From John Cage to Afro-Cuban Jazz: Concerts You Do NOT Want to Miss This Season

by Maggie Molloy

Ahh, fall. The leaves are changing, the rain is sprinkling, the sky is cloudy, and the pumpkin spice marketing is in full swing. Those hot summer days are finally behind us and we’re back to our familiar, cozy, flannel-covered fall in Seattle. After all, October is a time for new beginnings, new adventures, and—most importantly—new music.

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Seattle’s 2016-2017 concert season is jam-packed with fresh new music of every shape, style, and structure (or lack thereof). From John Cage to Afro-Cuban jazz,  Astor Piazzolla to Andy Warhol, Benjamin Britten to Brazilian poetry—there is something for everyone. Here are some of our top picks for the season:

On Stage with KING FM: Second Inversion is thrilled to host two concerts this year as part of the second season of On Stage with Classical KING FM! In March, we’ll present the Seattle Marimba Quartet with an eclectic program of classical favorites, modern marimba repertoire, and interactive drumming rhythms drawing from Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and African musical traditions.

Then in May, back by popular demand, we present the Seattle Rock Orchestra Quintet with the mesmerizing Tamara Power-Drutis for a program that transforms pop songs into art songs, reimagining both classic and modern tunes as intimate chamber works for the recital hall. Check out our videos from last season for a sneak-peek of what you can expect.

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Seattle Symphony: Ditch the conventional concert-going experience of strict seating, fancy attire, and three-hour long performances with Seattle Symphony’s [Untitled] concert series. This season you can catch landmark works by Witold Lutosławski (arguably Poland’s most innovative composer since Chopin), drench yourself in the dramatic soundscapes of Polish composer and singer Agata Zubel, explore the wide-ranging musical styles of Soviet era composers, and even enter into the twisted worlds of two of America’s most confounding cultural icons: pop artist Andy Warhol and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.

And speaking of jazz: Seattle Symphony will also co-present their annual Sonic Evolution concert with Earshot Jazz this November. Grace Love and the Garfield High School Jazz Band join the symphony for an evening celebrating two extraordinary Seattle musicians: the incomparable composer and record producer Quincy Jones and the legendary blues singer Ernestine Anderson, both of whom attended Garfield High School.

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Meany Center for the Performing Arts: Formerly known as the UW World Series, Meany Center is still just as committed as ever to bringing music from around the world to their Seattle stage. In November, they’ll feature the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds quintet, known around the globe for their dynamic playing, culturally conscious programming, and adventurous collaborations. Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Cuban-born jazz saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, and Palestinian-American oud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen are just a few of the composers listed on this program.

In January, the New York-based Jack Quartet presents an evening of composed and improvised music along with visiting artists from the internationally acclaimed Six Tones Ensemble and UW School of Music faculty members Richard Karpen, Juan Pampin, Cuong Vu, and Ted Poor. And if you can’t make it to these concerts, don’t sweat—Second Inversion will be broadcasting them live on our online stream.

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John Cage Musicircus: Come one, come all to the John Cage Musicircus this November 19! This multimedia concert “happening” features over over 60 musicians, dancers, performance artists, and poets simultaneously performing pieces from Cage’s expansive body of work, including the Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, In a Landscape for (unprepared) piano, Child of Tree for amplified cactus, Third Construction for unorthodox percussion instruments, Cartridge Music for amplified small sounds, 45’ For A Speaker for spoken voice, and much more!

