STAFF PICKS: Friday Faves

Second Inversion hosts share a favorite selection from this Friday’s playlist. Tune in during the indicated hours below on Friday, September 23 to hear these pieces. In the meantime, you’ll hear other great new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre 24/7!

Gabriel Kahane: Last Dance (Story Sound Records)a4106913517_16

Utterly lovely.  Two words are all one needs to describe Gabriel Kahane’s “Last Dance.”  It starts softly with poetic vocals accompanied by a light instrumental touch and swells then swerves to a more energetic, somewhat off-kilter indie pop composition heavy on guitar.  It’s an intelligent, beautiful song full of empathy. – Rachele Hales

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 12pm hour today to hear an excerpt from this piece.


Traditional (arr. Danish String Quintet): Five Sheep, Four Goats (DACAPO Records)8-226081

Autumn is in the air, so I’m in the mood for music that encourages nesting. I’ve found such a piece in Five Sheep, Four Goats, a traditional tune on the Danish String Quartet’s 2013 release Wood Works. This arrangement by the DSQ is comforting without being boring. The folk tune itself is simple and gorgeous, but the true gem on this track is the placidly rhapsodic flugelhorn solo by Mads la Cour. Crank this one up and break out the cinnamon donuts! – Seth Tompkins

Tune in to Second Inversion in the 4pm hour today to hear this piece. In the meantime, enjoy the recording that DSQ made of this piece in our studios!


Wayne Horvitz: “The Circus Prospered,” arranged and performed by The Westerlies91e6ovdpx2l-_sx425_ (Songlines Recordings)

“The Circus Prospered” is the kind of melancholy curtain-raiser that accompanies the opening scene of a crackling black and white silent film—or perhaps more specifically, a Charlie Chaplin film.

Composed by Seattle-based jazz giant Wayne Horvitz and arranged by The Westerlies for their two-trumpet, two-trombone brass quartet, the piece was originally conceived as a 21st century accompaniment for Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film The Circus. With swelling harmonies and soulful dissonances, the piece harbors the nostalgic warmth of a black and white film while also capturing the irresistible whimsicality and color of the circus.

Recorded on Lopez Island amidst the calm and quiet of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful landscapes, the quartet’s muted colors bleed softly into one another like a cloud-smudged sunrise—and just like those old Charlie Chaplin flicks, the music sparkles with charisma, charm, and a certain cinematic timelessness. – Maggie Molloy

Tune in to Second Inversion in today to hear this piece.

 

PHOTO GALLERY: Second Inversion Showcase at NW Folklife Festival

by Maggie Molloy

Here in Seattle, we pride ourselves on our imaginative and innovative new music scene. Second Inversion is proud to be a part of that community, where so many hard-working and creative artists and musicians come together to create, support, and share new and unusual sounds from around the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

This past weekend, we came together to celebrate these sounds in our 2nd annual
Second Inversion Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival, which featured performances by the bi-coastal brass quartet The Westerlies, the innovative and always-interactive Skyros Quartet, and the boundary-bursting Sound of Late.

All photos by Maggie Molloy.

We would like to give a tremendous THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support new music over the weekend, both as performers and as audience members. Together, we make the Northwest new music something truly special.

2016 FOLKLIFE PREVIEW: Meet the Skyros Quartet

by Maggie Molloy

Skyros Quartet1

Beethoven to Britten, Sibelius to Shostakovich—the sky is the limit for the Seattle-based Skyros Quartet. Comprised of violinists Sarah Pizzichemi and James Moat, violist Justin Kurys, and cellist Willie Braun, the quartet is known for their innovative and interactive approach to classical music both old and new.

Founded in 2010, Skyros studied chamber music at the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of the Miró Quartet and Sandy Yamamoto. By 2012, they became the first quartet-in-residence at the University of Nebraska, where they pursued doctorates in chamber music performance under the guidance of the Chiara String Quartet.

Suffice it to say, they’re pretty qualified musicians. And lucky for us, they recently relocated to Seattle to continue their work as contemporary classical performers, teachers, and collaborators.

