Travel Music, Microtones, and Modern Opera: New Music for November

by Maggie Molloy

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! 

If you’d like to be included on this list, please submit your event to the Live Music Project at least six weeks prior to the event and tag it with “new music.”

November-2019-New-Music-Flyer


Wayward Music Series
Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. Coming up: acoustic portraits, immersive winds, sonic geometry, and “unofficial music.”
Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

Emerald City Music: ‘In the Dark’
Get lost in the dark as Emerald City Music performs the spine-tingling music of Georg Friedrich Haas in total pitch-black darkness. The hour-long string quartet, titled “In iij Noct,” features the four musicians stationed in the four corners of the venue, surrounding the audience and immersing them in Haas’s haunting aleatoric score.
Fri, 11/1, 8pm & 10:30pm, 415 Westlake | $45
Sat, 11/2, 7:30pm, Washington Center for the Performing Arts (Olympia) | $28-$43

Seattle Modern Orchestra: Norwegian Odyssé
The mystic sounds of Norway come alive in this concert featuring five U.S. premieres by Norwegian composers, including Rebecka Sofia Ahvenniemi’s chilling The child who became invisible for soprano, percussion, and electronics and Knut Vaage’s epic Odyssé for sinfonietta.
Sun, 11/3, 1:30pm, National Nordic Museum | $10-$30

Music of Remembrance: Passage
While a political prisoner at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in the 1940s, Aleksander Kulisiewicz dared to write poetry and music right under the noses of his Nazi captors. Hear composer Paul Schoenfield’s Pulitzer-nominated setting of Kulisiewicz’s biting poetry, plus world premieres by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shinji Eshima.
Sun, 11/3, 4pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $30-$55

Kate Soper. Photo by Liz Linder.

Seattle Symphony: Kate Soper in Recital
The line between live and pre-recorded sound begins to blur in Kate Soper’s immersive recital of original works for voice and electronics. Joined by sound artist Sam Pluta, Soper mines the expressive potential of the human voice.
Sun, 11/3, 6pm, Octave 9 | $25

Gamelan Pacifica: Vocal Music of Central Java
Drums, metallophones, and a wide array of tuned gongs are among the instruments you’ll see onstage during a traditional Javanese gamelan performance. Since 1980, Gamelan Pacifica has been performing traditional and contemporary gamelan music with dance, theater, and puppetry. For this performance, they’re joined by Javanese artists Ki Midiyanto and Heni Savitri.
Sun, 11/3, 7pm, PONCHO Concert Hall | $5-$20

Seattle Symphony: Chick Corea Plays ‘Rhapsody in Blue’
Twenty-two-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist Chick Corea teams up with the Seattle Symphony for Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue, plus a performance of his own original Piano Concerto No. 1.
Wed, 11/6, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $62-$82

Meany Center: Danish String Quartet
Completed in the year before his death, Shostakovich’s final string quartet is an introspective meditation on mortality. The Danish String Quartet performs this moving work alongside music of Bach and Beethoven.
Thurs, 11/7, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $41-$49

Cappella Romana: Kastalsky Requiem
As Europe descended into the chaos of World War I, Alexander Kastalsky began composing his haunting Requiem to commemorate the allied soldiers who had fallen. Epic in scale and scope, the work receives its Northwest premiere under the baton of guest conductor Steven Fox.
Fri, 11/8, 7:30pm, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church | $32-$52

Seattle Symphony: Angelique Poteat Cello Concerto
Seattle-based clarinetist and composer Angelique Poteat turns her attention to the cello in a new concerto which receives its premiere by Efe Baltacıgil and the Seattle Symphony.
11/14-11/16, Various times, Benaroya Hall | $24-$134

Seattle Opera presents The Falling & the Rising. Photo by Ziggy Mack.

