Women in (New) Music: Breaking Down Systems with Sound of Late

by Maggie Molloy

With death and destruction come opportunities for growth and change. This fall, that’s the theme behind Sound of Late’s season opener on Oct. 21 and 28 in Portland and Seattle. The program features music inspired by decay, deterioration, and new growth—both literally and metaphorically.

Sound of Late flutist Sarah Pyle is the curator behind the concert program, which musically depicts how breaking down old systems can create positive change. Combine that with the ensemble’s ongoing focus on music by women composers and it serves as a striking metaphor for historical issues of representation in classical music.  

The centerpiece of the program is Anna Clyne’s Steelworks, scored for flute, bass clarinet, percussion, and prerecorded tape. Inspired by the last steelworks factory in Brooklyn, the piece weaves together metallic, pulsing live performances with recordings of industrial machinery and interviews with employees from the factory. The composer’s equally restless and ruminative tape piece Beauty is also on the program.

Clyne’s two industrialized works are contrasted against the softness of Somei Satoh’s whimsical Birds in Warped Time II for violin and piano and Sarah Kirkland Snider’s lyrical Thread and Fray for clarinet, viola, and marimba. Rounding out the program are Giacinto Scelsi’s dizzying flute and clarinet duo Ko Lho and the world premiere of Noel Kennon’s lilac, my fire field.

We sat down with Sarah Pyle to learn more about the program and inspiration behind Sound of Late’s season opener:

Second Inversion: What makes Sound of Late’s concerts different from your average classical music performances?

Sarah Pyle: In all of our concerts, we aim for a more approachable, casual experience, and we love featuring Northwest composers and artists! Several members of the group have contributed to our past programming, so each concert really is a unique experience, as they tend to reflect the identities of the musicians in the group. In a typical concert experience, our audience is seated fairly close to us, and we hope that coming out to a show feels like having a really good conversation with a friend.  

SI: Can you tell us a bit about your ensemble’s ongoing focus on music by women composers?

SP: We keep data on all of our past programming. Looking over the numbers today, I’ve found that in our regular concert series 58% of the music we have performed since our first concert in 2015 has been written by women composers. We don’t choose our programming based on gender metrics; it has just worked out that way. We program works the way I imagine many other artistic directors do—by asking, “Whose works impart meaning to me? Whose voice is resonating with me now?”

SI: What are some of the overarching themes of this particular program?

SP: This concert is really perfect for October. It’s all about decay and systems that change by breaking down. For instance, Anna Clyne’s Steelworks for flute, clarinet, two percussionists, and electronics features a tape part that incorporates interviews with workers in the last steel factory operating in Brooklyn. The recurring text is, “If something is working fine and you can keep up with demand, then there’s really no reason for you to change unless the machine breaks down by itself.” I’m sure this quote could inspire a hundred spin-off articles on “The State of Classical Music.” To me, though, the decomposition of cyclical mechanisms that this bit of text implies creates exciting spaces for opportunity. With this programming, we wanted to really showcase the aesthetics of systems in breakdown.

SI: In what ways (if any) do you feel that being a woman has shaped your experiences as a performer and concert curator? What advice do you have for other female-identifying artists who are aspiring to creative leadership roles?

SP: Representation really does matter. The first time I played a work by a woman composer in the classical sphere, I was 12 or 13 years old, working on the Concertino for Flute and Piano by Cécile Chaminade. My flute teacher at the time said, “You know she was a woman, right?” And of course I didn’t know. I remember feeling stunned that I had never even noticed I had only played works by male composers up to that point.  

As a concert curator, I go to shows and notice an extreme lack of representation. Personally, I find the music being written by women composers today resonates with me in a powerful way. In all the programming work I have done for Sound of Late, I strive for representation without tokenism, and I know others in the group do the same.

As far as advice goes, the biggest piece of advice I’m living right now is to make sure you’ve got a proper support network. As a newcomer to Seattle (going on two years!), this is something I’m still building in my new city. What I love about Sound of Late is that the support network grows with each concert series, including new friends, guest musicians, and curious audience members.

