New Music Concerts: January 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.”

Program Insert - January 2017 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
racersessions.com

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)

6-8
The Esoterics: KAY: Ulysses Kay Centennial
The Esoterics will celebrate the centennial of African-American Neoclassic composer, conductor, and professor Ulysses Kay.
Fri, 1/6, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church | $15-$25
Sat, 1/7, 8pm, Holy Rosary Catholic Church | $15-$25
Sun, 1/8, 7pm, Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma | $15-$25
theesoterics.org

7
The Sound Ensemble: Life after Y2K
TSE shares 5 pieces written post-2000 from several different schools of composition, including a world premiere by Sarah Bassingthwaighte.
Sat, 1/7, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10 student/senior; $15 general
thesoundensemble.com/tour-dates

10
Meany Center Presents JACK Quartet
JACK Quartet, deemed “superheroes of the new music world,” performs Morton Feldman, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Derek Bermel, Julia Wolfe, & Iannis Xenakis.
Tue, 1/10, 7:30pm, Meany Theatre | $37-$42
meanycenter.org/events-tickets

11
whateverandeveramen: Second Annual Burns Night
w&ea. sings settings of Robert Burns’s texts and traditional drinking songs with an exclusive batch of Naked City’s “Scotch Wha Hae” Ale.
Wed, 1/11, 8pm, Naked City Brewery | $15 (includes a free drink ticket)
whateverchoir.org/burns

14
Chorosynthesis: Empowering Silenced Voices 2.0
A concert of new choral works on issues of social consciousness: technology, the environment, human & women’s rights, universal love, and perspectives on war & terrorism.
Sat, 1/14, 7:30pm, Nickerson Studios | $10 student/senior; $25 general
chorosynthesis.org/events

14
State of Mind
Susan Maughlin Wood and Michaud Savage premiere works for string sextet with the Skyros Quartet, Rose Gear, and Michaud Savage.
Sat, 1/14, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
waywardmusic.org

20
Russian Music of the 1960s
Pianist Dr. Brendan Kinsella & violinist Luke Fitzpatrick showcase elements of serialism & quotations in sonatas of Denisov, Shostakovich, & Schnittke.
Fri, 1/20, 7:30pm, Meany Studio Theatre | $10 student/senior; $20 general
music.washington.edu/events

21
Sumiko Sato: Sakaya Uta
Composer/pianist Sumiko Sato premieres a series of pieces for sextet based on very old and historic recordings of Sakaya Uta (sake-brewing work songs).
Sat, 1/21, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
waywardmusic.org

20/21
Universal Language Project: concrete-lines-fluid-curves
Inspired by a recent trip to Brazil, Chris Stover presents five new compositions for chamber jazz ensemble, spoken word, found sounds, and dancer.
Fri, 1/20, 8pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers | $20
Sat, 1/21, 8pm, Cornish Playhouse – Alhadeff Studio | $20
commontonearts.com/projects/

27
Seattle Symphony: [untitled] 2
An exploration of three Soviet era composers (Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, Ustvolskaya, Karanov) who chart opposing paths during and after the Cold War.
Fri, 1/27, 10pm, Benaroya Hall Grand Lobby | $16
seattlesymphony.org

28
NUMUS Northwest
A day-long event dedicated to the creation, performance, and experience of new music in Seattle featuring performances, panels, workshops.
Sat, 1/28, 9am-10pm, Kerry Hall (Cornish) | $20 (students free)
numusnw.org

20-29
Seattle Chamber Music Society: Winter Festival
SCMS presents iconic 20th century new works on each 2017 Winter Festival performance.
Fri, 1/20, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52 John Corigliano: Violin Sonata
Sat, 1/21, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52 Jennifer Higdon: Piano Trio
Sun, 1/22, 3pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52 Aaron Jay Kernis: Perpetual Chaconne
Fri, 1/27, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52 Steve Reich: Different Trains
Paul Schoenfield: Café Music: Sat, 1/28, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52
John Adams: Hallelujah Junction: Sun, 1/29, 3pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $52
seattlechambermusic.org/concerts/

CONCERT PREVIEW: The John Cage Musicircus

by Maggie Molloy

This Saturday, the circus is coming to town—the Musicircus, that is. Come one, come all for a most unusual evening of art, dance, music, and chaos.