Performers will be stationed all over Town Hall, with audience members encouraged to explore how the sonic and visual experience shifts as they wander freely throughout the building. Plus, Second Inversion’s own Maggie Molloy will present the pre-concert lecture, perform two piano works, and distribute free copies of her John Cage Diary series as a zine for audience members to take home!

john-cage-musicircusNorth Corner Chamber Orchestra: Celebrate those cozy winter nights with NOCCO’s annual Solstice Celebration, this year featuring the music of Stravinsky, Respighi, Bach, and Seattle composer Angelique Poteat. Then in February for Black History Month, NOCCO performs a program featuring a newly commissioned work by local composer Hanna Brenn and performance artist C. Davida Ingram alongside classics by two Pulitzer Prize-winning African American composers: Scott Joplin and George Walker. And in April, their season wraps up with a brand new world premiere by NOCCO’s principal clarinetist and composer, Sean Osborn, along with well-loved works by Rossini and Haydn.

noccoSeattle Modern Orchestra: These guys are starting their season off with a bang: three new premieres by living composers. First, a U.S. premiere by Lithuanian composer Vykintas Baltakas, then a West Coast premiere by German composer Wolfgang Rihm, followed by a world premiere by American composer Andrew Waggoner featuring Grammy-winning guest pianist Gloria Cheng.

The rest of the season features cutting-edge collaborations with University of Washington’s Solaris Vocal Ensemble and the Paris-based clarinetist Carol Robinson, a world premiere by SMO co-artistic director Jérémy Jolley, the 80th birthday of legendary Seattle trombonist Stuart Dempster, the 90th birthday of renowned Seattle clarinetist and composer William O. “Bill” Smith, and the centennial celebration of American composer Robert Erickson.

gloria-chengUniversal Language Project: ULP is back for another season of interdisciplinary and out-of-the-box collaborations between 21st century musicians and artists of all disciplines. In October: a multi-media work by Marcus Oldham about racial reconciliation (featuring Second Inversion regulars the Skyros Quartet). In January, composer Chris Stover showcases his works for chamber jazz ensemble featuring spoken word, found sounds, and dance inspired by Brazilian poets. Then in March, the season wraps up with a surreal, outer space-inspired performance featuring artist Erin Jorgensen with local musicians, the overtones of her 5-octave marimba merging with intimate whispering and beautifully minimal music in a small stab towards enlightenment.

erin-jorgensenEmerald City Music: Now in its inaugural season, Emerald City Music is on a mission to make classical chamber music accessible to broader audiences in Seattle and Olympia. And they’re not wasting any time: their inaugural season features 45 renowned guest artists from around the world. Each of the concerts offers a uniquely thematic glimpse into the chamber music repertory, featuring classical masterworks and newly composed music alike. Bookended by concerts featuring familiar works by Bach and Beethoven, this year you can also expand your classical music palette with cutting-edge performances of works by the likes of Henri Dutilleux, Thomas Adès, Benjamin Britten, Bohuslav Martinů, Percy Grainger, David Schiff, Per Nørgård, Ryan Francis, Thomas Koppel, and more.

dover-quartetTown Music Series: Curated by Second Inversion Artistic Advisor Joshua Roman, the Town Music Series programs cutting-edge and virtuosic chamber works which bring together the best of old and new classical traditions. Their 2016-2017 season kicks off with cellist Joshua Roman joined by violinist Caroline Goulding for an evening of dynamic duets by Halvorsen, Kodály, and Ravel. Stay tuned for details on the rest of the season!

joshua-romanWayward Music Series: If you’ve got wayward or otherwise unconventional music taste, the Wayward Music Series will keep you satiated all year long. Check their online calendar or subscribe to their newsletter for specifics on upcoming events, which span the new music gamut from contemporary classical to the outer limits of jazz, electroacoustic experiments to explorations of the avant-garde, eccentric instruments to unorthodox sound art, multimedia collaborations and much more.

wayward-music-seriesThese are just a handful of the new music happenings we’re most looking forward to this season—for more up-to-the-minute details on experimental, avant-garde, and otherwise unconventional music events around the Northwest, check out Second Inversion’s full event calendar!

CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: “The Way West” presented by the Universal Language Project

by Maggie Stapleton

“An event with music, words, and smoke inspired by the optimism and grandeur of the West.”

