Nat Evans “Flyover Country” at the Grocery Studios

by Dacia Clay

Nat Evans and Will Hayes at the Grocery

Nat Evans and Will Hayes at the Grocery (photo by Dacia Clay)

Imagine that you’re having a nightmare. There’s a monster chasing you. It’s a dark, shadowy threatening thing that devours everything and everyone in its path, working its way ever-closer to you. You instinctively try to run. And then, at the inevitable moment when it’s upon you and you know that you’re done for, something unthinkably terrifying happens: you realize that the monster is you.

That moment of Edvard Munch-level terror is at the heart of Nat Evans’ multimedia work, Flyover Country: How do contemporary people deal with, as Evans puts it, our “disconnected collective consciousness,” wherein we have convinced ourselves through the stories that we tell that we are separate from the natural world and from our origins?

Flyover is also a meditation on the power and function of story in our lives, starting with Evans’ own family. In 2017, he began to look at family trees and photos dating to the 1870s, piecing together the stories of his forebears; he also began to dig into the stories of contemporaneous indigenous people. What emerged from his research clearly mortified him. Where his family’s historical records petered out, stories of their indigenous counterparts came violently to the fore. In short, Evans began to suspect that there was a direct link between his family and mass atrocities of the past.

The audience at Beacon Hill’s Grocery Studios this Sunday night (May 20, 2018) experienced the horror of what Evans unearthed along with him – his family’s link to the genocide of indigenous people, the slaughter of the bison, and the pillaging of the earth – when the performance reached a climax of truly scary cognitive and musical dissonance. For most of the piece up until that point, Will Hayes’s guitar had been dreamy and expansive. But at that moment, it escalated to wretches and squeals, and the room went dark as the audience choked on the starkness of what Evans had laid out for us. The story completely unraveled leaving us to sit with the heartlessness, callousness, and opportunism deep in the roots of the United States.

But what were we to do with that information? Where were we to go from there? Especially when, as Evans pointed out, our country is still doing it. We’re still, for example, draining the Ogallala Aquifer and leaving behind dead lands (aka, “flyover country”). The land beneath the building we were sitting in, as Grocery Studios’ Janet Galore pointed out before the performance began, was part of unceded indigenous lands that belonged to the Coast Salish people.

I don’t want to spoil the experience of Flyover Country for you so I won’t tell you about the edict/conclusion that Evans left the audience with. But I will say that it had to do with harnessing the power of story for good. And that it involved a really stubborn buffalo.

Flyover Country is the distillation of one artist wrapping his head around the enormity of his origins – both those of his family and of his country – and what those things mean here and now. Through acoustic and electronic music, a slideshow of archival photos and video, field recordings, and spoken text, Evans has woven together a deeply personal story, but he leaves enough space for us to inhabit it. It’s a piece that’s impossible not to think about for hours and days after, precisely because it’s a story that we’re all still writing.

New Music for May: Joshua Roman, JACK Quartet, and a Microtonal Music Fest

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.”

New music flyer May 2018 FINAL

 

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: avant-garde piano solos, Eastern-European cimbalom songs, a dark ambient memorial, and more.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Live Music Project: 4th Annual Lecture-Concert
The Live Music Project celebrates its 4th birthday with a scintillating lecture from a cyborg, a centuries-spanning solo violin performance by Mikhail Shmidt of the Seattle Symphony, a ticket giveaway, and the most adorable cupcake toast this side of the Cascades.
Tues, 5/1, 6:30pm, Naked City Brewery & Taphouse | $30

DXARTS: Points vs. Fields
UW School of Music faculty performers Cuong Vu, Ted Poor, Richard Karpen, and Juan Pampin perform an ephemeral new improvisation for trumpet, drums, piano, and live electronics, programmed alongside Bernard Permegiani’s classic exploration of the meaning of sound itself, De Natura Sonorum for loudspeaker orchestra.
Tues, 5/1, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$15

