For many artists, water is a muse—for some, it is the very essence of music itself.
In Seattle, we awake and fall asleep to the gentle swooshing of Sound, and our lives are shaped and smoothed by its sparkling presence. For us, water is a source of comfort and relaxation, inspiration and even transportation.
And so this Friday, we invite you to paddle on over to our annual Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival, where you can dive into the underwater sound world of Sound of Late.
Based in Seattle and Portland, Sound of Late is a new music ensemble known for creating collaborative, cross-disciplinary concerts which build upon and inspire the communities surrounding them. Most recently, they presented a maritime music series titled “What Water Knows,” featuring shimmering, ocean-inspired music alongside music and poetry of marine biologists and commercial fishers.
But in case you missed it, no need to feel blue. Lucky for us, they’ve, ahem, distilled their water-themed program into a shorter set as part of our Folklife Festival Showcase, where they’ll be performing along with the Skyros Quartet and the Westerlies.
We caught up with Sound of Late’s horn player Rebecca Olason to talk about water, whale songs, and the Pacific Northwest:
Second Inversion: How would you describe or characterize your ensemble’s sound?
Rebecca Olason: Sound of Late primarily plays works by living composers, but our sound is fairly diverse. We might play works that are within the serialist tradition in one concert and folk inspired music in the next. Our set for this concert has a mix of music inspired by water, featuring a local folk singer, a work by a marine biologist (who is also a rock musician), and a piece inspired and imitative of whale song. We try to represent the variety of styles and sounds that are present in contemporary chamber music.
SI: The Pacific Northwest is really blossoming in the contemporary classical music sphere—what do you think makes our music scene here so unique?
RO: Having lived on the East and West coasts, I feel that the Pacific Northwest scene is unique because in many ways it is impossible to participate without being an innovator. To play contemporary classical music here, you have to be a risk-taker, and a person who will find a path where there wasn’t one before. It is more difficult to find a way to present your music as there are fewer new music venues, presenters, and groups.
The challenges of creating music here are a catalyst for the vibrancy, inventiveness, and passion of the community, which are also reflected in programming and actual musical style. Most contemporary classical groups are willing to make mistakes, and to take risks, but I feel that this is especially true of our community in the Pacific Northwest.
SI: Northwest Folklife strengthens local communities through art and music, celebrating diverse cultural heritages and working to ensure their continued growth and development. What types of communities or music traditions are represented in your music?
RO: The bulk of Sound of Late’s current repertoire is contemporary classical, though we often collaborate with other communities, and love to play improvisational music. This concert is inspired by and features maritime folk music.
SI: As a Seattle-based ensemble, what does the annual Northwest Folklife Festival mean to you?
RO: We are a newly Seattle-based chamber group, so Folklife represents a new future in this amazing city for us! The festival strikes me as one of the greatest celebrations of musical talent in the area from a broad stroke of traditions, and I am so honored and excited to be a part of it!
SI: What are you most looking forward to with this performance, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?
RO: I am looking forward to the chance to distill our last concert series into a quick, yet captivating show. We performed a series of concerts full of music inspired by water featuring music by contemporary classical composers, scientists, and fishers. What I really liked about these concerts was how many different experiences and musical traditions we were able to feature, so we tried to represent that variety in our small set. I hope that our audience will be inspired by our music, and contemplative of their own experience with water.
Sound of Late will be featured along with the Skyros Quartet and The Westerlies at our 2nd Annual Second Inversion Showcase at Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m. For more information, please click here or RSVP to our Facebook event.