The work, though, whether it’s writing, curating, or performing, is still hard to do, and it is easy to get discouraged. Some inspiring words that I think about almost daily are from an article published last summer by the composer Ashley Fure about her experience organizing a panel on gender in new music at Darmstadt: “Some of us now have access to the resources we need to make the work we believe in. What a gift that is. And with that gift, to my mind, comes an obligation to build our boldest aesthetic visions. I can say without pretense and in purely demographic terms: the canon needs us. Our most radical action is in making work.”

SI: What are you most looking forward to with this concert, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?

SP: This is probably my favorite set of pieces we’ve ever performed as a group. Most of the works are by living composers, including pieces by Somei Satoh, Anna Clyne, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Seattle composer Noel Kennon.

I’m looking forward to sharing the program with our friends in Seattle and Portland, and I hope our audiences leave with a desire to examine and unravel, to ask “What if?” and to find meaning and beauty in change.


Sound of Late’s Steelworks performances are Saturday, Oct. 21 in Portland at N.E.W. Expressive Works and Saturday, Oct. 28 in Seattle at Flutter Studios. For tickets and additional information, please click here.

October Concerts You Can’t Miss

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 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 tag it with “new music.”

October 2017 Concert Flyer

 

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

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electronic/electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: saxophone sextets, prepared guitar improvisations, music for speaking pianist, and more.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Philharmonia Northwest: At the Japanese Garden
East meets West in this concert featuring Toru Takemitsu’s Three Film Scores for string orchestra and Kosaku Yamada’s Symphony in F Major, the first symphony ever written by a Japanese composer.
Sun, 10/1, 2:30pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church | $15-$20

Tom Baker Quartet: Reunion Show
From 2004-2011 the Tom Baker Quartet performed unusual and avant-garde music across the Northwest and in New York City. Now they reunite for a one-night-only show at the Royal Room in Seattle.
Mon, 10/2, 7:30pm, The Royal Room | Donations

The Esoterics: GRAVITAS
Exploring themes of gravity in music, the Esoterics perform works by Robert Paterson and Steven Stucky alongside three world premieres by the winners of this year’s POLYPHONOS competition.
Fri, 10/6, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Laurelhurst| $15-$22
Sat, 10/7, 8pm, Holy Rosary Catholic Church, West Seattle | $15-$22
Sun, 10/8, 7pm, Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma | $15-$22

STG Presents: Ludovico Einaudi
Known around the world for his chart-topping albums, famous film scores, and genre-crossing live performances, Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi brings his inimitable piano music to Seattle for an evening at the Moore Theatre.
Sat, 10/7, 8pm, The Moore Theatre | $39-$94

BetaSounds: A First Exploration
Dedicated to bridging the gap between modern audiences and classical music, BetaSounds presents an inaugural coffee shop concert featuring works by Britten, Barber, Bartók, Dvořák, and Ravel.
Mon, 10/9, 6pm, The Conservatory Coffee Shop | $15

SMCO: Music, Poetry, and the Influence of Communities of Color
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra examines the search for an American musical identity, exploring the lasting influence of Black music in the classical world. Featuring music by Jessie Montgomery, George Walker, Silvestre Revueltas, and Aaron Copland, plus poetry by Claudia Castro Luna.
Wed, 10/11, 7:30pm, Fremont Abbey | $15-$25
Sun, 10/15, 2pm, Langston Hughs Performing Arts Institute | $15-$25

Seattle Modern Orchestra: In Time of War
Seattle Modern Orchestra presents historic works penned by George Crumb and Julius Eastman in response to the cultural and political turmoil of the 1970s.
Thurs, 10/12, 7:30pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10-$25

Jesse Myers: The Minimal Piano
Jesse Myers premieres his new piece for solo piano and six-channel soundtrack. Also on the program are minimalist masterpieces by John Adams, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich, plus new works for piano and electronics by Missy Mazzoli and Christopher Cerrone.
Fri, 10/13, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Symphony: [untitled] 1
This late-night, no-intermission concert brings to life the the dramatically shifting soundscapes of John Adams’ Road Movies paired with the restless momentum and searing imagery of Steve Reich’s Different Trains. All aboard!
Fri, 10/13, 10pm, Benaroya Hall | $16

The Sound Ensemble: Kammermusik
Paul Hindemith’s Kammermusik (German for “chamber music”) is performed alongside eclectic chamber works by Darius Milhaud, Michael Djupstrom, Judd Greenstein, and Seattle-based composer James Falzone.
Sat, 10/14, 7pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$15

