Healing Modes: Behind the Scenes with Brooklyn Rider

by Dacia Clay

Brooklyn Rider was recently in Seattle touring their new performance project, Healing Modes. The concert program, which is focused on the power of music to heal in many ways, was inspired by Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132—specifically the third movement. It was a piece that Beethoven wrote during a period of recovery in his own life.

Brooklyn Rider has commissioned five new works for the project—by Reena Esmail, Caroline Shaw, Du Yun, Matana Roberts, and Gabriela Lena Frank—to pair with the Beethoven on the program (and, eventually, on the album). Learn more about Healing Modes in this audio excerpt. To hear the full interview with Brooklyn Rider, listen to the latest episode of the Classical Classroom podcast.

Audio editing for this excerpt by Nikhil Sarma.

Musical Chairs: Bobby Collins on KING FM

by Maggie Molloy

Bobby Collins is interested in discovering new sounds, new voices, and new ways of creating community through music. As the conductor (and one of the founders) of the Seattle-based new music collective the Sound Ensemble, he works to amplify the voices of local composers and underrepresented artists.

The Sound Ensemble’s upcoming concert embodies both of those objectives. On Saturday, Jan. 19, he leads the ensemble in Local Wonders, an evening of music by women composers living in the Pacific Northwest. The wide-ranging program showcases the unique creative output of our own community, featuring works by Kaley Lane Eaton, Sarah Bassingthwaighte, Angelique Poteat, and Carly Ann Worden.

Learn more about the concert, the conductor, and the Sound Ensemble on this week’s episode of Classical KING FM’s Musical Chairs, where Collins will share some of his favorite recordings and musical memories from throughout his career. The episode airs tonight, Friday, Jan. 11 at 7pm PT. Click here to tune in from anywhere in the world!

A Fallen Piano is Resurrected at Jack Straw

by Maggie Molloy

Fifty years ago, an upright piano flew from the sky and crashed loudly upon the ground near Duvall, Washington, smashing into pieces in front of an audience of avant-garde enthusiasts. It was dropped from a helicopter by the Jack Straw Foundation (then in the form of KRAB radio) as a fundraising event for the experimental radio station and their friends at Helix, the hippie newspaper.

1968 press clipping from the Seattle Times.

This month, that historic piano is being resurrected in the hands of local composers—and it’s not too late to get in on the action.

The Jack Straw Cultural Center is currently accepting submissions for new works scored for the illustrious instrument’s remains (the soundboard and harp—minus the bass strings, if we’re getting specific). The tuning of the strings is as-is, allowing for a wide array of delightful and unexpected surprises—and fingers, mallets, and bows are all fair game. The maximum length for submissions is 4’33” (a tribute to John Cage’s iconoclastic “silent piece”), and submissions are accepted as written scores or demo recordings.

Submissions are due Jan. 7, and the selected compositions will be performed and recorded at Jack Straw in February and incorporated into a Piano Drop installation in the New Media Gallery.

Interested composers can email arts@jackstraw.org or call them at (206) 634-0919 with any questions, or to schedule a time to visit the instrument in the gallery.


The Opening Reception for Jack Straw’s Piano Drop Installation will take place Friday, Feb. 8 at 7pm. A live performance of the new works will take place Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7pm. Both events are free and open to the public. Click here to learn more.

New Year, New Music: Your January Concert Guide

by Maggie Molloy

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Second 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 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, please submit your event to the Live Music Project at least six weeks prior to the event and tag it with “new music.”

January 2019 New Music Flyer

 

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: film scores, sonic purges, banjo improvisations, and an orchestra of driftwood.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Gretchen Yanover: Cello Loops
Classical music meets contemporary technology in Gretchen Yanover’s performances for solo cello and loop pedal. Playing and layering her melodies live on stage, Yanover crafts instrumental atmospheres that draw from her classical training as well as her African-American and Russian Jewish heritage.
Tues, 1/8, 7pm, Slavonian Hall (Tacoma) | FREE

Seattle Symphony: ‘JANE’
Philip Glass’ buoyant score frames this stunning National Geographic documentary about Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. See the film on the big screen while the Seattle Symphony performs the score live.
Tues, 1/8, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $35-$85

Ahamefule J. Oluo & Scrape
Seattle trumpet legend Ahamefule J. Oluo offers a sneak peek of the score for his new film, Thin Skin (an adaptation of his experimental pop opera Now I’m Fine). Joined by the Scrape music collective, Oluo performs excerpts from this dark comedy about the meaning of family.
Thurs, 1/10, 8pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$20

Portland Cello Project
Equally at home in rock clubs and concert halls, Portland Cello Project is an ensemble known for pushing the boundaries of the classical cello tradition. For this string of performances, they play music from Radiohead’s OK Computer alongside classics by Coltrane and Bach.
Fri, 1/11, 7pm, Admiral Theatre (Bremerton) | $18-$56
Sat, 1/12, 7:30pm, Rialto Theater (Tacoma) | $29-$49
Sun, 1/13, 3pm, Mount Baker Theater (Bellingham) | $22-$42

