Thirty years after Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, his controversial photographs remain radical and subversive. In a new multimedia tribute called Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), composer Bryce Dessner explores Mapplethorpe’s legacy—his unique merging of classical forms and erotic imagery, his masterful balance of light and dark, and the issues of objectification and censorship that surround his work even today.
Performed by the inimitable Roomful of Teeth, Triptych features Mapplethorpe’s visceral images projected onstage in unprecedented drama and scale. The work’s libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle draws from the writings of two influential poets: Mapplethorpe’s close friend Patti Smith and one of his critics, Essex Hemphill.
Ahead of Roomful of Teeth’s performance of Triptych on October 9 at the Moore Theatre, we talked with the ensemble’s Artistic Director Brad Wells about how this piece came to be and what audiences can expect.
Roomful of Teeth performs Triptych on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8pm at the Moore Theatre. Click here for tickets and more information.
The long-awaited Downton Abbey movie has just been released, as has its fantastic score by John Lunn. Lunn is the Emmy Award-winning composer of the soundtrack for the Downton Abbey TV show as well.
In this interview, he talks about his surprising musical roots in pop and minimalism, how you can hear those influences in the music for Downton, what it’s like to write for the show and the movie, and he even reveals (gasp!) a movie spoiler.
What do Brahms and Ligeti have in common? More than you might think. Violinist Augustin Hadelich brings the two disparate composers together on his latest album, highlighting the unlikely similarities between their violin concertos.
In this interview, Hadelich talks about what (on Earth) these two composers have in common, and how the two pieces inform one another when heard on the same recording.
Composer Harold Meltzer spoke with Second Inversion soon after his album Songs and Structures was released earlier this year, directly before he was about to leave for a composer’s residency in Italy. Unfortunately, soon after arriving in Italy, Meltzer had a stroke that waylaid his creative endeavors. We’re happy to report that he is currently recovering.
In this audio interview, Meltzer walks through the pieces on Songs and Structures as well as the stories behind them. We look forward to more songs and stories from him in the future.
Music in this interview is from Harold Meltzer’s new album Songs and Structures, out now on Bridge Records. For more information, click here.
For vacationers, beachgoers, and students fresh out of class, summertime is all about good vibes. But what about musicians and concertgoers? If the seasonal concert slump has put a damper on your summer, cheer up with Good Vibes Only: a one-night-only concert event featuring music for marimbas and vibraphones that’s sure to lift your end-of-summer spirits.
For Seattle-based marimbist Erin Jorgensen, the mastermind behind the concert, Good Vibes Only came about rather organically as a way to showcase local percussionists. Set for August 30 in the historic Washington Hall, the concert presents minimalist works in a laid-back atmosphere, with immersive visuals designed to enhance the music.
“Basically, I was thinking ‘summertime’: there are a lot of good players here, mallet music sounds very summery,” Jorgensen said. “And along those same lines, I love minimalism, so I wanted it all to be in that kind of vein.”
These things in mind, Jorgensen pulled together an all-star lineup—including local musicians Storm Benjamin, Rebekah Ko, Kerry O’Brien, Kay Reilly, and Melanie Sehman—to put together a program of minimalist and post-minimalist grooves for marimba and vibraphone. From the phasing patterns of Steve Reich to the bouncy, rhythmic melodies of Ivan Trevino and the funk-inspired energy of Marc Mellits, the concert showcases many different interpretations of minimalism.
And if the label of “minimalism” sounds too academic, Jorgensen certainly doesn’t want it to be. She has ambitious plans to create a one-of-a-kind concert experience for Good Vibes Only, complete with original lighting design and other DIY visuals. She’s working to tailor these visuals to the program, whether that be the colorful neon of Mellit’s “Gravity” or the more sprightly and summery marimba duet “2+1” by Ivan Trevino.
“I’ll just listen to a piece and get an idea or visual, and then think about how I can execute that myself without a big crew,” Jorgensen said.
The resulting concert environment envelops the audience in sound and color, transforming the way they experience the music. It also allows both the performers and the audience to connect with the music in a different way, free from the prescriptions of classical concert etiquette. For this performance Jorgensen and the rest of the musicians are forgoing the formal concert attire—and the stage.
“There’s something about that [formal] environment
that makes you expect a certain thing,” she said. “You definitely are in a
certain headspace, you’re dressed a certain way, you’re listening a certain
way, so I think if you can kind of circumvent that a little bit people can
enjoy it more.”
This ethos is behind the decision to eschew the hall’s raised stage for this concert, but it also guides a lot of Jorgensen’s other projects, whether that be her ambient Undertones Podcast or her Bach and Pancakes series, in which she performs Bach’s cello suites on marimba while the audience eats pancakes. What these all have in common is a more immersive, contemplative experience of the music—something that Jorgensen feels drawn to. Rather than taking the audience on a journey, she encourages a more laid-back, audience-guided listening experience where you’re welcome to close your eyes or daydream along with the music.
“I like being in those kinds of environments,” Jorgensen said. “I’ve done a lot of art shows with DIY lighting and things like that, and I think you can make that really magical. It’s also a product of being tired of people thinking that there’s only one way to do a concert, when really you can do it however you want.”
With its relaxed atmosphere and groove-driven tunes, the concert will provide something many of us might be in need of as the summer winds to a close: good music, good friends, and good vibes.
Good Vibes Only is Friday, Aug. 30 at 8pm at Washington Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.