Emerald City Music: Metamorphosis
A season-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial ends with a special multimedia feature on the iconic conductor, plus performances of two composers whose work he championed during his lifetime: Strauss and Beethoven.
Fri, 5/4, 8pm, 415 Westalve Ave, Seattle | $40-45
Sat, 5/5, 7:30pm, Evergreen State College Recital Hall, Olympia | $23-$43

Matt Shoemaker Memorial Concert
Longtime friends and collaborators of the late Matt Shoemaker perform works in his honor ranging from experimental noise to sound art, dark ambient, and beyond.
Sat, 5/5, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Town Music: JACK Quartet with Joshua Roman
Cellist Joshua Roman joins forces with the JACK Quartet to perform his new piece Tornado, inspired by his roots in Oklahoma. Works by Jefferson Friedman, John Zorn, Amy Williams, and Carlo Gesualdo complete the program.
Thurs, 5/10, 7:30pm, Seattle First Baptist Church | $15-$20

Harry Partch Festival
Experience the handmade microtonal instruments of Harry Partch in this sprawling three-day music festival featuring new works composed for Partch’s instruments, as well as rarely-performed works from the composer’s archives. Master classes, demonstrations, and lectures, complete this homage to a uniquely American artist.
Fri-Sun, 5/11-5/13, Various times, Meany Theater | $10-$60

Portland Cello Project
Equally at home in rock clubs and concert halls, Portland Cello Project reimagines classical favorites and contemporary hits alike for their famous choir of cellos. Expect everything from Bach to Coltrane to Radiohead.
Tues, 5/15, 7:30pm, The Triple Door | $26-$35

Seattle Art Museum: John Cage’s Themes and Variations
John Cage is best known as one of the leading figures of the 20th century avant-garde in music—but much of his work crossed boundaries into performance art, theatre, and even visual art. His sculpture Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel recently joined the Seattle Art Museum’s collection. Learn more about his contributions to both art and music in this conversation with curators Catharina Manchanda and Carrie Dedon.
Wed, 5/16, 6:30pm, Seattle Art Museum | $10

Peter Nelson-King: Post Avant-Garde
Multi-instrumentalist and modern music rabble-rouser Peter Nelson-King presents an eclectic program of individualist piano music from the 1980s, featuring works by Robert Beaser, George Benjamin, Peter Sculthorpe, John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas, Charles Wuorinen, and more.
Thurs, 5/17, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Pro Musica: Sacred Ground
Explore the intersections of music, spirituality, and the natural world in this program of nature-inspired works by Tõnu Kõrvits, Hyo-Won Woo, and Healey Willan.
Fri, 5/18, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $12-$38
Sat, 5/19, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $12-$38

Nat Evans: Flyover Country
Composer and interdisciplinary artist Nat Evans uses his family history across the last three centuries as a lens to look at ecological destruction, genocide of indigenous people, capitalism, and food systems in the United States.
Sat-Sun, 5/19-5/20, 8pm, The Grocery | $5-$20

Mostly Nordic: Finlandia
The Emerald Ensemble perform Jean Sibelius’s beloved hymn to Finland alongside 20th century works by Finnish composers Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, and more.
Sun, 5/20, 4pm, Nordic Museum | $25

Music of Remembrance: Gaman
A world premiere by composer Christophe Chagnard explores the experience of Japanese immigrants who were forced into internment camps in the wake of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Combining traditional Japanese and classical Western instruments, the piece brings a powerful story to life through the words and images created by three artists and poets during their captivity in the Minidoka camp.
Sun, 5/20, 5pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $30-$45

The Westerlies
Far from your typical brass band, this Seattle-bred, New York-based quartet is known on both coasts for their bold artistry, impeccable finesse, eclectic musical interpretations, and remarkable versatility. The band returns to the West this month for a one-night-only performance in Seattle.
Wed, 5/23, 7:30pm, The Royal Room | $5-$15

Frequency with Yura Lee: Dialogues
Guest violinist Yura Lee joins members of Frequency (violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim, violist Melia Watras, and cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir) for duos by Berio, Maderna, Ravel, and Watras. Also on the program is Dohnányi’s Serenade for string trio.
Sun, 5/27, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$20

New Composed Music: May 2017 Seattle * Eastside * Tacoma

SI_button2Second 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! 

thvLYmNB

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 be sure to tag it with “new music.”


