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.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: December 18-21

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s concert calendar features marching bands, Mark O’Connor, and many more Northwestern musicians!


 
Seattle Rock Orchestra Performs New Works

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The Pacific Northwest is known for its beautiful mountains, its gorgeous coast, its cool climate, and its commitment to the environment—but it is also known for its rich and unique musical culture, which spans everything from folk to grunge to punk, rock, indie, and even classical.

This Thursday, Seattle Rock Orchestra is honoring the Pacific Northwest’s latest contributions in contemporary music with the third installment in its New Works series. The program features chamber orchestra works by several PNW composers, including Iain Emslie, Willow Goodine, Whitney Lyman, Aaron Otheim, Wes Price, Michaud Savage, and Emily Westman.

The concert will also feature special guest singer Tamara Power-Drutis, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter with a background in indie, folk, classical, and Irish traditional music.

The performance is this Thursday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.


 
MarchFourth Marching Band at the Historic Everett Theater

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A lot of marching bands tend to blend together—the loud, brassy music, the synchronized marching, the ill-fitting uniforms…If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong.

MarchFourth Marching Band is a multidisciplinary music group which combines the classic marching band aesthetic with elements of funk, rock, and jazz. Known as M4 to its fans, the 15- to 20-piece group features percussion corps, brass, funky electric bass, guitar, and even vocals.

The band is known for its DIY ethic. M4 proudly writes and arranges all of its own musical material, designs its own unique marching band costumes, and even creates its own choreography. (Sorry, did I forget to mention that their performances include dancers, stilt walkers, and acrobatics?)

M4 will be marching through Everett this weekend as part of their nationwide tour. They will be performing at the Historic Everett Theater on Friday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.


 
Nat Evans’ “The Lowest Arc”


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Winter solstice is typically never as widely celebrated as summer solstice—but this year Seattle composer Nat Evans is brightening up the darkest day of the year with a unique new outdoor site and time specific sound installation.

The piece, titled “The Lowest Arc,” will be installed this upcoming Sunday for an indeterminate exhibition period at ALL RISE. The piece is written for six speakers, each with music inspired by different natural elements. On this Sunday night only, performers will join in the sound sculpture with custom music boxes that produce an aural translation of the constellations visible from Earth during winter. Evans determined the specific music notes by superimposing the constellations on a traditional musical staff.

This aleatoric performance exploring the limits of sound and space will take place this upcoming Sunday, Dec. 21 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the ALL RISE site located at 1250 Denny Way, Seattle.


 
Mark O’Connor’s “An Appalachian Christmas”

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Grammy award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor is coming home for the holidays this year. Though his multifaceted music career has led him all over the world, this week he is returning to Seattle with his band to share an evening of holiday music from his album, “An Appalachian Christmas.”

“Growing up in the O’Connor musical household, Christmas time was a wondrous mixture of Christmas carols, fiddling, bluegrass and other traditional American music,” said O’Connor. “And that is the spirit of ‘An Appalachian Christmas.’”

The concert is this Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall for the Performing Arts.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: December 4-7 (appended!)

by Maggie Molloy

This week’s music calendar has everything from Christmas classics to electroacoustic space travel!

Zero-G: Triptet + Dempster & Smith

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Triptet is an imaginative electro-infused trio whose music is out of this world—literally. The group’s electroacoustic music combines classical instruments with electronics to create a truly otherworldly sound.

Triptet is composed of Tom Baker on fretless guitar, theremin, and laptop, Michael Monhart on saxophones, laptop, and percussion, and Greg Campbell on drums, percussion, French horn and budget electronics. Their music is inspired by their shared interest in musical space travel, as well as their admiration for the prolific jazz composer, poet, and philosopher Sun Ra.

Triptet will perform this Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. They will be joined by clarinetist Bill Smith and trombonist Stuart Dempster for their second set.


 
The Saddest Holiday Concert Ever!

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Embrace the Christmas nostalgia head-on this weekend with a performance of the season’s saddest, sappiest, most sentimental Christmas classics.

“The Saddest Holiday Concert Ever!” features a vocalist and two 14-string lutists performing sappy classics from across the centuries. The concert features Baroque masterpieces by Handel and Merula, old-fashioned Americana tunes, new music by Seattle-based composer Aaron Grad, and contemporary classics from Judy Garland, Joni Mitchell, and Elvis Presley. And of course, no sentimental holiday concert would be complete without music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

The concert is this Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Queen Anne Christian Church.

