Sneak Peek Audio Leak: Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘The Hunger’

by Peter Tracy

Donnacha Dennehy is an Irish composer who is intensely interested in the music and culture of his homeland. Whether it be setting Irish poets like William Butler Yeats or incorporating Irish folk traditions into his music, Dennehy frequently celebrates his roots while retaining his colorful, vibrant, and forward-thinking musical style.

This is certainly the case on his upcoming album The Hunger, a collaboration with the always inventive Alarm Will Sound featuring soprano Katherine Manley and Iarla Ó Lionáird, a singer specializing in sean-nós (“old style”) singing—a typically melismatic and highly ornamented style sung in the Gaelic language. The album consists of a stirring cantata remembering Ireland’s Great Famine (1845-1849) by setting first-hand accounts from American humanitarian Asenath Nicholson and utilizing material from a sean-nós style song of the period titled “Na Prátaí Dubha” (Black Potatoes).

One of the most emotionally powerful moments on the album is the movement “I Feared He Would Die,” which depicts a starving old man (represented by Iarla Ó Lionáird) who is continually denied the food he needs for himself and the children under his care to survive. Asenath Nicholson, as represented by Katherine Manley, tells of the callousness of the English officers and the harsh reality of the famine over fluttering strings and undulating harmonies.

Hear it here first ahead of the album’s August 23 release date.


Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger is out August 23 on Nonesuch Records. For more information, click here.

Summer Vibes and Toy Piano Trios: Upcoming Concerts You Can’t Miss

by Peter Tracy

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.”

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Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. Coming up: American song cycles, the art of sound healing, and new music from around the world.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Songs from the Exotic
Emily Ostrom and Peter Nelson-King perform contemporary American compositions for voice and piano, including song cycles by Hale Smith, Judith Weir, and Aaron Kirschner, plus original compositions and rare works from the American song repertoire.
Fri, 8/2, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Northwest Film Forum: Puget Soundtrack
Archival footage of the Pacific Northwest forms the basis of Naer Vaer, a montage film accompanied by an original live score from local new music ensemble Postcard From the Badlands. Translating to “close-dwelling”, Naer Vaer explores our deep and often contradictory connections to each other and the natural world around us.
Sun, 8/4, 8pm, Northwest Film Forum | $13-$16

Live Music Project: A Trio of Trios
The Live Music Project connects you to classical concerts every day of the year—but this day is particularly special, because all proceeds from the concert (and the beer) benefit the important work of LMP in our community. Enjoy three trios for viola, double bass, and toy piano written specifically for LMP by Spencer Arias, Jessi Harvey, and Joyce Kwon and performed amid smiles and pizza at the Lagunitas Taproom.
Mon, 8/5, 5:30pm, Lagunitas Taproom | $5

Bassist Ariel Kemp, violist Ryan May, and (toy) pianist Tristan Greeno.
Photo by Shaya Lyon of the Live Music Project.

East Coast Meets West
Two trumpet players from opposite coasts come together to present a concert of contemporary works for trumpet and piano, including two world premieres by Seattle-based composer Peter Nelson-King.
Thurs, 8/8, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Inverted Space Ensemble
Local new music collective Inverted Space presents a unique concert of atmospheric works for violin, piano, and percussion by Brian Banks, Lou Harrison, and Bun-Ching Lam.
Fri, 8/9, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Symphony for Climate Change
Music, film, and poetry come together in a screening of composer and conductor Christophe Chagnard’s multimedia symphonic work Terra Nostra (“Our Earth”). Presented at the scenic lakeside Discovery Park, the piece aims to engage, educate, and inspire policy change to protect our planet.
Sat, 8/17, 4pm, Discovery Park | Free

Beetle Box
Experimental composer and keyboardist Beetle Box comes to Substation in Fremont for an ear-expanding evening of piano and electronics.
Wed, 8/21, 8:15pm, Substation | Free

Aaron Butler + Bonnie Whiting
Two innovative percussionists, Aaron Butler and Bonnie Whiting, come together in a concert of newly composed solos and improvised duets. Wide-ranging percussion works by Nick Zammuto, Brian Harnetty, and Rob Funkhouser are programmed alongside a long-lost piece for vibraphone solo by David Gibson.
Fri, 8/23, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Nash Naubert.

Nash Naubert: Music of Now
Originally from Seattle, Nash Naubert has spent the past two decades in India studying the bansuri (a bamboo flute used in Hindustani classical music). For this concert, he returns home to perform a collection of entrancing ragas with Aditya Kalyanpur on tabla.
Sat, 8/24, 8pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $24-$30

Good Vibes Only
An all-star lineup of local percussionists tackle a variety of groove-driven tunes for marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone, including works by Steve Reich, Ivan Trevino, and Marc Mellits.
Fri, 8/30, 8pm, Washington Hall | $25

Erin Jorgensen, Storm Benjamin, and Rebekah Ko perform in Good Vibes Only.

