From Symphonic Premieres to Improvised Festivals: New Music for February

by Maggie Molloy

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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! 

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Keep an eye out for our this flyer in concert programs and coffee shops around town. Feel free to download, print, and distribute it yourself! If you’d like to be included on this list, submit your event to the Live Music Project at least 6 weeks prior to the event and tag it with “new music.”

Program Insert - February 2018

 

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: improvised musical games, digital synthesis, site-specific sounds works, and piano pieces with alliterative pretensions.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Spontaneous Combustion New Music Festival: Ashley Bathgate
Cellist Ashley Bathgate is constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional cello repertoire with her performances of contemporary, avant-garde, and experimental works. For this performance she plays music with and without electronics by Steve Reich, Martin Bresnick, Fjola Evans, Emily Cooley, and Alex Weiser.

Thurs, 2/1, 8pm, Rainier Arts Center | $20

Karen Bentley Pollick: New York Women Composers
Violinist Karen Bentley Pollick premieres a new original solo violin piece in a program of music by New York women composers. Plus, Seattle violist Heather Bentley joins for the Washington premiere of Victoria Bond’s Woven for violin and viola.
Thurs, 2/1, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Matrio & Resonant Bodies
Taking its name from the Japanese word for “the space between two structural parts,” Matrio is an improvising collective that creates set-long experiences which explore the space between sound, noise, music, and silence. They’re joined by the jazz trumpet and percussion duo Resonant Bodies.
Thurs, 2/1, 8pm, The Royal Room | $8-$12

Byrd Ensemble: Paradise
There is no shortage ​of masterpieces about death and the afterlife. ​From Renaissance works to the early 20th century and the contemporary era, the Byrd Ensemble performs a program of the most hauntingly beautiful motets across the ages.
Sat, 2/3, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $20-$30

200 Years of Music by Black Composers
Internationally acclaimed countertenor Reginald L. Mobley joins pianist Henry Lebedinsky for a program of music by Black composers from the Classical era to the present, including art songs, spirituals, and gospel. Featured composers include José Mauricio Nuñes Garcia, Florence B. Price, William Grant Still, and Harry Burleigh.
Wed, 2/7, 12pm, Christ Our Hope at the Josephinum | FREE

Seattle Symphony: David Lang World Premiere
David Lang is a pretty big deal in new music world. He’s a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning composer, one of the founders of the Bang on a Can collective, the list goes on and on. This month the Seattle Symphony performs the world premiere of Lang’s symphony without a hero, playfully juxtaposed with a performance of Richard Strauss’s epic tone poem, A Hero’s Life.
Thurs, 2/8, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $22-$74
Sat, 2/10, 8pm, Benaroya Hall | $22-$74

The Sound Ensemble: A Life Transformed
Seattle’s Sound Ensemble performs an evening of monumental works inspired by transformative experiences in either the life of the composer or the character of the piece. Featured works include Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, John Adams’ Chamber Symphony, and a new work by composer Kevin Clark.
Sat, 2/10, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Improvised Music Festival
No scores, no plans, no safety net: just a whole bunch of artists from all different musical backgrounds collaborating in an atmosphere of spontaneity, intuition, and discovery. Featured performers include Tomeka Reid, Tom Baker, Evan Flory-Barnes, and many, many more.
Feb. 10-17, Various times and locations | $5-$15

Seattle Symphony: Celebrate Asia
Erhu and sitar soloists perform with the Seattle Symphony in their 10th annual Celebrate Asia concert featuring contemporary (and traditional) music by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Indian composers. Arrive early and stay late for pre- and post-concert entertainment in the lobby.
Sun, 2/11, 4pm, Benaroya Hall | $29-$67

Opera on Tap
Local singers let their hair down and sing their hearts out, performing famous operatic masterpieces and hidden musical gems alike in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Tues, 2/13, 7:30pm, Solo Bar | $10

Meany Center: Danish String Quartet
The internationally acclaimed Danish String Quartet performs traditional classical music alongside their own contemporary arrangements of Scandinavian folk music. Catch their intimate performance at Cafe Solstice or see them on the Meany Theater mainstage.
Tues, 2/13, 7pm, Cafe Solstice | FREE
Wed, 2/14, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $40-$48

Emerald City Music: Spiritual Journey
Emerald City Music explores the power of the voice in chamber music through a program of 20th century songs and spirituals by Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and more.
Fri, 2/16, 8pm, 415 Westlake Ave, Seattle | $10-$45
Sat, 2/17, 7:30pm, Minnaert Center, Olympia | $10-$43

NOCCO: Vibrant Hearts – A Romanian Celebration
The North Corner Chamber Orchestra performs 20th century works inspired by Romanian folk music traditions, including compositions by George Enescu and Béla Bartók.
Sat, 2/17, 2pm, University Christian Church | $15-$25
Sun, 2/18, 7:30pm, The Royal Room | $15-$25

Philharmonia Northwest: Viva Americas!
The exhilarating colors and rhythms of Latin American music come alive in this concert featuring music by Astor Piazzolla, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Márquez, and a new commission by young Mexican composer Osvaldo Mendoza.
Sun, 2/25, 2:30pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Seattle) | $15-$20

STAFF PICKS: Friday Faves

Second Inversion hosts share a favorite selection from this Friday’s playlist. Tune in during the indicated hours below on Friday, September 23 to hear these pieces. In the meantime, you’ll hear other great new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre 24/7!

