A Fallen Piano is Resurrected at Jack Straw

by Maggie Molloy

Fifty years ago, an upright piano flew from the sky and crashed loudly upon the ground near Duvall, Washington, smashing into pieces in front of an audience of avant-garde enthusiasts. It was dropped from a helicopter by the Jack Straw Foundation (then in the form of KRAB radio) as a fundraising event for the experimental radio station and their friends at Helix, the hippie newspaper.

Seattle Times clipping, 1968.

This month, that historic piano is being resurrected.

Piano Drop is a historical music installation now on display at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery. The exhibit showcases the remains of the fallen piano for the first time since the helicopter drop, along with archival film footage, historical documents, and new recordings of music composed and performed on the instrument.

And, you can even see the piano performed live. On Febraury 23, Jack Straw presents a special one-night-only live performance of new works composed for the instrument and performed by local musicians, including new works from Amy Denio, James Borchers, Jeffrey Bowen, and Luke Fitzpatrick, among many others.

Though all of the music was written in response to a clamorous piano drop, the concert pays equal tribute to the aleatoric sounds of near-silence; in the spirit of John Cage, each of the featured works is 4’33” or shorter.


Piano Drop is on display at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery through Friday, March 15. The live performance is Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7pm. Click here to learn more.

From Chamber Pop to Modern Opera: New Music for February

by Maggie Molloy

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! 

Keep an eye out for our flyer in concert programs and coffee shops around town. Feel free to download, print, and distribute it yourself! 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.”

February-2019-New-Music-Flyer-1


Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: white noise, dark ambient, abstracted songs, and Kurdish rhythms.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Caroline Shaw.

Seattle Symphony: Caroline Shaw’s ‘Watermark’
Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto was the inspiration behind Caroline Shaw’s Watermark, which receives its world premiere at Benaroya Hall. Pianist Jonathan Biss performs both pieces with the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Ludovic Morlot. Take a peek behind the scenes in our interview with the composer.
Fri, 2/1, 12pm, Benaroya Hall | $22-$122
Sat, 2/2, 8pm, Benaroya Hall | $22-$122

SMCO: From Spain to India
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra explores connections between Indian classical music and flamenco in this program featuring music of Manuel de Falla, Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, and Jason Everett performed with guest soloists.
Sat, 2/2, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$25
Sun, 2/3, 4pm, Vashon Center for the Arts | $10-$22

Erin Jorgensen (left) and Rose Bellini (right).

Cheating, Lying, Stealing
New music luminaries Erin Jorgensen and Rose Bellini assemble a cast of Seattle’s top new music movers and shakers for this wide-ranging program of chamber works by David Lang, Anna Clyne, Carla Kihlstedt, Marc Mellits, and Caroline Shaw. Did we mention it takes place amid a dreamy neon light show? The concert’s creators take us behind the scenes.
Sun, 2/3, 8pm, Washington Hall | $20

Amy Denio Ensemble: ‘Varieté’
Seattle avant-gardist Amy Denio and her band perform her original film score alongside this special viewing of the 1925 silent film Varieté: a tale of jealousy, obsession, and murder set against the backdrop of the circus.
Mon, 2/4, 7pm, The Paramount Theatre | $10

Seattle Symphony: Silkroad Ensemble
Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh performs the world premiere of his clarinet concerto with the Seattle Symphony in this concert celebrating cross-cultural collaboration. He’s joined by the musicians of the Silkroad Ensemble for music by Vijay Iyer,Edward Perez, and Chen Yi.
Wed, 2/6, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $22-$122

Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh.