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic Nosferatu is beloved by horror fans and film buffs alike for its creepy story and stark images. Pianist Rick Friend and members of the Seattle Symphony bring this spine-tingling vampire tale to life as they perform the live score alongside the film.
Tues, 10/17, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $35-$90

NOCCO: Echoes & Dances
The North Corner Chamber Orchestra opens its season with Roupen Shakarian’s Violin Concerto featuring concertmaster Victoria Parker. Works by Prokofiev and Poulenc round out the program.
Sat, 10/21, 2pm, University Christian Church | $25

Music of Today: Intercontinental Experimental Music Ensemble
This rare convergence of world-renowned musicians from four continents features visiting artists collaborating with University of Washington School of Music faculty members in a program of strings, percussion, keyboard, đàn tranh, guzheng, and live electronics.
Wed, 10/25, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$15

Emerald City Music: Andy Akiho
Brooklyn-based composer and steel pan player Andy Akiho takes over the Emerald City Music stage to curate an exclusive evening of his own compositions alongside the works of Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass.
Fri, 10/27, 8pm, 415 Westlake Ave, Seattle | $45
Sat, 10/28, 7:30pm, The Minnaert Center, Olympia | $10-$43

Sound of Late: Steelworks
Sound of Late presents the West Coast premiere of Anna Clyne’s Steelworks, written for flute, bass clarinet, percussion, and tape recordings from the last steelworks factory in Brooklyn. Plus, works by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Somei Satoh, and more.
Sat, 10/28, 8pm, Flutter Studios | $15

New Composed Music: March 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! 

thvLYmNB

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.”


 

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

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)

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Utterances
James Falzone and Bonnie Whiting present a seamless evening of original, composed, and improvised music based on text, spoken word, and translation.
Thurs, 3/2, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
waywardmusic.org

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The Sound Ensemble: From Page to Stage
TSE melds the artistic mediums of art and literature in this concert in which each piece is inspired by texts from different authors.
Sat, 3/4, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

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sound|counterpoint: The Red Earth Project
Curated by Seattle composer Adam Haws, this program spans centuries and genres with a re-imagining of Bach, tunes from jazz and rock greats, & more.
Sun, 3/5, 4pm, Waterfront Park Community Center, Bainbridge Island | $10-$20

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Second Inversion Presents: Gabriel Kahane
Kahane presents his song cycle Craigslistlieder, Schumann’s Dichterliebe, and songs from previous albums and brand new, unreleased material.
Weds, 3/8, 7:30pm, The Triple Door | $15-$18

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On Stage with KING FM: Seattle Marimba Quartet
SMQ showcases classical favorites and modern marimba repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries plus drumming styles from around the world.
Sat, 3/11, 7:30pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers, Bellevue | $20

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Seattle Modern Orchestra: Double Portrait
SMO celebrates the centennial of American composer Robert Erickson and the 80th birthday of legendary Seattle trombonist and composer Stuart Dempster.
Sat, 3/11, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10-$25

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Sound of Late: 2000 Moving Parts
Harpist Jennifer Ellis invites the audience to experience the customarily inaudible elements of this grand instrument. Music by Ellis, Andrew Stiefel & more.
Sat, 3/11, 8pm, FLUTTER Studios | $15

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Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra: Hearing Nature
SMCO partners with Seattle Art Museum to trace the natural inspirations of composers of four different time periods, comparing their music to the visual art of their contemporaries.
Fri, 3/17, 8pm, First Free Methodist Church | $15-$20

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Cursive: Tall Wind
Specializing in performing hidden gems of modern classical music, Cursive presents a unique program inspired by the passions and unease of changing seasons.
Thurs, 3/23, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

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Choral Arts Northwest: A Kipling Passion
John Muehleisen uses the passion form to explore how we might find healing in the face of unspeakable tragedy, honoring and bringing voice to veterans and families.
Fri, 3/24, 8pm, Plymouth Church, Seattle | $24-$28
Sat, 3/25, 8pm, Everett First Presbyterian | $24-$28
Sun, 3/26, 2pm, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton | $24-$28

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Philharmonia Northwest: An Afternoon of PDQ Bach
Philharmonia Northwest presents the West Coast premiere of PDQ Bach’s Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra with pianist Jeffrey Biegel.
Sat, 3/25, 2pm, Benaroya Hall | $20-$30

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Universal Language Project: Undertones
Marimba sounds merge with intimate whispering, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, DIY life philosophy, and beautifully minimal music. Featuring Erin Jorgensen and curated by Jim Holt.
Fri, 3/31, Resonance at SOMA Towers, Bellevue | $15-$20
Sat, 4/1, Cornish Playhouse’s Alhadeff Studio | $15-$25

Second Inversion’s Top 5 Moments of 2016

2016 was filled with lots of fun on our 24/7 stream, video production studios, & blog, but this year we really focused on getting out in the community. While these digital offerings reach people world-wide, we are grateful to connect with our Seattle-area fans and like-minded folks! Here are our top 5 moments/events/milestones/projects/good times listed in chronological order.

This is the final post in a series of Top 5 of 2016 lists (check out our Top 5 Videos,Top 5 Albums, and Top 5 Blog Features).

February 1, 2016: Co-presenting Brooklyn Rider and Gabriel Kahane at the Tractor Tavern

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When we had the opportunity to team up with Tractor Tavern to co-present Gabriel Kahane and Brooklyn Rider, we jumped for joy and hopped aboard. The honky-tonkin’ venue was filled with people from all walks of musical life and a great showcase of how to – as we like to say around here – Rethink Classical. Click here for a review of the performance.


April 9, 2016: Second Inversion Presents: Seattle Rock Orchestra Quintet with Tamara Power-Drutis

Second Inversion moved up and over to the Eastside to close Classical KING FM’s inaugural concert series On Stage with Classical KING FM at Bellevue’s newest concert hall, RESONANCE at SOMA Towers. The Seattle Rock Orchestra Quintet with the inimitable, versatile vocalist Tamara Power-Drutis, transformed popular song into art song, in a program that re-imagined the work of artists such as Radiohead, Beck, Bjork and others as intimate and emotional chamber works born for the recital hall. 

Best of all? Back by popular demand, they’ll be performing again next year on April 15, 2017! Tickets are on sale now.

All photos by Jason Tang.


May 26, 2016: Second Inversion Showcase at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival

This spring, we came together to celebrate the sounds of the Pacific Northwest in our 2nd annual Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which featured performances by the bi-coastal brass quartet The Westerlies, the innovative and always-interactive Skyros Quartet, and the boundary-bursting Sound of Late.

All photos by Maggie Molloy.


July-November: New Music Happy Hours hosted by Second Inversion and the Live Music Project

Second Inversion and the Live Music Project host monthly(ish) Happy Hours at the Queen Anne Beerhall for anyone and everyone with an open mind and a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue about music and art in Seattle and beyond. Sign up for e-mail alerts to find out when the next one is occurring!

All photos by Maggie Molloy.

October 3, 2016: Steve Reich at 80

reichat80Second Inversion celebrated Steve Reich’s birthday in huge style with a 24 hour marathon of his music on our stream. Our staff and over a dozen community members joined in the fun by contributing recorded introductions to their favorite Reich pieces and by writing mini-reviews. We have more 24 hour marathons planned for 2017, birthday and non-birthday related!

PHOTO GALLERY: Second Inversion Showcase at NW Folklife Festival

by Maggie Molloy

Here in Seattle, we pride ourselves on our imaginative and innovative new music scene. Second Inversion is proud to be a part of that community, where so many hard-working and creative artists and musicians come together to create, support, and share new and unusual sounds from around the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

This past weekend, we came together to celebrate these sounds in our 2nd annual
Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which featured performances by the bi-coastal brass quartet The Westerlies, the innovative and always-interactive Skyros Quartet, and the boundary-bursting Sound of Late.

All photos by Maggie Molloy.

We would like to give a tremendous THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support new music over the weekend, both as performers and as audience members. Together, we make the Northwest new music something truly special.

2016 FOLKLIFE PREVIEW: Meet Sound of Late

by Maggie Molloy

For many artists, water is a muse—for some, it is the very essence of music itself.