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Created by the avant-garde and always-iconoclastic composer John Cage in 1967, the
Musicircus is more of a “happening” than a traditional classical music concert. The score invites any number of performers to perform any number of pieces (musical or otherwise) simultaneously in the same place.

And this Saturday, Seattle-based percussionist and Musicircus ringmaster Melanie Voytovich has planned a multimedia presentation of this innovative work at Town Hall.

The John Cage Musicircus will feature over 40 musicians, dancers, performance artists, and poets performing pieces written (or inspired) by Cage and his explorations into the avant-garde. Woven in among the chaos are live performances of many of Cage’s best-known works, 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 other works of all styles and artistic disciplines.

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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 circus, gawking at the oddities within. Like much of Cage’s work, the event erases the boundary between performers and audience members, beckoning even the most ordinary among us to run away and join the circus.

And so without further ado, allow me to introduce you to just a few of this weekend’s circus performers:


melanie-voytovichName: Melanie Voytovich

Performing: John Cage’s Third Construction and Composed Improvisation for snare drum

Describe your pieces in one word:
Third Construction: Historic
Composed Improvisation: Exploration

What makes your pieces unique? Cage composed Third Construction in 1941 during his time at Cornish. Through this work (and others in his Construction series), he sought to recreate the effects of tonality and harmonic progression upon traditional aspects of musical form—but using only non-pitched percussion instruments. The result was what Cage called a “micro/macrocosmic structure”: a musical form in which the grouping of units of time was the same on the small and the large scale.

Third Construction calls for four performers and a large assortment of exotic and unorthodox instruments, including a teponaxtle (Aztec log drum), quijadas (jawbone rattle), lion’s roar (a washtub with a small hole through which a rope is noisily pulled), and an assortment of cymbals, shakers, claves, tom-toms, and tin cans. By exploring these otherwise unconventional percussive colors and timbres within a controlled musical structure, Cage creates a work that is endlessly inventive—yet surprisingly unified.

Composed Improvisation for snare drum alone is similarly oxymoronic. Composed in 1987, the piece was composed using chance procedures derived from the I Ching: an ancient Chinese classic text that is commonly used as a divination system. The “score” for Composed Improvisation is literally just two pages of instructions which build the structure to the improvisation (number and duration of sections, use of implements, preparations, etc).


ania-ptasznikName: Ania Ptasznik

Performing: John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s HPSCHD, live coded

Describe your piece in one word: Transparent

What makes your piece unique? In the year when HPSCHD first debuted, computers were in their infancy.

What was extremely complicated to do then is surprisingly simple now. This performance, among other things, is a reflection on the evolution of technology and the changes that have taken place since the work was first created.

Live coding is the act of composing music with computer code. Unlike Ed Kobrin, the original computer programmer behind HPSCHD, one can now create music in real time, on the fly. As I execute functions based the patterns of I Ching hexagrams, the code will be available for everyone to see. I intend to bring the audience into the bare, yet elegant language of the computer while providing a subdued backdrop to a room of human performers. What makes this piece unique, I think, is in the dualities that take place: between head and heart, “high art” and debauchery, visibility and invisibility, and human and machine.


kerry-obrienName: Kerry O’Brien

Performing: Alvin Lucier’s Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra and John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)

Describe your pieces in one word: Shimmering

What Makes Your Pieces Unique? Alvin Lucier’s Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra (1988) is a solo for amplified triangle. Typically heard as part of an orchestra, the triangle is lucky to be struck once or twice each performance. There’s value in this: triangles can teach patience. But the triangle has other lessons to teach. In Silver Streetcar, Lucier instructs a percussionist to examine this instrument thoroughly, discovering the peculiar ways it can clang and quiver, reverberate and sing. With one hand, I’ll strike the triangle, varying the speed, intensity, and location of my striking, while with my other hand, I’ll dampen, mute, and manipulate the triangle to create further variations. As it turns out, there’s a world of complexity inside the shimmer of a triangle. 