Melia Watras: ‘Schumann Resonances’ Album Release
Fairy tales, folk songs, and the music of Schumann are a few of the major influences behind violist Melia Watras’s new album. She performs new works from Schumann Resonances alongside special guests. Hear our sneak preview of the album.
Wed, 2/6, 7:30pm, UW Brechemin Auditorium | FREE

Seattle Improvised Music Festival
No scores, no plans, no safety net: just a whole bunch of artists from all different musical backgrounds collaborating in an atmosphere of spontaneity, intuition, and discovery.
2/6-2/10, Various times and locations | $5-$20

Harry Partch Ensemble
This concert has been cancelled due to inclement weather.
Experience the handmade microtonal instruments of Harry Partch in this concert featuring new works composed for his instruments paired with rarely-performed works from the composer’s archives. Take a tour of the Harry Partch Instrumentarium.
Sat, 2/9, 7:30pm, Meany Studio Theater | $10

Harry Partch’s Chromelodeon. Photo by Maggie Molloy.

UW School of Music: ‘The Innocents’
Visiting percussionists John Lane and Allen Otte perform music from their performance art piece The Innocents, which uses found sounds, street percussion, thumb pianos, and electronics to explore issues of wrongful imprisonment and exoneration. The concert also features the UW Percussion ensemble performing works for speaking percussionist.
Tues, 2/12, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Kin of the Moon: A New Phase
The composer-performer troupe Kin of the Moon presents the world premiere of Ewa Trębacz’s Winter After Times of Fire, a surround-sound collage of improvisations from a wide range of sonic spaces, including the Fort Worden Cistern. Also on the program are new works exploring graphic scores, forgotten sounds, and film.
Fri, 2/22, 7:30pm, Kerry Hall | $5-$15

The Esoterics: Vulnerability
Openness of heart and mind is the overarching theme of this choral concert featuring wide-ranging works from Reena Esmail, Ted Hearne, David Lang, Jennifer Higdon, Evan Flory-Barnes, and more.
2/22-2/24, Various times and locations | $15-$22

Piano Drop @ Jack Straw
The fractured remains of a piano dropped from a helicopter 50 years ago become the canvas for a concert of brand new works by local composers. Discover the story behind the instrument.
Sat, 2/23, 7pm, Jack Straw Cultural Center | FREE

Emerald Ensemble: ‘the little match girl passion’
David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion tells the haunting tale of a poor young girl who freezes from the bitter cold of the cruel world around her. The harrowing oratorio sets Hans Christian Andersen’s original story in the format of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
Sat, 2/23, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church | $30

Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond.

My Brightest Diamond
Few artists inhabit both pop and classical worlds so freely and convincingly as Shara Nova, the operatically-trained singer and composer behind the art rock band My Brightest Diamond. She performs music from her new album A Million and One.
Sat, 2/23, 9pm, Tractor Tavern | $18

Seattle Opera: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
Mason Bates takes you inside the life and legacy of one of the greatest minds of the digital age in this opera exploring the intersections of technology, spirituality,  and ambition. Learn more about the music in our album review.
2/23-3/9, Various times, McCaw Hall | $25-$335

Caroline Shaw and Beethoven: Fanning the Fires of Musical Inspiration

by Dave Beck

On this week’s Seattle Symphony Spotlight, Dave Beck speaks with the youngest composer ever to win a Pulitzer Prize in music: Caroline Shaw.

Caroline is in Seattle this weekend for the world premiere of Watermark, her new orchestral work written in response to Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. The idea for the piece was suggested to her by pianist Jonathan Biss, who performs both pieces with the Seattle Symphony this weekend, conducted by Ludovic Morlot. The program opens with Shostakovich’s Symphony No.1, a piece that brought the young composer international acclaim at the age of 19.

All of the works on the program represent strikingly original creations by composers in the early years of their careers. In this interview, Caroline talks with us about the inspiration, the writing process, and the meaning behind the title Watermark.


Caroline Shaw’s Watermark premieres at the Seattle Symphony Jan. 31-Feb. 2. Click here for tickets and more information.

All Strings Attached: Ólafur Arnalds in Seattle

by Maggie Molloy

In a world so full of noise, the quiet music of Ólafur Arnalds speaks volumes.

His ephemeral melodies have a nostalgic quality—a way of immersing the listener in muted whispers of sound. Drifting amid his chorus of amplified keyboards and synthesizers, the passage of time becomes quietly punctuated by gentle drum beats and sighing strings. His music plays with perception—if you listen long enough, it blurs the lines of time.

