Second Inversion Spooktacular: 48-Hour Spooky Music Marathon

by Maggie Molloy

IT’S BACK FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE… Second Inversion’s annual 48-Hour Spooky Music Marathon!

Let us provide the soundtrack for your Halloween haunts! On October 30 and 31, tune in to Second Inversion for a 48-hour marathon of new and experimental music inspired by monsters, witches, ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night.

Click here to tune in to the scream—er, stream of Halloween music from anywhere in the world, or tune in on the go using the free KING FM mobile appTo give you a sneak peek of the spooky music that’s in store, our Second Inversion skeleton crew shares our favorite selections from the Halloween playlist:

Vincent Raikhel: Cirques (New Focus Recordings)
Red Light New Music

As an avid hiker, I couldn’t resist Vincent Raikhel’s Cirques. A reflection of the glacial geological formations so often encountered in the Cascade Mountains, this piece immediately transported me to a faraway corner of the imposing mountain range in Seattle’s backyard. In the context of the Spooky Music Marathon, this piece made me think of the creeping claustrophobia that one might feel in a cirque, especially as the sun sets, as it does so quickly in the mountains. It’s curious, how something so open to the sky, so large and static, can suddenly feel as if it is closing in on you in the waning light… – Seth Tompkins


Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire (Hungaroton Records)
Erika Sziklay, soprano; 
András Mihály, conductor; Budapest Chamber Ensemble

It just wouldn’t be a Halloween marathon without a spooky clown—and Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire is nothing if not haunting. A masterpiece of melodrama, the 35-minute work tells the chilling tale of a moonstruck clown and his descent into madness (a powerful metaphor for the modern alienated artist). The spooky story comes alive through three groups of seven poems (a result of Schoenberg’s peculiar obsession with numerology), each one recited using Sprechstimme: an expressionist vocal technique that hovers eerily between song and speech. Combine this with Schoenberg’s free atonality and macabre storytelling, and it’s enough to transport you to into an intoxicating moonlight. – Maggie Molloy


Harry Partch: Delusion of the Fury (Innova Recordings)

Likely written as an attempt to reconcile his own anger, Harry Partch’s stage play Delusion of the Fury is (superficially, at least) well-suited to Halloween. Containing killing, a ghost, body horror, futility, and absurdism, this piece not only touches on the more classic campy elements of spookiness, but is oriented around some of the darker elements of horror—existentialism, futility, and powerlessness to name a few. Plus, for my money, few musical things conjure the uneasy feelings associated with horror and dread like microtonal scales. – Seth Tompkins


Bernard Herrmann: Psycho Suite (Stylotone Records)

This piece is so timelessly cool and undeniably scary. Like John Williams’ Star Wars score borrowed the dark side of the Force from the dojo-dominating “Mars, the Bringer of War” in Holst’s The Planets, Herrmann borrows the creepy suspenseful stringiness of Norman Bates from the dancing skeletons in Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre (and maybe from Mussorgsky’s Bald Mountain witches).

I’m a sucker for a good film score. That blend of music and movie can be so powerful. Consider the fact that thousands of people were scared to take a shower after Psycho—and that’s in large part because of Herrmann’s music. I love, too, that Hitchcock gave Herrmann license to do as he pleased with the score—except for the shower scene, for which Hitchcock asked Herrmann to write no music. Herrmann nodded and smiled at the director, and then did as he pleased instead. Thanks to Herrmann’s creative insubordination, we have one of the most iconic, cover-your-eyes scenes in film history. – Dacia Clay

Joep Beving’s Philosophy of Music

by Gabriela Tedeschi

Photo by © Rahi Rezvani, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.

Solipsism refers to the philosophical idea that only the individual’s mind exists because nothing outside of it—others’ minds or the world—can truly be known. In other words, solipsism holds that there is no universal reality.

Dutch pianist and composer Joep Beving disagrees—his debut album Solipsism is meant more as a challenge to that philosophy than a statement in support of it. The up-and-coming artist, who has gained international acclaim through Solipsism, two follow-up albums, and several singles, uses music to challenge the notion that no shared reality exists. By distilling music to its aesthetic essence, Beving strives to create a universal language, something that disproves solipsism and speaks to everyone.

This week, Seattleites have the chance to experience Beving’s universal musical reality. Beving is performing pieces from his anti-solipsist solo piano albums in the Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8pm.

But it’s not just about allowing audiences to experience a universal reality; it’s also about improving the way we experience the world outside of the concert hall. Beving believes in using his universal language as a way to provide comfort and solace in a chaotic world. Though generally soft and slow, there’s a gentle, rhythmic flow to his music that makes it majestic in an understated way. The warmth of his harmonies portray an underlying sense of hope even while the pieces traverse haunting, melancholy paths.