You can catch Skyros in action on Friday, May 27 at our annual Second Inversion Showcase at Northwest Folklife, along with Sound of Late and the Westerlies. In the meantime, we sat down with the quartet to talk about classical music, cultural heritages, and #casualfridays:

Second Inversion: How would you describe or characterize your ensemble’s sound?

skyros-018James Moat: Whether we’re playing Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, or Ruben Naeff’s “Jackass,” our group strives to create a sound world that is true to the nature of the composer.

When performing the classics, we have help from history to determine what kind of character and sound we’re looking for in our performance. When playing modern works, we’ve always taken every opportunity to work directly with the composer. This type of collaboration is always interesting because the composer has a chance to work with us to find the sound that they want, and we also have a chance to provide them with our own interpretations. The result is a wonderful blend of everyone’s artistic contributions.

SI: The Pacific Northwest is really blossoming in the contemporary classical music sphere—what do you think makes our music scene here so unique?

skyros-024+-+Version+2Willie Braun: Contemporary classical music in Seattle is more than just a sphere or scene, it’s a whole community of composers, performers, and audiences who are passionate about sharing the experience of new music. Having recently moved to the Seattle area last fall, our quartet has felt very welcomed into this community. It is refreshing to see so many artists collaborating, working together, and supporting one another to create music rather than compete for audiences.

The result is a diverse community representing many unique spectrums of contemporary classical music. Seattleites are great audiences, ready and willing to try something new. Going back a few decades, Seattle has a rich history of supporting innovation in music (i.e. grunge) and audiences here are still eager to explore new sounds and experiences.

SI: Northwest Folklife strengthens local communities through art and music, celebrating diverse cultural heritages and working to ensure their continued growth and development. What types of communities or music traditions are represented in your music?

Matching+headshot1Sarah Pizzichemi: The classic canon of string quartet literature is a melting pot of Western art music and a diverse range of influences from Balinese gamelan and Russian folk music, to American jazz and the Finnish national epic poem. The intimate yet universal appeal of four voices in conversation through the timbral spectrum of the string instrument family has made it an ideal medium for composers to record their most cherished musical thoughts, and a way to celebrate many cultural heritages in one masterwork.

We consider ourselves above all else collaborators, and we especially like to work with living composers who are continuing this tradition of musical globalization through the lens of today’s experiences. As an ensemble we also directly explore specific musical traditions like Celtic, Americana, pop culture, film scores, and different types of folk music in contexts like our #casualfriday series on Facebook and YouTube.

SI: As Seattleites, what does the annual Northwest Folklife Festival mean to you?

Sarah Pizzichemi: Skyros Quartet just moved to the Seattle area in September, but I personally was born and raised here. Some of my earliest memories are coming to Folklife to hear the cornucopia of different kinds of music. My parents were fans of world and folk music, so it was so influential for me to hear live ensembles and bands playing such a diverse range of music all in one setting.

As a junior high school student I participated in Folklife as an Irish Dancer, and as a high schooler, I would come to Folklife with other musician friends and we would busk near the Center House playing Shostakovich quartets. I will never forget the invigorating feeling of catching the attention of passersby with the ferocious second movement of the Eighth String Quartet!

I’ve continued to make memories with friends at Folklife, especially visiting the Trad Stage, as I have quite a few friends in the Celtic music circuit. I can’t wait for this year and the special opportunity to share my passion of contemporary classical music with Folklife audiences.

SI: What are you most looking forward to with this performance, and what do you hope audiences will gain from it?

skyros+063Justin Kurys: As a quartet, we are very passionate about reaching and connecting with new audiences. As this is our first time performing at Folklife, we are looking forward to interacting with the diverse audience this type of event attracts!

Performances are always at their best when a connection with the audience is created. We hope to engage the audience and create a musical landscape for them to take a journey with us as we perform a very interesting and varied show. The music we will perform shows a different side of art music from what is generally conceived of when people think of classical art music, so we hope that this inspires thought and emotion that is somewhat unexpected from the audience coming into this.