The fluidity of time is one of the major themes behind Arnalds’ world tour All Strings Attached, which comes through Seattle this Saturday at the Moore Theatre. Featuring music from his past, present, and future records, the concert examines the unity and interconnectedness of humanity through an immersive musical performance.

The concert features Arnalds at the keyboard backed by a new generative piano device that he created in collaboration with audio developer Halldór Eldjárn. When Arnalds performs live, each note he plays triggers (in real time) unique musical sequences on two different Disklavier player pianos, creating a sort of duet between human and computer. Adding texture to Arnalds’ collection of keyboards is a uniquely wired ensemble of string quintet and drums—each sound delicately intertwined, all strings attached.

Ólafur Arnalds performs at the Moore Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8pm. Click here for tickets and more information.

A Fallen Piano is Resurrected at Jack Straw

by Maggie Molloy

Fifty years ago, an upright piano flew from the sky and crashed loudly upon the ground near Duvall, Washington, smashing into pieces in front of an audience of avant-garde enthusiasts. It was dropped from a helicopter by the Jack Straw Foundation (then in the form of KRAB radio) as a fundraising event for the experimental radio station and their friends at Helix, the hippie newspaper.

1968 press clipping from the Seattle Times.

This month, that historic piano is being resurrected in the hands of local composers—and it’s not too late to get in on the action.

The Jack Straw Cultural Center is currently accepting submissions for new works scored for the illustrious instrument’s remains (the soundboard and harp—minus the bass strings, if we’re getting specific). The tuning of the strings is as-is, allowing for a wide array of delightful and unexpected surprises—and fingers, mallets, and bows are all fair game. The maximum length for submissions is 4’33” (a tribute to John Cage’s iconoclastic “silent piece”), and submissions are accepted as written scores or demo recordings.

Submissions are due Jan. 7, and the selected compositions will be performed and recorded at Jack Straw in February and incorporated into a Piano Drop installation in the New Media Gallery.

Interested composers can email arts@jackstraw.org or call them at (206) 634-0919 with any questions, or to schedule a time to visit the instrument in the gallery.


The Opening Reception for Jack Straw’s Piano Drop Installation will take place Friday, Feb. 8 at 7pm. A live performance of the new works will take place Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7pm. Both events are free and open to the public. Click here to learn more.

New Year, New Music: Your January Concert Guide

by Maggie Molloy

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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! 

thvLYmNB

Keep an eye out for our flyer in concert programs and coffee shops around town. Feel free to download, print, and distribute it yourself! 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.”

January 2019 New Music Flyer

 

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: film scores, sonic purges, banjo improvisations, and an orchestra of driftwood.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Gretchen Yanover: Cello Loops
Classical music meets contemporary technology in Gretchen Yanover’s performances for solo cello and loop pedal. Playing and layering her melodies live on stage, Yanover crafts instrumental atmospheres that draw from her classical training as well as her African-American and Russian Jewish heritage.
Tues, 1/8, 7pm, Slavonian Hall (Tacoma) | FREE

Seattle Symphony: ‘JANE’
Philip Glass’ buoyant score frames this stunning National Geographic documentary about Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. See the film on the big screen while the Seattle Symphony performs the score live.
Tues, 1/8, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $35-$85

Ahamefule J. Oluo & Scrape
Seattle trumpet legend Ahamefule J. Oluo offers a sneak peek of the score for his new film, Thin Skin (an adaptation of his experimental pop opera Now I’m Fine). Joined by the Scrape music collective, Oluo performs excerpts from this dark comedy about the meaning of family.
Thurs, 1/10, 8pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$20