Beving’s music also stands out because of his gentle touch on the keys. After his grandmother’s death in 2009, he inherited her German piano and discovered that it required a lighter touch, ultimately leading him to adopt a more tender, classical style of playing. By working with a smaller range of dynamics and articulations, Beving is able to make a dramatic impact with the slightest changes in touch.

Though Beving’s music is dark and ruminative, its underlying tenderness leaves you with a sense of inner peace. You’ll leave the concert hall with a newfound connection to those around you, too, knowing that you’ve felt the same things and experienced the same reality.

Find out more about Beving’s musical philosophy in our interview below.

Second Inversion: In your work, music is the universal form of communication. How did you develop this philosophy as a composer?

Joep Beving: When I started to write music behind my piano at home, it was at a time that I myself was feeling more and more alienated from the people around me and the reality we live in. I lost track of the human scale of things and everything seemed to be more and more grotesque and unreal. The piano helped me to look for something essential, something to find trust and comfort in.

I stripped down the music to a very minimalist essence, to the point that it started to affect me. I had a hope that the music would resonate with people in general, and for this I strived to capture beauty in the hopeful belief that there is some form of universal truth in there. My only indicator of coming close to this were my own goosebumps, and I remember seeing it as an experiment in communication in the sense that if there was some sort of absolute aesthetic it could mean that my goosebumps should be yours too.

With music you can make a very personal connection to people you don’t know; they will find some form of recognition in the music and this creates a connection—a human connection that I feel is so needed in these times.

SI: You’ve mentioned that inheriting a German piano from your grandmother has influenced your style, leading you to adopt a more classical approach. How would you describe the way your music and playing have evolved over time?

JB: In my younger years I played a bit of jazz and the struggle was always to play as many notes as possible. I was very impatient and my technical skills didn’t allow for me to play what I was hearing in my head. When I grew older I started to dislike the way I was (trying) to play and looked at other ways to improvise, getting inspired by minimalists and pianists like Keith Jarrett who would create these magnificent atmospheres and tell what I experienced as more profound stories. I didn’t play that much piano but when I did, I looked for these type of stories.

It was only four years ago that all of sudden almost from one day to another my playing style turned into what it is now, and a lot of that has to do with the sound of my grandmother’s piano. It is the space between the notes played that contains the most magic, and with this instrument this empty space sounded so good that I didn’t want to contaminate it with too many notes.

SI: Your music can be mournful and haunting, but it also strives to be a soothing antidote to a chaotic world. Do sad and soothing work together easily or is it difficult to strike a balance?

JB: Absolutely. I believe that melancholy is like the default human condition or emotion. There is the element of sadness about the unfairness of life and many other things, but there’s also the hope that today or one day it will be better. Making music to that basic emotion feels honest and truthful or perhaps soothing, since it so well reflects how we really feel deep down. Music has the power to communicate on a level beyond the rational and establish this connection on a deeper level of understanding; it reminds us that we all more or less feel the same as humans.


Joep Beving is performing this Friday, Oct. 26 at 8pm at Nordstrom Recital Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.

Sneak Peek Audio Leak: Daníel Bjarnason’s ‘Collider’

by Maggie Molloy

Photo by Börkur Sigthorsson.

Daníel Bjarnason’s music is at its most potent when he’s writing for symphony orchestra. He has a masterful way of balancing the cavernous depths of a large ensemble against moments of shimmering near-silence, often within a matter of seconds. 

His luminous orchestrations are on full display in his forthcoming album Collider, a collection of three works that glisten with timbral detail. Bjarnason conducts the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in the lively, interlocking textures of “Blow Bright” before transitioning to the haunting three-part work “The Isle is Full of Noises,” a setting of three monologues from Shakespeare’s The Tempest featuring the ethereal vocals of the Hamrahlid Choir.

“Collider” unwinds a bit more slowly, moments of eerie stillness gradually building into an eruption of restless energy that pulls the listener deeper and deeper into a shifting sound maze. We’re thrilled to premiere the title track from the brand new album ahead of its October 26 release date. Click below to hear Bjarnason’s “Collider.”


Daníel Bjarnason’s Collider comes out October 26 on Bedroom Community. Click here to pre-order the album.

Musical Chairs: Leanna Keith on Classical KING FM

by Maggie Molloy

Leanna Keith is not your average flutist.

Sure, she can breathe beautiful, delicate melodies through her instrument—but she can also speak into it, sing, hum, or beatbox through it, clatter its keys, bend its pitches, make its melodies vibrate, flutter, shimmer, and soar.

