Seattle Opera Broadcast: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

by Maggie Molloy

Mason Bates takes you inside the life and legacy of one of the greatest minds of the digital age in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, an opera exploring the intersections of technology, spirituality, and ambition.

The Seattle Opera just wrapped up its production of the Grammy Award-winning work last weekend, but you’ve still got one more chance to hear it: this Saturday, Classical KING FM 98.1 is broadcasting a live recording of the performance. Tune in on the radio or online from anywhere in the world this Saturday, March 16 at 8pm PT.

And in the meantime, step behind the scenes in this special crossover episode of Classical Classroom and the Seattle Opera Podcast! Second Inversion host Dacia Clay talks with Mason Bates about the place where classical music meets technology—and why this distinctly 21st century story lends itself to an operatic retelling.

For more backstage coverage (including costumes, libretto, technology, and more), check out the Seattle Opera Podcast, hosted by Seattle Opera dramaturg Jonathan Dean.

Classical KING FM 98.1 broadcasts Seattle Opera’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs this Saturday, March 16 at 8pm PT. Click here to tune in.

Second Inversion’s 24-Hour Marathon of Women Composers

by Maggie Molloy

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, we’re featuring a 24-hour marathon of women composers on Second Inversion. Tune in all day long to hear works by over 200 women who have helped shape, inspire, and expand the world of classical music.

Why women composers?

For much of classical music history, socially-prescribed gender roles excluded women from participating in composition. Women were denied access to musical resources, financial patronage, art and music networks, and performance and publication opportunities.

It had far reaching effects: what we now consider the Western classical music canon solidified around the music of white men, and even in the 21st century concert programs are still overwhelmingly dominated by the music of male composers. According to a survey of 89 American symphony orchestras, women composers accounted for only 1.7 percent of the total pieces performed in the 2015-2016 concert season. 

Research conducted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Infographic by Rachel Upton and Ricky O’Bannon.

Second Inversion is working to help balance the scales. We’re proud to feature music by women composers today and every day on our 24/7 online stream and web publication.

Click here to stream our 24-Hour Marathon of Women Composers from anywhere in the world, and check out our hosts’ top music picks below. For more resources (including 50+ pieces of advice from women composers), visit our Women in (New) Music series.

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh: Music for Piano (Nonesuch Records)

Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh performs this solo piano piece, but with some prepared piano sorcery she manages to create the illusion of a duet.  Just before sitting down to record, she draped her necklace over the middle range of the piano strings, making it sound like a string instrument called a tar (similar to a lute) that her father played. Music for Piano is a bold fusion of the traditional music of her homeland and adventurous experimental music of the present.  The way she draws from her culture adds a philosophical and mysterious tinge to this lovely piano composition.
– Rachele Hales

Pauline Oliveros: Suiren (New Albion Records)

“Listen to everything all the time and remind yourself when you are not listening,” Pauline Oliveros said in her 1998 keynote address at the ArtSci98 symposium. Over 20 years later, those words have come to encapsulate the astonishing legacy left behind by this pioneer of experimental and electronic art music.

During today’s marathon I’m excited to share Suiren, a piece of hers that was created and recorded in a massive cistern on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula here in Washington. Using nothing but their voices, a garden hose, and the cistern’s famous 45-second reverb, Oliveros and her Deep Listening Band craft a quiet, meditative soundscape that lulls you straight into sonic hypnosis. – Maggie Molloy

Madeleine Cocolas: Rothko, No. 16 (Bigo & Twigetti Music)

I lived in Houston for most of my life, and one of my favorite places there was the Rothko Chapel. The peace of the Chapel is thick and indifferent—an atmosphere created in large part by the giant Rothko paintings on all of the walls. For lots of reasons, it’s a place a I love and return to.

When Madeleine Cocolas moved to New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was that kind of place for her—a place she loved and found herself returning to. Her album Metropolitan is a tribute to the museum. She took her nine favorite pieces from the Met and used software to analyze those visual works and turn them into sound. She then incorporated the sounds generated by the software into her compositions. For Rothko, No. 16, she represents the four major colors in Rothko’s piece with four chords, and the pitch of each note in her piece is determined by the intensity of the color.

Cocolas’s Rothko, No. 16 is happy and bright and weird and full of life. I love it and plan to return to it often. – Dacia Clay

Second Inversion’s 24-Hour Marathon of Women Composers is streaming worldwide all day on Friday, March 8. Click here to listen.

