MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Byron Schenkman & Friends: Season Finale

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Byron Schenkman & Friends have been offering an extraordinary season of new music, revealing juxtapositions, and, simply, great music making. On Sunday evening, 14 May at 7pm, they will give the season finale. The Jasper Quartet joins Schenkman for this program of Romantic gems by Antonín Dvořák, Alexander Glazunov, and Florence Beatrice Price. See below for program details. Tickets are available here.

Recognized as one of the leading American string quartets on the performance stage today, the Jasper String Quartet has been described by Gramophone as “flawless in ensemble and intonation, expressively assured and beautifully balanced.”

Byron Schenkman is a queer Jewish keyboard player and scholar with a background in historical performance and a passion for connecting people through music. In addition to performing live on piano, harpsichord, and fortepiano, Byron can be heard on more than forty CDs, in numerous online and in person performances with Byron Schenkman & Friends. 

Now in its tenth season, Byron Schenkman & Friends brings a diverse set of 21st-century perspectives to artistically excellent ensemble music, inspired by European traditions of the 17th through 19th centuries. 







Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936):

Elegy in G Minor, op. 44, for viola and piano

Florence Price (1887-1953):

String Quartet no. 2 in A Minor 

Andante cantabile 

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904):

Quintet in A Major, op. 81 

Allegro, ma non tanto
Dumka: Andante con moto 
Scherzo (Furiant): Molto vivace – Poco tranquillo 
Finale: Allegro 

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news

Caroline Shaw with Byron Schenkman & Friends

Byron Schenkman has long been a vital force in Seattle’s musical life. Here’s my Seattle Times story about the legacy of Byron Schenkman & Friends, which he founded ten years ago, and their latest project, a newly commissioned harpsichord concerto by Caroline Shaw. The world premiere takes place on tonight’s concert at 7pm:

You need to engage with the present if you really want to appreciate the musical past.

That, in a nutshell, is the premise underlying the latest program that the Seattle-based chamber music series Byron Schenkman & Friends will present on Sunday, March 26 at Benaroya Hall. Instead of merely repeating baroque masterpieces by J.S. Bach, the concert includes a contemporary counterpart tailor-made for Schenkman and his colleagues by the acclaimed American composer Caroline Shaw.


Filed under: Bach, Byron Schenkman, Caroline Shaw, early music

Byron Schenkman & Friends: Beethoven, Carlos Simon, and more

Byron Schenkman & Friends continue their 10th-anniversary season with a program on Thursday, 29 December (at 7pm at Benaroya Hall), juxtaposing the piano trio format with lieder. Beethoven’s Archduke Trio, a pinnacle of the piano trio from 1810-11, will be heard alongside 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence winner Carlos Simon‘s luminous be still and know, a composition from 2015 inspired by an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Filling out the program are songs by Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert featuring vocalist Martin Bakari, winner of the 2018 George London Competition.  

The complete program is as follows:

Carlos Simon (b. 1986): 

be still and know for piano trio

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): 

Abendempfindung (“Evening Thoughts”) (K. 523)
Zufriedenheit (“Contentment”) (K. 473)

Franz Schubert (1979-1828):

Du bist die Ruh (“You are Repose”) (D. 776)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): 

Adelaide, op. 46

Ludwig van Beethoven:
Trio in B-flat, op. 97  

Allegro moderato
Andante cantabile, ma però con moto
Allegro moderato

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, chamber music

Byron Schenkman & Friends Launches 10th Season

On Sunday, Byron Schenkman & Friends marks the beginning of their 10th season of imaginatively curated concerts — an essential contribution to Seattle’s musical life. The program, titled Vivaldi and the Forty (Four) Seasons, is their most ambitious undertaking to date, involving the largest gathering of performers Schenkman has ever brought together on the stage.

And it’s a signature Schenkman program, shedding new light on the familiar and encouraging discovery of underrepresented, marginalized voices. In this case, they will pay homage to Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 10). Violinist Anna Okada leads an ensemble of Baroque strings, with Byron Schenkman at the harpsichord.

The premise is to juxtapose Antonio Vivaldi’s beloved, evergreen concertos — which were, after all, remarkably innovative when he wrote them — with Indigenous voices. Yakama tradition recognizes as many as 44 distinct seasons, so Schenkman & Friends will intersperse Vivaldi’s four with stories from the Yakama tradition presented by the scholar and master storyteller, writer, and educator Dr. Michelle M. Jacob.

