Big Ears Festival Playlist: Saturday, March 28 | 10pm

by Maggie Molloy

Every year new music lovers make the pilgrimage to Knoxville, Tennessee for the annual Big Ears Festival: a celebration of ear-expanding music across genres and geographic borders.

For the past decade this annual festival has brought together artists from all around the globe and all corners of the musical universe, inviting musicians and music lovers to spend a long weekend immersed in unexpected collaborations and explosive live performances. It’s basically like new music Christmas.

This year’s Big Ears Festival was unfortunately cancelled due to community health concerns, so on Second Inversion this weekend we’re bringing you the next best thing: an eclectic mix of recordings from artists who were slated to perform in this year’s fest. Tune in for Haitian folk songs, sci-fi operas, sound collages, and even music from outer space.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, March 28 at 10pm PT.


Our Second Inversion in-studio recording of So Percussion performing Jason Treuting’s Life is [ ] is among the featured pieces on this week’s playlist.

21st Century Percussion: Saturday, March 21 | 10pm

by Maggie Molloy

Evelyn Glennie, Andy Akiho, Bonnie Whiting, and Third Coast Percussion are among the featured artists in this week’s episode.

If you want to be a percussionist in the 21st century, you’ve got to play a lot more than just drums.

The percussion toolkit is constantly expanding, and nowadays percussionists have to be prepared to play just about anything. Sure, there are some of the more familiar percussion instruments like gongs, marimbas, or the triangle—but there are also flower pots, kitchen pans, water glasses, and so much more. If you can hit, shake, or strike it, it’s a percussion instrument.

On this week’s episode of Second Inversion, we’re exploring the vast and vibrant world of 21st century percussion. We’ll hear music written for pails of water, planks of wood, an orchestra of gongs, and more—plus, we’ll talk with Seattle percussionist Bonnie Whiting about the revolutionary spirit of percussion.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, March 21 at 10pm PT.


Our field trip to the percussion studio of Bonnie Whiting is available for on-demand listening below as part of an earlier episode of NW Focus Stories.

Minimalism Past and Present: Saturday, March 14 | 10pm

by Maggie Molloy

Philip Glass, Julius Eastman, and Steve Reich are among the minimalists featured in this episode.

Truth, order, and simplicity—those are some of the major hallmarks of the minimalist art movement. It flourished in America during the 1960s and ’70s, primarily as a visual arts movement at first but eventually expanding into design, fashion, architecture, and even a lifestyle aesthetic.

Minimalism also found its counterpart in music. Instead of telling a story or taking the audience on a journey from point A to point B, minimalist music calls attention to the actual activity of listening itself—it’s about being present in the moment. Composers do this in a variety of ways: through repetition, circling melodies, pulsing rhythms, steady drones, or simple harmonies. When performed well, minimalism can feel almost trancelike or hypnotic for the listener.

On this week’s episode of Second Inversion, we’re exploring masterworks of minimalism—plus we’ll hear how some of these iconic pieces are still influencing artists today. We’ll also talk about some of the non-Western musical traditions that helped shape American minimalism.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, March 14 at 10pm PT.


This week’s episode features excerpts from Emerald City Music‘s performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Watch more videos from this performance on-demand in the playlist below:

Women in Music: Saturday, March 7 | 10pm

by Maggie Molloy

If you attended a major symphony performance anywhere in the world this year, chances are you didn’t see any works by women composers on the program.

In the 2019-2020 concert season women composers have accounted for only 3.6 percent of the total works performed by major orchestras worldwide, according to research conducted by Drama Musica’s Donne project.

We’re proud to feature women composers every week on Second Inversion, but in honor of International Women’s Day this weekend we’re dedicating this week’s entire episode to women who have helped shape, inspire, and expand the world of classical music. Plus, we’ll talk about why women have been historically underrepresented in the classical tradition and where you can find more resources on women in music.

To listen, tune in to KING FM on Saturday, March 7 at 10pm PT.

From Vicky Chow to Charlie Parker: Your March Concert Guide

by Peter Tracy

PLEASE NOTE: Some performances may be cancelled or postponed due to community health concerns relating to COVID-19. Please double-check with the venue or performing organization before you head out to a show.

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.”

March-2020-Concert-Flyer-1

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. Coming up: tape manipulations, turntables, field recordings, and new music for novel instrumentations.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Opera presents Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Photo by Sunny Martini.

