Composer Harold Meltzer was in Seattle recently for the Pacifica Quartet’s Pacific Northwest premiere of his piece Aqua. He came by the KING FM studios to see his former classmate Sean MacLean and to check out a Northwest Focus LIVE broadcast. When he got close enough, we nabbed him and pulled him into a studio to do an interview with Second Inversion.
Hear about his creative journey and how his anxiety about form resulted in a series of musical works about architecture—plus, hear what he’s been up to since making friends with form.
Harold Meltzer’s new album Variations on a Summer Day and Piano Quartet is out now on Open G Records. The album features performances by the Boston Chamber Music Society. Abigail Fisher joins the ensemble for Variations on a Summer Day with Jayce Ogren conducting. For more information, click here.
For over 40 years the annual Northwest Folklife Festival has served as a community celebration of local music and art at Seattle Center. Second Inversion is proud to be a part of that community, and is committed to showcasing vibrant and adventurous new music landscapes from all over the Pacific Northwest and far beyond.
So this Friday, we’re teaming up with Classical KING FM to show off some of our favorite local new music talents in our third annual KING FM and Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival.
Join us at the Center Theatre onFriday, May 26 at 8pmfor a triple billing featuring the Ecco Chamber Ensemble, TangleTown Trio, and the Skyros Quartet. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store:
The Ecco Chamber Ensemble builds concerts around the intersection of art and social change. Comprised of soprano Stacey Mastrian, flutist Sarah Bassingthwaighte, and guitarist Mark Hilliard Wilson, the group programs classical music from around the world and across history which sheds light on issues of our time and provokes us to consider our common humanity.
TangleTown Trio specializes in classical Americana; music inspired by the many unique genres of American music, including jazz, folk, and classic musical theatre. Comprised of mezzo-soprano Sarah Mattox, violinist Jo Nardolillo, and pianist Judith Cohen, TangleTown is the happy outgrowth of three friends, all enjoying successful solo careers, coming together to create something truly extraordinary.
The Skyros Quartet is known for their innovative and interactive approach to classical music both old and new. Comprised of violinists Sarah Pizzichemi and James Moat, violist Justin Kurys, and cellist Willie Braun, the quartet performs, teaches, and leads community events all over the U.S. and Canada. Passionate about the future of music, Skyros regularly performs new works by living composers, and is back by popular demand after having performed in our Second Inversion Showcase at the 2016 Folklife Festival.
KING FM and Second Inversion’s Folklife Showcase is Friday, May 26 at 8pm at the Center Theatre at Seattle Center. For more information on the festival,click here.
You’ll find Seattle artist Erin Jorgensen right on the corner of waking and dreaming life, floating above her five-octave marimba and whispering elusive melodies amidst a cloud of sleepy radio snippets and atmospheric static.
Or at least, that’s where you’ll find her this weekend. The Universal Language Project is proud to present Undertones: a concert experience that invites you to dream. The performances, which take place this Friday and Saturday, feature a rare collaboration between Jorgensen and pianist Cristina Valdés, one of today’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music.
Photo by James Holt.
Curated by Seattle new music luminary James Holt, the concert is based on Jorgensen’s weekly podcast series of the same name, which is perhaps best used as a soundtrack for dreaming, staring out the window, or receiving outer space transmissions. The music blends together marimba melodies, improvisation, spoken word, radio scraps, found sounds, and anything else that happens to float through Jorgensen’s dreaming or waking life that week.
“The podcast’s only specificity is its relation to what is happening in my life at the moment,” Jorgensen said. “I often use snippets of things I am obsessed with on the internet, or things I happen to hear on the radio, or musical improvisations I come up with that day or week or right in the moment of recording. It might sound like a slowly drifting change of radio stations or the randomly associated thoughts and patterns that drift through one’s mind as they stare out a window or are in a state between sleep and wakefulness.”
Photo by James Holt.
The atmospheric podcast, which Jorgensen began about a year and a half ago, caught hold of Holt’s ear—and when Common Tone Arts asked him to curate a performance on their Universal Language Project series, all of the pieces came together.
“Erin Jorgensen is one of the most inspiring musicians I know, a longtime friend, and someone with a wholly unique musical voice,” Holt said. “The mix of live performance, improvisation, spoken word, and creatively mixed sound design really blew me away—and when I saw that she could do all of this live, kind of like a one-woman-band, I wanted more people to experience it.”