Program Insert - May 2017

Racer Sessions
A weekly showcase of original music with a jam session based on the concepts in the opening presentation.
Every Sunday, 8-10pm, Cafe Racer | FREE

Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electronic/electroacoustic music, & more.
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Eighth Blackbird with Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy)
Will Oldham joins Eighth Blackbird for half the program with original songs and Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together. The program also includes Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballades, and David Lang’s Learn to Fly.
Thursday, 5/4, 7:30pm, The Neptune Theatre | $33.50

Harry Partch’s Oedipus: A Musical Theater Drama
The UW School of Music presents the rarely performed Oedipus by Harry Partch after the play by Sophocles. This performance is a “multi-genre theatrical work” featuring a unique collection of Harry Partch’s handmade instruments currently in residence at UW.
Friday, 5/5, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$20
Saturday, 5/6, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$20
Sunday, 5/7, 2:00pm, Meany Theater | $10-$20

Seattle Classical Guitar Society Presents Antigoni Goni
Award winning guitarist and renowned pedagogue Antigoni Goni performs a solo recital including music by contemporary Greek composers and others.
Saturday, 5/6, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall | $38

Angelo Rondello: Music of Our Sister Cities
Seattle Music Exchange Project presents pianist Angelo Rondello.  The program includes music of Seattle’s sister cities in Italy, Japan, Hungary, and Norway.
Thursday, May 11, 7:30pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall | $20-$42

Seattle Symphony: Celebrate Asia
Seattle Symphony is joined by Indian composer, producer, and performer A. R. Rahman is their ninth annual celebration of the musical traditions of Asia, focusing this year on India and Japan.
Friday, 5/12, 7:00pm, Mark S. Taper Auditorium, Benaroya Hall | $40-$105

DXARTS: Music of Today
The UW School of Music and The Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) present a concert of audio and video by current DXARTS students and alumni.
Friday, 5/12, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$15

Gamelan Pacifica: Lou Harrison at 100 Years
Celebrate the centenary of Lou harrison with a rare opportunity to experience his music for gamelan and percussion live.
Saturday 5/13, 8:00pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Seattle Rock Orchestra Performs The Beatles
In a Seattle Mother’s Day tradition, Seattle Rock Orchestra performs the Beatles.  Bring your mom.
Saturday, 5/13, 8:00pm, Moore Theatre | $25
Sunday, 5/14, 2:00pm, Moore Theatre | $25

Nat Evans’s Vertical Saxophone Aura Readings at Seattle Art Museum
Nat Evans presents an interactive work for saxophonists on escalators. Two saxophone players serve as personal sound escorts to museum patrons on the escalators leading up to the Seeing Nature exhibition.
Thursday, 5/18, 7:00pm, Seattle Art Museum | free-$20

Ecco Chamber Ensemble: Enough is Enough
Ecco ends their inaugural season with music that protests modern violence and points toward peace, including a premiere by Seattle composer Sarah Bassingthwaighte.
Saturday, May 20, 2:00pm, St. John United Lutheran Church, | $15

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra: SPARK.1
This Capitol Hill performance marks the first event in SMCO’s genre-bending SPARK series.  Live SMCO musicians are joined by local DJ Suttikeeree and the Skylark Horn Quartet.
Saturday, May 20, 8:00pm, Fred Wildlife Refuge (21+) | $25

Music of Mother Nature: 5 Works Inspired by the Great Outdoors

Photo by Erin Anderson.

by Maggie Molloy

The Emerald City is famously green—and not just in terms of plant life. Last year Seattle was rated among the top 15 most environmentally sustainable cities in the U.S., and by 2050 we aim to be completely carbon neutral.

