NW Focus Stories: Tales from Seattle’s Classical Music Luminaries

In addition to being a performer and commissioner of new music, Bonnie Whiting is the Chair of Percussion at the University of Washington School of Music.

Not all classical music unfolds onstage. Behind the scenes, there is an entire ecosystem of artists, audiences, administrators, educators, and innovators who bring classical music to life in the Pacific Northwest.

Second Inversion is thrilled to be a part of KING FM’s Northwest Focus Stories, a new show airing select Friday evenings at 8pm on KING FM. Join host Dacia Clay and your favorite KING FM announcers as we highlight the vibrant classical music community of the Pacific Northwest through in-depth interviews and audio stories built around people who create, curate, or contribute to classical music in a meaningful way.

Our first episode, which aired on October 18, highlights women leaders in Seattle’s music community, with special guests ranging from experimental percussionist Bonnie Whiting to Seattle Opera General Director Christina Scheppelmann, arts advocate Leslie Chihuly, music historian Melinda Bargreen, KING FM CEO Brenda Barnes, and Seattle Rock Orchestra Music Director Kim Roy.

Listen to the episode on-demand below:


Host and Executive Producer: Dacia Clay; segment producers and interviewers: Dacia Clay, Maggie Molloy, Nikhil Sarma, Marta Zekan, Mike Brooks, Dave Beck; audio engineering: Mike Brooks and Nikhil Sarma; theme music: “a storm of our own making,” by Daniel Webbon.


Music in Bonnie Whiting Segment:

Annea Lockwood: Amazonia Dreaming
Bonnie Whiting, percussion (recorded in studio)

James MacMillan: Veni, Veni Emmanuel (RCA Red Seal Records)
Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Scottish Chamber Orchestra

John Cage: 51’15.657” for a Speaking Percussionist (Mode Records)
Bonnie Whiting, voice and percussion

Yiheng Yvonne Wu: Violent Tender
UW Percussion Studio (recorded by Gary Louie; mixed by Mason Lynass)

Additional music performed by Bonnie Whiting in her studio and recorded by Nikhil Sarma.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Annika Socolofsky’s ‘Turadh’

by Peter Tracy

With fall now fully underway, it can often feel like there’s nothing but gray clouds on the horizon. Every once in a while, though, the sky clears up for a moment or an afternoon, reminding us that the sun keeps shining just beyond the clouds.

The simple pleasure of these moments is part of the impulse behind composer and vocalist Annika Socolofsky’s piece Turadh, which is titled after a Scottish word for a “break in the clouds.” A collaboration with the New York-based Parhelion Trio, the piece features the ensemble of flute, clarinet, and piano accompanying recordings of Socolofsky playing her 10-stringed Norwegian hardanger d’amore fiddle, an instrument she used to play for her grandmother at her home in rural Kansas. These evenings spent in the warmth of her grandmother’s home inspired a piece that provides its own unique warmth and resonance.

For their new video, Socolofsky and the Parhelion Trio draw on the talents of media artist and filmmaker XUAN, whose ambient lighting and experimental video editing present the piece in an elegant new light.

We’re thrilled to premiere the new video for Socolofsky’s Turadh.

Seattle Symphony Spotlight: Flutist Claire Chase

by Dave Beck

Claire Chase is a flutist with a flair for the new, the adventurous, and the unexpected. She’s given the premieres of hundreds of new works for her instrument in performances throughout the world. In 2012, she was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant for her work not only fostering the creation of new music, but also building organizations, forming community alliances, and supporting educational programs.

That work is on display in Seattle this week when she performs as the soloist with the Seattle Symphony and Music Director Thomas Dausgaard in Aello: Ballet Mecanomorphe by Olga Neuwirth. It’s scored for flute, bass flute, and an ensemble that includes tuned water glasses and a typewriter. Chase gave the world premiere of the piece, an homage to the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, last year at the BBC Proms with Dausgaard leading the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

This week in Seattle, Chase also presents a solo recital of music by Marcos Balter as part of her innovative Density 2036 project. Chase explains more about this effort to generate new flute music, a project unfolding over a 23-year time span.