Keith is a flutist and composer specializing in contemporary classical and experimental sounds. She explores the furthest reaches of her instrument’s range, both in music and in performance. On any given evening in Seattle you might catch her performing in new music ensembles ranging from the experimental chamber troupe Kin of the Moon to the Japanese drumming collective Dekoboko Taiko. Next Friday, she’s performing Nicole Lizée’s etudes for glitch film on a concert with pianist Jesse Myers.

And this Friday, Oct. 19 at 7pm PT, she’s in the Classical KING FM studios as the special guest on Musical Chairs with Mike Brooks, where she will share a handful of her favorite recordings from across her musical career, plus details about her upcoming performances.

Tune in at 98.1 FM, listen through our free mobile app, or click here to stream the interview online from anywhere in the world!

Seattle New Music Happy Hour: Friday, Oct. 19 at 5:30pm

by Maggie Molloy

Cruise into your weekend with a cold beer and warm company at our next Seattle New Music Happy Hour!

Join us Friday, October 19 at 5:30pm at T.S. McHugh’s for a happy hour co-hosted by Second Inversion and the Live Music Project. Bring a friend, make a friend, have a drink, and discover connections with fellow new music lovers from all over Seattle!

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends. Plus, sign up for alerts for future happy hour dates and day-before reminders so you’ll never miss a beer—er, beat.

Late Nights in the Lobby: Seattle Symphony’s [untitled] Season

by Maggie Molloy

On just a handful of Friday nights each year, an intimate crowd of curious listeners gathers in the Grand Lobby of Benaroya Hall for concerts that are not confined by time period or tradition—or even titles, for that matter.

Now in its seventh season, the Seattle Symphony’s [untitled] series presents contemporary and experimental chamber works in a late-night, no intermission concert setting. Performances are held in the lobby, the musicians and audiences framed by floor-to-ceiling windows that look out across the sparkling lights of the city.

On any given [untitled] evening, you might hear music ranging from an Andy Warhol “popera” to Russian avant-folk songs, immersive arctic soundscapes, or even a piano that plays itself. This season, you can hear the icy windstorms of Hans Abrahamsen, the modernist masterworks of Pierre Boulez and Luciano Berio, and the reorchestrated love songs of Reinbert de Leeuw.

[untitled] 1: Hans Abrahamsen
Friday, October 19, 2017 | 10pm

The sparse sound world of Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee builds and melts like a haunting snowfall. Whispering winds, ghostly canons, and shifting timbres coalesce into a meditation on time itself, the music moving at once forward and backward, swirling through chilling storms before evaporating into an eerie and unsettling silence. Thomas Dausgaard conducts.


[untitled] 2: Pierre Boulez and Luciano Berio
Friday, March 22, 2018 | 10pm

Three pianos, three harps, three percussionists, and approximately three zillion notes comprise Pierre Boulez’s restlessly virtuosic Sur Incises. The chaotic colors of his 40-minute musical frenzy are balanced against the haunting dreamland of Luciano Berio’s Circles, a dramatic setting of three poems by E. E. Cummings. Soprano Maria Männistö sings the tempestuous role originally written for Berio’s wife, Cathy Berberian, with Ludovic Morlot conducting.


[untitled] 3: Reinbert de Leeuw
Friday, June 7, 2018 | 10pm

The elegant songs of Schubert and Schumann are reimagined with the rawness of early 20th century cabaret in Reinbert de Leeuw’s pastiche song cycle Im wunderschönen Monat Mai. Its title taken from the opening line of Schumann’s beloved Dichterliebe, the piece transforms Romantic lieder into 20th century melodrama—passionate, theatrical, and uninhibited. Sarah Ioannides conducts this riveting cabaret starring soprano Maria Männistö.


For tickets and more information on the Seattle Symphony’s [untitled] series, please click here.

Mark Abel Gains Perspective with ‘Time and Distance’

by Dacia Clay

Composer Mark Abel has been a lot of things in his life: a classical musician, a denizen of the post-punk music scene in New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a newspaper journalist, and a classical musician and composer again. All of these things have a home in his creative glossary. As with much of Abel’s music, his latest album, Time and Distance, uses the centuries-old vehicle of art song to engage with contemporary issues—both the global and the personal.

In this interview, I speak with Mark about what art song is, why it’s his musical form of choice, and what he’s doing to bring it into the 21st century. We also talk about the pieces on his new album which deal with everything from Medusa and the #MeToo movement to his own personal “disgruntlements,” and his first go at making a music video.

Plus, check out his music video for “Those Who Loved Medusa” below: