Cellos, Carols, and Holiday Cheer: New Music for December

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! 

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. Coming up: aural rituals, sonic thresholds, and dark ambient music.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Cornish Presents: Scores of Sound
Fill up on new and experimental music in this three-day festival of student performances and premieres from Cornish College of the Arts.
12/4-12/6, 10am-10pm, Various locations | Free

Seattle Modern Opera Company: ‘Suor Angelica’
This modern-day adaptation of Puccini’s heart-wrenching one act opera reimagines the title nun as a teenager whose spiritual and social strength is put to the ultimate test at her Catholic boarding school.
Thurs-Fri, 12/5-12/6, 8pm, University Heights Center | $22

The Westerlies Holiday Bash
The Seattle-bred, New York-based brass quartet returns home for the holidays to present a concert of festive brass music and original arrangements. All proceeds from this special fundraiser support the ensemble’s ongoing commitment to access, education, and community outreach.
Thurs, 12/5, 7pm, The Knife Room | $30-$100

Phil Kline’s ‘Unsilent Night’
In this contemporary twist on holiday caroling, audience members each download one of four tracks of music which, when played together, comprise Phil Kline’s ethereal Unsilent Night. Participants meet up with boomboxes and speakers and each hit “play” at the same time—then walk through the streets of Capitol Hill creating an ambient, aleatoric sound sculpture.
Fri, 12/6, 6:30pm, Kerry Hall | Free

Portland Cello Project: Purple Reign
Prince reigns supreme in Portland Cello Project’s latest concert program. Joined by musicians who have collaborated with Prince in the past, Portland Cello Project celebrates the pop icon’s inimitable musical voice and extraordinary artistic legacy.
Fri, 12/6, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $40-$50

Portland Cello Project.

Inverted Space Ensemble
An introspective evening of works for solo voice with accompaniment ranging from piano to the adapted instruments of Harry Partch. Pianist Brendan Kinsella shares a program of original music alongside works by Frederic Rzewski and Luke Fitzpatrick, while Fitzpatrick and Charles Corey perform a selection of Partch’s microtonal musings.
Fri, 12/6, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

UW Composition Studio
There’s a whole lot of cutting-edge music coming out of the University of Washington, and this concert spans the gamut: hear new and unconventional sounds from students, faculty, alumni, and guests of the UW Composition program.
Sat, 12/7, 7:30pm, UW Brechemin Auditorium | Free

Ladies Musical Club: The Inspiring Words of Emily Dickinson
The immortal poetry of Emily Dickinson gives rise to many different musical interpretations by 20th and 21st century composers. Included in this program are settings by Aaron Copland, John Duke, Lori Laitman, Craig Urquhart, and more.
Mon, 12/9, 7:30pm, University House | Free

Cellist Seth Parker Woods.

Seth Parker Woods: That Which is Fundamental
The simplicity, complexity, and musicality of language inspired this program of works for cello, recorded voice, and everyday objects. Cellist Seth Parker Woods and percussionist Bonnie Whiting explore the fascinating textures and unexpected sounds of Julius Eastman, Anton Lukoszevieze, Tonia Ko, Vinko Globokar, and more.
Wed, 12/11, 7:30pm, Octave 9 | $35

Leanna Keith and Rachel Nesvig perform in High Right Now. Photo by Kelly O.

High Right Now
Drift into deeper consciousness during this evening of hypnotic minimalist music. Dreamed up by marimbist Erin Jorgensen, the sonic ritual brings together an all-star lineup of local musicians to perform the immersive musings of Brian Lawlor and Benjamin Marx.
Wed, 12/11, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $20

Emerald City Music: Jason Vieaux & Kristin Lee
From the sultry tango of Astor Piazzolla to the musical mosaics of Vivian Fung, this concert explores globe-spanning duets for violin and classical guitar. Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux and Emerald City Music Artistic Director Kristin Lee team up to explore this rich and underrated repertory.
Fri, 12/13, 8pm, 415 Westlake | $45
Sat, 12/14, 7:30pm, Olympia Ballroom | $23-$43

The Esoterics: Humility
Giving voice to verses from the Bible, a Mohawk prayer, a speech by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, and wide-ranging poetry, this expansive program explores the moments that bring us down to earth and fill us with empathy, wonder, and respect. Works by Gabriela Lena Frank, Stacy Garrop, Augusta Read Thomas, and more examine different forms of humility.
Fri, 12/13, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Laurelhurst) | $15-$22
Sat, 12/14, 8pm, Holy Rosary Catholic Church (West Seattle) | $15-$22
Sun, 12/15, 7pm, Christ Episcopal Church (Tacoma) | $15-$22

Neal Kosaly-Meyer: ‘Finnegans Wake’
Though most would consider James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake a work of literature, pianist Neal Kosaly-Meyer hears music in the words. He’s dedicating 17 years to learning and performing (by memory) this sprawling work—one chapter per year. This year is Chapter 6, performed as always with props, costumes, sound and lighting design, and acute musical detail.
Sat, 12/14, 7:30pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Pro Musica: Solstice
During the darkest part of the year, Seattle Pro Musica celebrates warmth and light with a program of joyous winter choral music from around the globe. R. Murray Schafer’s evocative Snowforms features a beautiful graphic score that sets Inuit words for different types of snow, while Morten Lauridsen’s O nata lux finds solace in eternal light. Plus: music of Seattle Pro Musica Artistic Director Karen P. Thomas and other Northwest composers.
Sat, 12/14, 3pm & 7:30pm, Bastyr University Chapel | $21-$38
Sat, 12/21, 3pm & 7:30pm, Seattle First Baptist Church | $21-$38

Opera on Tap: Annual Holiday Show
Grab your best ugly Christmas sweater for this annual holiday extravaganza as local singers belt out opera classics and carols alike.
Tues, 12/17, 7:30pm, Blue Moon Tavern | $5

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