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Photo Credit: Kimberly Chin

Brian Chin has added something unique and fresh to the already forward-thinking music community in Seattle. The Universal Language Project is an innovative concert series rooted in the commissioning and performance of 21st century music and interdisciplinary collaboration. It turns the traditional classical music concert on its head by presenting the music in informal settings, premiering commissioned music by local composers, and collaborating with other art forms. AND! The experience doesn’t stop when the music ends; the audience is encouraged to mingle with the musicians and composers over a glass of wine afterwards to get a personal, inside scoop into the music.

Last season, ULP gave musical birth to works by Sean Osborn, Wayne Horvitz, and Jovino Santos Neto. (You can listen to them on our live concerts page!) Their new season kicks off this Friday, January 22 at Resonance Hall at SOMA Towers in Bellevue & Saturday, January 23 at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle and features musicians from Inverted Space, the contemporary music ensemble of the University of Washington. The program includes“Campfire Songs” by Brian Cobb (including a commissioned concert overture and a new piece to complete the cycle), “The Lone Ranger,” a theatrical work by Karen Thomas, and the commissioned premiere by young composer Tim Carey.

 

Second Inversion is proud to be a sponsor of this concert series. We’ll see you there on Saturday, January 23 at Velocity Dance Center!

 

 

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: May 20-26

by Maggie Molloy

Spice up your week with Southern soul, contemporary clarinet, and microtonal music!

Rhiannon Giddens and the Carolina Chocolate Drops

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We may live in the Northwest, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate some serious Southern soul music. This weekend blues vocalist, violinist, and banjo player Rhiannon Giddens is coming to Seattle to perform songs from her new solo album, “Tomorrow Is My Turn.”

Giddens is known for reimagining gospel, folk, and bluegrass tunes, bringing her incredible vocal control and classical rigor to a wide range of musical styles. Backed by her Grammy Award-winning old-time string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens will perform music made famous by female music icons like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Odetta, and Nina Simone.

Sri Lankan-American singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman will open the show.

The performance is this Wednesday, May 20 at 8 p.m. at UW’s Meany Hall.

Clarinetist Sean Osborn and Pianist Jessica Choe

SeanBazooka1smallThe clarinet is frequently overshadowed by its flashier, jazzier cousin the saxophone—but trust us, this often-overlooked instrument has a wide range of musical possibilities. This weekend, tune into the sounds of clarinet soloist Sean Osborn and pianist Jessica Choe as they perform an evening of dynamic and diverse clarinet works.

The program features everything from classical to contemporary clarinet repertoire, ranging from composers like Franz Anton Hoffmeister to Joseph Horvitz. The evening will also feature Osborn’s own musical portraits titled “Three Women and Three Girls,” as well as local composer Karen P. Thomas’s “When Night Came,” a piece written in response to events from the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

The performance is this Friday May 22 at 7:30 at Richmond Beach Congregational Church United Church of Christ. All proceeds from the performance will benefit Emergency Financial Assistance at the Shoreline Hopelink.

Music of Today: The Music of Harry Partch

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For classical music buffs, being inside a microtonal music instrumentarium would probably be on par with being a kid in a candy store. Lucky for us, the Harry Partch Instrumentarium recently took up residency at the University of Washington School of Music.

Partch was one of the first 20th century composers in the West to work with microtonal scales, building his own custom-made instruments in different tunings in order to perform his compositions. Next week, you can hear these extraordinary instruments in all their microtonal magnificence as UW music students and faculty perform works written by Partch on the composer’s own handmade instruments.

The performance is Tuesday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. at UW’s Meany Studio Theater.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: February 13-15

by Maggie Molloy

Messiaen, new music marathons, and more are bound to make your Valentine’s Day weekend memorable!

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SSO Musicians at LPR (c) Brandon Patoc

(Photo Credit: Brandon Patoc)

Get into the Valentine’s Day spirit this weekend with an intimate late-night contemporary music performance in Benaroya Hall’s breathtaking Samuel and Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. Seattle Symphony musicians will be performing the second installment of this season’s [untitled] series, a unique musical sequence which presents new and contemporary music in a more casual concert setting.

