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/

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “American Chamber Music” from Seattle Chamber Music Society

by Maggie Molloy
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The U.S. is home to many rich musical traditions. From jazz to country, funk to rock ‘n’ roll, and hip hop to house music, our country has made a name for itself as an innovative and imaginative purveyor of popular music.

But America has also made great contributions to the contemporary classical music genre. Though our country is often overshadowed by Europe’s vibrant and influential musical history, over the past century American composers have played an important role in shaping the future of classical music.

As such, this week’s album celebrates contemporary classical music a little closer to home: the Seattle Chamber Music Society performing an array of works by American composers.

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The album, titled “American Chamber Music,” features several musicians from the Seattle Chamber Music Society, including the group’s artistic director, renowned violinist James Ehnes. Recorded at the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s 2013 Summer Festival, the album is a compilation of works composed by Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, and Samuel Barber.

Ehnes and pianist Orion Weiss begin the album with Copland’s Sonata for violin and piano, a truly lyrical and theatrical work. Copland’s talent for composing balletic music is fully apparent in the piece’s gentle, glistening melodies and its poetic interplay between voices. Ehnes and Weiss play with the grace and elegance of dancers, transitioning flawlessly from the sweet and spirited Andante to the slow and somber Lento before closing with the sprightly, syncopated Allegretto.

Ives’s Largo for violin, clarinet, and piano is next on the program, catching the listener’s ear with its sweet, solemn piano introduction. The piece slowly builds in intensity with the addition of violin and clarinet, the music expanding into rich textures, striking harmonies, and unexpected syncopations before gradually retreating back to a soft, delicate ending.

The work is followed by Bernstein’s Trio for violin, cello, and piano, a theatrical piece with plenty of characters. The first movement features broad, beautiful violin and cello melodies soaring above sparkling piano harmonies. The second movement brings a change in texture, using pizzicato and stressed bowings to craft a busy, energetic soundscape. A lively, fast-paced, and purposeful third movement brings the piece to a dramatic close.

Carter’s “Elegy” for viola and piano is nothing short of enchanting. Violist Richard O’Neill and pianist Anna Polonsky perform the work with sincerity and tenderness, bringing to life melodies at once passionate and vulnerable. Their expressive and poignant performance makes it one of the album’s highlights.

The album finishes strong with Barber’s String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11. The musicians move gracefully through the first movement’s three themes: the first a dramatic motif presented by all four instruments in unison, the second a softer, chorale-like theme, and the third a tender, lyrical melody. The famous second movement features a slow, extended melody which moves through all of the instruments and climaxes dramatically at the quartet’s highest possible pitch range. The short but compelling closing movement brings the piece to dynamic and powerful end.

The passion and urgency of the quartet’s final movement serves as a beautiful, memorable coda for an album full of works by American composers whose determination and imagination helped pave the way for what contemporary classical music is today.

WORLD PREMIERE: DEREK BERMEL’S “DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS”

by Jill Kimball

Derek Bermel

Composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel.

About 22 years ago, the composer Derek Bermel was in Ghana, practicing the xylophone.

(It’s a long story. Just go with it.)

“I see this woman walking along, carrying a jug of water on her head, and she’s moving her hips, dancing to the music,” he said. “But then I notice that she’s dancing in a different rhythm than I was playing.”

Bermel kept playing, confused but smiling. “I thought…why is she doing this dance to another rhythm? And then I realized: My whole way of feeling the rhythm was wrong in that song.”

To Derek Bermel, an award-winning composer and clarinetist who has traveled the world to perform and write music, context is everything. If he hadn’t been in Ghana that day to see a local woman dancing along to his music, he’d never have been able to see beyond his Western view of rhythm.

Similarly, if we hadn’t caught up with Bermel in the studios for some context before the world premiere of his latest piece, “Death with Interruptions,” we might not be quite as choked up listening to it now.

On Monday night, at the Seattle Chamber Music Society‘s Summer Festival, “Death with Interruptions” had its premiere.  You can be the first to hear it on demand below.

“Death with Interruptions” was commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Music Society and is a piano trio, an established classical form that in Bermel’s hands sounds anything but established. It begins with a simple, plaintive melody and moves through a series of transformations in movement, speed, and texture. Every variation continually returns to the piece’s core, which sounds like a kind of musical heartbeat.

“Death with Interruptions” is inspired by Jose Saramago’s novel of the same title, in which death is a living character. “It was an intriguing thought,” he said. “Yes, death is often very dispassionate, but also quite ridiculous and impulsive,” like a human might be.

He began writing the piece just a month after the passing of his father, playwright and theatre critic Albert Bermel. Much like Johannes Brahms in his German Requiem, he was interested in exploring the ways we, the living, cope with death as it strikes us again and again over the years.

“We experience death in many, many ways–the deaths of parents, friends, pets, lovers–but life keeps going as death hits,” he said. “So the way we experience death, I realized, is not so much as this one calamity but as a series of pangs we experience. The experience is continually interrupted, and we return to it when we’re in a quieter moment. There’s something about that that’s present in the form of the piece.”

Bermel was never shy about exploring feelings of loss. One of his first compositions was “A Pig,” which he dedicated to the family’s pet guinea pig when it passed away.

Between early childhood and adulthood, Bermel pursued music–he played in his high school jazz band and in a rock group simply called The Generic Band–but he also loved science, and his focus shifted between the two for a number of years.

“I was interested in a bunch of different things, and I’m grateful for that time I had to figure out who I was as a human being,” he said. “That hopefully comes through in my music.”