Summer Vibes (and Marimbas!) with Erin Jorgensen and Friends

by Peter Tracy

Rebekah Ko is part of an all-star cast of local percussionists featured in Good Vibes Only.
Photos by Kelly O.

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.

Erin Jorgensen, Storm Benjamin, and Rebekah Ko.

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.

Summer Vibes and Toy Piano Trios: Upcoming Concerts You Can’t Miss

by Peter Tracy

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! 

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.”

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Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. Coming up: American song cycles, the art of sound healing, and new music from around the world.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Songs from the Exotic
Emily Ostrom and Peter Nelson-King perform contemporary American compositions for voice and piano, including song cycles by Hale Smith, Judith Weir, and Aaron Kirschner, plus original compositions and rare works from the American song repertoire.
Fri, 8/2, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Northwest Film Forum: Puget Soundtrack
Archival footage of the Pacific Northwest forms the basis of Naer Vaer, a montage film accompanied by an original live score from local new music ensemble Postcard From the Badlands. Translating to “close-dwelling”, Naer Vaer explores our deep and often contradictory connections to each other and the natural world around us.
Sun, 8/4, 8pm, Northwest Film Forum | $13-$16

Live Music Project: A Trio of Trios
The Live Music Project connects you to classical concerts every day of the year—but this day is particularly special, because all proceeds from the concert (and the beer) benefit the important work of LMP in our community. Enjoy three trios for viola, double bass, and toy piano written specifically for LMP by Spencer Arias, Jessi Harvey, and Joyce Kwon and performed amid smiles and pizza at the Lagunitas Taproom.
Mon, 8/5, 5:30pm, Lagunitas Taproom | $5

Bassist Ariel Kemp, violist Ryan May, and (toy) pianist Tristan Greeno.
Photo by Shaya Lyon of the Live Music Project.

East Coast Meets West
Two trumpet players from opposite coasts come together to present a concert of contemporary works for trumpet and piano, including two world premieres by Seattle-based composer Peter Nelson-King.
Thurs, 8/8, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Inverted Space Ensemble
Local new music collective Inverted Space presents a unique concert of atmospheric works for violin, piano, and percussion by Brian Banks, Lou Harrison, and Bun-Ching Lam.
Fri, 8/9, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Symphony for Climate Change
Music, film, and poetry come together in a screening of composer and conductor Christophe Chagnard’s multimedia symphonic work Terra Nostra (“Our Earth”). Presented at the scenic lakeside Discovery Park, the piece aims to engage, educate, and inspire policy change to protect our planet.
Sat, 8/17, 4pm, Discovery Park | Free

Beetle Box
Experimental composer and keyboardist Beetle Box comes to Substation in Fremont for an ear-expanding evening of piano and electronics.
Wed, 8/21, 8:15pm, Substation | Free

Aaron Butler + Bonnie Whiting
Two innovative percussionists, Aaron Butler and Bonnie Whiting, come together in a concert of newly composed solos and improvised duets. Wide-ranging percussion works by Nick Zammuto, Brian Harnetty, and Rob Funkhouser are programmed alongside a long-lost piece for vibraphone solo by David Gibson.
Fri, 8/23, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Nash Naubert.

Nash Naubert: Music of Now
Originally from Seattle, Nash Naubert has spent the past two decades in India studying the bansuri (a bamboo flute used in Hindustani classical music). For this concert, he returns home to perform a collection of entrancing ragas with Aditya Kalyanpur on tabla.
Sat, 8/24, 8pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $24-$30

Good Vibes Only
An all-star lineup of local percussionists tackle a variety of groove-driven tunes for marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone, including works by Steve Reich, Ivan Trevino, and Marc Mellits.
Fri, 8/30, 8pm, Washington Hall | $25

Erin Jorgensen, Storm Benjamin, and Rebekah Ko perform in Good Vibes Only.

Emerald City Music: Tale Retold
The real-life stories of women battling to enlist in the U.S. military are retold in a world premiere by Seattle-based composer Angelique Poteat. Plus, a reimagining of Stravinsky’s iconic The Soldier’s Tale in a cross-disciplinary performance bringing together dance, drama, and music.
Fri, 9/13, 8pm, 415 Westlake | $45
Sat, 9/14 7:30pm, The Minnaert Center (Olympia) | $10-$43

Janaka Stucky and Lori Goldston: Ascend Ascend
Poet and performer Janaka Stucky spent 20 days secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church, drifting in and out of a state of trance and writing a book of mystic poetry in the process. In this immersive, multidisciplinary performance, he presents his new work alongside Seattle cellist and composer Lori Goldston.
Fri, 9/20, 7:30pm, All Pilgrims Church (Seattle) | $18-$45

The Sound Ensemble: Reflections
The Sound Ensemble meditates on some big questions in this concert of works reflecting on who we are as a community and where we go from here. Structured as an introspective journey of sorts, the program includes a world premiere performance of Jerry Mader’s Zodiac for violin and chamber ensemble featuring violinist Marley Erickson.
Sat, 9/28, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $15-$20

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.

Seattle New Music Happy Hour: June 26 in Fremont!

We’re switching it up this summer by hosting New Music Happy Hour in a new neighborhood!

On Wednesday, June 26, drop by The Barrel Thief in Fremont anytime between 5-7pm for casual drinks and conversation with friends from Second Inversion, Live Music Project, and the broader Seattle classical music community. Bring a friend, make a friend, have a drink, and discover connections with fellow music lovers from all over Seattle!

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends. Plus, sign up for alerts for future happy hour dates and day-before reminders so you’ll never miss a beer—er, beat.

‘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.