This Friday’s performance features Jacob Druckman’s avant-garde “Synapse” for tape as well as his virtuosic “Valentine” for solo double bass. The program also includes Vladimir Martynov’s timeless “Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished)” and John Adams’ dynamic String Quartet, a piece which restlessly explores elements of minimalism, folk melodies, and more.

Here’s a great interview feature produced by Seattle Symphony!

The performance is this Friday, Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. in Benaroya Hall’s grand lobby.

 

Bang on a Can Marathon

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(Photo Credit: Peter Serling)

An entire marathon of new music is coming through Seattle this Sunday—literally. Six full hours of new music, to be exact. This Sunday the New York-based contemporary classical music collective Bang on a Can is taking over Seattle’s Moore Theatre to present a wide variety of new musical works by local, national, and international artists.

One of the evening’s highlights includes the electric chamber band Bang on a Can All-Stars and red fish blue fish performing the Seattle premiere of Steve Reich’s masterwork, “Music for 18 Musicians.” You can also look forward to a performance of Brian Eno’s ambient classic, “Music for Airports” and a musical set by Seattle’s own experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces. The jam-packed program also includes an indie-orchestral collaboration featuring Seattle composer Jherek Bischoff with Scrape Ensemble and Jim Knapp, a piano-percussion duo featuring Gust Burns and Greg Campbell, signature works by Bang on a Can co-founders, and so much more!

The marathon kicks off this Sunday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Moore Theatre. Doors open at 3 p.m.

 

Simple Measures Presents “Messiaen Around with Time”

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What classical music enthusiast doesn’t love a good music pun? Fill your weekly corny music joke quota this weekend at Simple Measures’ “Messiaen Around with Time.”

Celebrate 20th century French composer Olivier Messiaen as Seattle artists bring to life his enduring eight-movement masterpiece, “Quartet for the End of Time.” Messiaen wrote and premiered the piece while in a prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany in 1940. The piece combines birdsong and beautiful imagery to create poignant and powerful music. Simple Measures will share the full story behind the piece before clarinetist Sean Osborn, violinist Cordula Merks, pianist Mark Salman, and cellist Rajan Krishnaswami perform it.

The performances are this Friday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford and this Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at Town Hall in Seattle.

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: January 9 & 12

by Maggie Molloy

Why not make it your New Year’s resolution to listen to more new music? This week is packed with innovative contemporary music performances to start your year off right!


Universal Language 21st Century Music Project’s “Inception”

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It’s a new year and a new music organization is taking root in Seattle. This year marks the inaugural season of the Universal Language 21st Century Music Project, which is pushing the boundaries of contemporary music in Seattle and beyond. For the first concert of their 2015 season, they are premiering new works by composers Wayne Horvitz and Sean Osborn.

Horvitz is a composer who has performed throughout the world as an improviser on both piano and electronics, while Osborn is a critically acclaimed clarinetist whose music uses extended clarinet techniques to create a unique new genre-bending sound.

The performance is this Friday, Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Velocity Dance Center on Capitol Hill.


Seattle Composers’ Salon’s New Music Holiday Office Party

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Celebrate the city’s bustling contemporary music scene in style this weekend at the Seattle Composers’ Salon’s New Music Holiday Office Party.

Seattle Composers’ Salon is dedicated to supporting new music by regional composers and performers. At informal gatherings twice a month, the Salon features new works and works in progress by local composers and performers. This weekend’s gathering will feature music by Neil Welch, Cole Bratcher, Ivan Arteaga, and Matthew James Briggs.

The performance is this Friday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. The concert will be preceded by a New Music Holiday Office Party from 6:30 to 8 p.m., where composers, performers, and audience members are invited to visit, share CDs, enjoy snacks, and listen to live music performed by cellist Carson Farley.


Town Music Presents Third Coast Percussion

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Third Coast Percussion is a Chicago-based group that marches to the beat of its own drum. The ensemble is dedicated to exploring all of the far-reaching possibilities of percussion through unique instrumentation and the integration of new media in performances. This weekend, the quartet is coming to Seattle to perform a colorful program of percussion works by David T. Little, Tan Dun, and John Cage. (Yes, John Cage.)