Portland Cello Project
Equally at home in rock clubs and concert halls, Portland Cello Project is an ensemble known for pushing the boundaries of the classical cello tradition. For this string of performances, they play music from Radiohead’s OK Computer alongside classics by Coltrane and Bach.
Fri, 1/11, 7pm, Admiral Theatre (Bremerton) | $18-$56
Sat, 1/12, 7:30pm, Rialto Theater (Tacoma) | $29-$49
Sun, 1/13, 3pm, Mount Baker Theater (Bellingham) | $22-$42

Jesse Myers: Glass Half Full
You’ll want to bring a pillow and blanket to Jesse Myers’ performance of Philip Glass’ famous Piano Etudes. Instead of sitting in chairs, the pianist invites listeners to lie on the floor as they experience the music alongside immersive light projections that dance across the ceiling and walls of the performance space.
Fri, 1/11, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $10-$15

Bern Herbolsheimer Musical Memorial
In honor of the late Bern Herbolsheimer’s passing three years ago on this day, Seattle musicians come together to perform a concert of the beloved local composer’s chamber works.
Sun, 1/13, 7:30pm, PONCHO Concert Hall | FREE

Opera on Tap: Park and Bark!
Nothing goes better with opera tunes than beer and tacos. Local singers perform operatic masterpieces and hidden gems alike in this casual brewery concert benefiting Emerald City Pet Rescue.
Mon, 1/14, 6pm, Lagunitas Brewing Company | $25

Seattle Modern Orchestra: Sounds of Echoes
The book-lined walls of the Seattle Athenaeum form the perfect setting for this concert of chamber works presented in the round. Poetry-inspired pieces from George Crumb and Toru Takemitsu are paired with works by Seattle composers Angelique Poteat and Tom Baker.
Fri, 1/18, 7pm, Folio | $20-$25

The Sound Ensemble: Local Wonders
From Kaley Lane Eaton’s dynamic Sacred Geometry to Carly Ann Worden’s majestic San Juan Sinfonietta, this concert is dedicated to exploring chamber works by local women composers. Also on the program are new premieres from Angelique Poteat and Sarah Bassingthwaighte.
Sat, 1/19, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$20

Thalia Symphony Orchestra
A third stream concerto for electric bass, vibraphone, and orchestra is among the highlights of this concert, composed and performed by friends and childhood neighbors Dan Dean (bass) and Tom Collier (vibes). Works by Jacques Offenbach, Carl Nielsen, Rebecca Clarke, and Arturo Marquez complete the program.
Sat, 1/19, 7:30pm, St. Stephen’s Church | $18-24
Sun, 1/20, 3pm, Nordic Museum | $18-24

SCMS Winter Festival
Seattle Chamber Music Society’s annual Winter Festival features a variety of classical music performances from across the centuries, including 20th century works by Janáček, Kodály, Martinů, Hindemith, Shostakovich, and Britten.
1/18-1/27, Various times, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $20-$65

Ólafur Arnalds: All Strings Attached
The ambient sound worlds of Icelandic composer  shimmer to life in this performance featuring the pianist alongside a uniquely wired ensemble of string quintet, drums, and two Disclaviers. The concert features past, present, and brand new material from his forthcoming album.
Sat, 1/26, 8pm, The Moore Theatre | $28

Seattle Symphony: Celebrate Asia
The 11th annual Celebrate Asia concert highlights music and musicians from across the continent, with conductor Shi-Yeon Sung leading the orchestra in contemporary (and traditional) music by Korean, Thai, and Taiwanese composers. Featured soloists include soprano Kathleen Kim and pianist Seong-Jin Cho, and the concert is framed by spectacular pre- and post-concert festivities in the lobby.
Sun, 1/27, 4pm, Benaroya Hall | $31-$97

Seattle Symphony: Soundbites
Grab a drink and unwind with fellow music lovers at this casual performance featuring Seattle Symphony musicians performing wide-ranging chamber works.
Mon, 1/28, 7pm, The Collective | $10

New Music Magic: Our Top Concert Picks for December

Frequency performs Dec. 9 at the Royal Room.

by Maggie Molloy

SI_button2

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! 