Jesse Myers: Glass Half Full
You’ll want to bring a pillow and blanket to Jesse Myers’ performance of Philip Glass’ famous Piano Etudes. Instead of sitting in chairs, the pianist invites listeners to lie on the floor as they experience the music alongside immersive light projections that dance across the ceiling and walls of the performance space.
Fri, 1/11, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10-$15

Bern Herbolsheimer Musical Memorial
In honor of the late Bern Herbolsheimer’s passing three years ago on this day, Seattle musicians come together to perform a concert of the beloved local composer’s chamber works.
Sun, 1/13, 7:30pm, PONCHO Concert Hall | FREE

Opera on Tap: Park and Bark!
Nothing goes better with opera tunes than beer and tacos. Local singers perform operatic masterpieces and hidden gems alike in this casual brewery concert benefiting Emerald City Pet Rescue.
Mon, 1/14, 6pm, Lagunitas Brewing Company | $25

Seattle Modern Orchestra: Sounds of Echoes
The book-lined walls of the Seattle Athenaeum form the perfect setting for this concert of chamber works presented in the round. Poetry-inspired pieces from George Crumb and Toru Takemitsu are paired with works by Seattle composers Angelique Poteat and Tom Baker.
Fri, 1/18, 7pm, Folio | $20-$25

The Sound Ensemble: Local Wonders
From Kaley Lane Eaton’s dynamic Sacred Geometry to Carly Ann Worden’s majestic San Juan Sinfonietta, this concert is dedicated to exploring chamber works by local women composers. Also on the program are new premieres from Angelique Poteat and Sarah Bassingthwaighte.
Sat, 1/19, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$20

Thalia Symphony Orchestra
A third stream concerto for electric bass, vibraphone, and orchestra is among the highlights of this concert, composed and performed by friends and childhood neighbors Dan Dean (bass) and Tom Collier (vibes). Works by Jacques Offenbach, Carl Nielsen, Rebecca Clarke, and Arturo Marquez complete the program.
Sat, 1/19, 7:30pm, St. Stephen’s Church | $18-24
Sun, 1/20, 3pm, Nordic Museum | $18-24

SCMS Winter Festival
Seattle Chamber Music Society’s annual Winter Festival features a variety of classical music performances from across the centuries, including 20th century works by Janáček, Kodály, Martinů, Hindemith, Shostakovich, and Britten.
1/18-1/27, Various times, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $20-$65

Ólafur Arnalds: All Strings Attached
The ambient sound worlds of Icelandic composer  shimmer to life in this performance featuring the pianist alongside a uniquely wired ensemble of string quintet, drums, and two Disclaviers. The concert features past, present, and brand new material from his forthcoming album.
Sat, 1/26, 8pm, The Moore Theatre | $28

Seattle Symphony: Celebrate Asia
The 11th annual Celebrate Asia concert highlights music and musicians from across the continent, with conductor Shi-Yeon Sung leading the orchestra in contemporary (and traditional) music by Korean, Thai, and Taiwanese composers. Featured soloists include soprano Kathleen Kim and pianist Seong-Jin Cho, and the concert is framed by spectacular pre- and post-concert festivities in the lobby.
Sun, 1/27, 4pm, Benaroya Hall | $31-$97

Seattle Symphony: Soundbites
Grab a drink and unwind with fellow music lovers at this casual performance featuring Seattle Symphony musicians performing wide-ranging chamber works.
Mon, 1/28, 7pm, The Collective | $10

ALBUM REVIEW: Stuart McLeod’s ‘Tetraktys – All Is Number’

by Michael Schell

Back in 1996 Seattle composer/percussionist Stuart McLeod initiated a project called Tetraktys (pronounced “teh-TRAK-tis”) and named after a Pythagorean shape with ten points arranged in a pyramid. Considered by some to hold mystic significance, this shape is also a font of mathematical relationships, which in McLeod’s hands evoke musical structures that are varied but unified. Logic dictates having ten Tetraktys pieces in all, one for each point, and having produced a recording of four of them in 2015, McLeod chose this past December 19 (his 53rd birthday) to release the remaining six.

What makes this new album successful isn’t so much the individual tracks as the unexpected relations created through their juxtaposition and summation. Tetraktys 1 (“the origin of the universe”) uses layers of single-note electric guitar chimes, while Tetraktys 2 is appropriately obsessed with major seconds. Much of McLeod’s music is influenced by minimalism—in particular the kind of process-oriented 1960s minimalism epitomized by Terry Riley’s In C, in which multiple musicians gradually play their way through 53 repeating beat-driven patterns. Tetraktys 2, with its emphasis on vibes and single-reed woodwinds, seems to hearken back to the sound world of In C’s first recording.