Third Coast Percussion will perform Little’s “Haunt of Last Nightfall,” a piece which laces together pre-recorded heavy metal sounds with live percussion. Also on the program is Cage’s “Credo in Us,” a wartime piece written after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The quartet will also be joined by guest cellist Joshua Roman to perform Dun’s “Elegy: Snow in June,” a piece which was written to commemorate the 1989 massacre in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The performance is this Monday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle. If you can’t make it to the concert, don’t fret: we’ll be live broadcasting this performance on Second Inversion!

LIVE CONCERT SPOTLIGHT: December 10-13

by Maggie Molloy

Ethereal Christmas carols and a sensational clarinetist are just two of the events on this week’s captivating music calendar.

Joshua Roman with the Seattle Symphony

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Cellist Joshua Roman first stole Seattle’s heart when he became the youngest principal player in Seattle Symphony history at age 22. Though he left the position after two years to pursue a remarkably diverse solo career, he still visits Seattle frequently to perform and to serve as the artistic director of the Town Hall TownMusic series.

In his latest musical venture, Roman is heading back to Benaroya Hall to perform the world premiere of symphonic composer Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto. The piece, which was written for Roman, combines melodic lyricism with elements of modernism and jazz. The concerto has a distinctly American character, and its pulsing rhythms are suggestive of Bates’ experiments in electronic music.

The concert will also feature Prokofiev’s Suite from “Lieutenant Kijé” and selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

The performances are at Benaroya Hall this Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. A pre-concert talk will be presented one hour prior to each performance.

 

Sean Osborn

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The clarinet has the largest pitch range of all common woodwind instruments—and Seattle clarinetist and composer Sean Osborn is proving that it might also be one of the most musically versatile.

Osborn is a critically acclaimed clarinetist whose music combines extended clarinet techniques with rock music energy for a sound that incorporates post-minimalism, New Age, Celtic, folk, and many other musical styles. This Wednesday, he is presenting four new works of chamber music for unusual instrumentation, including a sextet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion as well as three new pieces for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano. He will also perform one solo clarinet work.

The performance is this Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

 

Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night”

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If you’re sick of classic Christmas carols, perhaps Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” might be a little more your style. This contemporary twist on holiday caroling is celebrated annually around the globe. But don’t worry, there’s no singing involved—all you have to do is download an app.

Kline’s “Unsilent Night” is an electronic composition written specifically for outdoor performance in December. Participants each download one of four tracks of music which, when played together, comprise Kline’s ethereal “Unsilent Night.”

Countless participants meet up with boomboxes, speakers, or any other type of portable amplifiers and each hit “play” at the same time. Then they walk through the city streets creating an ambient, aleatoric sound sculpture that is unlike any Christmas carol you have ever heard.

The interweaving of electronic recordings creates an experimental soundscape full of shimmering bells and time-stretched hymnal melodies, capturing the magic and enchantment of the holiday spirit without any of the corny Christmas classics.

Seattle’s rendition of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” will take place this Saturday, Dec. 13. The procession begins at 5 p.m. at On the Boards’ Merrill Wright Mainstage Theater Lobby in Lower Queen Anne.

 

People. Make. Awesome. (Music + Moving Image)

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Why limit yourself to just music when you can combine it with other artistic disciplines? Earlier this season we saw the Frank Agency and Nonsquitur present a series of artistic pairings rooted in music and sound, then music and dance as part of their three-part series “People. Make. Awesome.” Now, for the series’ final installment they are exploring the possibilities of music and moving image.

The featured artists are experimental animator and performance artist Stefan Gruber, composer and videographer Leo Mayberry, video editor and multimedia artist Melissa Parson, composer and trumpeter Samantha Boshnack, guitarist Jason Goessl, and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jessica Lurie. With so many diverse artists in one place, it’s sure to be an awe-inspiring performance.

“People. Make. Awesome.” will take place this Thursday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.