Jorgensen and Holt worked together to integrate these nebulous musical musings with additional solo piano music by three other composers. The result is an evening of music which seamlessly drifts between (and beyond) Jorgensen’s surreal musical subconscious and Valdés’s ethereal piano performances.
“I love the atmosphere that Erin sets up in her podcasts,” Valdés said, “Where the listener feels almost as if they’re having an out of body experience and is able to see and hear things both close up and from afar.”
Photo by James Holt.
At this weekend’s concerts, Valdés will become a part of that musical atmosphere with her performances of Ryan Brown’s softly twinkling “Ceramics,” Madeleine Cocolas’s interstellar “Static” and “If You Hear Me, I Hear You Back,” and two piano miniatures from Whitney George’s somber Extinction Series, which is comprised of musical obituaries for extinct animals. Though wide-ranging in their musical inspirations, each work connects back with Jorgensen’s original podcasts through a larger musical stream of consciousness.
“Erin has a gift for creating musical worlds that encourage you to retreat into your mind and contemplate ideas, think about the world around you, and ponder why we do and say the things we do and say,” Holt said. “The audience can expect the opportunity to do that during these performances. It will be something beautiful and it will be something you surely haven’t experienced before, but will want to experience again.”
Of course, Jorgensen’s music presents an opportunity to not only look inward, but also far beyond ourselves—to quietly dream into distant galaxies and imagine the space between the stars.
Photo by James Holt.
“‘Outer space’ in this context is more of a poetic metaphor for me,” Jorgensen said. “I like the idea of floating in space or the idea of the undiscovered space around us—’us’ being individual humans or the entirety of planet earth.”
Though as Jorgensen points out, humans can’t actually hear anything in outer space, at least not in our traditional understanding of sound.
“I think the actual music of outer space would sound like something humans aren’t able to comprehend yet,” Jorgensen said. “For me personally, outer space music could be tuning in to all the different sounds and thoughts that are happening all over the universe, just for a second.”
Performances of Undertones are this Friday, March 31 at 8pm at Resonance at SOMA Towers and this Saturday, April 1 at 8pm at the Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse. For tickets and more information, pleaseclick here.
On Friday, October 28 on Cantaloupe Music/Naxos releases Composer/Bang on a Can All-Star Ken Thomson’s new album, Restless, featuring cellist Ashley Bathgate and pianist Karl Larson performing two “vinyl-side-length pieces,” Restless for cello and piano and Me Vs for solo piano.
We’re thrilled to premiere this video, by created Ken, Ashley, and Karl, giving you not only an earshot of the music, but great insight into the inspiration behind the music.
This primarily vinyl release harkens back to the classic approach of listening to art music, encouraging one “to sit down and listen to something for 20 minutes at a time,” explains Ken, though the album will also be available digitally.
We highly recommend throwing a listening party for this album which portrays Ken’s notorious difficulty (“It’s the kind of thing that pianists have looked at me and said, OMG you have to be kidding me!” – Ken on Me Vs.) and showcases “a major addition to the repertoire,” the unanimous comment they’ve received about Restless. Enjoy, and pre-order your copy today!
C’mon, c’mon get happy with Second Inversion, Live Music Project, and Seattle’s vibrant community of musicians at our next New Music Happy Hour on Wednesday, August 24 at 5:30pm at the Queen Anne Beerhall!
Whether you’re a full-time musician, a casual freelancer, music hobbyist, or total music novice, you are welcome! The only prerequisite is an open mind and a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue about music and art in Seattle and beyond.
TheQueen Anne Beerhallhas become our favorite place to gather! It has 25 premium draft beers, over 50 bottles, and full bar offering unique cocktails made with in-house prepared syrups and shrubs. The food menu includes PNW-influenced classic beer hall fare and perfectly executed staples such as soft Bavarian pretzel, wiener schnitzel and a variety of grilled sausages with sauerkraut.
James and Connie
We like to laugh!
Jacob and Brendan
Donna and Ursula
Group shot! (table 1)
Group shot! (table 2)
Connie and Jon
Deep in conversations
Connecting with new friends
Shaya and Kevin
Andrew and Maggie
A few of our favorite shots from last month’s NMHH on July 19! All photos credit:Maggie Molloy