LIVE VIDEO STREAM: A Far Cry on Friday, May 18 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET

by Gabriela Tedeschi

Photo by Yoon S. Byun.

Next Generation is the name of tonight’s A Far Cry concert, which centers on the experiences of young musicians. Not only does the program focus on early experiences with musicwith variations of Mozart’s beloved children’s song, “Ah! vous dirais-je, Maman” and works from Benjamin Britten and Galina Ustvolskaya that allude to their music mentorsit will also feature several young musicians. 

A Far Cry welcomes the Honors Quartet from Project STEP, a program that provides comprehensive musical training to students from underrepresented communities, for a pre-concert performance at 7:30 p.m. During the concert, the ensemble will be joined by Sean Diehl (violin), Keina Satoh (cello), and Julide San (double bass), winners from A Far Cry’s New England Conservatory Prep School Competition. Click here to learn more about the student performers.

Visit this page on Friday, May 18 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET for a LIVE video of A Far Cry’s Next Generation.

Check out the program below, and click here to read the full program notes.

W.A. Mozart / Ethan Wood
Variations on “Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman”

Galina Ustvolskaya
Concerto for Piano, String Orchestra, and Timpani

Benjamin Britten
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10


A Far Cry’s Next Generation performance streams live on this page on Friday, May 18 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET. For more information about the orchestra, please click here.

LIVE BROADCAST: Joshua Roman and JACK Quartet | May 10, 7:30pm PT

by Gabriela Tedeschi

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

The world-renowned JACK Quartet welcomes a fifth member this week at the Town Music season finale: acclaimed cellist Joshua Roman. With a program designed to conjure up vivid images and emotions, Roman and the quartet are using sound to paint pictures and tell stories that will linger in listeners’ minds. Perhaps the most evocative work on the program is a piece by Roman himself.

Photo by Hayley Young.

Roman, who leapt right into performing with the Seattle Symphony and around the world after studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, began composing his own music in 2013. He was commissioned by Town Hall and Music Academy of the West to compose Tornado, a work that paints a portrait of the storms that were a fixture of his childhood in Oklahoma.

Tornado is also inspired by music traditions of the past: Roman quotes a theme from  Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and alludes to works of the Baroque era which use virtuosity to evoke sensations of nature. In an ode to the untameable force of a tornado, Roman has left elements of the piece up to chance and performer interpretation by writing microtone smears and aleatoric parts.

The first half of the concert will feature John Zorn’s exhilarating Ouroboros and Jefferson Friedman’s Quintet, a musical manifestation of the grieving process. Amy Williams’ Richter Textures also appears on the first half of the program, each of its seven parts inspired by a different painting from German artist Gerhard Richter and each seeking to musically portray the complex textures his visual art is famous for.

In addition to Tornado, the second half will feature three Madrigali libro sesto from Don Carlo Gesualdo, arranged by Ari Streisfeld for strings. Gesualdo—an unstable and murderous 17th century composer—is known for chromatic harmonies and diverse emotional expressions that make his music sound modern to contemporary audiences. Because removing the voices meant removing the lyrics, Streisfeld employs different timbral techniques to convey the meaning and emotions of the text to the audience.

Second Inversion is thrilled to offer a LIVE concert broadcast of the performance this Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm PT. Click here to stream the performance live from anywhere in the world!

Program:

Jefferson Friedman: Quintet (2013)
John Zorn: Ouroboros (2017)
Amy Williams: Richter Textures (2011)

Intermission

Carlo Gesualdo: Selections from Madrigali libro sesto, arranged by Ari Streisfeld
     Lo parto, e non più dissi
     Beltà, poi che t’assenti
     Già piansi nel dolore

Joshua Roman: Tornado (2017)


Town Music presents JACK Quartet and Joshua Roman on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm at Seattle First Baptist Church. For tickets and additional information, click here.

LIVE BROADCAST: Roomful of Teeth on Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm PST

by Maggie Molloy

Classical vocal music is nice—but if you’re looking for a vocal ensemble with a little more bite, look no further than Roomful of Teeth.

The Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble is dedicated to exploring the vast and limitless musical possibilities of the human voice. In fact, Roomful of Teeth’s eight vocalists have studied singing traditions from around the world, including vocal techniques as diverse as yodeling, belting, Tuvan throat singing, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing, and more.

This Friday, Second Inversion is thrilled to offer a LIVE concert broadcast of the group performing as part of Town Hall’s Town Music series curated by Joshua Roman. Click here to tune in and stream the concert live from anywhere in the world on Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm PST.

Concert Program:
Caroline Shaw: Partita for 8 Voices
Intermission

Caleb Burhans: Beneath
Caroline Shaw: The Isle
Merrill Garbus: Quizassa


Town Music presents Roomful of Teeth on Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm at Seattle First Baptist Church. For tickets and additional details, please click here.

Joshua Roman’s Cello Conspiracy Concert Broadcast: Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30pm PST

by Maggie Molloy

Last December A Cello Conspiracy brought Joshua Roman together with four of his superstar cello friends for a one-night-only, sold-out cello performance. Presented as part of Town Music’s 10th Anniversary season, the concert featured Roman performing alongside an extraordinary cast of four Seattle Symphony cellists: Efe Baltacıgil, Nathan Chan, Meeka Quan DiLorenzo, and Eric Han.

This Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30pm PST, we’re letting you in on the cello conspiracy with a concert broadcast of last December’s sold-out performance. Click here to tune in and stream the full cello performance from anywhere in the world!

Join us for an evening showcasing Seattle’s best cellists as they lend their bows to the vast expanse of cello repertoire: the classic, the contemporary, and the cleverly reimagined. From Rossini and Paganini to Reena Esmail and Christopher Cerrone, this program celebrates the cello’s full range of possibility.

Program:

Mozart: Overture from Marriage of Figaro (arr. Moore)
Wagner: Overture from Tannhäuser
Mozart: Sonata
Christopher Cerrone: On Being Wrong
Richard Strauss: “Beim Schlafengehen” from Four Last Songs

Reena Esmail: Munni Badnam
Anthony DiLorenzo: Kaleidoscope
Paganini: “Moses” Variations for two cellos (arr. Demenga)

INTERMISSION

Josquin: Untitled (arr. Jacot)
Anne Wilson: Lament
Purcell: Fantasia Upon One Note (arr. Moore)

Edward Elgar: “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations
Rossini: Overture from Barber of Seville
Led Zeppelin: “Stairway to Heaven”

Town Music’s 10th Anniversary Season continues this spring with a performance by Roomful of Teeth on Friday, March 9 and a performance by Joshua Roman with the JACK Quartet on Thursday, May 10. For tickets and information, please click here.

LIVE BROADCAST: Third Coast Percussion Paddles to the Sea

by Maggie Molloy

Second Inversion presents a LIVE broadcast of Third Coast Percussion performing their original score for Paddle to the Sea, streaming worldwide this Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm PST. Click here to tune in.

A small wooden figure in a canoe is the protagonist of Holling C. Holling’s 1941 children’s book, Paddle to the Sea. Later adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, the story follows the epic journey of a small wooden boat that was carved and launched by a young Native Canadian boy.

“I am Paddle to the Sea” he inscribes on the bottom of the boat. “Please put me back in the water.”

Over the course of the film, the boat travels for many years from Northern Ontario through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway out to the Atlantic Ocean and far beyond—and each time it washes ashore, a kind stranger places it back in the water.

This Thursday Third Coast Percussion performs their own original live score for Paddle to the Sea alongside a screening of the film at Meany Center for the Performing Arts. The music will be released as an album on Feb. 9—but you can get an exclusive first listen during Second Inversion’s LIVE broadcast of the performance this Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm PST. (Streaming worldwide! Click here to tune in.)