Gabriel Kahane: Last Dance (Story Sound Records)a4106913517_16

Utterly lovely.  Two words are all one needs to describe Gabriel Kahane’s “Last Dance.”  It starts softly with poetic vocals accompanied by a light instrumental touch and swells then swerves to a more energetic, somewhat off-kilter indie pop composition heavy on guitar.  It’s an intelligent, beautiful song full of empathy. – Rachele Hales

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 12pm hour today to hear an excerpt from this piece.


Traditional (arr. Danish String Quintet): Five Sheep, Four Goats (DACAPO Records)8-226081

Autumn is in the air, so I’m in the mood for music that encourages nesting. I’ve found such a piece in Five Sheep, Four Goats, a traditional tune on the Danish String Quartet’s 2013 release Wood Works. This arrangement by the DSQ is comforting without being boring. The folk tune itself is simple and gorgeous, but the true gem on this track is the placidly rhapsodic flugelhorn solo by Mads la Cour. Crank this one up and break out the cinnamon donuts! – Seth Tompkins

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 4pm hour today to hear this piece. In the meantime, enjoy the recording that DSQ made of this piece in our studios!


Wayne Horvitz: “The Circus Prospered,” arranged and performed by The Westerlies91e6ovdpx2l-_sx425_ (Songlines Recordings)

“The Circus Prospered” is the kind of melancholy curtain-raiser that accompanies the opening scene of a crackling black and white silent film—or perhaps more specifically, a Charlie Chaplin film.

Composed by Seattle-based jazz giant Wayne Horvitz and arranged by The Westerlies for their two-trumpet, two-trombone brass quartet, the piece was originally conceived as a 21st century accompaniment for Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film The Circus. With swelling harmonies and soulful dissonances, the piece harbors the nostalgic warmth of a black and white film while also capturing the irresistible whimsicality and color of the circus.

Recorded on Lopez Island amidst the calm and quiet of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful landscapes, the quartet’s muted colors bleed softly into one another like a cloud-smudged sunrise—and just like those old Charlie Chaplin flicks, the music sparkles with charisma, charm, and a certain cinematic timelessness. – Maggie Molloy

Tune in to Second Inversion in today to hear this piece.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Danish String Quartet: Thomas Adès, Per Norgård, Hans Abrahamsen

by Seth Tompkins

Even if you know nothing about the Danish String Quartet, after listening to their latest album, it is clear that their capital strengths are versatility, sensitivity, and humility. Throughout this release, their inexhaustible flexibility, as well as their clearly attentive and humble collaborative spirit, show that this group of Scandinavians represents the acme of musical professionalism.

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photo credit: Caroline Brittencourt

The repertoire selected for this release is tightly related in certain ways. All three pieces, by Thomas Adès, Per Norgård, and Hans Abramhamsen, are the composers’ first published attempts at writing for string quartet. Additionally, all three pieces come from the composers’ early twenties: both the Norgård and Abrahamsen were written when the composers were twenty years old, and the Adès arrived when its composer was twenty-three. These common threads provide the listener with interesting food for thought, setting up a satisfying journey through this music.

The title of the first piece, Arcadiana, is a theme of sorts for this entire collection of music, referring to the ancient Greek legend of the mythical utopian land of Arcadia. “Arcadia,” in the context of this release, refers to two aspects present in all of the included pieces.  First, it is connected to the frequent use of traditional tonality in this otherwise “modern” music as a means of harkening back to the “utopia” of earlier music. It is also connected to the utopia of youth, when the future appears bright and promising; this refers to the youthful ages of the composers at the times of composition of all three pieces.

The disc is laid out with the two longer pieces as bookends. It begins with Arcadiana, Op.12 by Thomas Adès. This piece is a series of short vignettes referring to geographic places (both real and mythical) and/or the music of other composers, including Mozart, Schubert, Debussy, and Elgar. The skill and versatility with which the quartet executes the contrasting textures here is striking.  This piece is an enjoyable listen at the surface level, with beautiful moments couched in fascinating complexity and, and also provides an engaging intellectual journey, if the listener is so inclined.

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The second piece, the shortest on this disc, is the Quartetto Breve by Per Norgård. It is indeed breve, but it still packs a punch. Its two movements are of contrasting character, with the first being deliberate and rhapsodic, and the second having a punchier contrapuntal texture. As in the first piece, in both movements, the great delicacy with which the quartet approaches these contrasting pieces shines.