thvLYmNB

Keep an eye out for our flyer in concert programs and coffee shops around town. 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. This month: marimba duos, MIDI accordions, Japanese koto, and modular synths.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

UW Modern Music Ensemble: Webern, Cage, & Neuwirth
In Greek mythology, the satyr Marsyas was a great musician who challenged Apollo to a musical duel—and was flayed alive when he lost. The dramatic tale is the inspiration behind Olga Neuwirth’s Marsyas II, which is performed here by the UW Modern Music Ensemble alongside works by Webern, Cage, Feldman, and Penderecki.
Wed, 12/5, 7:30pm, UW Brechemin Auditorium | FREE

The Esoterics: ADŌRŌ
Seattle’s contemporary choral group performs a concert of works examining the solace, spirituality, and silent prayers present in nature. A song cycle by Joseph Gregorio sets John Gould Fletcher’s “secular humanist” prayers to music, while Mason Bates’ Observer in the Magellanic Cloud is based on an ancient Maori entreaty to the night sky for a fruitful harvest. Ethereal works by Eric Banks, Donald Skirvin, Christina Whitten Thomas, and Karin Rehnqvist complete the program.
Fri, 12/7, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Seattle) | $15-$22
Sat, 12/8, 8pm, Holy Rosary Catholic Church (West Seattle) | $15-$22
Sun, 12/9, 3pm, St. John’s Episcopal Church (Olympia) | $15-$22

Sno-King Community Chorale: Holiday Magic
Setting an English translation of a Norwegian medieval folk poem, Ola Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver tells the musical tale of a man who falls asleep on Christmas Eve and sleeps until the twelfth day of Christmas. When he wakes, he rides to church to tell the congregation of his dreams and his journey through the afterlife.
Sat, 12/8, 3pm & 7pm, Nordic Museum | $15-$22

Frequency at the Royal Room
This dream string trio of Michael Jinsoo Lim, Melia Watras, and Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir lend their bows to music by Bloch, Klein, Kodály, and Watras in the relaxed, laid-back atmosphere of the Royal Room.
Sun, 12/9, 5:30pm, The Royal Room | $15

Phil Kline’s ‘Unsilent Night’
In this contemporary twist on holiday caroling, audience members each download one of four tracks of music which, when played together, comprise Phil Kline’s ethereal Unsilent Night. Participants meet up with boomboxes and speakers and each hit “play” at the same time—then walk through the streets of Tacoma creating an ambient, aleatoric sound sculpture.
Fri, 12/14, 6pm, Cornish College of the Arts’ Kerry Hall | FREE
Fri, 12/21, 6:30pm, Mason United Methodist Church (Tacoma) | FREE

Led to Sea & Betsy Olson Band
Drawing from classical, pop, and experimental music worlds, violinist and singer Alex Guy weaves together her own unique brand of chamber pop under the alias Led to Sea. Her trio splits the evening with the blues-based rockers of the Betsy Olson band.
Sat, 12/15, 8pm, The Royal Room | $10-$12

Neal Kosaly-Meyer: Finnegans Wake, Part I, Chapter 5
Though most might consider James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake a work of literature, Seattle-based pianist and avant-gardist Neal Kosaly-Meyer hears music in the words. He’s dedicating 17 years to learning and performing (by memory) each chapter of the sprawling work—one chapter per year. This year is Chapter 5, performed as always with props, costume, sound and lighting design, and acute musical detail.
Sat, 12/15, 8pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$15

Electronic Blankets for Winter Solstice
Pacific Northwest sound and visual artists christen the winter solstice with an experimental electronic music showcase featuring borscht soup, auditory hallucinations, planetary chasms, warm drones, glitch portals, and distant raves.
Fri, 12/21, 7pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$15

New Series One & Matrio
With influences ranging from Olivier Messiaen to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Matrio creates set-long experiences that explore the space between sound and noise, music and silence. They’re joined by New Series One, a group exploring the roots of jazz and folk music.
Sat, 12/27, 8pm, Good Shepherd Center | $5-$15