Joshua Roman is a native of Oklahoma, where the gentle beauty of spring is routinely dismantled by the awesome and destructive power of tornadoes.
His newest composition is inspired by just that. Composed for cello quintet, Tornado paints a musical portrait of his childhood storm experiences, using chaotic string textures to conjure up the stunning and terrifying natural imagery of tornado season. The piece was commissioned by Town Hall and Music Academy of the West and premiered this past spring by Roman and the JACK Quartet.
With its complex and vivid musical storytelling, Tornado depicts the fear and destruction that tornadoes bring while also capturing their wild beauty. Tender and playful pastoral melodies repeatedly give way to sinister, driving motifs and unsettling dissonances. Over time, the thrilling sonic storm builds as the quintet begins plucking, scratching, and striking the strings. Some parts of the performance are even left up to chance, with aleatoric writing and microtone smears gesturing toward the unpredictability of nature.
We’re thrilled to premiere our video of Joshua Roman and the JACK Quartet performing Roman’s Tornado.
The world-renowned JACK Quartet welcomes a fifth member this week at the Town Music season finale: acclaimed cellist Joshua Roman. With a program designed to conjure up vivid images and emotions, Roman and the quartet are using sound to paint pictures and tell stories that will linger in listeners’ minds. Perhaps the most evocative work on the program is a piece by Roman himself.
Photo by Hayley Young.
Roman, who leapt right into performing with the Seattle Symphony and around the world after studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, began composing his own music in 2013. He was commissioned by Town Hall and Music Academy of the West to compose Tornado, a work that paints a portrait of the storms that were a fixture of his childhood in Oklahoma.
Tornado is also inspired by music traditions of the past: Roman quotes a theme from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and alludes to works of the Baroque era which use virtuosity to evoke sensations of nature. In an ode to the untameable force of a tornado, Roman has left elements of the piece up to chance and performer interpretation by writing microtone smears and aleatoric parts.
The first half of the concert will feature John Zorn’s exhilarating Ouroboros and Jefferson Friedman’s Quintet, a musical manifestation of the grieving process. Amy Williams’ Richter Textures also appears on the first half of the program, each of its seven parts inspired by a different painting from German artist Gerhard Richter and each seeking to musically portray the complex textures his visual art is famous for.
In addition to Tornado, the second half will feature three Madrigali libro sesto from Don Carlo Gesualdo, arranged by Ari Streisfeld for strings. Gesualdo—an unstable and murderous 17th century composer—is known for chromatic harmonies and diverse emotional expressions that make his music sound modern to contemporary audiences. Because removing the voices meant removing the lyrics, Streisfeld employs different timbral techniques to convey the meaning and emotions of the text to the audience.
Second Inversion is thrilled to offer a LIVE concert broadcast of the performance this Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm PT.Click here to stream the performance live from anywhere in the world!
Jefferson Friedman: Quintet (2013) John Zorn: Ouroboros (2017) Amy Williams: Richter Textures (2011)
Carlo Gesualdo: Selections from Madrigali libro sesto, arranged by Ari Streisfeld Lo parto, e non più dissi Beltà, poi che t’assenti Già piansi nel dolore
Joshua Roman: Tornado (2017)
Town Music presents JACK Quartet and Joshua Roman on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm at Seattle First Baptist Church. For tickets and additional information,click here.
Second Inversion and theLive Music Project create a monthly calendar featuring contemporary classical, cross-genre, and experimental performances in Seattle, the Eastside, Tacoma, and places in between!
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, submit your event to the Live Music Project at least 6 weeks prior to the event and tag it with “new music.”
Wayward Music Series Concerts of contemporary composition, free improvisation, electroacoustic music, and sonic experiments. This month: avant-garde piano solos, Eastern-European cimbalom songs, a dark ambient memorial, and more. Various days, 7:30/8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
Live Music Project: 4th Annual Lecture-Concert The Live Music Project celebrates its 4th birthday with a scintillating lecture from a cyborg, a centuries-spanning solo violin performance by Mikhail Shmidt of the Seattle Symphony, a ticket giveaway, and the most adorable cupcake toast this side of the Cascades. Tues, 5/1, 6:30pm, Naked City Brewery & Taphouse | $30
DXARTS: Points vs. Fields UW School of Music faculty performers Cuong Vu, Ted Poor, Richard Karpen, and Juan Pampin perform an ephemeral new improvisation for trumpet, drums, piano, and live electronics, programmed alongside Bernard Permegiani’s classic exploration of the meaning of sound itself, De Natura Sonorum for loudspeaker orchestra. Tues, 5/1, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$15
Emerald City Music: Metamorphosis A season-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial ends with a special multimedia feature on the iconic conductor, plus performances of two composers whose work he championed during his lifetime: Strauss and Beethoven. Fri, 5/4, 8pm, 415 Westalve Ave, Seattle | $40-45 Sat, 5/5, 7:30pm, Evergreen State College Recital Hall, Olympia | $23-$43
Matt Shoemaker Memorial Concert Longtime friends and collaborators of the late Matt Shoemaker perform works in his honor ranging from experimental noise to sound art, dark ambient, and beyond. Sat, 5/5, 7pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
Town Music: JACK Quartet with Joshua Roman Cellist Joshua Roman joins forces with the JACK Quartet to perform his new piece Tornado, inspired by his roots in Oklahoma. Works by Jefferson Friedman, John Zorn, Amy Williams, and Carlo Gesualdo complete the program. Thurs, 5/10, 7:30pm, Seattle First Baptist Church | $15-$20