The second movement, in particular, showcases the quartet’s egalitarianism, which is required in order for this music to work. The pointillistic music in this movement demands the same kind of ensemble-wide sensitivity that is called for in Bach’s contrapuncti, and that ethic is equally at home here, yielding excellent results.  The opening cello notes in this movement are also notable; they showcase the warm yet balanced acoustic environment found throughout this superbly-mastered disc.  The listener gets a complementary balance of proximal sounds (bow hair scratching, etc.) and warm resonance; this results in a beautiful but non-distracting sound environment that serves primarily to showcase the supreme delicacy and deep preparation of the quartet.

Hans Abrahamsen’s String Quartet No.1 rounds out this release. It is a series of 10 miniatures, called “short stories” by the composer. These diminutive pieces all have distinct characters, stemming from combinations of American minimalism, European serialism, contemporary techniques, and folk song. This piece is perhaps where the versatility of the Danish String Quartet is most obvious. The ease and dexterity with which they execute these dramatically different characters is impressive and delightful.

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Second Inversion’s Top 5 Moments of 2015

2015 has been a huge year for us! Besides filling the 24/7 stream with new music and insights, we kept busy out in the community, on the blog, and making videos! This is the final post in a series of “Top 5 of 2015” lists (check out our Top 5 Videos and Top 5 Albums) before we plunge into 2016.  Here are our top 5 moments/events/milestones/projects/good times:

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#5: John Cage Diary Series

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Armed with high-quality headphones and book in hand, over the course of eight weeks, Second Inversion’s Maggie Molloy listened through each of the eight parts of Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)recently published by Siglio Press, and created her own personal diary tracking the experience.

She gracefully navigated through the zigzagging maze that is Cage’s musical mind and shed light on some fascinating aspects of Cage’s life: his love of mushrooms, cats, anechoic chambers, technology (it’s arguable to say Cage may have predicted the internet), dance, and so much more.  Dive in from the beginning and let her guide you through this incredible series! Stay tuned for more great creative features and clever wit from Maggie M. in 2016!


#4: Live Broadcasts

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In 2015 we presented SEVEN live streaming broadcast concerts from Town Hall Seattle and Meany Hall, including Third Coast Percussion, Catalyst Quartet, Deviant Septet, SYSO Alums and Mentors, Johnny Gandlesman, ETHEL and Robert Mirabal, Ensemble Variances with Lisa Bielawa! These broadcasts allowed us to connect with concert-goers in the community while reaching audiences nation and world-wide on our 24/7 stream! Many of them are also available on our live concerts on-demand page Stay tuned for plenty more in 2016.


#3: Music Videos (& a New Music USA Grant)

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We’re grateful for all of the foundation support we’ve received for Second Inversion this year! Our grant from New Music USA was particularly exciting because it to helped fund our music videos. Our video stars include Joshua Roman, Turtle Island String Quartet, Jherek Bischoff, Ashley Bathgate, Danish String Quartet, musicians from OneBeat, Christopher O’Riley and Matt Haimovitz, and so many more. It’s been a wildly fun journey connecting with artists who are passionate about sharing new music with audiences. We’re incredibly grateful for the time they donated to be a part of this project! Check out the complete video collection on our video page.


#2: Northwest Folklife Festival

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In 2015 we had our first Northwest Folklife Showcase – really, our first public performance of any kind! The Passenger String Quartet and Seattle Cello eXperiment performed for an absolutely packed Center Theatre. It was an amazing opportunity for us to contribute to Folklife’s diverse music and cultural offerings and to connect with new audiences. Some showed up expecting a more traditional “classical” concert and instead were able to Rethink Classical. Needless to say, we’ll be back for a 2nd showcase in 2016!


#1: Joshua Roman named Artistic Advisor

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In March of 2015, Second Inversion brought Joshua Roman on board as the Artistic Advisor! Joshua has helped us “Rethink Classical” with our Seattle community and our national and global audiences by posting to our blog, introducing music on our 24/7 stream, and collaborating on new ideas and initiatives. Stay tuned for more from Joshua in 2016!

NEW VIDEOS: Danish String Quartet

Here’s a charming little story, summarized from the Danish String Quartet‘s website, interspersed with the in-studio videos from November 3, 2015:

The Danish String Quartet are three Danes (Rune, Asbjørn, Fredrik) and one Norwegian cellist (Fredrik). They often joke about being modern Vikings – perhaps a touch more harmless than their ancestors, not pillaging cities or razing the English coastline!

 

The three Danes met at a summer music camp and bonded, as the youngest players in the group, and became best friends through football and chamber music and continued their studies together at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2008, Norwegian cellist Fredrik joined the group – they “found him hidden away in a castle outside Stockholm.” While the quartet has varied hobbies ranging from sailing, old cars, cooking, gaming, reading, playing, talking, and drinking – they play string quartets like it’s their job (because it is!) but also because it’s a lot of fun.

If all goes according to plan, around 2060 they will beat the world record for longest running string quartet and will celebrate with a giant feast. We’ll be waiting for our invitations!

Huge thanks to the UW World Series for helping to make this video session possible!