Soprano Estelí Gomez Soars with Seattle Pro Musica

by Dacia Clay

Soprano Estelí Gomez performs with Seattle Pro Musica on May 18 and 19.

You may know Estelí Gomez as the soaring soprano of the Grammy-winning vocal troupe Roomful of Teeth. She’s also a globe-trotting soloist, performing alongside collaborators ranging from the Seattle Symphony to Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble.

This weekend, she’s in town as a soloist performing alongside the singers of Seattle Pro Musica. The concert is Passion and Resurrection, titled after the program’s centerpiece by Ēriks Ešenvalds. A dramatic masterwork for choir, soprano soloist, and string orchestra, the piece is unique in highlighting the voice of Mary Magdalene as the female soloist and narrator. The program also includes Frank Martin’s luminous Mass for Double Choir and the world premiere of Panta rhei, a new work by Seattle Pro Musica’s conductor, Karen P. Thomas.

In this interview, we talk with Gomez about her study of wide-ranging vocal traditions, the musical intricacies of Ēriks Ešenvalds, and the value of the human voice.

Music in this interview from Karen P. Thomas’s Panta rhei.
Audio production by Dacia Clay.

Estelí Gomez and Seattle Pro Musica perform Passion and Resurrection on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 at 8pm at St. James Cathedral. For tickets and more information, please click here.

Brainy Music: Getting Cerebral with the JACK Quartet

Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman of the JACK Quartet.

by Dacia Clay

Ever wonder what’s happening in our brains when we make or hear music? Composers and researchers from the University of Washington teamed up with the JACK Quartet to find out.

Over the course of a three-year residency at UW, the team studied the integration of brain and body signals in artistic performance. They outfitted the JACK Quartet with portable brain helmets and muscle sensors that detected brain activity while listening to, seeing, and performing music. Then, they harnessed these neuroscientific discoveries to create new art.

The culmination of this extended residency is a concert this Saturday night titled Human Subjects. Featuring original music by Richard Karpen and Juan Pampin (from the UW DXARTS Faculty), the concert combines the JACK Quartet’s sonified brain waves and neural sensors with music played live on their actual string instruments.

In this interview, we talk with violinist Christopher Otto and violist John Pickford Richards about new music, neuroscience, and what it’s like to be a human subject.

The JACK Quartet performs Human Subjects this Saturday, May 18 at 7:30pm at Meany Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.

The “Past” as Musical Prologue

by Dacia Clay

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Burhans. Photo by Alice Teeple.

Caleb Burhans was just 17 when he saw his father die. Yet even while struggling with immense grief and an eventual alcohol addiction, he racked up two degrees from Eastman, worked with artists from Yoko Ono and Arcade Fire to Steve Reich and Meredith Monk, helped found Alarm Will Sound, played with ACME, had his work performed by ensembles like the JACK Quartet, and released four studio albums (one of which—Evensong­—was named one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2013).

Many of Burhans’ colleagues and friends didn’t make it out of alcohol and substance abuse. And now, after five years of sobriety, Burhans has come out with a very personal new album called Past Lives that reflects on “years lost to addiction and fallen friends.”

In this audio interview, Burhans talks about what creating is like now that he’s sober, the people behind the music on the album, his collaboration with guitarist and composer Grey Mcmurray, and the music itself.

Music in this interview from Caleb Burhans’ Past Lives.
Audio production by Dacia Clay with production assistance from Nikhil Sarma.

Caleb Burhans’ new album Past Lives is out now on Cantaloupe Music. Click here to learn more.

VIDEO PREMIERE: ‘Silver Lacquer’ by Julian Loida

by Maggie Molloy

Julian Loida hears music a little differently than most people. In fact, he actually kind of sees it.

Loida has synesthesia, a unique sensory phenomenon in which one sense (in this case, sound) triggers another sense (such as sight), at the same time. For him, music is a full-body experience, each sound evoking a different color, texture, or even taste.

The percussionist and composer explores the full spectrum of senses in Wallflower, his debut solo album of original works coming out this fall. Shimmering vibraphone melodies are textured with piano, voice, samples, and subtly processed sounds to create immersive sensory experiences.

We’re thrilled to offer an exclusive video premiere for Loida’s first single from the album, “Silver Lacquer.”

Julian Loida’s debut solo album Wallflower is out September 6. For more information, click here.

From New Music to Neuroscience: Our May Concert Calendar

by Maggie Molloy

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! 

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.”


Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: poetry, ritual, meditation, and medieval chant.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Music of Today: Bonnie Whiting & Cristina Valdés
New music luminaries from the University of Washington team up for this concert featuring faculty composers and performers. Bonnie Whiting (percussion) and Cristina Valdés (piano) premiere new works from fellow UW faculty Joël-François Durand and Huck Hodge, plus music of Sofia Gubaidulina and Heiner Goebbels.
Wed, 5/1, 7:30pm, Meany Hall | $10-$15

The Sound Ensemble: Songwriter Showcase
Seattle songwriters take center stage in this collaborative concert featuring their original songs accompanied by chamber orchestra. Hear Tim Wilson, Lizzie Weber, Joseph De Natale, and Michael Hamm perform their music with the Sound Ensemble.
Sat, 5/4, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$20

Marimbist Erin Jorgensen. Photo by Kelly O.

