by Maggie Molloy
This week’s music calendar features everything from blindfolded musicians to Babylonian goddesses!
Pink Martini with the Seattle Symphony
Portland is known for its unique and diverse music scene—Courtney Love, Elliott Smith, and the Decemberists are just a few Portland natives who come to mind—but nothing is quite like Portland’s Pink Martini.
Pink Martini is a 12-piece band that draws musical inspiration from around the world. With a unique fusion of classical, jazz, and old-fashioned pop influences, the group strives to create beautiful and inclusive music which transcends the boundaries of language, geography, politics, and religion.
This week Pink Martini is coming to our neck of the woods to perform two concerts with the Seattle Symphony. They will be joined by the Von Trapps, a family who is famous for their spot-on sibling harmonies, rich musical arrangements, and multilingual repertoire. Did we mention they’re descendants of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for “The Sound of Music”?
The performance is Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall.
Heather Bentley’s “The Ballad of Ishtar”
Opera is among the oldest vocal musical forms still prevalent today in Western classical music. However, this weekend Seattle musicians are putting a contemporary spin on this classic art form with composer Heather Bentley’s “The Ballad of Ishtar,” an original electroacoustic, semi-improvised opera which experiments with new sounds, new instruments, and a new story.
The opera responds to our worldwide rape culture crisis through a new musical language. It tells the story Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, war, and sex, who is so disgusted by rape culture that she travels to the underworld and back to discover why humanity deserves any intimate connection at all.
Bringing this story to life is a fabulous cast of Seattle musicians, including singer and clarinetist Beth Fleenor as Ishtar, performance artist okanomodé as Asu Shu-Namir, and singer Jimmie Herrod as the Queen of the Underworld. The instrumental ensemble features saxophonist Ivan Arteaga, violist Heather Bentley, trumpeter Ahamefule J. Oluo, guitarist Trey Gunn, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, and guitarist Michaud Savage. Electronics, amplification, and live processing will be done by composer and sound artist William Hayes.
For a preview of some of the artists, please listen to Heather and Beth’s installment of Second Inversion’s “The Takeover”
The opera will be performed this Thursday, Jan. 22, Friday, Jan. 23, and Saturday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.
Music of Remembrance: Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
Some moments in history are too powerful, to sobering, and too significant to be put into words. Art is simply the only way to fully express the emotional gravity of such moments. Next week, Music of Remembrance will present a free concert honoring the 70th anniversary of a very crucial moment in history: the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
The musical program will feature works by composers whose lives were cut tragically short by Nazi persecution: Hans Krása, Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann, Ilse Weber, Carlo Taube, Robert Dauber, David Beigelman, and Dick Kattenburg. The concert serves as a reminder of their courage and creative spirit even in the face of such violent and catastrophic circumstances.
For a listen back to MOR’s November 2014 concert, take a listen to this Second Inversion broadcast hosted by Mina Miller:
The concert is next Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall.
Beth Fleenor’s Workshop Ensemble
Beth Fleenor’s Workshop Ensemble (WE) is good at listening. In fact, they’re so good at listening that they don’t even need to use their eyes—they choose to perform blindfolded.
WE is a 12-piece project that performs Fleenor’s chamber works, including her “20 Etudes for Blindfolded Musicians,” a series of exercises which help cultivate a deeper sense of ensemble intention and communication by heightening each member’s full body listening and awareness.
Next week, the ensemble will perform “SILT,” a 16-minute sonic meditation which is being released on Bunny Blasto Records. They will also perform a new work for blindfolded musicians.
The performance is next Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.