Seattle Opera: The Falling & The Rising
Interviews with active-duty soldiers and veterans formed the basis of this new chamber opera by composer Zach Redler and librettist Jerre Dye. Tracing a soldier’s journey through a battle explosion and a medically-induced coma, the opera seeks to shine a light on often untold stories of service and sacrifice.
11/15-11/24, Various times, Seattle Opera Center | $35-$45

Harry Partch Ensemble: Final UW Concerts
Two chances remain to hear the inimitable handmade instruments of Harry Partch before the collection’s residency at UW concludes. On Thursday, director Charles Corey and his cast of local musicians perform Partch’s sprawling And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma, selections from his haunting Eleven Intrusions, and more. On Friday, the Partch Ensemble teams up with UW Percussion for another program of ear-expanding works.
Thurs, 11/21, 7:30pm, Meany Hall Studio Theater | $10
Fri, 11/22, 7:30pm, Meany Studio Theatre | $10

The Harry Partch Instrumentarium concludes its residency at UW this November.

Seattle Symphony: ‘The Rite of Spring’
I
t’s a piece that needs no introduction: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring has been the stuff of classical music legend ever since its riot-inducing premiere in 1913. This earthshaking ballet about the pagan sacrifice of a virgin dancing herself to death is expertly paired with Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy.
Thurs, 11/21, 7:30pm, Benaroya Hall | $24-$134
Sat, 11/23, 8pm, Benaroya Hall | $24-$134

Composer Gabriel Kahane.

Gabriel Kahane: ‘Book of Travelers’
A train ride across the country provided ample time and inspiration for composer and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Kahane to craft a musical diary of America. He performs selections from his Book of Travelers alongside wide-ranging songs from his other albums.
Sat, 11/23, 8pm, Meany Theater | $31-$39

Paco Díez: Music from Northern Spain
Born into a family of farm workers in the heart of Castille, singer and multi-instrumentalist Paco Díez grew up steeped in the folk music, traditions, and histories of his homeland. Widely considered one of the most important champions of Judeo-Spanish music today, Díez is joined by his students in a performance of Sephardic and Castilian folk music.
Tues, 11/26, 7:30pm, UW Brechemin Auditorium | Free

ALBUM REVIEW: Ashley Bathgate’s ‘ASH’

by Peter Tracy

Photo by Bill Wadman.

The Bach Cello Suites are unavoidable: cellists from around the world grow up playing them, audiences revere them, and they keep finding their way into movies, TV shows, and pop culture. Even for cellists like new music superstar and Bang on A Can All-Star Ashley Bathgate, the Bach suites remain a staple of the repertoire, and after over 200 years they continue to inspire not just performers, but composers as well.

In fact, Bathgate recently commissioned the composers of the New York-based collective Sleeping Giant to write a Bach-inspired six movement suite for her newest album ASH, continuing the long-standing tradition of bringing Bach’s influence into the present day.

Bathgate gave Sleeping Giant composers Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein, and Andrew Norman rather simple instructions: take any inspiration you find from Bach’s music and write one movement each to form a collaborative suite. With movements from some of today’s most innovative and stylistically diverse composers, these simple instructions have resulted in a bold and imaginative new work.

The album begins with a contribution from Andrew Norman titled “For Ashley”: a fast-paced, upbeat introduction inspired by the repetitive arpeggiation of the Fourth Suite Prelude. Repeated staccato patterns morph and transform to include rhythmic variation, chords, and harmonics, resulting in a piece that is always in motion. Christopher Cerrone’s “On Being Wrong” takes us in a totally different direction: reverb and pre-recorded cello merge together with Bathgate’s live performance to create a layered and resonant piece including both driving rhythms and meditative, open harmonic passages.

Described by the composer as a “madcap gigue,” Timo Andres’ “Small Wonder” continues the suite with some more chaotic energy. Small, eclectic musical cells build on each other, Baroque dance rhythms continually surfacing along with cheeky quotes from Bach’s gigues. The fourth piece in the suite, Jacob Cooper’s “Ley Line,” takes similarly direct inspiration: a moment from the end of the Fifth Suite Prelude featuring an open string drone is stretched out and reimagined to be over ten minutes long. Bathgate’s playing becomes frantic and raspy as the harmonies grow more and more dissonant over the drone, making for a continuous sense of tension that rises and falls throughout.

Perhaps the most unique moment on the album comes in the form of Ted Hearne’s “DaVZ23BzMHo,” whose title references a Youtube video the piece samples. Hearne manipulates music from a 90s-era commercial into a wash of reverb and atmosphere, placing Bathgate’s resonant chords and harmonics on top. The hazy and slowed down music seems to have a mind of its own, stopping and starting to leave Bathgate alone in meditative silence or sliding unpredictably in and out of tune. The cello vies for attention over the chaotic backdrop, playing increasingly dissonant harmonies until the two come together again and Bathgate is left droning off into silence.