In Seattle, we awake and fall asleep to the gentle swooshing of Sound, and our lives are shaped and smoothed by its sparkling presence. For us, water is a source of comfort and relaxation, inspiration and even transportation.

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And so this Friday, we invite you to paddle on over to our annual Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival, where you can dive into the underwater sound world of Sound of Late.

Based in Seattle and Portland, Sound of Late is a new music ensemble known for creating collaborative, cross-disciplinary concerts which build upon and inspire the communities surrounding them. Most recently, they presented a maritime music series titled “What Water Knows,” featuring shimmering, ocean-inspired music alongside music and poetry of marine biologists and commercial fishers.sol-grp300x210

But in case you missed it, no need to feel blue. Lucky for us, they’ve, ahem, distilled their water-themed program into a shorter set as part of our Folklife Festival Showcase, where they’ll be performing along with the Skyros Quartet and the Westerlies.

We caught up with Sound of Late’s horn player Rebecca Olason to talk about water, whale songs, and the Pacific Northwest:

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Second Inversion: How would you describe or characterize your ensemble’s sound?

Rebecca Olason: Sound of Late primarily plays works by living composers, but our sound is fairly diverse. We might play works that are within the serialist tradition in one concert and folk inspired music in the next. Our set for this concert has a mix of music inspired by water, featuring a local folk singer, a work by a marine biologist (who is also a rock musician), and a piece inspired and imitative of whale song. We try to represent the variety of styles and sounds that are present in contemporary chamber music.

SI: The Pacific Northwest is really blossoming in the contemporary classical music sphere—what do you think makes our music scene here so unique?

RO: Having lived on the East and West coasts, I feel that the Pacific Northwest scene is unique because in many ways it is impossible to participate without being an innovator. To play contemporary classical music here, you have to be a risk-taker, and a person who will find a path where there wasn’t one before. It is more difficult to find a way to present your music as there are fewer new music venues, presenters, and groups.

The challenges of creating music here are a catalyst for the vibrancy, inventiveness, and passion of the community, which are also reflected in programming and actual musical style. Most contemporary classical groups are willing to make mistakes, and to take risks, but I feel that this is especially true of our community in the Pacific Northwest.

SI: Northwest Folklife strengthens local communities through art and music, celebrating diverse cultural heritages and working to ensure their continued growth and development. What types of communities or music traditions are represented in your music?

RO: The bulk of Sound of Late’s current repertoire is contemporary classical, though we often collaborate with other communities, and love to play improvisational music. This concert is inspired by and features maritime folk music.

SI:  As a Seattle-based ensemble, what does the annual Northwest Folklife Festival mean to you?

RO: We are a newly Seattle-based chamber group, so Folklife represents a new future in this amazing city for us!  The festival strikes me as one of the greatest celebrations of musical talent in the area from a broad stroke of traditions, and I am so honored and excited to be a part of it!

SI: What are you most looking forward to with this performance, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?

RO: I am looking forward to the chance to distill our last concert series into a quick, yet captivating show. We performed a series of concerts full of music inspired by water featuring music by contemporary classical composers, scientists, and fishers. What I really liked about these concerts was how many different experiences and musical traditions we were able to feature, so we tried to represent that variety in our small set. I hope that our audience will be inspired by our music, and contemplative of their own experience with water.

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Sound of Late will be featured along with the Skyros Quartet and The Westerlies at our 2nd Annual Second Inversion Showcase at Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m. For more information, please click here or RSVP to our Facebook event.

2016 FOLKLIFE PREVIEW: Meet the Skyros Quartet

by Maggie Molloy

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Beethoven to Britten, Sibelius to Shostakovich—the sky is the limit for the Seattle-based Skyros Quartet. Comprised of violinists Sarah Pizzichemi and James Moat, violist Justin Kurys, and cellist Willie Braun, the quartet is known for their innovative and interactive approach to classical music both old and new.

Founded in 2010, Skyros studied chamber music at the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of the Miró Quartet and Sandy Yamamoto. By 2012, they became the first quartet-in-residence at the University of Nebraska, where they pursued doctorates in chamber music performance under the guidance of the Chiara String Quartet.

Suffice it to say, they’re pretty qualified musicians. And lucky for us, they recently relocated to Seattle to continue their work as contemporary classical performers, teachers, and collaborators.