This Sunday is Earth Day: a worldwide event dedicated to education and awareness around issues of environmental protection and sustainability. But here in Seattle, every day is Earth Day; every day, we strive to take care of our planet and work toward a sustainable future.

Photo by Erin Anderson.

So in celebration of our beautiful planet—both last weekend and every day—we’re sharing some of our favorite pieces inspired by plants, animals, and the overwhelming magnificence of Mother Nature:

Mamoru Fujieda: Patterns of Plants

We experience plant life through a variety of senses: sight, taste, touch, smell. But have you ever wondered what plants sound like? Japanese post-minimalist composer Mamoru Fujieda decided to find out.

He spent 15 years of his career creating music based on the electrical activity in living plants. Using a device called a “Plantron,” he measured electrical fluctuations on the surface of plant leaves and converted that data into sound. Fujieda then foraged through the resulting sonic forest for pleasing musical patterns, which he used as the basis for his magnum opus: a bouquet of piano miniatures blooming with ornamented melodies and delicate details.


Meredith Monk: On Behalf of Nature

Meredith Monk likes to think outside the box—the voice box, that is. Famous for her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument and a language in and of itself, her music speaks volumes without ever using words.

Monk’s multidisciplinary performance piece On Behalf of Nature is a wordless poetic meditation on the environment; an exploration of the delicate space where humans coexist with the natural and spiritual world. The result is an almost ritualistic soundscape of extended vocal techniques dancing above a hypnotic and at times eerie instrumental accompaniment.


John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

Just about everything in John Luther Adams’ musical oeuvre qualifies as organic Earth Day ear candy, but we Seattleites are partial to his Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Become Ocean, commissioned and premiered by our own Seattle Symphony in 2013.

Inspired by the spectacular waters of the Pacific Northwest and composed in reaction to the imminent threats of global warming, Become Ocean is a literal ocean of sound—a sparkling seascape that immerses the listener in beautiful washes of color. Harmonies ebb and flow with the fluidity of the tide, cresting into bold, climactic waves amid misty and melodic winds.

“As a composer, it’s my belief that music can contribute to the awakening of our ecological understanding,” Adams said. “By deepening our awareness of our connections to the earth, music can provide a sounding model for the renewal of human consciousness and culture.”


Nat Evans: Coyoteways

Seattle composer Nat Evans spent many a night listening to the lonely howl of the coyote as he hiked the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail. So many, in fact, that the animal became the inspiration (along with the writings of Beat poet Gary Snyder) for an album that explores the mythological role of the coyote as a cunning trickster and schemer.

Coyoteways evokes the vast and expansive landscapes of the American West by layering field recordings from Evans’ travels brushed with long, sweeping guitar lines and occasional whispers of saxophone and percussion. The result is an ambient soundscape that echoes with the simple splendor of the great outdoors and the stealthy gaze of the coyotes that watch over it.


Whitney George: Extinction Series

Our planet is currently in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals—the worst wave of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago. Composer Whitney George is fighting to change those numbers.

George’s Extinction Series is an ongoing collection of somber and introspective miniatures for various solo instruments, each one composed as a musical obituary to an extinct animal on the rapidly-growing list. The sheer volume of this indeterminate series serves as commentary on mankind’s careless destruction of our planet—and it also poses a direct challenge to Earth’s inhabitants: in order for the series to ever be completed, we must first fundamentally change how we interact with our environment.

ALBUM REVIEW: “Nature” by The City of Tomorrow

by Maggie Molloy

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Dating back to the Late Stone Age, the conch shell was among the earliest musical instruments—and while wind instruments have grown and transformed a lot over the course of the last 20,000 years, they have always had maintained an intimate connection with nature. Throughout history, composers have used the rich tone color of wind instruments to imitate the chirping of the birds, the spraying of the sea, or the rising of the sun.

Even today, contemporary musicians are finding new ways to explore this unique musical relationship between wind instruments and nature—in fact, the contemporary wind quintet City of Tomorrow devoted their entire debut album to doing just that.