Every so often, I’ll take a break from triangle playing to read the first few installments from John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)a mashup of musings that may shimmer with relevance (or shimmer with contradiction) given America’s recent politics. If you listen closely, you might hear some of these musings amidst the Musicircus chaos.


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Name: ilvs strauss

Performing: John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing

Describe Your Piece in One Word: Wordy

What Makes Your Piece Unique? I’ll be using Cage’s text as a starting point for discourse, both literal and physical.

 

 


michaud-savage-2Name: Michaud Savage

Performing: John Cage’s Eight Whiskus, Aria, and 8 Mesostics Re: Merce Cunningham

Describe your pieces in one word: Someantics

What makes your pieces unique? These pieces speak to Cage’s interest in disparity and cohesion, seen realized in three inventive approaches: sketch, collage, and notation.


tom-bakerName: Tom Baker

Performing: The Cage Elegies (original work inspired by Cage)

Describe your piece in one word: Elegiac

What makes your piece unique? The Cage Elegies is a “conversation” between myself and John Cage. The piece uses Cage’s recorded voice as its main material, around which the electric guitar circles and interacts.

It is in three movements, entitled: 1) Nowhere 2) Middle 3) Questions, with improvisations as prelude, interludes, and postlude. Many aleatoric procedures were brought to bear on the composing of this work, including the spoken text and length of all sections. 


jesse-myersName: Jesse Myers

Performing: John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes (for prepared piano)

Describe your piece in one word: Ever-changing

What makes your piece unique? The piano preparation process and sounds in this music are always changing. The music is a process in itself which transports the listener through a series of moods based on Indian aesthetics called ‘rasas.’ This music is alive as the sounds, preparations, music, and process is ever-changing.


bonnie-whitingName: Bonnie Whiting

Performing: John Cage’s Third Construction and 51’15.657″ for a Speaking Percussionist (an original, solo-simultaneous realization of Cage’s 45′ for a Speaker and 27’10.554″ for a Percussionist)

Describe your pieces in one word: Third Construction: Joyous; 51’15.657″ for a Speaking Percussionist: Multiplicity

What makes your pieces unique? Cage’s 45′ for a Speaker and his 27’10.554″ for a Percussionist are vintage pieces: music from the mid-50’s and part of a series of timed works that he enjoyed mixing together and referred to in notes and letters as “the ten thousand things.” A culmination of 14 months of work and study, this version is the first to feature one performer executing both pieces in their entirety.

Cage subjected several of his lectures to chance procedures, and the result is his quirky and imaginative 45′ for a Speaker. Additionally, this particular version of Cage’s 27’10.554″ score is a very faithful realization, focusing on a performer-determined search for most uniquely beautiful and interesting sounds: a fusion of traditional percussion instruments as well as an array of found-objects, non-percussive sounds, and electronic sounds.

This idea of simultaneity: of layering rather than true interpolation is one of the most fascinating branches of Cage’s output. He stumbled upon it in his work with collaborative (and life) partner dancer Merce Cunningham. In some ways, this realization of these pieces is a microcosm of the (later) Musicircus idea, making it a great fit for this event.


stacey-mastrianName: Stacey Mastrian

Performing: John Cage’s Experiences No. 2 for voice, The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs for voice and closed piano, A Chant with Claps for voice and hand claps, and selections from Song Books for voice with or without theatre and electronics

Describe your pieces in one word:  Eclectic

What makes your pieces unique? The first three pieces I will perform come from the 1940s—early in Cage’s output—when the voice appears in a simple and unaltered manner but is paired in unusual ways, whereas the last grouping of pieces spans the artistic and stylistic gamut, employing speaking, singing in various modalities, other noises, and electronics.

Experiences No. 2 (1948), for solo voice to text by e. e. cummings, was originally written for a dance by Merce Cunningham. Cage writes a straightforwardly beautiful melody that is interspersed with measured silences, and the singer can choose a comfortably low key in which to perform the work. This performance will feature nine dancers from Souterre, with world premiere choreography by Eva Stone.