The Skyros Quartet will be featured along with Sound of Late and the Westerlies at our 2nd Annual Second Inversion Showcase at Folklife on Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m. For more information, please click here or RSVP to our Facebook event.

New Music Concerts: May 2016 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! 

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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 drop us a line at least 6 weeks prior to the event.

Program Insert - May 2016(updated) - onesided

 

 

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

1
Noise Yoga with John Teske
Noise Yoga is a series of yoga classes that combine the meditative intentionality of yoga with the sonic depth of live performance by local musicians
Sun, 5/1, 11:30am, Frye Art Museum | $10

5
Josh Archibald-Seiffer + Ania Stachurska
UW composers Josh Archibald-Seiffer & Ania Stachurska present works with themes spanning political civil war, children’s lit, language, & the uncanny.
Thurs, 5/5, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

6
Seattle Composers’ Salon
Composers, performers, & audience gather in a casual setting that allows for experimentation & discussion of finished works & works in progress.
Fri, 5/6, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

6-8
The Esoterics: Milton Babbitt
A celebration of Babbitt’s centenary featuring his entire catalog of a cappella choruses, several of which have never been performed in live concert.
Fri, 5/6, 8pm, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Seattle | $15-$20
Sat, 5/7, 8pm, Holy Rosary Church, West Seattle | $15-$20
Sun, 5/8, 7pm, Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma | $15-$20

7
Seattle Wind Symphony: American Places
Donald K. Miller leads the SWS in a program of Donald Grantham, William Schuman, Eric Whitacre, Ron Nelson, and more.
Sat, 5/7, 7:30pm, Shorewood Performing Arts Center | $5-$20

7/8
Seattle Rock Orchestra performs Neil Diamond
SRO celebrates the man, the myth, the legend: Neil Diamond. SRO will explore his entire catalogue, performing hidden gems and revered hits alike.
Sat, 5/7, 8pm, The Moore Theatre | $20-$37.50 (+ fees)
Sun, 5/8, 2pm, The Moore Theatre | $20-$37.50 (+ fees)

10
Inverted Space: Long Piece Fest
A double-header concert featuring two commissions from Seattle composers Kevin Baldwin and Takemitsu prize-winner Yigit Kolat.
Tues, 5/10, 7:30pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15

13
Seattle Symphony: Sonic Evolution: This is Indie!
This concert features Michael Gordon, William Brittle, Tomoko Mukaiyama, Fly Moon Royalty & Filmmaker Bill Morrison. Co-Presented With SIFF.
Fri, 5/13, 8pm, Benaroya Hall | $25-$52

20/21
Universal Language Project: The Elements
An interactive event featuring visual artist Scott Kolbo and iconoclast band TORCH.
Fri, 5/20, 8pm, Resonance at SOMA Towers, Bellevue | $10-$25
Sat, 5/21, 8pm, Velocity Dance Center | $15-$25

21
Kirkland Choral Society: Luminous
KCS premieres a commission from Ola Gjeilo plus many Gjeilo favorites from previous concerts and will be joined by the Skyros Quartet.
Sat, 5/21, 7:30pm, Bastyr University Chapel | $15-$20

21
SMCO Season Finale: Mozart, Carter, Ligeti, and Haydn
Seattle Met. Chamber Orchestra welcomes Cristina Valdes, Matthew Kocmieroski & Maria Mannisto – 3 soloists in high demand for contemporary music!
Sat, 5/21, 8pm, First Free Methodist Church | $15-$20

22
Music of Remembrance: Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness
This two-act opera and portrait of survival conveys the vastness of the Holocaust’s scope through emotionally rich depictions of those caught in its grasp.
Sun, 5/22, 4pm, Benaroya Hall | $30-$45 ($5 TeenTix)

24
Town Music at Town Hall: Season Finale
Joshua Roman, Arnaud Sussman, Karen Gomyo, & Kyle Armbrust will perform Britten’s String Quartet No. 2 and a commissioned piece by Andrius Zlabys.
Tues, 5/24, 7:30pm, Town Hall | $5-$25

27
Second Inversion Showcase at Folklife
Join us for Second Inversion’s 2nd annual showcase at Northwest Folklife! We’ll feature bi-coastal musicians and local favorites alike.
Fri, 5/27, 8pm, Center House Stage | FREE

 

Goals for 2016

(“In which a Roman quotes a Greek”)

by Joshua Roman

So, after all of the drama of 2015, what’s in store this year?

