A Mouthful of Forevers: An Interview with Gregg Kallor

by Maggie Molloy

Composer and pianist Gregg Kallor is used to being on stage during the premiere of most of his compositions—but at the Town Music season finale last night, he watched from the audience as Joshua Roman led members of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras in the world premiere performance of his new string orchestral work, A Mouthful of Forevers.

Based in New York, Kallor’s music fuses elements of classical and jazz to create a deeply personal musical language. We caught up with him during the dress rehearsal of his new piece to talk about music, poetry, and his new world premiere.

 

Second Inversion: What was it like hearing A Mouthful of Forevers performed for the first time?

Gregg Kallor: Exhilarating, nerve-wracking, gratifying, exciting—it was amazing. This is actually the first piece of mine that I have not been a part of the premiere of (as a performer or conductor).  It’s a different experience to sit in the audience and listen to it—but I couldn’t ask for a better advocate than Joshua Roman. It was so beautiful to watch these musicians whom I’ve never met all digging into this piece that I wrote. They’re all bringing their experience and their ideas. They really took it on as their own, and there’s no greater feeling than that.

SI: How would you describe the sound of this piece?

GK: I wanted to write something both lithe and lush—evocative vignettes with the grooving rhythms and shifting moods that Joshua navigates so beautifully.

SI: What was the inspiration for this piece?

GK: There’s an incredible poet, her name is Clementine von Radics, and she wrote a poem called “Mouthful of Forevers”; it’s also the title of a collection of poems that she published. It’s exquisite—it’s this heartbreaking, beautiful love poem and it’s talking about how both people have come into it with baggage and scars, but that makes the miracle of them finding each other that much more potent. It’s just beautiful. Her language is so honest and direct—there are no filters. I’m struck by a lot of her poetry—I’ve read that book ten times, but that poem in particular just really got to me and it was the inspiration for this piece.

SI: What was it like collaborating with Joshua Roman on this premiere?

GK: Joshua is one of the best musicians I’ve ever met. He’s extraordinary as a player, he’s a fantastic composer—now I’m seeing him conducting and it’s amazing. He’s just an extraordinary musician and a great, great friend, and I’m so honored and lucky that he’s championing my music.

Westerlies Go West: Tonight at the Royal Room!

by Maggie Molloy

Photo by Sasha Arutyunova.

The Westerlies are back in the Northwest this week, coming home with new sounds and brand new music to premiere tonight at the Royal Room in Columbia City.

Far from your typical brass band, the Seattle-bred, New York-based quartet is known on both coasts for their bold artistry, impeccable finesse, eclectic musical interpretations, and remarkable versatility. Together, they’ve cultivated an expansive brass quartet repertoire featuring over 50 original compositions as well as adaptations of composers as diverse and wide-ranging as Ives, Ellington, Bartók, Ligeti, and many more.

Comprised of Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler on trumpet with Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone, the Westerlies grew up together playing music in Seattle under the mentorship of Wayne Horvitz—making their homecoming performance all the more special, as Horvitz is the co-founder and music programmer of the Royal Room.

The Westerlies performing with Wayne Horvitz at the Royal Room. Photo by Daniel Sheehan.

Tonight, you can expect to hear a little jazz, a little classical, some folk, roots, blues, and chamber influences—but no matter what the Westerlies play, the one element that remains constant across all of their music is the warmth, camaraderie, charisma, and humor of four longtime friends.

“Whatever ‘sound’ the Westerlies have stumbled upon is the result of four friends channeling these diverse interests through warm air, buzzing lips and conical brass tubes—with a lot of love and saliva in there too,” said Andy Clausen.

For a sneak preview, check out our in-studio videos of the guys performing works by Charles Ives, Andy Clausen, and Wayne Horvitz:


The Westerlies perform at the Royal Room Thursday, June 15 at 8pm. For tickets and additional information, please click here.

Second Inversion at the Northwest Folklife Festival

by Maggie Molloy

For over 40 years the annual Northwest Folklife Festival has served as a community celebration of local music and art at Seattle Center. Second Inversion is proud to be a part of that community, and is committed to showcasing vibrant and adventurous new music landscapes from all over the Pacific Northwest and far beyond.

So this Friday, we’re teaming up with Classical KING FM to show off some of our favorite local new music talents in our third annual KING FM and Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Join us at the Center Theatre on Friday, May 26 at 8pm for a triple billing featuring the Ecco Chamber Ensemble, TangleTown Trio, and the Skyros Quartet. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store:

The Ecco Chamber Ensemble builds concerts around the intersection of art and social change. Comprised of soprano Stacey Mastrian, flutist Sarah Bassingthwaighte, and guitarist Mark Hilliard Wilson, the group programs classical music from around the world and across history which sheds light on issues of our time and provokes us to consider our common humanity.


TangleTown Trio specializes in classical Americana; music inspired by the many unique genres of American music, including jazz, folk, and classic musical theatre. Comprised of mezzo-soprano Sarah Mattox, violinist Jo Nardolillo, and pianist Judith Cohen, TangleTown is the happy outgrowth of three friends, all enjoying successful solo careers, coming together to create something truly extraordinary.


The Skyros Quartet is known for their innovative and interactive approach to classical music both old and new. Comprised of violinists Sarah Pizzichemi and James Moat, violist Justin Kurys, and cellist Willie Braun, the quartet performs, teaches, and leads community events all over the U.S. and Canada. Passionate about the future of music, Skyros regularly performs new works by living composers, and is back by popular demand after having performed in our Second Inversion Showcase at the 2016 Folklife Festival.


KING FM and Second Inversion’s Folklife Showcase is Friday, May 26 at 8pm at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. For more information on the festival, 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

VIDEO PREMIERE OF THE WESTERLIES’ “SWEETER THAN THE DAY”

by Maggie Stapleton

Hello, world.  Do you know The Westerlies?  Here’s a warm introduction, if not.  They’re a brass quartet based in New York, but all four musicians are Seattle natives and longtime friends, anddedicated to the cultivation of a new brass quartet repertoire that exists in the ever-narrowing gap between American folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock.”

We are thrilled here at Second Inversion to present the video premiere of The Westerlies’ “Sweeter than the Day” from their album Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz.  The album, which Horvitz produced, was recorded in August 2013 and was recently released by Songlines Recordings.  In between takes, they shot this video outside the studio on Lopez Island, one of the most peaceful and relaxing places in the Northwest, especially on these clear, summer evenings (yes, we have them and yes, I’m giving away one of our best Northwest secrets).

The Westerlies will be all over the west this summer in CA, OR, WA, and Vancouver BC.  Upcoming Seattle performances to note:

Friday, June 27, 8pm @ Seattle Art Museum (Opening for HUMAN FEEL)
Sunday, August 3, 8pm @ Café Racer (Curating the Racer Sessions)
Friday, August 8, 8pm @ Royal Room (Official CD release party!)
Monday, August 25, 8pm @ Good Shepherd Center (Album Release Tour)

Stay tuned for more Second Inversion coverage of this talented, innovative ensemble!

The Westerlies

Photo: Adam Guy