Third Coast’s film score is inspired by and interspersed with music by Philip Glass and Jacob Druckman, along with traditional music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. All of the music in the score is inspired by water, with Third Coast performing an entire ocean of sounds ranging from pitched desk bells to skittering wood blocks, ceramic tiles, bowls of water, and one particularly special instrument: the mbira.

The mbira is a thumb piano that plays a leading role in the Shona music from Zimbabwe. In fact, one of the pieces on the album, Chigwaya, is a traditional song used to call water spirits in the Shona religion—a song which was taught to Third Coast by their mentor Musekiwa Chingodza. By incorporating elements of their Western classical training with their study of the traditional music of the Shona people, Third Coast weaves together their own epic musical journey.

And in the spirit of Holling’s original story, the music itself becomes the small wooden boat: rather than keep it for themselves, the musicians add what they can and send the story out into the world again for others to discover.


Third Coast Percussion performs Paddle to the Sea on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm at Meany Center for the Performing Arts. Click here for tickets and additional information.

LIVE VIDEO STREAM: A Far Cry on Friday, January 19 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET

by Maggie Molloy

England across the ages is the theme of tonight’s A Far Cry concert, poetically titled Albion after the oldest known name for the island of Great Britain. Join us Friday, Jan. 19 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET for a LIVE video stream of the Boston-based chamber orchestra as they perform music by a handful of England’s most iconic classical composers.

Internationally acclaimed tenor Nicholas Phan joins the orchestra for Benjamin Britten’s timeless Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31. Composed during World War II, the piece sets six poems by British poets on the subject of night, in all its darkness and splendor. Also on the program is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 1950 Concerto Grosso for string orchestra, plus a Baroque throwback to the music of Henry Purcell, Matthew Locke, and Nicholas Lanier.

Visit this page tonight, Friday, Jan. 19 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET for a LIVE video of A Far Cry’s Albion, streaming right here:

Check out the full program below, and click here for program notes.

Henry Purcell
Overture and Air from King Arthur
Sweeter Than Roses
She Loves and She Confesses Too (arr. René Schiffer)

Matthew Locke
Lilk and Curtain Tune from The Tempest

Nicholas Lanier
No More Shall Meads be Deck’d with Flowers (arr. René Schiffer)

Matthew Locke
Prelude to Act V from The Fairy Queen
Evening Hymn (arr. René Schiffer)

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Concerto Grosso

INTERMISSION

Benjamin Britten
Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Hazel Dean Davis, horn

To learn more about our live-streaming video broadcasts of A Far Cry, click here.


A Far Cry’s Albion performance streams live on this page on Friday, Jan. 19 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET. For more information about the orchestra, please click here.

LIVE VIDEO STREAM: A Far Cry’s “The Blue Hour” on Friday, Nov. 10 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET

by Maggie Molloy

One woman’s story comes to life through the voice of five composers tonight in A Far Cry’s performance of The Blue Hour. Based on Carolyn Forché’s abecedarian poem “On Earth,” the song cycle explores the last hour of one woman’s life, the fleeting memories from A to Z that flash before her eyes—and how her one single story is ultimately many stories: an intimate snapshot of our shared humanity.  

Grammy-winning jazz singer Luciana Souza joins the chamber orchestra in this song cycle written by a collaborative of five leading composers: Rachel Grimes, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Nova, Angélica Negrón, and Caroline Shaw.

And although the concert itself is in Boston, you can still hear every minute of this musical tour de force right here on Second Inversion during our live video stream of the performance this Friday, November 10 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET. Visit the video link below to tune in to tonight’s live stream, or click here to stream directly from Facebook.

In anticipation of tonight’s performance, we asked each of the five composers one question about the poetry, music, and meaning behind The Blue Hour:

Second Inversion: What is this poem about, and how did it inspire the music?

Rachel Grimes: Carolyn Forché’s remarkable poem “On Earth” is a profoundly beautiful and devastating exploration of the last moments before death from the perspective of a woman recollecting her life in shards of crystalline memories. Through the lens of these visceral personal moments are glimpses into different points in time in human history, recalling childhood, the fallout of war, a sense of home, intimacy, loss, nostalgia, the mundane, and the epic. 

