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.
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.”
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: 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
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
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
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
Every four years we add an extra day to our February calendars—have you ever wondered why that is?
Earth’s revolution around the Sun actually takes about six hours longer than our standard 365-day yearly calendar. Adding a Leap Day every four years realigns our calendar with Earth’s position in the Solar System, keeping our seasons on track.
So in honor of this special day that happens only once every four years, we’re celebrating on Second Inversion with an episode of music made for stargazing. Tune in for astronaut anthems, atmospheric meditations, and the shimmering sounds of outer space.
When we use the phrase “classical music,” it’s usually assumed we’re talking about Western classical music: music that is rooted in the traditions of Europe. But other countries all over the globe have their own traditions of classical or art music—and something pretty incredible happens when there is a dialogue between them.
On this week’s episode of Second Inversion, we’re exploring music that crosses genres and geographical boundaries alike, discovering new sounds and new definitions of what “classical music” means in the 21st century. Tune in for music from Peru, Haiti, West Africa, Iran, Vietnam, and beyond.
Love is in the air and on the airwaves this weekend. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re devoting this week’s episode of Second Inversion to the music of 21st century troubadours.
In medieval times, troubadours were poets and musicians who wrote songs about chivalry and courtly love—they were kind of like the singer-songwriters of the Middle Ages. But of course, love and heartbreak are pretty timeless themes, and composers today are still writing love ballads for the modern romantic.
On this week’s episode of Second Inversion, we’re going to hear songs about love, songs about heartbreak, and at least two songs about online dating nightmares.