Also being featured is the work of acclaimed artist Fox Spears, a Karuk tribe member, and BS&F Board member. The opening celebration will include pieces by Spears on display in the Nordstrom Recital Hall lobby. “All the work I make is a deliberate continuance of Karuk culture,” says Spears. “Regardless of my motives, the creation and presence of my art is an inherent act of resistance against colonial assimilation. My art is made with these intentions: to thank and honor my ancestors, to acknowledge and heal historical trauma, and to help build new Indigenous futures.”

Spears’s Karuk Louis Vuitton Drum was recently purchased by the National Music Museum in Seattle and will be on display when the permanent collection exhibits reopens. His current work is continuing a theme from this drum at his printmaking residency at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts.

His artwork will be on display in the lobby before and after the concert. The first print purchased is $300, and additional prints are $150 each.

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, Indigenous Peoples, Vivaldi

A Double Portrait: Johannes Brahms & Jonathan Woody

Here’s an online concert well worth taking the time to enjoy. Byron Schenkman & Friends, presents A Double Portrait: Johannes Brahms & Jonathan Woody, a program that includes the world premiere of Jonathan Woody’s nor shape of today to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community (first performed on 22 May 2022).

Also the first commission by Byron Schenkman & Friends, Woody composed nor shape of today to a text by Raquel Salas Rivera, a queer Puerto Rican and Philadelphian of non-binary gender. His new work is a response or companion piece to Brahms’s Op. 91 songs for alto, viola, and piano.  

Jonathan Woodley has provided this commentary on his new work: “In composing this piece, I very much wanted to consider it a companion to Johannes Brahms’s Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano, op. 91. The Brahms songs deal with longing–the longing for stillness, for respite from the tormented mind, and in the case of the second Brahms song, Geistliches Wiegenlied (Sacred Lullaby), the longing of Mary to protect her child from the tribulations he eventually must face. In our twenty-first century existence, many individuals still experience a longing for a place to belong, and I was struck by the similarity between these Romantic sentiments and the experience of trans and non-binary individuals, who face relentless pressure to conform to outdated norms surrounding gender and identity in our supposedly modern world. The poet Raquel Salas Rivera writes in a deeply moving and eloquent way about these experiences, and his poetry struck me as perfectly situated to answer the Brahms songs on poems by Rückert and Geibel (a paraphrase of a poem originally in Spanish by Lope de Vega). Rivera writes in both English and Spanish, and the fluidity between the two languages was an inspiration to me in creating this song. I attempt to emulate Salas Rivera’s fluidity in gender and language by incorporating a fluidity in musical idiomatic expression; at times nor shape of today sounds like Romantic music, like Baroque music, and like music of the 21st century. While I don’t share the experience of those with trans and non-binary identities, I hoped to capture the sense of longing that so many human beings feel to belong, to be loved, and to be safe.”

Complete Program:

Intro 1:10 – Jonathan Woody: stone and steel 8:45 – Johannes Brahms: Sapphic Ode, Op. 94, no. 4 11:53 – Franz Schubert: Song of Old Age, D. 778 17:20 – Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo in A, Op. 118, no. 2 24:01 – Johannes Brahms: Lullaby, Op. 49, no. 4, for voice and piano 26:21 – Johannes Brahms: Two Songs for voice, viola, and piano 39:14 – Jonathan Woody: nor shape of today.

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, chamber music, commissions

Bryon Schenkman & Friends Premiere Jonathan Woody’s nor shape of today

Another Jonathan Woody composition: Nigra Sum Sed Formosa: A Fantasia on Microaggressions

For their end-of-season program, Byron Schenkman & Friends juxtapose a world premiere by composer and bass-baritone Jonathan Woody with 19th-century music by Maria Szymanowsk, Francisca Gonzaga, Clara Schumann, Joseph Joachim, and Johannes Brahms. The concert takes place Sunday, May 22, 2022, at Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, at Third and Union in downtown Seattle, beginning at 7:00  P.M.  (Prices range from $48 for Regular Price, $41 for Seniors, and $10 for Youth and Students with ID.

Woody’s nor shape of today, a BS&F commission, sets a text by Raquel Salas Rivera and was written, according to the composer, as “a companion to Johannes Brahms’s Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano, op. 91.” Woody writes: “In our 21st-century existence, many individuals still experience a longing for a place to belong, and I was struck by the similarity between these Romantic sentiments and the experience of trans and non-binary individuals, who face relentless pressure to conform to outdated norms surrounding gender and identity in our supposedly modern world…. I hoped to capture the sense of longing that so many human beings feel to belong, to be loved, and to be safe.”

The program will feature performances by soprano Hailey McAvoy, violist Andrew Gonzalez, and pianists Charles Enlow and Byron Schenkman. 