In a phone conversation with all of the composers, the poet welcomed us to excerpt the poem in order to better serve the music and the new work as a whole. We were overwhelmed at this generous invitation, and vowed to honor the poem and to be true to the feeling of the whole work. We set about to excerpt it, choosing passages that felt ripe for music-making, while maintaining her original abecedary form. We consulted with Joseph Cermatori to sculpt a unified libretto, and to follow that original intent of the form. The poem was endlessly inspiring: so many images, particular and visual, and so many emotions and opportunities to investigate the human experience on a very intimate scale. Especially inspiring was the chance to explore, through this perspective of this one life coming to an end, the experience of facing death and the treasury of life’s myriad experiences that are in so many ways universal to all.

SI: What makes Luciana Souza the perfect singer for this song cycle’s premiere?

Shara Nova: When we composers first got together, we knew we wanted to find a singer who was able to read what we anticipated to be a challenging score, who had a wide vocal range and also had a sound closer to folk or jazz. Luciana Souza (pronounced like Loo-See-Ah-Nah Soh-za) has a dynamism and a warm, natural voice that really excited us.

Once I knew that she was going to be the singer, I started writing some of the movements on guitar, influenced by the great Brazilian songwriters like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, and then once I had that foundation, I expanded the arrangements for A Far Cry and removed the guitar parts. I wanted the music to be very tuneful and song oriented, as well as take the opportunity to really show off and explore the color and vibrancy of this extraordinary ensemble.  

SI: What was the composition process like?

Sarah Kirkland Snider: We got together one weekend and spent a lot of time reading through the text together, talking about it, brainstorming ideas. We each highlighted the bits of text that we felt the strongest connection to and then divided it up along those lines, with the idea that we’d interweave our voices in movements of varying length, texture, style, and emotion.

We decided there would be moments of spoken text, moments in which the ensemble sang and spoke, and a canonic refrain that happened three times, written by Caroline. Shara was the first one to start writing, and she sent us some computer mock-ups of her drafts. Some of my assigned bits of text followed hers, so in those movements I used a motive of hers as an ostinato or jumping-off point, or made harmonic and rhythmic decisions based upon hers, depending on whether I wanted contrast or continuity.

We all worked in this fashion, brick by brick, sharing our drafts with each other and responding to them musically, striving to maximize cohesion between the movements and forward momentum in the overall form. It was great fun getting inside the compositional mind of some of my favorite fellow composers. What I love about this piece is that, to my ear, it hangs together as a single journey, but you can hear our different voices emerge at different moments. This lends the music the same sense of collective consciousness that is innate to the poem itself. 

SI: How does the process of collaborative composition serve to illustrate or enhance the meaning behind this poem?

Angélica Negrón: There’s moments of deep sorrow, empathy, mystery, despair, warmth, confusion, intimacy and so many other layers and nuances in between. By bringing together five different composers each with a unique perspective and a distinctive sound, we’re able to explore more profoundly these layers of meaning and capture the complexity of this person’s life. Each composer opens up a new world of possibilities of the text and by allowing ourselves to being vulnerable and receptive of other’s interpretations, we find new connections and make new discoveries.

I feel this piece weaves together not only each composers’ individual interpretation of the text but also the common ground among us that we found along the way.  I’ve never been a part of such a deeply meaningful and truly collaborative project in which everyone’s voices are highly complementary to each other yet add a unique and essential ingredient to the whole. There’s a shared sensibility and an unusual connection between the composers that’s hard to describe, and this poem is at the center of it all. 

SI: What does this piece sound like?

Caroline Shaw: I’d say it sounds like micro and macro visions of the earth—precious sonic details emerging from and receding into a mysterious whole.


Visit our website on Friday, November 10 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET to watch a LIVE video stream of A Far Cry’s The Blue Hour with Luciana Souza. To learn more about our live-streaming video broadcasts of A Far Cry, click here.