New Music Happy Hour: Friday, March 15 at 5pm

by Maggie Molloy

Cruise into your weekend with a cold beer and warm company at our next Seattle New Music Happy Hour!

Join us Friday, March 15 at 5pm at T.S. McHugh’s for a happy hour co-hosted by Second Inversion and the Live Music Project. Bring a friend, make a friend, have a drink, and discover connections with fellow new 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.

Percussion as Revolution: Relaunching the Cornish Percussion Ensemble

by Maggie Molloy

In 1938, while working at Cornish College of the Arts, John Cage formed the Cage Percussion Players: a group credited with presenting the first full-length concert dedicated entirely to percussion ensemble music in the Western classical tradition.

This year, Cornish faculty members Kerry O’Brien and Greg Campbell are picking up the mantle, assembling a new group of music students to build upon the ensemble’s 80-year legacy.

Video by Daniel Husser.

The new Cornish Percussion Ensemble debuts this Saturday with a performance of music by Jessie Marino, Elliot Cole, Sarah Hennies, Alessandro Rovegno, and Greg Campbell. Also on the program is David Lang’s ruminative little eye, scored for cello and four “non-percussionists” and featuring cellist Ha-Yang Kim.

Paradoxically, the notion of “non-percussionists” is central to the musical ethos of the group. We talked with co-directors O’Brien and Campbell (who are both classically-trained percussionists) about the past, present, and future of percussion at Cornish.

Second Inversion: What makes the ensemble’s history unique?

Kerry O’Brien, co-director of the Cornish Percussion Ensemble.

Kerry O’Brien: It was the first institutional group of its kind! The Cage Percussion Players’ first concert at Cornish (December 1938) was historic in being a full-length concert dedicated entirely to percussion ensemble music. In addition to their three concerts at Cornish, they toured the western United States, performing works for percussion ensemble. The group was also unique in that it originally included non-percussionists, which is true still today.

SI: How does working with non-percussionists inform the music of the group?

KO: It’s actually part of the legacy of the ensemble. When Cage first formed the group, it included his then-wife Xenia Cage, Cornish Eurythmics instructor Doris Dennison, and Cornish pianist Margaret Jansen. Today our group has a mix of percussionists and non-percussionist composers interested in writing for percussion. The ensemble is a great way to have hands-on experience with many instruments, and a few students are actively writing for percussion over the course of the semester.

Greg Campbell, co-director of the Cornish Percussion Ensemble.

SI: How long was the ensemble’s hiatus?

Greg Campbell: From what we can gather, there have been a few breaks in the ensemble’s 80+ year history. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, percussionist Matt Kocmieroski led the ensemble regularly and then more sporadically until 2011. So it’s now been eight years since the ensemble was active. 

SI: What made you want to relaunch the ensemble?

GC: Kerry and I share not only years of experience in the world of classical percussion music but also scholarly inquiry into revolutionary musico-political artists and movements. It was during his Cornish years that Cage famously said, “Percussion music is revolution.”

Some 80 years later, percussion ensemble music is widespread, but we hope to invoke the revolutionary spirit of those earlier times not only by performing pieces from that earlier era by Cage, Johanna Beyer, and others, but to honor their work by encouraging members of the ensemble and Cornish community to compose new works for the group.

The Cornish Percussion Ensemble performs this Saturday, March 2 at 6pm at the Jack Straw Cultural Center. For more information, click here.

Second Inversion on NW Focus LIVE!

Sean MacLean, Host of KING FM’s NW Focus LIVE.

New music in the Northwest is the theme of this week’s episode of Classical KING FM’s NW Focus LIVE.

Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy.

Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy is the featured guest on this Friday’s show, where she will share a handful of live and local performances from the Second Inversion library, including a wide range of performances recorded in our studio and out in the community. She’ll also talk with KING FM’s Sean MacLean about the thrill of discovering new sounds, the surprising intersections of old and new music, and what makes Seattle’s new music scene so vibrant.

So, what’s on the playlist? We don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say we’ll hear music from Seattle’s favorite brass quartet, a vocal ensemble with some serious bite, an ocean of percussion, and a whole lot more—including a brand new, unreleased recording captured just this week in our studios.

This special Second Inversion edition of NW Focus LIVE airs this Friday, Feb. 22 at 8pm PT on Classical KING FM 98.1. Click here to tune in from anywhere in the world!