Comprised of flutist Elise Blatchford, oboist Stuart Breczinski, clarinetist Camila Barrientos, bassoonist Laura Miller, and horn player Leander Star, City of Tomorrow is committed to much more than just music. The one-of-a-kind quintet merges elements of contemporary classical and experimental music with themes of environmentalism and humanism. Through their music they offer new perspectives on current social and political issues ranging from environmental destruction and war to the everyday injustices of living in the Digital Age.

Their new album, titled “NATURE,” explores the evolution of humanity’s relationship with nature through works by four contemporary composers. The album considers nature through the lens of 18th- and 19th-century Romantic ideas of the Sublime: the overwhelming brilliance of the natural world surrounding us and our inexorable vulnerability in its presence. The album also serves as the first installment of a three-disc set that will musically trace the progression of nature from the Romantic era to the apocalyptic.

The first piece on the album is David Lang’s “breathless,” a work which illustrates the ceaseless flow of nature through delicately circling motives in each instrument. The soundscape moves slowly and steadily forward with a minimalist aesthetic, each wind instrument gently layered over one another in prismatic, ever-changing rhythmic patterns.

Next on the album is Luciano Berio’s “Ricorrenze.” Italian for “recurrences,” the piece explores the delicate balance between order and chaos in nature. The work begins with soft, unison D’s in every instrument before growing into swirling layers of virtuosic melodic lines. The dazzlingly diverse range of tone colors makes the piece’s connection to nature palpable—in fact, Berio himself compared the quintet to a seed being sown and gradually maturing into a plant bearing vibrant fruit.

City of Tomorrow jazzes things up with their performance of “…a certain chinese cyclopaedia…” by Denys Bouliane. Inspired by a fantastical encyclopedia of real and imaginary animals depicted in a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, the piece crafts a musical taxonomy cataloguing the infinite variations of bebop. The piece is a colorful collage of frenetic melodic fragments which offer an abstract interpretation of the evolution of bebop jazz.

The concluding work on the album is “Music for Breathing” by Nat Evans, a piece which is rooted in traditionally Eastern understandings of nature. The piece crafts an organic, often meditative illustration of the natural world through guided improvisation, solo spotlights, extended techniques, and even the use of conch shells and stones. Inspired by the rituals of the Yamabushi Buddhists, the piece at times blurs the line between musical instruments made by man and musical instruments found in nature.

Each piece on “NATURE” is its own exquisite flower, a beautifully unique impression of nature’s rich tone colors and ever-changing musical textures. And City of Tomorrow breathes new life into each work through their imaginative musical interpretation, skilled rhythmic precision, colorful tonal palette, and above all, their unparalleled artistic ambition.

This is one wind quintet that is sure to leave you breathless.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: April 23-26

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s eclectic concert calendar is overflowing with river music, graphic scores, marimba music, and more!

Nick Norton, Nat Evans, and John Teske

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Most contemporary composers are not afraid to sprinkle a few unusual sonorities here and there—but few choose to use “wrong notes” as liberally as Los Angeles-based composer Nick Norton. This week, you can hear his piano piece “All the Wrong Notes” in all its erratic glory, performed by pianist Cristina Valdes.

The performance is part of an evening of new music featuring the works of composers John Teske, Nick Norton, and Nat Evans. The program includes performances of composed works for piano and graphic scores for small ensembles—including Teske’s “topographies,” a series of graphic scores which require the musicians to perform using contour maps composed of musical symbols.

As if that’s not adventurous enough, the performance will be preceded by a site-specific listening and tea event created by Seattle-based sound artist and composer Nat Evans. The piece, titled “New Forest,” is created from numerous field recordings of the second growth forests clear cut in the 1940s and 50s, accompanied by records pressed during the same era. Audience members can sip tea as they sit inside of an environment of Chinese ink calligraphic drawings listening to the sounds of the 1940s and 50s.