A Chant With Claps (194?) exists only in manuscript form, and C.F. Peters and the John Cage Trust have graciously granted me permission to perform this rarity. This very brief, unpublished work bears the dedication “For Sidney,” which likely refers to ethnomusicologist Sidney Cowell, the wife of Cage’s former teacher, Henry Cowell.

Guitarist Mark Hilliard-Wilson and I will perform a version of The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs (1942), with alliterative, imagery-rich text fragments from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake that describe the infant Isobel; Joyce himself said this passage was inspired by a piece of music. Cage’s piece has a rather conventionally notated melodic line, but it is composed of only three pitches, which gives it a chant-like quality.

Song Books (1970) embrace far more than singing. In this iteration I will be performing Solos for Voice No. 7 (which involves me building an object resembling a wigwam out of toothpicks and tissues), No. 43 (I utilize electronics and improvise a duet with myself), No. 53 (I vocalize in ten different styles and five languages), No. 57 (I must achieve immobility), No. 71 (I write a card with note or sketch in ink), and No. 78 (I take off my shoes and put them back on).


Name: Michael Schell

Performing: John Cage’s Cartridge Music

Describe your piece in one word: Noisy

What makes your piece unique? A milestone of live electronic music and a classic of indeterminate notation, this uncompromising work from 1960 directs the performer(s) to use ceramic phonograph cartridges with various objects other than a conventional stylus. These objects are then “played” by the performers, along with auxiliary sounds created by attaching contact microphones to various objects, the resulting mix being amplified and projected through loudspeakers.

Performers build their score independently using Cage’s graphic pages and transparencies. The result is a sound world built from typically “undesirable” sonorities (hum, white noise, mechanical shuffling), small sounds (sounds of soft amplitude that take on very different characteristics when greatly amplified), and sounds that partake of more conventional meaning (such as toys or standard musical instruments played unconventionally and amplified using contact microphones). What gives the work coherence is the common electromechanical origin of its sound sources, and the consistent, largely non-metric, rhythmic milieu enforced by its unconventional notation and performance directions.

In other words: this is a rare example of an indeterminately-notated, non-improvisational composition that has a recognizable character and always comes out sounding good.


maggie-molloy-headshotName: Maggie Molloy

Performing: John Cage’s Dream and In a Landscape for solo piano, and an original zine titled Diary: How to Read John Cage

Describe your pieces in one word: Translucent

What makes your pieces unique? Dream and In a Landscape are both pretty tame by Cage standards: there are no chance operations, no graphic notations, no amplified cacti, no screws or bolts inside the piano. In fact, each of these pieces is comprised of just a handful of notes and a whole lot of sustain pedal. The melodies drift slowly and freely from one hazy note to the next, with the pedal blurring all of it into a beautifully simple and ethereal dreamscape. And although these pieces are certainly a far cry from most of Cage’s more daring compositions, they are still unmistakably Cagean: the gently meandering melodies evoke his quiet nature, his slow, thoughtful manner of speaking—his utter willingness to lose himself entirely in sound.

If Dream and In a Landscape are explorations of Cage’s character, then my next piece is an exploration of his mind. Diary: How to Read John Cage is a zine I created in response to Cage’s monstrous five-hour art piece, Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse). Written and recorded in the years leading up to Cage’s death, the Diary’s contents range from the trivial details of everyday life all the way to the vast expanse of history, philosophy, and global politics—and all with an idiosyncratic dose of humor and wit. Over the course of eight weeks, I read and listened through Cage’s entire Diary and created my own personal diary tracking the experience. Copies of my John Cage Diary zine will be available free of charge at the Musicircus.


The John Cage Musicircus is Saturday, Nov. 19 from 7-10 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle. Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy will present a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and additional information, please click here.

NEW CONCERT AUDIO: Universal Language Project’s “The Way West”

by Maggie Stapleton

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

Last month, the Universal Language Project took us out of the Pacific Northwest…. and in to the Wild West!

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

This well crafted, western-themed program was presented at Resonance at SOMA Towers on Friday, January 22 and Velocity Dance Center on Saturday, January 23. We’re pleased to share the audio recording of Saturday night’s concert with you. Be sure to mark your calendars for ULP’s next performances on March 11 and 12 featuring SCRAPE!