 

Portland Cello Project’s Holiday Spectacular

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Nothing says Christmas quite like a charming chorus of cellos.

This weekend the genre-bending Portland Cello Project is coming up to Seattle to share an evening of holiday classics in their “Holiday Spectacular” concert. The cellists will be joined by special guest Ural Thomas and the Pain. Thomas is a Portland-based soul singer who once shared the stage with the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown, and the Pain is his nine-piece band of young, soulful Portlanders. Seattle composer Nat Evans’ Music for Cello Ensemble with Tea Soloist will be a warm, intriguing offering on this program.

The concert is this Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall.

 

My Brightest Diamond at the Crocodile

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Not many musicians can shine in both classical and art-rock musical settings—but Shara Worden is a sparkling star no matter what she’s playing. Her avant-garde rock music project, My Brightest Diamond, combines her operatic vocal training and classical composition studies with a theatrical performance art aesthetic.

Next weekend My Brightest Diamond is bringing some glitter and grace to Seattle with a show at the Crocodile. The show is part of a U.S. tour in support of her new album, “This is My Hand,” which was released this past September. The album combines elements of opera, cabaret, chamber music, rock, and even electronic, drawing from Worden’s many multifaceted musical endeavors over the course of her career.

The concert is next Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Crocodile at 8 p.m.

 

Ahamefule Oluo’s “Now I’m Fine” at On the Boards

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Brighten up one of those dreary Seattle nights with a trip to “Now I’m Fine,” a multidisciplinary music event combining comedy with classical music.

“Now I’m Fine” is an experimental pop opera about holding it together, starring comedian, musician, and storyteller Ahamefule Oluo. The performance draws from his personal stories about illness, sorrow, hope, and other emotions and experiences to which all of us can relate. Unlike the rest of us, though, Oluo tells these personal stories with the help of a 17-piece orchestra and a fantastic cast of performers.

The stories range from tragic to triumphant, travelling through the happy, the sad, and even the awkward. The result is a theatrical production filled with laughter, life lessons, and a lot of beautiful music.

The show runs Dec. 4-7 at On the Boards’ Merrill Wright Mainstage Theater. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

 

The Esoterics’ Irving Fine Centennial

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Prepare to fall down the rabbit hole next weekend when the Esoterics bring to life poetry from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

The Seattle-based vocal ensemble is performing neoclassical composer Irving Fine’s musical settings of six poems from “Alice in Wonderland” as part of a larger performance commemorating his 100th birthday. But that’s not all—they will also perform essentially all of Fine’s other choral works, including his poignant “Hour Glass,” his witty and virtuosic “Choral New Yorker,” his musical setting of the Yiddish poem “An Old Song,” and much more.

The performances are Friday, Dec. 5 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6 at All Pilgrims Christian Church at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 7 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church at 3 p.m.

 

SPRING WITH NAT EVANS

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion is very excited about a couple of projects Seattle composer Nat Evans has up his sleeve this Spring.

Nat and a Cat.

Nat and a Cat.

On Saturday, March 29, 8pm at the Good Shepherd Center Chapel Performance Space, The Box is Empty will present a concert on the Wayward Music Series featuring one of his works, More Comfort, which “explores the evolution of our relation to different screens in our lives, mobile devices and televisions as a hearth place, and the nature of our contemporary interactions and language.”  The performance includes a video by Rodrigo Valenzuela showing of the use of our hands with the multitude of devices in our everyday lives.  Three works for strings by New York-based composer Leaha Villarreal (and Artistic Director of Hotel Elefant are also slated, one of which features video by Seattle artist Erin Elyse Burns.  I’m also told that alka seltzer tablets and compressed air will cameo as instruments, which on its own is enough to pique my interest in attending.

Then, in late April Nat is going to take a very long walk.  A 2,600 mile journey from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, to be exact.  This is a compositional journey in which Nat will send 8 West Coast composers field recordings to use with newly composed material.  In early 2015, all of these new works will be released on Quakebasket Records.  I sincerely encourage you to find out more about “The Tortoise and His Raincoat” and we hope to give you some sneak peeks of Nat’s work as he checks in along the way!

PS If that’s not enough to put you in green spirits, here’s some music by Nat performed in Seattle’s Ravenna Park.