Claire Chase performs selections from Density 2036 on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7:30pm at Octave 9. She performs Olga Neuwirth’s Aello with the Seattle Symphony on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 8pm at Benaroya Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.

ALBUM REVIEW: Nathalie Joachim’s ‘Fanm d’Ayiti’

by Peter Tracy

Singer, flutist, and composer Nathalie Joachim. Photo by Josué Azor.

While cooking, walking, tending the garden, or washing clothes, the women of Haiti sing songs. For Nathalie Joachim, a Haitian-American singer, flutist, and composer, her image of Haiti is one of love, beauty, tradition, family, and, perhaps above all, music: it pervades the house after church on Sundays and communicates the stories and traditions of past generations.

On her new album Fanm d’Ayiti, Joachim taps into Haiti’s long musical history through original songs and arrangements of classics by some of Haiti’s legendary women musicians. The resulting compositions engage her Haitian heritage and continue these women’s messages of resilience, love, and hope.

On Fanm d’Ayiti, which is Haitian Creole for “Women of Haiti,” traditional songs are treated in a radically new way, with original arrangements featuring voice, flute, and electronics by Joachim and strings performed by the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet. Woven into the mix are recordings of a Haitian girls’ choir from Joachim’s family home, interviews with some of Haiti’s best-known female voices, and the voice of Joachim’s own grandmother. These elements come together to form something that feels both old and new—a musical language of tuneful songs, folk-style strings, stuttering electronics, and vibrant energy.

The album is set into motion with an arrangement of the song “Papa Loko,” which features fluttering string harmonics, skipping electronic percussion, and a bouncy arpeggiated bassline. This song segues into a recording of the Haitian singer Emerante de Pradines, who speaks about her feeling of unity with all female Haitian artists and leads us into the three-part “Suite pou Dantan,” a heartfelt dedication to the farming village that Joachim’s family calls home. Here, Joachim sings along with the girls’ choir over chaotically exuberant percussion, pairs field recording samples with steady drum tracks, and weaves winding flute melodies through the strings of the Spektral Quartet.

An arrangement of “Lamizè pa dous,” a song of African origin translating to “Poverty is Not Sweet,” gives way to the interlude “Couldn’t Tell Her What To Do,” in which we hear the moving story of the Haitian singer and justice-seeker Toto Bissainthe, as told by her daughter Milena Sandler over swelling string harmonies.

Side B of the album begins with an elegy-like arrangement of the traditional Haitian song “Manman m voye m peze kafe,” which feels almost like a theme and variations or a passacaglia with its continuous bassline, circling strings, and arpeggiating, marimba-like electronics. Two further arrangements of traditional songs follow: the grooving yet plaintive “Legba na konsole” and “Madan Bellegarde,” which features a contrapuntal duet between Joachim and the viola, a contemplative chorale of strings and flute, the voice of Joachim’s grandmother, and scattered blips of electric harmony.

Photo by Josué Azor.

This leads us finally into the interlude “The Ones I Listened To,” in which the voices of Haitian musicians Carole Demesmin, Emerante de Pradines, and Milena Sandler encourage both Nathalie and the listener to pursue their dreams despite hardships, and the title track “Fanm d’Ayiti,” a festive original song celebrating Haiti and its strong women, ending the album on a hopeful note.

It is important to remember that for Joachim and the people of Haiti, many of these songs are an integral part of their culture, traditions, and everyday lives. Joachim has said that songs like “Lamizè pa dous” are not only songs to sing while working, but were used by slaves to communicate with each other in ways that their oppressors couldn’t understand, much like the Negro spirituals of the United States.

In a certain sense, these songs continue to serve that purpose. Many of the Haitian Creole songs on this album were sung by women during the worst periods of intellectual repression and dictatorship in Haiti’s history as a way of maintaining their language and traditions—and it is these subtle acts of subversion that Joachim celebrates in her arrangements. On Fanm d’Ayiti, Nathalie Joachim continues the lineage of Haitian women who bring together communities, pass on their culture, and fight for justice through their music.


Nathalie Joachim’s Fanm d’Ayiti is out August 30 on New Amsterdam Records. For more information, click here.

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.