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

Notes on “Campfire Songs” by Brian Cobb:

I have always been intrigued by the American frontier era. It started with the idea of traveling into unknown lands with a dream of a better life. Although I can never truly understand the hardships of such a journey and the discipline required, I admire the courage and the ambition of these settlers. While much can be debated about the pros and cons of this era in American history, as a composer I am not equipped to argue for or against this period. I just know that other people have come before me and their actions have brought us to our present state. Furthermore, since I reside in Seattle I am unquestionably indebted to their journey.

Campfire Songs can be thought of as a symbolic representation of one night on the pioneer trail. I have assembled a collection of poems by different American authors from different periods. A seventh song, Winter in the Sierras, was commissioned by the Universal Language Project for this performance. The collection, as a whole, is intended to convey a story of hopes, hardships, and ambitions of the pioneers.

The campfire is one remnant from the past that I hold dear in my own life. Before wax cylinders, radio, telephones, television, or the internet, the communication of news and personal experiences often took place around the campfi re. What I fi nd fascinating is how the allure of the fire’s flames feeds the imagination, creates camaraderie between people, and offers a primeval connection to our distant past. Beyond the essential needs of warmth and cooking, the campfi re setting offered a diversion from the day’s travel and a chance for much needed rest before the next day’s journey.

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

Notes on “Railroad” by Tim Carey:

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

My goal in writing “Railroad” was to use the American folk song “I’ve been working on the railroad” as an exploratory vehicle for experimenting with harmonic concepts which I have been wanting to explore for quite a while. I attempted to create a musical space with an open backdrop on which small motives could be presented and heard as singular ideas. The motives are not intended to develop, but instead appear and come to life quickly and vanish before their full realization, as if the listener is staring out the window of a train catching glimpses of the countryside. The piece is structured in four parts as is the original source material. While the themes have been obscured, the form and harmonic content are derived directly from the original song and molded to fi t the desired aesthetic of the piece.

Notes on “There Must Be a Lone Ranger!” by Karen P. Thomas:

A few years ago, in the course of considering my ignominious past – a childhood fi lled with Country & Western music and too much TV – I realized that I rather liked some of that directness and simple imagery. So, as composers are wont to do, I put on my cowboy boots and wrote about it. The result was a song cycle, “Cowboy Songs” – on texts by E. E. Cummings.

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Photo credit: Kimberly Chin

“There Must Be A Lone Ranger!” is a continuation of those earlier cowboy pieces. The sources for the text include 19th century cowboy songs, cowboy poetry and newspaper articles, a poem by e e cummings (“sam was a man”), and a few things I wrote myself. Within it are some of the mythical heroes of childhood: the Lone Ranger, Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid…

Visit our archives for more on-demand, live concert recordings, including more Universal Language Project shows!

Musician credits:

Soprano: Cherie Hughes
Baritone: Michael Monnikendam
Flute: Liz Talbert
Clarinets: Rachel Yoder
Violin: Eric Rynes
Cello: Brad Hawkins
Guitar: Jeff Bowen
Banjo: Michaud Savage
Percussion: Greg Campbell, Melanie Voytovich
Trumpet: Brian Chin
Piano: Kevin Johnson
Conductor: Karen Thomas
Audio Recording: Bill Levey

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: March 25-30

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s spectacular music calendar features Stravinsky, silent films, and a meditation on the art of sound.

Town Music Presents Deviant Septet

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Igor Stravinsky was a bit of a musical deviant. In fact, the 1913 Paris premiere of his avant-garde ballet “Rite of Spring” was so shocking and experimental that it invoked a riot among the audience. And now, over 100 years later, musicians are still paying tribute to this influential composer—in fact, Deviant Septet is committed to doing just that.

Deviant Septet is a contemporary classical music ensemble modelled after Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du Soldat” ensemble, an unusual combination of instruments featuring the soprano and bass voice of nearly every instrument family: violin, bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, and percussion. Specializing in commissioning new work and multimedia performances, Deviant Septet strives to create a repertoire for this distinctive ensemble.