Seattle Opera: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
The life and times of Charlie Parker inspire a dreamlike exploration of the saxophonist’s struggle to write one final masterpiece. Scored for seven voices and small orchestra, this blending of jazz and classical idioms casts Parker as an operatic tenor amidst fluid, bebop-inspired accompaniment.
3/1-3/7, Various times, McCaw Hall | $64-$180

Bill Frisell: Harmony
Contemporary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell leads an ensemble of voice, cello, and baritone guitar in a concert that brings together three seemingly disparate American musical traditions: jazz, new music, and the Great American Songbook.
Thurs, 3/5, 7:30pm, The Moore Theatre | $32-$52

UW Modern Music Ensemble
This concert has been cancelled due to community health concerns.
From late 20th century classics like Gérard Grisey’s colorful and explosive Talea to more recent compositions by some of today’s leading composers, the UW Modern Music Ensemble presents a concert of chamber works featuring plenty of new and boundary-bursting sounds.
Fri, 3/6, 7:30pm, Meany Hall | $10

Pianist Conrad Tao. Photo by Brantley Gutierrez.

Conrad Tao: American Rage
Pianist Conrad Tao presents a program of music reflecting on moments of rebellion and political division in recent American history. He performs works by legendary American composers Frederic Rzewski, Julia Wolfe, and Aaron Copland alongside off-the-cuff improvisations for piano and electronics.
Fri, 3/6, 8pm, Octave 9 | $35

Seattle Pro Musica: Shall Not Be Denied
This concert has been postponed due to community health concerns.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, Seattle Pro Musica presents a program of choral music by women whose voices have changed American music history—including the iconic vocal innovator Meredith Monk and Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw.
Sat, 3/7, 7:30pm, Trinity Lutheran Church | $21-$38
Sun, 3/8, 3pm, Seattle First Baptist Church | $21-$38

Seattle Symphony: Celebrate Asia
This year’s annual celebration highlights composer and pianist Conrad Tao, who will perform some of his own compositions as well as Gershwin’s ever-popular Rhapsody in Blue. Pre- and post-concert celebrations in the lobby highlight artistic contributions from a wide variety of Asian communities across Seattle.
Sun, 3/8, 4pm, Benaroya Hall | $29-$100

Keyboard Exchange: arx duo and Cristina Valdés
This concert has been postponed due to community health concerns.
The Seattle-based arx duo and contemporary pianist Cristina Valdés come together for an informal set at the Royal Room featuring innovative chamber works for piano and percussion and a new world premiere by Michael Laurello.
Sun, 3/8, 7:30 pm, The Royal Room | $10-$20

UW Guest Artist: Meridian
This concert has been cancelled due to community health concerns.
Explore acoustic phenomena free from conventions of rhythm or technique at this concert of groundbreaking new works. The ever-curious percussionists of Meridian will perform both improvised and composed music, plus collaborations with members of the UW Percussion Ensemble.
Wed, 3/11, 7:30 pm, Meany Studio Theatre | $10-$20

Seattle Improvised Music Festival
No scores, no rules: the Seattle Improvised Music Festival is back for another year of concerts featuring freely improvised music with wide-ranging instrumentations.
3/11-3/15, Various times and locations | $5-$20

PNB presents One Thousand Pieces and Empire Noir. Photo by Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet: One Thousand Pieces
This performance has been cancelled due to community health concerns.
Sculpture, movement, and music come together in this double bill of contemporary ballet. One Thousand Pieces is a large scale work inspired by the stained glass of Marc Chagall and featuring the music of Philip Glass. It’s paired with a recent collaboration between composer Greg Haines and choreographer David Dawson titled Empire Noir.
3/13-2/20, Various times, McCaw Hall | $30-$190

Onomatopoeia Trio: Ides Away
Local faculty at Music Center of the Northwest present new music for saxophone, flute, and French horn, including a premiere of Seattle composer Jessi Harvey’s migration dances and even arrangements of tunes by the Punch Brothers.
Sun, 3/15, 2pm, Music Center of the Northwest | $5

Seattle Art Museum: Eurasia Consort
This concert has been cancelled due to community health concerns.
Western and non-Western instruments come together in this concert featuring world premieres by Alice Shields and former Cornish professor Bun-Ching Lam. Plus: a rare opportunity to hear music from the Tang Dynasty discovered in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, China.
Sun, 3/22, 2 pm, Asian Art Museum | $10-$25

Vicky Chow performs in Emerald City Music’s Evolution. Photo by Kaitlin Jane.

Emerald City Music: Evolution
This concert has been postponed due to community health concerns.
The history and versatility of the keyboard is in the spotlight at this concert of works for harpsichord, piano, and synthesizer. An all-star cast of keyboardists ranging from Henry Kramer to Vicky Chow performs music of Philip Glass, John Cage, Frédéric Chopin, and more.
Fri, 3/27, 8pm, 415 Westlake | $10-$45

Seattle Modern Orchestra: Celebrating 10 Years of SMO
Seattle Modern Orchestra revisits its most memorable performances, including ear-expanding works by John Cage, Kate Soper, Steve Reich, and the world premiere of a work by local composer Huck Hodge for percussion soloist and ensemble.
Fri, 3/27, 8pm, Town Hall Seattle | $10-$30