Aidan Lang on His Time at Seattle Opera: Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT

Seattle Opera’s outgoing General Director Aidan Lang with Dramaturg Jonathan Dean.

Aidan Lang has kept pretty busy these past five years as the General Director of Seattle Opera.

Under his leadership the opera has quadrupled millennial audiences, introduced over 200 new opera artists to Seattle, launched bold new chamber operas in different Seattle neighborhoods, forged innovative collaborations with companies around the globe, and even moved into a sprawling new home at Seattle Center.

Before he heads to his new post as General Director of the Welsh National Opera, Aidan joins us for a special episode of NW Focus LIVE this Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT on Classical KING FM 98.1.

Tune in as Aidan looks back on his favorite (and funniest!) moments at Seattle Opera in a conversation with Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean, KING FM’s Sean MacLean, and Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy. We’ll talk about the creation and commissioning of new works, taking creative license with the classics, and finding the critical relevance of opera in the 21st century.

Click here to tune in on Friday, Aug. 2 at 8pm PT.

Amanda Gookin Boldly Goes Forward (2.0)

by Dacia Clay

Amanda Gookin. Photo by Ryan Scherb.

In 2015, Amanda Gookin started a commissioning project called Forward Music Project. It premiered in 2017 at National Sawdust with seven pieces focused on issues that affect women and girls. Two years later, Gookin has returned with Forward Music Project 2.0.

True to its name, the project has taken big leaps forward. It now encompasses five new commissioned works that focus on more specific, personal issues for the composers, from body image to political oppression, sex positivity, and gender nonconformity. The performance includes electronics, video art by S Katy Tucker, and physically visceral cello playing from Gookin; the featured composers include Paola Prestini, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Shelley Washington, Alex Temple, and Kamala Sankaram.

Forward Music Project 2.0 has an educational arm as well (Gookin is also a professor at Mannes and SUNY Purchase). Take a listen to find out more about the cellist’s latest step forward. To learn more about Forward Music Project 1.0, check out this episode of KING FM’s Classical Classroom podcast.

The Science of Sound: An Interview with Alvin Lucier

by Maggie Molloy

Alvin Lucier has spent the past six decades exploring sound—its physical properties, how it moves and morphs in space, and the ways in which we can manipulate our own auditory perception.

His music makes you listen differently. Instead of traditional notions of melody and harmony, his music plays with the very wavelengths of sound itself, placing you in the center of the acoustic phenomena and inviting you to hear the sound as it shifts and unfolds within the space.

We caught up with Lucier at the 2019 Big Ears Festival, which featured performances of his music by Joan La Barbara, the Ever Present Orchestra, and the composer himself—including his most iconic work, I Am Sitting in a Room.

In this interview, Lucier talks with us about the science of sound, the hallmarks of experimental composition, and what it takes to play his music.

Audio editing by Nikhil Sarma.


Music in this interview from Alvin Lucier’s Ever Present and I Am Sitting in a Room, both available on Mode Records.

A Proud History: LGBTQ+ Stories in Classical Music

by Dacia Clay

Photo by Steve Johnson.

In celebration of Pride Month, Cornish College of the Arts musicologist Kerry O’Brien and early music specialist Byron Schenkman tell stories of LGBTQ+ classical artists from very different periods of music history. How do we talk about queer artists of the distant past when there was no such thing as being “out” yet? Is it possible (or useful) to identify what unique qualities LGBTQ+ artists have brought to classical music? And why is it important to talk about the stories of minority populations anyway?

Byron Schenkman and Kerry O’Brien.

Hear all of this—plus stories you may never have heard before about famous classical artists—in our audio interview with Kerry and Byron.

Audio engineering by Nikhil Sarma.

‘Become Desert’ Concert Broadcast: June 7, 9pm PT

by Maggie Molloy

John Luther Adams is known for crafting vast sonic landscapes that echo with the textures and timbres of the natural world. Most famous among them is Become Ocean, his Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning orchestral work commissioned and recorded by the Seattle Symphony in 2013.

Last year, our orchestra premiered the highly-anticipated sequel, Become Desert—and you can hear it this weekend on Classical KING FM.

Tune in on Friday, June 7 at 9pm to hear Adams’ expansive desert sound world in its original concert performance by the Seattle Symphony and Chorale, conducted by Ludovic Morlot. (And as if an immersive new John Luther Adams premiere wasn’t enough on its own, the piece is paired with another musical mammoth: Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto featuring pianist Jeremy Denk.)

Written specifically for Benaroya Hall, Adam’s Become Desert features members of the Seattle Symphony and Chorale divided into five different ensembles which surround the audience, immersing them in sound, space, and “the singing of the light” (a quote Adams borrows from the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz). The piece was composed at a pivotal moment in Adams’ life: after living for most of his career in Alaska, he moved to the Mexican desert.

In this interview conducted before the piece’s world premiere, John Luther Adams speaks with KING FM’s Dave Beck about moving from tundra to desert, his fascination with immense spaces, and the importance of using the right tools—in his case, the perfect number 2 pencil.



Want to hear it again?

A studio recording of Become Desert will be released on June 14 as an album available on Cantaloupe Music. The two-disc set includes a DVD featuring a surround sound mix of the recording, as well as a slideshow of desert images shot by Adams himself.

Click here for more information, and here for NPR Music’s First Listen.