. Collectively, the composers have amassed 72 Oscar nominations and nine wins (so far).

“All of these composers are so well-known for writing film music, but I knew there was an inner composer inside of all of them that just was dying to write music for the sake of writing music,” said Cheng. “That’s what I was curious about—what’s inside of them?”

The result is an album of piano music with subtle cinematic hints and a whole lot of heart.

The album begins with Bruce Broughton’s “Five Pieces for Piano,” a set of short character pieces each with its own distinct personality. At the center of the composition is a set of charming (and sometimes jazzy) variations on a catchy pentatonic theme. The surrounding pieces experiment with dense musical textures, punchy rhythms, energetic runs, and at times, tender lyrical melodies. Needless to say, it shows quite a different musical side of Broughton than you may have heard in his adventurous, wild Western-tinged “Silverado” score.

The second piece is Michael Giacchino’s “Composition 430.” Perhaps best known for his work in movies like “Star Trek” (the 2009 version), “Up,” “Ratatouille,” and a slew of other Pixar films, Giacchino’s solo piano piece captures a similar element of enchanting adventure and whimsical childhood nostalgia.

As one might expect, “The Matrix” film composer Don Davis’s contribution to the album is somewhat more mathematical (and perhaps even metaphysical) in nature. His piece, titled “Surface Tension,” uses a carefully calculated formula as a starting point from which he explores a narrative arc of increasing and decreasing tempo, dynamic, and pitch range.

French composer Alexandre Desplat’s “L’Étreinte” (from his “Trois Études”) shows unmistakable Impressionist influences, with its artfully blended harmonies immersing the listener in a beautiful, dreamlike wash of sound that flows sweetly from beginning to end. It should come as no surprise that Desplat is the composer behind charming, whimsical films like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”

What is perhaps more unexpected is John Williams’s contribution to the album, “Conversations.” With a dizzying number of Oscar nominations (and wins) for movies like “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “E.T.,” and the first three “Harry Potter” films, most listeners would probably expect Williams to spin out some type of catchy, theatrical theme. Instead, the four-movement piano work is something of a concept piece exploring a series of imagined conversations between various historical figures from different eras. The result is every bit as dramatic and idiosyncratic as the film music Williams is known for—but just a little bit jazzier.

The album comes to a close with Randy Newman’s soulful and sincere “Family Album: Homage to Alfred, Emil and Lionel Newman,” a five-movement work written in memory of his famous film composer uncles. Each movement is a short anecdote, a small glimpse into the sparkling glamour and sweet nostalgia of old Hollywood. The pieces match Newman’s trademark style: simple, sweet, and charmingly poignant (and certainly reminiscent of his work in “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and other Pixar films).

And of course, Cheng performs each piece with exceptional imagination and artistry, bringing each character to life with sincerity and technical prowess—and proving that the music of these famous film composers is not just for the movie theatre.