Harry Partch Festival Experience the handmade microtonal instruments of Harry Partch in this sprawling three-day music festival featuring new works composed for Partch’s instruments, as well as rarely-performed works from the composer’s archives. Master classes, demonstrations, and lectures, complete this homage to a uniquely American artist. Fri-Sun, 5/11-5/13, Various times, Meany Theater | $10-$60
Portland Cello Project Equally at home in rock clubs and concert halls, Portland Cello Project reimagines classical favorites and contemporary hits alike for their famous choir of cellos. Expect everything from Bach to Coltrane to Radiohead. Tues, 5/15, 7:30pm, The Triple Door | $26-$35
Seattle Art Museum: John Cage’s Themes and Variations John Cage is best known as one of the leading figures of the 20th century avant-garde in music—but much of his work crossed boundaries into performance art, theatre, and even visual art. His sculpture Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel recently joined the Seattle Art Museum’s collection. Learn more about his contributions to both art and music in this conversation with curators Catharina Manchanda and Carrie Dedon. Wed, 5/16, 6:30pm, Seattle Art Museum | $10
Peter Nelson-King: Post Avant-Garde Multi-instrumentalist and modern music rabble-rouser Peter Nelson-King presents an eclectic program of individualist piano music from the 1980s, featuring works by Robert Beaser, George Benjamin, Peter Sculthorpe, John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas, Charles Wuorinen, and more. Thurs, 5/17, 8pm, Good Shepherd Chapel | $5-$15
Seattle Pro Musica: Sacred Ground Explore the intersections of music, spirituality, and the natural world in this program of nature-inspired works by Tõnu Kõrvits, Hyo-Won Woo, and Healey Willan. Fri, 5/18, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $12-$38 Sat, 5/19, 8pm, St. James Cathedral | $12-$38
Nat Evans: Flyover Country Composer and interdisciplinary artist Nat Evans uses his family history across the last three centuries as a lens to look at ecological destruction, genocide of indigenous people, capitalism, and food systems in the United States. Sat-Sun, 5/19-5/20, 8pm, The Grocery | $5-$20
Mostly Nordic: Finlandia The Emerald Ensemble perform Jean Sibelius’s beloved hymn to Finland alongside 20th century works by Finnish composers Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, and more. Sun, 5/20, 4pm, Nordic Museum | $25
Music of Remembrance: Gaman A world premiere by composer Christophe Chagnard explores the experience of Japanese immigrants who were forced into internment camps in the wake of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Combining traditional Japanese and classical Western instruments, the piece brings a powerful story to life through the words and images created by three artists and poets during their captivity in the Minidoka camp. Sun, 5/20, 5pm, Nordstrom Recital Hall | $30-$45
The Westerlies Far from your typical brass band, this Seattle-bred, New York-based quartet is known on both coasts for their bold artistry, impeccable finesse, eclectic musical interpretations, and remarkable versatility. The band returns to the West this month for a one-night-only performance in Seattle. Wed, 5/23, 7:30pm, The Royal Room | $5-$15
Frequency with Yura Lee: Dialogues Guest violinist Yura Lee joins members of Frequency (violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim, violist Melia Watras, and cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir) for duos by Berio, Maderna, Ravel, and Watras. Also on the program is Dohnányi’s Serenade for string trio. Sun, 5/27, 7:30pm, Meany Theater | $10-$20
Classical vocal music is nice—but if you’re looking for a vocal ensemble with a little more bite, look no further than Roomful of Teeth.
The Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble is dedicated to exploring the vast and limitless musical possibilities of the human voice. In fact, Roomful of Teeth’s eight vocalists have studied singing traditions from around the world, including vocal techniques as diverse as yodeling, belting, Tuvan throat singing, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing, and more.
This Friday, Second Inversion is thrilled to offer a LIVE concert broadcast of the group performing as part of Town Hall’s Town Music series curated by Joshua Roman. Click here to tune in and stream the concert live from anywhere in the world on Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm PST.
Concert Program: Caroline Shaw: Partita for 8 Voices Intermission Caleb Burhans: Beneath Caroline Shaw: The Isle Merrill Garbus: Quizassa
Town Music presents Roomful of Teeth on Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm at Seattle First Baptist Church. For tickets and additional details, please click here.
Last December A Cello Conspiracy brought Joshua Roman together with four of his superstar cello friends for a one-night-only, sold-out cello performance. Presented as part of Town Music’s 10th Anniversary season, the concert featured Roman performing alongside an extraordinary cast of four Seattle Symphony cellists: Efe Baltacıgil, Nathan Chan, Meeka Quan DiLorenzo, and Eric Han.
This Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30pm PST, we’re letting you in on the cello conspiracy with a concert broadcast of last December’s sold-out performance.Click here to tune in and stream the full cello performance from anywhere in the world!
Join us for an evening showcasing Seattle’s best cellists as they lend their bows to the vast expanse of cello repertoire: the classic,the contemporary, and the cleverly reimagined. From Rossini and Paganini to Reena Esmail and Christopher Cerrone, this program celebrates the cello’s full range of possibility.
Mozart: Overture from Marriage of Figaro (arr. Moore) Wagner:Overture from Tannhäuser Mozart: Sonata Christopher Cerrone: On Being Wrong Richard Strauss: “Beim Schlafengehen” from Four Last Songs Reena Esmail:Munni Badnam Anthony DiLorenzo: Kaleidoscope Paganini: “Moses” Variations for two cellos (arr. Demenga)
Josquin:Untitled (arr. Jacot) Anne Wilson:Lament Purcell:Fantasia Upon One Note (arr. Moore) Edward Elgar: “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations Rossini:Overture from Barber of Seville Led Zeppelin: “Stairway to Heaven”