Robert Honstein’s “Orison” takes things in an even more atmospheric direction. Inspired by the resonance of the cello in huge cathedral spaces, Honstein’s piece is built around reverb, with each successive note playing a duet of sorts with the continued ringing of the previous ones. “Orison” is a Middle English word for prayer, and if Hearne’s piece was tenuously meditative, Honstein’s is calm and reflective: single tones and chords ring out in regular succession, leaving plenty of space in between to end the suite with the equivalent of a contemplative Sarabande.

While ASH is something of a showcase for Sleeping Giant, it’s Bathgate’s vibrant energy as a performer that unites the album and amplifies the composers’ voices. From Norman’s sharp rhythms to Hearne’s slow-motion dreamscapes and Honstein’s reverb-soaked sense of calm, Bathgate showcases an ability to adapt to any stylistic challenge and bring her own voice to the mix.

On ASH, the composers of Sleeping Giant draw wildly different inspiration from Bach’s music and filter these inspirations through their own distinctive styles, which is a testament to the diversity and lasting impact of Bach’s music. While each piece grew out of Bach’s Cello Suites, the pieces that make up this collaboration present a wide range of musical ideas and techniques that continue to explore, much as Bach did, the possibilities of the cello as a solo instrument.

John Lunn on Pop Music, Minimalism, and Composing for Downton Abbey

by Dacia Clay

The long-awaited Downton Abbey movie has just been released, as has its fantastic score by John Lunn. Lunn is the Emmy Award-winning composer of the soundtrack for the Downton Abbey TV show as well.

In this interview, he talks about his surprising musical roots in pop and minimalism, how you can hear those influences in the music for Downton, what it’s like to write for the show and the movie, and he even reveals (gasp!) a movie spoiler.

re·create percussion on Classical KING FM | Friday, Sept. 20, 8pm

by Peter Tracy

re·create percussion performs live on Classical KING FM 98.1 on Friday, Sept. 20 from 8-9pm PT. Click here to tune in from anywhere in the world.

re·create percussion is an ensemble on a mission. With mallets in hand, the duo serves up well-crafted and sparkling performances on marimba and vibraphone that range from reimagined classics to bold new compositions (and even a few pop arrangements).

You can find the duo, which consists of Rebekah Ko and Storm Benjamin, performing at a wide variety of new music events around the region, such as the recent Good Vibes Only concert in Washington Hall or with the Seattle-based Sound Ensemble. Whether as part of a larger ensemble or as a duo, re·create has been active in sharing their love of percussion music with their community and find ways to bring new listeners into the fold. Since their founding in 2017, the duo has brought energy, skill, and elegance to repertoire ranging from Steve Reich to Ed Sheeran.

This Friday at 8pm PT, we’re lucky to have the dynamic duo in the KING FM studios on NW Focus LIVE, where they’ll be treating us to a program featuring Ivan Trevino’s entrancing “2+1,” Anders Koppel’s lively Toccata for Vibraphone and Marimba, Ryan Elvert’s evocative “Ocean Dances” (written specifically for the duo), a reimagined Ed Sheeran classic, and an original re·create composition. Click here to tune in.

VIDEO PREMIERE: ‘Cheating, Lying, Stealing’ by David Lang

by Maggie Molloy

“Ominous funk” is the expression marking at the beginning of David Lang’s score for Cheating, Lying, Stealing.

It’s an apt descriptor for a pulsing piece of post-minimalism that owes about as much to rock music as it does the classical tradition. The piece has an immediacy that’s hard to shake, and its infectious off-kilter groove is heightened by its unusual instrumentation: cello, bass clarinet, piano, marimba, and some triangles and car parts for percussion.

We’re thrilled to premiere our exclusive in-studio video of the piece, performed by an all-star cast of Seattle musicians: cellist Rose Bellini, clarinetist Rachel Yoder, pianist Brooks Tran, and percussionists Melanie Sehman, Storm Benjamin, and Kerry O’Brien.


For more performances by percussionists Melanie Sehman, Storm Benjamin, and Kerry O’Brien, check out Good Vibes Only this Friday, Aug. 30 at Washington Hall.