The performance is this Thursday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Joshua Roman Bellingham Recital

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Cellist Joshua Roman is a Seattle star who needs no introduction. He first made music headlines when he became the youngest principal player in Seattle Symphony history at age 22, and since then he has cultivated a remarkably diverse solo career. Most recently, he’s been working as Artistic Director of Seattle Town Hall’s Town Music series, as well as Artistic Advisor for yours truly, Second Inversion.

But this weekend, you can see Roman back on the stage for a special Festival of Music recital performance in Bellingham. He’ll be performing a wide range of virtuosic works, including Henri Dutilleux’s colorful “Trois Strophes sur le nom de Sacher,” Alberto Ginastera’s captivating Puneña No. 2 “Hommage a Paul Sacher,” and J.S. Bach’s classic Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major. Roman will also be performing an original work titled “Riding Light.”

The performance is this Friday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center.

Longhouse Media and NW Film Forum Present: “Yakona” Film Screening and Live Performance

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It’s no wonder the sounds of the sea inspired so many Impressionist composers—the lull of rushing water can be inherently musical. And this weekend, you can experience the sights and sounds of the crystal clear waters of the San Marcos River in Texas, all from the comfort of a Seattle movie theatre.

Longhouse Media in partnership with Northwest Film Forum will present a film titled “Yakona” accompanied by a live performance of its musical score by Justin Sherburn. The word “yakona” means “rising water” in the language of the indigenous people of the San Marcos River, and the impressionistic film is a visual (and aural) journey through the waters of the river from prehistoric times through the modern era—all from the perspective of the river itself.

Performances are this Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25 at Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill at 7 p.m. Both the filmmaker and composer will be present, and there will be a free public reception both evenings at 6 p.m. in the lobby.

Inverted Space Presents Washington Composer’s Forum Commission Concert

11169760_936145579771368_8303959025926708823_oThe cream of the musical crop are coming together this weekend at the Washington Composer’s Forum Commission Concert. The University of Washington’s contemporary music ensemble Inverted Space will be performing works by the five winners of the recent Washington Composer’s Forum call for scores competition.

The program includes the methodical music of composer Scott Rubin, the eclectic soundscapes of composer and sound designer Nick Vasallo, the instrumental and electroacoustic creations of composer Onur Dülger, the melodic musings of composer Michal Raymond Massoud, and the mixed-media melodrama of composer and conductor Whitney George.

The performance is this Friday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Brechemin Auditorium at the University of Washington School of Music.

Washington State Percussive Arts Society’s Day of Percussion

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Sometimes you get stuck in the rhythm of the daily work grind and forget to take time to experience new and exciting music. This weekend, escape the humdrum of your sluggish Sunday with a trip to Washington State Percussive Arts Society’s Day of Percussion.

 

The all-day event features masterclasses, clinics, performances, prizes, and play-alongs with a pretty impressive collection of percussion pros. They’ll teach you everything you need to know about pit and theater percussion, marching drumlines, marimba music, Ghanaian drumming, graphic scores, and even timpani mallet-wrapping. Among the festival’s many performers are the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline, for the 12th Man among you.

Day of Percussion is this Sunday, April 26 at University of Washington’s Meany Hall from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For a full schedule of events, check out the Washington State Percussive Arts Society website.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: April 17-26

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s marvelous music calendar has everything from minimalism to medieval poetry!

Pianist R. Andrew Lee Performs Shepard, Knight, Evans, and Gibson

andrewleephoto1-600x400For pianist R. Andrew Lee, less is more. Throughout his career, he has garnered critical acclaim as one of the foremost interpreters of minimal music.  But despite the genre’s somewhat misleading title, minimalism is anything but basic.

“I am entranced by the invitation that minimal music offers the listener,” Lee says. “Rather than pushing and pulling listeners through a piece—manipulating us (no matter how deftly) into some experience—minimal music presents an invitation to explore a musical space slowly and carefully. Where Beethoven gave us drama that touches our souls, for which we rightly praise him, minimal music gives us a sunset, and we gaze in wonder.”