You can catch Skyros in action on Friday, May 27 at our annual Second Inversion Showcase at Northwest Folklife, along with Sound of Late and the Westerlies. In the meantime, we sat down with the quartet to talk about classical music, cultural heritages, and #casualfridays:

Second Inversion: How would you describe or characterize your ensemble’s sound?

skyros-018James Moat: Whether we’re playing Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, or Ruben Naeff’s “Jackass,” our group strives to create a sound world that is true to the nature of the composer.

When performing the classics, we have help from history to determine what kind of character and sound we’re looking for in our performance. When playing modern works, we’ve always taken every opportunity to work directly with the composer. This type of collaboration is always interesting because the composer has a chance to work with us to find the sound that they want, and we also have a chance to provide them with our own interpretations. The result is a wonderful blend of everyone’s artistic contributions.

SI: The Pacific Northwest is really blossoming in the contemporary classical music sphere—what do you think makes our music scene here so unique?

skyros-024+-+Version+2Willie Braun: Contemporary classical music in Seattle is more than just a sphere or scene, it’s a whole community of composers, performers, and audiences who are passionate about sharing the experience of new music. Having recently moved to the Seattle area last fall, our quartet has felt very welcomed into this community. It is refreshing to see so many artists collaborating, working together, and supporting one another to create music rather than compete for audiences.

The result is a diverse community representing many unique spectrums of contemporary classical music. Seattleites are great audiences, ready and willing to try something new. Going back a few decades, Seattle has a rich history of supporting innovation in music (i.e. grunge) and audiences here are still eager to explore new sounds and experiences.

SI: Northwest Folklife strengthens local communities through art and music, celebrating diverse cultural heritages and working to ensure their continued growth and development. What types of communities or music traditions are represented in your music?

Matching+headshot1Sarah Pizzichemi: The classic canon of string quartet literature is a melting pot of Western art music and a diverse range of influences from Balinese gamelan and Russian folk music, to American jazz and the Finnish national epic poem. The intimate yet universal appeal of four voices in conversation through the timbral spectrum of the string instrument family has made it an ideal medium for composers to record their most cherished musical thoughts, and a way to celebrate many cultural heritages in one masterwork.

We consider ourselves above all else collaborators, and we especially like to work with living composers who are continuing this tradition of musical globalization through the lens of today’s experiences. As an ensemble we also directly explore specific musical traditions like Celtic, Americana, pop culture, film scores, and different types of folk music in contexts like our #casualfriday series on Facebook and YouTube.

SI: As Seattleites, what does the annual Northwest Folklife Festival mean to you?

Sarah Pizzichemi: Skyros Quartet just moved to the Seattle area in September, but I personally was born and raised here. Some of my earliest memories are coming to Folklife to hear the cornucopia of different kinds of music. My parents were fans of world and folk music, so it was so influential for me to hear live ensembles and bands playing such a diverse range of music all in one setting.

As a junior high school student I participated in Folklife as an Irish Dancer, and as a high schooler, I would come to Folklife with other musician friends and we would busk near the Center House playing Shostakovich quartets. I will never forget the invigorating feeling of catching the attention of passersby with the ferocious second movement of the Eighth String Quartet!

I’ve continued to make memories with friends at Folklife, especially visiting the Trad Stage, as I have quite a few friends in the Celtic music circuit. I can’t wait for this year and the special opportunity to share my passion of contemporary classical music with Folklife audiences.

SI: What are you most looking forward to with this performance, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?

skyros+063Justin Kurys: As a quartet, we are very passionate about reaching and connecting with new audiences. As this is our first time performing at Folklife, we are looking forward to interacting with the diverse audience this type of event attracts!

Performances are always at their best when a connection with the audience is created. We hope to engage the audience and create a musical landscape for them to take a journey with us as we perform a very interesting and varied show. The music we will perform shows a different side of art music from what is generally conceived of when people think of classical art music, so we hope that this inspires thought and emotion that is somewhat unexpected from the audience coming into this.

The Skyros Quartet will be featured along with Sound of Late and the Westerlies at our 2nd Annual Second Inversion Showcase at Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m. For more information, please click here or RSVP to our Facebook event.