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.

NUMUS Northwest: Call for Submissions

numus_logo_textual

NUMUS Northwest is a day-long event dedicated to the creation, performance, and experience of new music in Seattle. This year’s theme is the past, present, and future of contemporary classical music in Seattle.

The call for submissions is now open for workshops, panels, and performances from the Seattle new music community. Please submit your proposal for a session here. You may submit multiple proposals.

The deadline is December 1, 2016 at 5 PM Pacific. The leadership team will review the submissions and announce a schedule in mid-December. Session participants will receive free admission to NUMUS Northwest.

More about NUMUS Northwest

Where: Cornish College of the Arts, Kerry Hall

When: Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 9am-10pm

Who: You! Students. Friends. Colleagues. Musicians. Artists. Creators. People who don’t know they like this kind of music (yet!)

Leadership:

      • Kerry O’Brien (Nief-Norf)
      • Jim Holt (Seattle Symphony)
      • Kevin Clark (New Music USA)
      • Shaya Lyon (Live Music Project)
      • James Falzone (Cornish College of the Arts)
      • Maggie Stapleton (Second Inversion/Classical KING FM)

Why: Inspired by the New Music Gathering, the leadership team (many of whom have attended at least one NMG) has a strong desire to recreate the community-building, collaborative-natured, and artistically-stunning event with a focus on musicians and artists in the Northwest.

Tentative Schedule:
9:00-10:00 Coffee/bagels
10:00-10:15 Opening welcome/video
10:15-11:30 Speed dating
12:00-1:00 Panels/talks/other things (2 tracks)
1:00-2:30 Lunch
2:30-3:00 Mini-concert(s) (PONCHO)
3:15-4:30 Workshops (2 tracks)
4:45-5:15 2 guest speakers
5:15-7:30 Happy hour/dinner
8:00-10:00 Concert (PONCHO)

Have questions? E-mail numusnw@gmail.com! Want updates on NUMUS Northwest? Subscribe here

NEW VIDEO: Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint

by Maggie Stapleton

Continuing our series of “Steve Reich videos around Seattle,” we’re pleased to share Rose Bellini’s performance of Cello Counterpoint at On the Boards!

This is our second of three Steve Reich videos in collaboration with On the Boards Ambassador James Holt, who is presenting a concert dedicated to the music of Steve Reich on Tuesday, February 2 at 8pm:

Counterpoint | Phase – A hypnotic evening of music in a non-traditional setting from the American master of minimalism. 

LINEUP:
Nagoya Marimbas: Erin Jorgensen & Memmi Ochi
Cello Counterpoint: Rose Bellini
New York Counterpoint: Rachel Yoder
Violin Phase: Luke Fitzpatrick/Marcin Pączkowski

Pre-sales for this event are sold out. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

07i_1069 - Version 2_3

Cellist Rose Bellini is an avid performer of a wide variety of music, especially contemporary and experimental music. She regularly performs with classical music ensembles, modern dance companies, bands, and chamber and orchestral groups from Seattle to New York City to San Francisco.

A founding member of mixed-chamber ensembles REDSHIFT and Hotel Elefant, Rose  also regularly appears with the Seattle Modern Orchestra and Seattle Rock Orchestra. Other notable appearances include with the Wordless Music Orchestra, Ensemble Signal, FLUX Quartet, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, East Village Opera Company, Phoenix Ensemble, folk and rock bands, and in venues from ranging from neighborhood bars to Carnegie Hall. 

Rose frequently collaborates with living composers from around the world and often premieres and records new works for cello and for chamber ensemble. A doctoral graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, her primary teachers were Emilio Colón and Janos Starker.

As an arts entrepreneur, Rose has established herself as a resourceful fundraiser and leader in the music and arts community working in development for a variety of organizations. Rose serves on the board of the Switchboard Music Festival in San Francisco, CA.

IMG_5631

Staff & Community Picks: July 15

A weekly rundown of the music our staff and listeners are loving lately! Are you interested in contributing some thoughts on your favorite new music albums? Drop us a line!

download (20)I recently rediscovered one of my (now) favorite piano pieces. I’m not even sure where to begin, it is almost unbelievably good. Stainless Staining by Donnacha Dennehy is the kind of piece that I can just put on repeat and let its relentless, perpetual, rhythmic drive push and pull me through my day, as it becomes a kind of soundtrack to my waking life. There are actually two tracks on this jaw-dropping EP release from Lisa Moore, but I can barely tell you anything about the second track, Reservoir, because I never seem to get to it with track 1 on endless repeat. — by James Holt

 

path-of-miracles-cd-coverEvery year, more than 100,000 people make the 500-mile pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Not all of them are Catholic, and not all of them are looking for a spiritual experience; some just crave adventure. You don’t have to be religious, or even spiritual, to find adventure in Joby Talbot’s “Path of Miracles,” an hour-long piece dedicated to the famous pilgrimage. The seventeen-part harmony, set to text that’s in turns religious, historical, and poetic, is indescribably beautiful. Talbot’s piece is the choral interpretation of a month-long journey filled with excitement, doubt, revelation, fear, and triumph. – by Jill Kimball

 

Instrumental CoverIt’s just not every day that you hear a beatboxing flutist, and beyond that, one who can play circles around some of the best classically trained flutists in the world! Greg Pattillo, joined by cellist Eric Stephenson and bassist Peter Seymour are PROJECT Trio and make music so much fun by breathing, bowing, and plucking new life into classical favorites (Brahms Hungarian Dance No.5 and the Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saens) and writing original tunes for their unusual trio combination, with titles on this disc such as Djangish, BRB, and 99 Mondays. – by Maggie Stapleton