This weekend, Deviant Septet is coming to Seattle to perform Stravinsky’s 1918 “L’Histoire du Soldat” (The Soldier’s Tale), Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 2006 response piece “Catch and Release,” and “The Soldier Dances with Tom Sawyer,” by Stefan Freund.

The performance is this Wednesday, March 25 at Town Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Jakob Pek, Michaud Savage, and Greg Campbell

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Sound, silence, and spirituality are intertwining this Thursday at a unique musical performance exploring expressionism, experimentalism, and improvisation through the works of three innovative musicians.

Jakob Pek is a multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and composer who seeks to redefine our understanding of music while also liberating our traditional musical instruments by presenting them in a new context with pure sound, free-form expressionism, and deliberate silence.

Pek will be joined by Michaud Savage, a guitarist and composer who will present original compositions, arrangements, and improvisations for classical guitar which draw upon various trance practices and Western musical idioms. Percussionist Greg Campbell will also perform a set of solo improvisations.

The performance is this Thursday, March 26 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Music of Remembrance Presents “The Golem”

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Some stories cannot be adequately told with just words alone—and in the case of silent movies, the musical score becomes more important than ever.

Next week, Music of Remembrance is presenting a complete screening of the classic 1920 silent film “The Golem” accompanied by a live performance of Israeli composer Betty Olivero’s beautiful klezmer-infused score. The film tells the story of a rabbi who creates a large clay creature called the Golem and, using sorcery, brings the creature to life to help protect the Jews of Prague from persecution. The program also includes music from “The Dybbuk,” adding to the musical celebration of Jewish identity at a crucial point in early 20th century Germany.

The performance will feature guest conductor Guenter Buchwald from Freiburg, Germany, who specializes in silent film repertoire.

The concert is next Monday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: January 22-27

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s music calendar features everything from blindfolded musicians to Babylonian goddesses!


Pink Martini with the Seattle Symphony

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Portland is known for its unique and diverse music scene—Courtney Love, Elliott Smith, and the Decemberists are just a few Portland natives who come to mind—but nothing is quite like Portland’s Pink Martini.

Pink Martini is a 12-piece band that draws musical inspiration from around the world. With a unique fusion of classical, jazz, and old-fashioned pop influences, the group strives to create beautiful and inclusive music which transcends the boundaries of language, geography, politics, and religion.

This week Pink Martini is coming to our neck of the woods to perform two concerts with the Seattle Symphony. They will be joined by the Von Trapps, a family who is famous for their spot-on sibling harmonies, rich musical arrangements, and multilingual repertoire. Did we mention they’re descendants of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for “The Sound of Music”?

The performance is Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall.


Heather Bentley’s “The Ballad of Ishtar”

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Opera is among the oldest vocal musical forms still prevalent today in Western classical music. However, this weekend Seattle musicians are putting a contemporary spin on this classic art form with composer Heather Bentley’s “The Ballad of Ishtar,” an original electroacoustic, semi-improvised opera which experiments with new sounds, new instruments, and a new story.

The opera responds to our worldwide rape culture crisis through a new musical language. It tells the story Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, war, and sex, who is so disgusted by rape culture that she travels to the underworld and back to discover why humanity deserves any intimate connection at all.

Bringing this story to life is a fabulous cast of Seattle musicians, including singer and clarinetist Beth Fleenor as Ishtar, performance artist okanomodé as Asu Shu-Namir, and singer Jimmie Herrod as the Queen of the Underworld. The instrumental ensemble features saxophonist Ivan Arteaga, violist Heather Bentley, trumpeter Ahamefule J. Oluo, guitarist Trey Gunn, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, and guitarist Michaud Savage. Electronics, amplification, and live processing will be done by composer and sound artist William Hayes.

For a preview of some of the artists, please listen to Heather and Beth’s installment of Second Inversion’s “The Takeover”

 

The opera will be performed this Thursday, Jan. 22, Friday, Jan. 23, and Saturday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.


