Of Zealotry and Choral Music: Canticles from The Crossing

by Dacia Clay

Conductor Donald Nally. Photo by Becky Oehlers.

Donald Nally and his new music choir The Crossing recently won a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for their recording of the Zealot Canticles by composer Lansing McLoskey.

It’s clear that The Crossing has tapped into something: this is their second Grammy win (their first was for The Fifth Century by Gavin Bryars). It might have something to do with the timely message McLoskey’s piece conveys about zealotry in all of its forms and about how we talk to and about each other in a time of political divisiveness.

Zealot Canticles is based on Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s Twelve Canticles for the Zealot, a set of poems that looks at fanaticism. In this interview, Nally talks about Soyinka’s work, why Lansing McLoskey was uniquely suited to write this piece, and about the music itself.

Audio production by Nikhil Sarma.


The Crossing’s new album Zealot Canticles is out now on Innova Recordings. Click here for more information.

Third Coast Percussion Premieres Philip Glass’s ‘Perpetulum’

by Maggie Molloy

Left to right: David Skidmore, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, and Peter Martin.

For the past half-century Philip Glass’s music has permeated not only the classical sphere but also the broader pop music consciousness. From operas to film scores to symphonies and string quartets, he has written music for just about every occasion and instrumentation—except for the percussion ensemble.

Until now, that is. Perpetulum, Glass’s first and only piece for percussion ensemble, receives its Pacific Northwest premiere this Sunday in the hands of Third Coast Percussion. Presented as part of the Town Music series, the concert features the much-anticipated percussion premiere alongside a handful of the ensemble’s own Glass-inspired works.

In this interview, Third Coast ensemble member and Executive Director David Skidmore gives us a sneak peek behind the scenes of the creation and performance of Glass’s Perpetulum.

Audio production by Dacia Clay.
Music from Philip Glass’s Perpetulum, performed by Third Coast Percussion and recorded on Orange Mountain Music.


Third Coast Percussion performs Perpetulum this Sunday, April 7 at 6pm at Nordstrom Recital Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.

The Sound of One Man Cooking: Nat Evans’ Music for Daily Life

by Dacia Clay

Composer Nat Evans makes music with practical applications—music you can use in your daily life and music inspired by his own. As a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, this is to be expected: Zen is all about being with what is, allowing life to unfold as it will. And what unfolds in Evan’s latest work is music to cook by.

Evans grows much of his own food (he started a community garden this past year), and he loves cooking to music. His latest work, Two Functions in Three Dimensions, is a soundtrack for others to cook by—a meditative, atmospheric audio framework to aid in being present in the kitchen. In this interview, he talks about Zen, about his own meditation practice, and about why the quotidian is his creative inspiration.

Interview and audio production by Dacia Clay.

The Old New Traditions of Ken Thomson’s ‘Sextet’

by Dacia Clay

Photo by Naomi White.

Clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer Ken Thomson is probably best known for his work in the Bang on a Can All-Stars, an amplified chamber ensemble known for championing contemporary classical and experimental sounds. But his recent album of original compositions, Sextet, brings the jazzier side of Thomson to the fore.

The album gives a respectful nod and handshake to jazz forebears like Davis, Brubeck, and Mingus and to jazz’s improvisational structures —but Thomson’s ear for experimentation takes those things in a new direction. In this interview, he talks about overcoming the duality of classical and jazz worlds, exploring the lineage of Western music, and finding his own voice.

Audio production by Nikhil Sarma with production assistance by Dacia Clay.


Ken Thomson’s Sextet is out now on New Focus/Panoramic Recordings. Click here to listen to the album.

Kinan Azmeh: Meeting Injustice with Creativity and Collaboration

by Dave Beck

Photo by Connie Tsang.

On our Seattle Symphony Spotlight this week: a conversation with one of Yo Yo Ma’s good friends and collaborators in the Silk Road Ensemble.

Kinan Azmeh is a Syrian-born clarinetist last in Seattle two years ago for the Seattle Symphony’s “Music Beyond Borders” concert. That performance—which featured artists from the seven countries that were part of the Muslim travel ban of early 2017—featured Kinan playing two movements of his Suite for Improviser and Orchestra with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony.

At that time Kinan Azmeh made plans to come back and present another new work that defies musical boundaries: a full-length clarinet concerto that blends the spontaneity of improvisation with through-composed music. That concert came to fruition earlier this week in Benaroya Hall when he performed the piece’s world premiere with the Seattle Symphony and members of the Silk Road Ensemble, conducted by Ludovic Morlot.

Kinan came by the station to talk about the new concerto, reflect on growing up in Syria, and express what performing in Seattle and at refugee camps around the world has meant to him.