Emerald City Music: Tale Retold
The real-life stories of women battling to enlist in the U.S. military are retold in a world premiere by Seattle-based composer Angelique Poteat. Plus, a reimagining of Stravinsky’s iconic The Soldier’s Tale in a cross-disciplinary performance bringing together dance, drama, and music.
Fri, 9/13, 8pm, 415 Westlake | $45
Sat, 9/14 7:30pm, The Minnaert Center (Olympia) | $10-$43

Janaka Stucky and Lori Goldston: Ascend Ascend
Poet and performer Janaka Stucky spent 20 days secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church, drifting in and out of a state of trance and writing a book of mystic poetry in the process. In this immersive, multidisciplinary performance, he presents his new work alongside Seattle cellist and composer Lori Goldston.
Fri, 9/20, 7:30pm, All Pilgrims Church (Seattle) | $18-$45

The Sound Ensemble: Reflections
The Sound Ensemble meditates on some big questions in this concert of works reflecting on who we are as a community and where we go from here. Structured as an introspective journey of sorts, the program includes a world premiere performance of Jerry Mader’s Zodiac for violin and chamber ensemble featuring violinist Marley Erickson.
Sat, 9/28, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$20

Aidan Lang on His Time at Seattle Opera: Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT

Seattle Opera’s outgoing General Director Aidan Lang with Dramaturg Jonathan Dean.

Aidan Lang has kept pretty busy these past five years as the General Director of Seattle Opera.

Under his leadership the opera has quadrupled millennial audiences, introduced over 200 new opera artists to Seattle, launched bold new chamber operas in different Seattle neighborhoods, forged innovative collaborations with companies around the globe, and even moved into a sprawling new home at Seattle Center.

Before he heads to his new post as General Director of the Welsh National Opera, Aidan joins us for a special episode of NW Focus LIVE this Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT on Classical KING FM 98.1.

Tune in as Aidan looks back on his favorite (and funniest!) moments at Seattle Opera in a conversation with Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean, KING FM’s Sean MacLean, and Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy. We’ll talk about the creation and commissioning of new works, taking creative license with the classics, and finding the critical relevance of opera in the 21st century.

Click here to tune in on Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT.

Second Inversion Launches a New Show on Classical KING FM!

Big news for Second Inversion! Beginning in February 2020, we will be launching a brand new weekly show on our parent station, Classical KING FM 98.1.

This show, titled Second Inversion, will air every Saturday night from 10-11pm PT and showcase musical selections from the 20th and 21st centuries. We will also highlight artists and upcoming performances in the Pacific Northwest new music community. Local listeners can tune in on the radio at 98.1, and the show will also be streaming worldwide online.

As part of this transition, Second Inversion’s 24/7 online stream will end, so that the resources needed to produce the new show on KING FM are available. The final day of the online stream will be Monday, August 19.

The decision to discontinue the 24/7 online stream was reached through conversations with many audience members, arts and community partners, internal staff, and station leadership. We ultimately found that a 24/7 streaming format is not the most impactful way to serve listeners or to serve the music itself. With a weekly show on KING FM, we will be able to provide the greater context and curation contemporary music deserves while also introducing it to many more ears: KING FM reaches over a quarter million listeners per week!

The current web publication and video production will continue as normal, providing users with album reviews, interviews, on-demand videos, concert recommendations, and behind-the-scenes access to the world of new and experimental music.

In all of our endeavors, Second Inversion remains committed to showcasing the breadth, diversity, and cultural relevance of contemporary music. We will continue to serve as a portal for new and experimental music in and out of the Pacific Northwest, and we look forward to the opportunities provided by our new format.

If you have any questions about these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your continued support of Second Inversion, and stay tuned for more updates in the months to come!

Seattle New Music Happy Hour: June 26 in Fremont!

We’re switching it up this summer by hosting New Music Happy Hour in a new neighborhood!

On Wednesday, June 26, drop by The Barrel Thief in Fremont anytime between 5-7pm for casual drinks and conversation with friends from Second Inversion, Live Music Project, and the broader Seattle classical music community. Bring a friend, make a friend, have a drink, and discover connections with fellow music lovers from all over Seattle!

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends. Plus, sign up for alerts for future happy hour dates and day-before reminders so you’ll never miss a beer—er, beat.