Music of Remembrance: Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

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Some moments in history are too powerful, to sobering, and too significant to be put into words. Art is simply the only way to fully express the emotional gravity of such moments. Next week, Music of Remembrance will present a free concert honoring the 70th anniversary of a very crucial moment in history: the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

The musical program will feature works by composers whose lives were cut tragically short by Nazi persecution: Hans Krása, Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann, Ilse Weber, Carlo Taube, Robert Dauber, David Beigelman, and Dick Kattenburg. The concert serves as a reminder of their courage and creative spirit even in the face of such violent and catastrophic circumstances.

For a listen back to MOR’s November 2014 concert, take a listen to this Second Inversion broadcast hosted by Mina Miller:

 

The concert is next Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall.


Beth Fleenor’s Workshop Ensemble

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Beth Fleenor’s Workshop Ensemble (WE) is good at listening. In fact, they’re so good at listening that they don’t even need to use their eyes—they choose to perform blindfolded.

WE is a 12-piece project that performs Fleenor’s chamber works, including her “20 Etudes for Blindfolded Musicians,” a series of exercises which help cultivate a deeper sense of ensemble intention and communication by heightening each member’s full body listening and awareness.

Next week, the ensemble will perform “SILT,” a 16-minute sonic meditation which is being released on Bunny Blasto Records. They will also perform a new work for blindfolded musicians.

The performance is next Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: December 18-21

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s concert calendar features marching bands, Mark O’Connor, and many more Northwestern musicians!


 
Seattle Rock Orchestra Performs New Works

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The Pacific Northwest is known for its beautiful mountains, its gorgeous coast, its cool climate, and its commitment to the environment—but it is also known for its rich and unique musical culture, which spans everything from folk to grunge to punk, rock, indie, and even classical.

This Thursday, Seattle Rock Orchestra is honoring the Pacific Northwest’s latest contributions in contemporary music with the third installment in its New Works series. The program features chamber orchestra works by several PNW composers, including Iain Emslie, Willow Goodine, Whitney Lyman, Aaron Otheim, Wes Price, Michaud Savage, and Emily Westman.

The concert will also feature special guest singer Tamara Power-Drutis, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter with a background in indie, folk, classical, and Irish traditional music.

The performance is this Thursday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.


 
MarchFourth Marching Band at the Historic Everett Theater

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A lot of marching bands tend to blend together—the loud, brassy music, the synchronized marching, the ill-fitting uniforms…If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong.

MarchFourth Marching Band is a multidisciplinary music group which combines the classic marching band aesthetic with elements of funk, rock, and jazz. Known as M4 to its fans, the 15- to 20-piece group features percussion corps, brass, funky electric bass, guitar, and even vocals.

The band is known for its DIY ethic. M4 proudly writes and arranges all of its own musical material, designs its own unique marching band costumes, and even creates its own choreography. (Sorry, did I forget to mention that their performances include dancers, stilt walkers, and acrobatics?)

M4 will be marching through Everett this weekend as part of their nationwide tour. They will be performing at the Historic Everett Theater on Friday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.


 
Nat Evans’ “The Lowest Arc”


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Winter solstice is typically never as widely celebrated as summer solstice—but this year Seattle composer Nat Evans is brightening up the darkest day of the year with a unique new outdoor site and time specific sound installation.

The piece, titled “The Lowest Arc,” will be installed this upcoming Sunday for an indeterminate exhibition period at ALL RISE. The piece is written for six speakers, each with music inspired by different natural elements. On this Sunday night only, performers will join in the sound sculpture with custom music boxes that produce an aural translation of the constellations visible from Earth during winter. Evans determined the specific music notes by superimposing the constellations on a traditional musical staff.

This aleatoric performance exploring the limits of sound and space will take place this upcoming Sunday, Dec. 21 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the ALL RISE site located at 1250 Denny Way, Seattle.


 
Mark O’Connor’s “An Appalachian Christmas”

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Grammy award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor is coming home for the holidays this year. Though his multifaceted music career has led him all over the world, this week he is returning to Seattle with his band to share an evening of holiday music from his album, “An Appalachian Christmas.”

“Growing up in the O’Connor musical household, Christmas time was a wondrous mixture of Christmas carols, fiddling, bluegrass and other traditional American music,” said O’Connor. “And that is the spirit of ‘An Appalachian Christmas.’”

The concert is this Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall for the Performing Arts.