The number one thing that’s now set and will help in my quest for a focused year is: a place to call home. After almost eight years in NYC (and a few months in Jersey), I’m now living in a small one bedroom in Chelsea. It’s ideal for getting around town, close to all kinds of subway stops, and walking distance from many of my usual hangs. It’s only 20 minutes to visit my sister and her family, and there are great grocery stores about a block away in every direction. Last night I was able to get to Carnegie Hall to see the Philadelphia Orchestra in about 15 minutes.

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View out my window… The Metlife clock tower

This is the reason to be in NYC! Especially for someone who’s gone a lot, it’s hard to justify the rent if you’re not taking advantage of the many wonderful goings on. There are so many wonderful people doing exciting things, and this year one of my top priorities will be feeling grounded in the cultural life of this city. Reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen while on the road can be difficult, but I have renewed hope and energy now that I’m in a central location.

Everything else this year flows from that, the physical settling that I can now begin. I still travel a lot, but another goal is to develop a sense of routine. Of course, my idea of routine might be very different from someone else’s – mine revolves around performance dates, writing deadlines, and flight departures. But it’s still an important concept, especially at a time when there are many balls in the air that need to be managed with careful attention.

Some of the results I hope to achieve:

  • Feeling ahead of the practicing game, enough so that I can do extra projects like Everyday Bach with regularity.

  • Polishing my existing compositions to satisfaction.
  • Getting ahead with the projects I’m working on. Examples: this blog, concerts at Town Hall Seattle, other programming.
  • Engaging more with my communities, especially my music friends and TED friends, so that the relationships I care about most are well tended.
  • Finding ways to integrate the issues I’m most passionate about into what I do when appropriate. Some of this needs to happen regularly, like continuing to expand diversity in my music making, both in terms of performing partners and in the music itself. Some of it is a little trickier to pin down: how does one do anything to promote campaign finance reform? Some of it is related to relationships with organizations like Street Symphony in Los Angeles, and will happen project by project over time.
  • More performance opportunities.

The balance of fresh and routine is always important. Last year was fresh-heavy, but this year it’ll be fun to find ways to develop routines without closing the door to great opportunities. You never know what’s coming your way, on the street, or when you glance at your inbox, or even sometimes on stage! I welcome any tips on time management, especially from those who are juggling similarly diverse projects. By March, I hope to be far enough ahead to watch one movie without feeling guilty.

To close today’s thoughts, I want to talk about the zone. We’ve all felt it, I hope. I get the feeling a lot on stage, but it can happen other places as well. There’s a zone when exercising, there’s one for reading (easy to get into), there’s one for writing, and for cooking, etc. There are also zones that are shared, when there’s a mutual connection in chamber music, for example. Or, if you’re lucky, sex.

I’m a zone junkie, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that SOME kind of routine or trigger, whether conscious or not, is very important in getting into that creative or performative zone. We create the habits we live by – I think it was Aristotle that said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” If you’re interested in digging into the zone, I recommend this book which I read more than a decade ago. It resonated with a lot of what I felt to be true but was unable to articulate at the time: The Inner Game of Tennis.

So, 2016’s broad goals: Openness by way of focus and maintenance.

Methods of achieving this: Routine, buffer time, and management of distractions.

We’ll get into some details of the various manifestations of these practices later. For now, I leave you with a playlist and some encouragement to stake your claim on your time, and go for whatever it is you’ve been holding back on.

The Westerlies: Wish The Children Would Come On Home (SI’s Album Review)
Third Coast Percussion: The Works For Percussion 2
Jeff Buckley: Grace