Tetraktys 3 is fixated on augmented triads: two stacked major thirds that comprise a symmetrical, tonally ambiguous chord any of whose three pitches can function as the root. McLeod amplifies the vagueness by using a detuned piano and adding a generous dose of reverb and simulated tape hiss that suggests the sound of a 1960s era field recording.

Later pieces are less direct in their numerical correspondences. The gamelan-like Tetraktys 8 isn’t a study in octaves as you might expect, but more of a monophonic version of In C where the melodic snippets subtly transform themselves sequentially rather than overlapping by chance. Tetraktys 9 features synthesized clangs and “MIDI orchestra” sounds that remind me of the late Hardy Fox’s “contraptions” released under his Residents nom de plume Charles Bobuck.

For McLeod, whose other musical interests include brainwaves and loud, aleatoric rock, Tetraktys now stands whole, the fulfillment of countless explorations concluded then reopened, “writing and rewriting these 10 pieces over a period of 22 years.” The drawn-out, revolving birthing process has its analog in the final piece, Tetraktys 10, which is designed as a summary of the previous nine followed by a coda that’s a summary of the summary. This is music that, like its gestation, seems to perpetuate itself in cycles.

Second Inversion’s 2018 Year in Review

From coast to coast, 2018 was filled with new friends, new sounds, and a whole slew of new adventures. We share some of Second Inversion’s fondest memories from another year spent exploring new and experimental music.

NUMUS Northwest: The Other Side of the Inbox

Second Inversion hosts Maggie Molloy and Seth Tompkins were honored to lead a panel on new music in the media at this year’s NUMUS Northwest, a day-long event dedicated to the creation and performance of new music in Seattle and beyond.

Photo by James Holt.


Third Coast Percussion Paddles to the Sea

Skittering wood blocks, ceramic tiles, and bowls of water are just a few of the unusual instruments employed in Third Coast Percussion’s film score for Paddle to the Sea. We were thrilled to premiere videos of the group performing excerpts from their original score, which was co-commissioned by Meany Center for the Performing Arts and performed there earlier this year.


David Lang’s Symphony without a Hero

Second Inversion invaded the Classical KING FM airwaves earlier this year when David Lang came by the station to talk about the Seattle Symphony’s world premiere of his symphony without a hero. Maggie Molloy interviewed the composer about the Romantic ideals of the artist-hero and how those roles are changing in the 21st century.


24-Hour Marathon of Women Composers

On International Women’s Day, we hosted our annual 24-hour marathon of music by women composers. Part of our ongoing Women in (New) Music series, the marathon highlights women who have helped shape, inspire, and expand the world of classical music, and is among our most popular streaming days annually.


Ashley Bathgate Video Premiere

Bang on a Can All-Star Ashley Bathgate is her own one-woman cello orchestra in Martin Bresnick’s Parisot. She performed the piece live in our music library earlier this year (alongside 11 backing tracks she recorded herself) before sitting down with Second Inversion’s Dacia Clay to talk about the intersection of classical music and contemporary performance software.


John Luther Adams Marathon

Thanks to the Seattle Symphony’s highly-anticipated world premiere of John Luther Adams’ Become Desert, we had the perfect excuse to play a full eight hours of his immersive sonic landscapes on our online stream. Plus, the composer himself dropped by the station during our marathon for an interview with KING FM’s Dave Beck and a selfie with the Second Inversion team.


Snapshots from the Bang on a Can Summer Festival

Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy was among four writers selected to cover the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival as a participant in the first ever Media Workshop! Under the mentorship of John Schaefer (of WNYC’s New Sounds) and Will Robin (writer and musicologist), Maggie wrote five articles highlighting unforgettable musical moments from this year’s summer festival.

 


Joshua Roman’s Tornado

Joshua Roman brought the howling winds of Oklahoma to the Pacific Northwest with the world premiere of his new cello quintet Tornado, performed by the composer alongside the JACK Quartet. We holed up inside for a day with the ensemble to catch the musical storm on camera.


Adventures in New York

As the year drew to a close, we got a chance to catch up with new music makers and creators on the opposite coast. During our trip we sat in on a live session at New Sounds, saw the Argus Quartet perform music of Christopher Cerrone, caught the Bang on a Can All-Stars playing Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields at Carnegie Hall, and more!

 


Thank you to everyone who filled our hearts, minds, ears, and airwaves with new music in 2018. Cheers to the many more sonic adventures yet to come!

New Music Happy Hour: Friday, Jan. 18 at 5pm

What are we most looking forward to in the New Year? New tunes, new friends, and of course—New Music Happy Hour!

Join us Friday, January 18 from 5-7pm at T.S. McHugh’s for a happy hour co-hosted by Second Inversion and the Live Music Project. We’d love to take this opportunity to connect in the New Year with fellow musicians, new music enthusiasts, and curious listeners alike!

Click here to RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends! Plus, sign up for alerts for future happy hours and day-before reminders so you’ll never miss a beer—er, beat.