This weekend, Lee is coming to Seattle to share two evenings of newly commissioned minimal music. The Friday program opens with a performance of Craig Shepard’s “December,” an exploration into the rumbling overtones of just a few bass notes on the piano. Lee will also perform the world premiere of two new works: local composer Nat Evans’ improvisatory “Desert Ornamentation” for piano and electronics and Adrian Knight’s “Obsessions,” a piece which explores stubborn habits, routines, patterns, and, well, obsessions.

Saturday evening features a performance of Randy Gibson’s immersive “The Four Pillars Appearing from the Equal D under Resonating Apparitions of the Eternal Process in the Midwinter Starfield.” The only thing longer than the title is the piece itself—it’s over three hours! But don’t worry, it doesn’t drone on. Rather, the ambient drone piece creates an entrancing melodic soundscape by patiently exploring the overtones of each D on the piano, in combinations and alone, with the aid of electronics.

The performances are this Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 18 at 7 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Turtle Island Quartet and Simple Measures: It’s Island Time

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Take a much needed vacation from the April showers with a trip to Turtle Island—Turtle Island Quartet, that is. This weekend you can relax to the soothing sounds of this Grammy Award-winning ensemble whose innovative and eclectic music combines the best of classical and jazz.

Since the quartet’s inception nearly 30 years ago, they have cultivated a massive and diverse body of repertoire consisting primarily of original compositions and arrangements by quartet members. This weekend, they are joining forces with musicians from Seattle’s own Simple Measures classical chamber music group to present an evening of captivating “clazzical” music, including a works composed by Turtle Island violinist David Balakrishnan and cellist Mark Summers, as well as octets by the Beatles, Darius Milhaud, and more!

The performances are this Friday, April 17 at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.and Sunday, April 19 at Mt. Baker Community Club at 2 p.m.


Donald Byrd’s “Carmina Burana” World Premiere

Carmina-Slider2-1024x689When you hear the word “cantata,” you probably think of an old-fashioned, early 17th century vocal work used for church services or other religious occasions—and you’d be correct. But the 20th-century German composer Carl Orff updated this antiquated musical medium in 1935 when he composed his scenic cantata “Carmina Burana,” a 25-movement vocal work based on 24 poems from the medieval poetry collection of the same name.

And now, Seattle’s own Spectrum Dance Theatre is pushing the piece even further: this weekend they are presenting the world premiere of choreographer Donald Byrd’s fully staged “Carmina Burana” in a co-production with Seattle Theatre Group. Byrd reimagines Orff’s popular work, combining music and dance to illustrate a larger narrative: the journey from doubt and disillusionment to restoration of faith in humankind. The performance is scored for two pianos, percussion, and voice, featuring the operatic expertise of singers Cyndia Sieden and José Rubio.

Performances are next Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25 at the Moore Theater. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. A matinee show will also take place on Sunday, April 26. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the show begins at 2 p.m.

The Esoterics Present “AGONIA”

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When it comes to expressing the most intimate human experiences of pain and suffering, few artistic media are as compelling as the human voice. But the voice can also be a powerful tool for expressing compassion, joy, and release—and as it turns out, suffering and reprieve are deeply intertwined. This weekend, the Esoterics are performing three modern choral masterworks inspired by medieval poetry on the theme of agony and liberation.

 

The Esoterics’ “AGONIA” program begins with Russian composer Alfred Schnittke’s ghostly, mystical “Verses of Repentance,” a piece which explores contrasts between dark and light, chaos and control, sin and salvation. Next is American composer Ned Rorem’s haunting cycle of madrigals, titled “In Time of Pestilence.” The program ends with the tragic lament and ultimate triumph of South African-born English composer John Joubert’s “Pro Pace Motets.”

“AGONIA” is next Friday, April 24 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Seattle at 8 p.m. The Esoterics will also perform their “AGONIA” program at Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma next Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. and at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in West Seattle next Sunday, April 26 at 3 p.m.