Complete Program:

Johannes Brahms: 16 Waltzes, op. 39, for piano
Maria Szymanowska: Polonaise in C (c.1820) for piano
Francisca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga: Tango in F Minor “Sospiro” (c.1881) for piano
Jonathan Woody: nor shape of today for mezzo-soprano, viola, and piano
Clara Schumann: Romance in A Minor, op. 21, no. 1 for piano
Clara Schumann: Impromptu in E Major (c.1844) for piano
Joseph Joachim: Hebrew Melody in G Minor, op. 9, no. 1 for viola and piano
Johannes Brahms: Lullaby, op. 49, no. 4, for voice and piano
Johannes Brahms: Two Songs for alto, viola, and piano, op. 91

Tickets available here.

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, commissions, music news

Byron Schenkman & Friends: Schumann Fairy Tales & Fantasies

Tonight at 7pm, Byron Schenkman is joined by clarinetist Thomas Carroll and violist Jason Fisher in a program celebrating the Romantic imagination. Here’s the menu:

R. Schumann:

Fairy Tales, op. 132,  for clarinet, viola, and piano

Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen:

Romance for clarinet and piano

Luisa Adolpha Le Beau:

Three Pieces, op. 26, for viola and piano

Max Bruch:

Romanian Melody, op. 83, no. 5, for clarinet, viola, and piano

R. Schumann:

Robert Schumann: Dreams, op. 15, no. 7, for piano 

R. Schumann:

Fantasy Pieces, op. 73, for clarinet and piano

Max Bruch:

Night Piece, op. 83, no. 6, for clarinet, viola, and piano

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news, Schumann

Six Centuries of Keyboard Music by Women

Byron Schenkman & Friends present the following program of Six Centuries of Keyboard Music by Women (available in the video above):

Maddalena Casulana: Amor per qual cagion

See the entire concert

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Gavotte in A Minor

Specially recorded for this event

Anna Bon: Sonata in C Major, op. 2, no. 4

Specially recorded for this event

Clara Schumann: Nocturne in F Major, op. 6, no. 2, for piano

See the entire concert

Teresa Carreño: Un rêve en mer, op. 28

See the entire concert

Margaret Bonds: Troubled Water

See the entire concert

Mari Elabel Valverde: “his eyes were in the stars”

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news, women composers

Mozart and the Genius of Love

Next up from Byron Schenkman & Friends: on Sunday 14 November 2021at 7:00 PM, Pacific Time, Byron is joined by violinist Rachell Ellen Wong and violist Susan Gulkis Assadi for an all-Mozart program. You can watch the performance free on YouTube (you can donate here).

To get in the mood, tonight, Friday 5 November, Sean MacLean hosts all three musicians in a live studio performance on Classical KING FM 98.1at 8:00 PM. They will play Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio in E-flat major from the upcoming concert and other musical gems Byron wants to share.

Program for 14 November Concert

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Sonata in G Major, K. 301, for violin and piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Sonata in C Major, K. 330 (300h), for piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Adagio in C Major, K. 356 (617a), for glass harmonica (or piano)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Trio in E-flat Major “Kegelstatt” K. 498 for violin, viola, and pian

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, Mozart, music news

Joy and Sorrow Across the Waters

UPDATE: Here’s a link to this lovely concert.

Byron Schenkman & Friends launch their ninth season on Sunday, 17 October, with the program Joy and Sorrow Across the Waters. It promises to be a fascinating program, presenting traditional music and stories of the Coast Salish People alongside 17th-century European Baroque music for violin and harpsichord from Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. The performers include Native American flutist Paul Chiyokten Wagner, Ingrid Matthews, and Byron Schenkman.

This free digital premiere will launch at 7:00 PM, Pacific Time, and remain available on the BS&F website ( and the BS&F YouTube channel ( Free access; donations welcome here.

The program lineup:

Bartolomeo de Selma y Salaverde: Canzona III (for violin and continuo)
Maddalena Casulana: Amor per qual cagion (for harpsichord)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Elk Spirit Calls (for flute and drum)
Jan Pieterszon Sweelinck: Unter der Linden grüne (for harpsichord)
Johann Schop: Lachrymae Pavan (for violin and continuo)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Skitu: story of a merwoman
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Gentle Crystalline Waters (for solo flute)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner & Byron Schenkman: Salish Sea Improvisation (for flute and harpsichord)
Andrea Falconieri: La Monarca (for violin and continuo)
Giovanni Battista Fontana: Sonata III (for violin and continuo)

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news

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