Live Music Project: The Neuroscience of a One-Track Mind
Celebrate the Live Music Project’s fifth birthday with a scintillating lecture from UW neuroscientist Chantel Prat and a centuries-spanning solo marimba performance by Erin Jorgensen. Plus: ticket giveaways and an adorable cupcake toast.
Mon, 5/6, 6:30pm, The Royal Room | $20-$30

Sea Change Within Us
An original sound score by Seattle composers Jessi Harvey and Kaley Lane Eaton form the backdrop for this multimedia dance performance and art installation. Created by Karin Stevens Dance with 3D installation by Roger Feldman, Sea Change Within Us explores water, climate change, and the intersections of art and environmentalism.
Fri-Sun, 5/10-5/12, Various times, Base | $15-$50

Philip Glass: ‘Annunciation’ Premiere
A longtime collaborator of Philip Glass, pianist Paul Barnes teams up with Seattle’s Skyros Quartet to present the Pacific Northwest premiere of Glass’s new piano quintet Annunciation.
Sat, 5/11, 7:30pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers | $15-$30

UW Percussion Ensemble: ‘The Innocents’
Visiting percussionists John Lane and Allen Otte present music from their performance art piece The Innocents, which uses found sounds, street percussion, thumb pianos, and electronics to explore issues of wrongful imprisonment and exoneration. Plus: the UW Percussion Ensemble performs works for speaking percussionist.
Tues, 5/14, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

reSound: ‘Annelies’
Based on The Diary of Anne Frank, James Whitbourn’s full-length choral work Annelies explores the singular voice and unwavering hope of this inspiring young woman and her journey through the Holocaust. Seattle-based soprano Stacey Mastrian stars in this performance with the reSound chamber choir.
Fri-Sun, 5/17-5/19, Various times and locations | $20-$30

The Esoterics: Inclusivity
Indonesian, Mandarin, Quechua, and Spanish are just a few of the languages featured in this choral concert exploring the power of inclusivity and togetherness. Hear wide-ranging works by Gabriela Lena Frank, Ted Hearne, Chen Yi, David Lang, and more.
Fri-Sun, 5/17-5/19, Various times and locations | $15-$22

JACK Quartet. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

JACK Quartet: Human Subjects
New music meets neuroscience in this concert collaboration exploring the integration of brain and body signals in artistic performance. The performance is a culmination of the JACK Quartet’s extended residency at UW, where they have been working with a team of composers, researchers, and neuroscientists.
Sat, 5/18, 7:30pm, Meany Hall | $10-$20

Vox16: Textures
Contemporary works by Philip Glass and Nico Muhly form the basis of this concert highlighting minimalism in choral music. Plus, hear a new piece from Vox16 founder and director Markdavin Obenza.
Sat, 5/18, 7:30pm, Trinity Parish Church | $15-$25

Seattle Pro Musica: ‘Passion & Resurrection’
Soprano Estelí Gomez (of the Grammy-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth) joins Seattle Pro Musica for a performance of Ēriks Ešenvalds’ luminous Passion and Resurrection. Plus: a world premiere from conductor Karen P. Thomas.
Sat-Sun, 5/18-5/19, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $12-$38

Music of Remembrance: ‘The Parting’
A daring new opera by Tom Cipullo explores the life and work of Miklós Radnóti, one of the most important poetic witnesses to the Holocaust. The program also features chamber works by three other Hungarian composers who—like Radnóti—perished at the hands of the Nazis.
Sun, 5/19, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $55

The Westerlies. Photo by Shervin Lainez.

The Westerlies
This Seattle-bred, New York-based brass quartet returns home for an intimate concert at the Fremont Abbey. Hear a mix of original tunes and eclectic arrangements from their expansive repertoire.
Tues, 5/21, 7:30pm, Fremont Abbey | $10-$20

TORCH: ‘Passages’
An animated film by artist Scott Kolbo is accompanied by live music from the groove-craving chamber quartet TORCH. With a heavy dose of humor and absurdity, this multimedia performance project explores issues of security, immigration, crisis, and resilience.
Wed, 5/22, 7:30pm, The Triple Door | $25

SMCO: Heaven and Earth
A world premiere from Gabriel Prokofiev forms the centerpiece of this program celebrating the intergenerational power of music. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra is joined by the Northwest Boychoir and members of the Seattle Symphony Chorale for Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, plus music of Mozart and Lili Boulanger.
Fri, 5/31. 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $15-$25