Become Ocean: Saturday, Dec. 2 | 9pm

by Maggie Molloy

Picture yourself walking along a snowy trail through the Alaskan forest. You’re surrounded by aspen, spruce, and paper birch trees. Snowy owls and other critters are camouflaged in the landscape. Mountains in the distance, sun beaming overhead. Your boots leaving footprints in the powdery snow.

Your destination is a small, one-room cabin in the middle of this boreal forest—the Alaskan taiga.

It’s a walk John Luther Adams made almost every day. For decades, this 16-by-20-foot cabin was the center of his world: his studio, where he mapped the music of the arctic—a kind of sonic geography. These days, Adams makes his home in the Sonoran Desert, where his music remains deeply embedded in the landscapes of the natural world.

This Saturday on Second Inversion, we’re taking a deep dive into the music of John Luther Adams, beginning with his Pulitzer Prize-winning piece Become Ocean (commissioned by the Seattle Symphony in 2013). Plus, Adams introduces us to the music and poetry of mountains and desert.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 9pm PT.

Simple Gifts: Saturday, Nov. 25 | 9pm

The ensemble yMusic is featured in this week’s episode. Photo by Graham Tolbert.

Classical music doesn’t always have to be so complicated.

There is beauty in simplicity—and there is music, too, if you slow down to listen! This Saturday on Second Inversion: Simple Gifts. From dainty macaroons to afternoons spent at the piano, we’ll hear music inspired by life’s simple pleasures. Join us as we take a moment to appreciate the little things.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 9pm PT.

Furniture Music: Saturday, Nov. 18 | 9pm

by Maggie Molloy
Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

Some music is meant to be the main event—it demands your full focus and attention. And some music…is just for ambiance.

The composer Erik Satie coined the term “furniture music” in the early 20th century to describe music that blends into the atmosphere of a room. It might add a bit of color, texture, or even comfort to a space—but it’s never the main focus. It’s music that, in the words of Satie, “might mingle with the sound of knives and forks at dinner.”

This Saturday on Second Inversion, we’ll hear music that invites us to settle into our surroundings. So by all means, stretch out on the couch, make yourself comfortable, and join us for some furniture music.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 9pm PT.

New Music Noir: Saturday, Nov. 11 | 9pm

by Maggie Molloy
Bernard Herrmann’s music for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is included in this episode.

Love, betrayal, corruption, murder—all crucial ingredients in any great film noir. And so is a swingin’ soundtrack.

On this Saturday’s episode of Second Inversion: New Music Noir! We’ll hear cinematic sounds that beckon us to a world of black and white. From the dizzying twists and turns of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to the smoky streets of Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, we’ll hear music that embodies the ominous world of film noir. Plus, music from a black and white movie that’s all about color—and an imaginary film score that invites you to be the director. Settle in for an evening of moody strings, soulful trumpets, and the sultry swing of the city streets.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 9pm PT.

Ghost Opera: Saturday, Nov. 4 | 9pm

by Maggie Molloy
Carrie Wang performed Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera with Seattle Symphony musicians in November 2022.

Do you believe in ghosts? Not the Halloween kind of ghosts—but spirits of the past…and maybe, spirits of the future, too.

This Saturday on Second Inversion: Ghost Opera. The Chinese composer Tan Dun takes us back in time, to the shamanistic ceremonies of his native Hunan, where musical rituals launched the spirit into new life. In ghost opera, the performer is in dialogue with past and future, spirit and nature.

In Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera, he calls on the spirits of Bach, Shakespeare, ancient Chinese folk traditions—and the sounds of the earth, too. He combines a string quartet with the sounds of water, metal, stones, paper, and one instrument that you might not be quite as familiar with: the pipa, a kind of Chinese lute.

Seattle Symphony musicians performing Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera at Octave 9. Photo by Brandon Patoc.

Last year, the Seattle Symphony presented two sold-out performances of Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera in their immersive Octave 9 space. The string quartet included violinists Andy Liang and Mae Lin, violist Olivia Chew, and cellist Nathan Chan. The pipa player was Carrie Wang. She joins host Maggie Molloy in studio this week to introduce us to the sounds of the pipa and to take us behind the curtain of this special performance.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 9pm PT.