MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Seattle Chamber Music Society Concert Truck

To tee off the 2022 Summer Festival, which starts on 5 July, Seattle Chamber Music Society is introducing the Concert Truck: a mobile concert hall equipped with piano and professional lighting and sound. The Concert Truck will be giving free chamber concerts at stops around the Seattle region in the days leading up to the opening of the Festival.

The Schedule:

Thursday, June 23/Program A

1:00pm: Wedgewood Presbyterian Church

5:00pm: Lake City Farmers Market

Friday, June 24/Program B

1:00pm: Westlake Park

7:00pm: Magnuson Park (near Kite Hill)

Saturday, June 25/Program B

12:00pm: Bellevue Botanical Garden

 5:00pm: Gasworks Park

Sunday, June 26/Program A

10:00am: Ballard Farmers Market

 5:00pm: Madison Park North Beach

Tuesday, June 28/Program C

6:00pm: Seattle Chinese Garden

Wednesday, June 29/Program C

11:00am: Freeway Park

5:30pm: Columbia City Farmers Market

Thursday, June 30/Program C

11:00am: Bridge Park Retirement

5:30pm: Central Park (in Columbia City)

Friday, July 1/Program C

11:00am: Pier 62

4:00pm: Ashwood Park (Bellevue)

Saturday, July 2/Program C

11:00am: Pike Place Market (Victor Steinbrueck Park)

7:00pm: Volunteer Park

And the programs:

Thursday June 23 & Sunday June 26

Felix Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1

Gabriel Fauré Après un rêve

William Grant-Still Mother and Child

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

Friday June 24 & Saturday June 25

Sergei Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata in g minor

Gabriel Fauré Après un rêve

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

June 28 through July 2

Antonín Dvořák Piano Quintet in A major

William Grant-Still Mother and Child

Henri Vieuxtemps Souvenir d’Amerique

Beethoven Eyeglasses Duo

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

Filed under: music news, Seattle Chamber Music Society

Solstice Celebration

Celebrate the Summer Solstice on Tuesday evening with the musical program Vibe Check at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Ave N) from 6 to 10pm.

Anchoring the evening on amplified five-octave marimba, Eric Jorgensen will be joined by Rachel Nesvig (Hardanger fiddle), Leanna Keith (flute), Aaron Michael Butler (sound manipulation), and Steve Peters (field recordings) for an evening of meditative sounds created in real time and shifting to correspond with the changes in natural light for this longest day of the year. The audience is encouraged to bring pillows or blankets for maximum meditation and is can come and go at will.

Donations will be accepted at the door. All ages welcome. 

Filed under: music news

Seattle Pro Musica’s The Way Home

Friday night at 7.30 pm, Seattle Pro Musica will stream its final concert of the season, The Way Home, which they performed live on 21 and 22 May.

From SPM’s description: “The Way Home honors America’s multicultural heritage with music that seeks to foster respect for all persons and groups, especially immigrants and refugees. Through these performances, we hope to enrich audiences with a greater understanding of and compassion for those who seek shelter from harm.

Music from trailblazing young composers Saunder Choi, Caroline Shaw, Derrick Skye, and Chris
Hutchings explore the peril and helplessness faced by many refugees. Songs from the 14th and 15th
centuries remind us that the refugee experience resonates across human history. Works by Melissa
Dunphy, Reginald Unterseher, and Stephen Paulus express the hope that our hearts will open to
welcome those in need of refuge.”

Electronic program available here.

Filed under: music news, Seattle Pro Musica

RIP Ingram Marshall (1942-2022)

The news of Ingram Marshall‘s passing hits hard. His music was wonderfully imaginative and rich in personality, and his generosity and warmth as a mentor made an enormous impact well beyond the experimental-music scene. I will be forever grateful for Ingram’s kindness and support in participating in The John Adams Reader. He shared so many evocative stories about the culture he and his friend experienced in the Bay Area in the 1970s and early ’80s.

From Frank J. Oteri has reposted an extensive interview he conducted in July 2001 for NewMusicBox.

And here is a series of linked articles and interviews from Ingram’s own website.

Filed under: Ingram Marshall, music news

Iannis Xenakis at 100

Sunday night from 10pm–midnight PST, celebrate the legacy of Iannis Xenakis on Flotation Device at 91.3 KBCS-FM Bellevue/Seattle/Tacoma. The program, hosted by composer/intermedia artist and polymath Michael Schell, will include selections from Karlrecords’ new remastered edition of Xenakis’s electroacoustic works (w/enhanced bass) by Martin Wurmnest and Rashad Becker.

The Greek-French avant-garde composer was born on 29 May 1922 in Brăila, Romania. In honor of his centenary, fellow composer Roger Reynolds and flutist and arts activist Karen Reynolds have published Xenakis Creates in Architecture and Music: The Reynold Desert House, which explores their collaboration to create a house design integrating music and architecture. The book also includes analyses of three representative chamber works by Xenakis as well as letters, diaries, notes, photographs, sketches, and transcriptions of person-to-person conversations. More here from Roger Reynolds:

A few years ago, we contracted with Routledge publishers to issue a book: Xenakis Creates in Architecture and Music: The Reynolds Desert House. The cumbersome title was a result of negotiation over how to assure the maximum number of potential “key words” that could attract search engines. In the following months and years, we learned a bit about book publishing.

We had worked for years on the notion that the multifarious materials we had gathered over four decades could somehow be shape-shifted into a coherent collection of chapters, they forming a book that would be detailed, accurate, informative, and would also provide an intimate window into Xenakis’s ways and capacities as we had experienced them.

Iannis and Françoise came to UC San Diego at our invitation for a festival in his honor in 1990. While they were in Southern California, we drove them out to the land that we had purchased in the Anza-Borrego Desert — a deeply ravined site on which we dreamed of realizing a design that he had offered to us during a dinner we shared with them in their 9, rue Chaptal apartment in Paris in 1984.

When several representative chapters were drafted, we submitted them to our Routledge editor, who in turn sent them to the required external reviewers. A particularly thoughtful remark by one clinched the deal:

This is a very unique proposal of the highest quality on a topic that is greatly underdeveloped: the links between musical, architectural and literary creativity in Xenakis’s work.

We worked for many months completing eight chapters with a multitude of illustrative images: photos, designs, letters … Now, after innumerable proofings, the book exists, and we hope it will be shared.

Filed under: avant-garde, Iannis Xenakis, music news, Roger Reynolds

Slapback: Music of Donnacha Dennehy, Michael Fiday, David Lang, amnd Caroline Shaw

Friday 20 May at 8pm at the Royal Room: Slapback features Paddy, a virtuosic, nonstop percussion solo by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy; Boris Kerner, an ethereal duo for amplified cello and tuned flowerpots by Pulitzer-Prize-winning American composer Caroline Shaw; Slapback, a tour-de-force of deconstructed Pete Townshend riffs for electric guitar by American composer Michael Fiday; and a drop-tuned, mildly metal version of American composer David Lang’s Warmth for electric guitar duo. 

Filed under: music news

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

Reena Esmail Returns to Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony will present two free Community Concerts this May. On Friday, May 13, at 8 p.m., Seattle Symphony Composer-in-Residence Reena Esmail returns to Benaroya Hall to host the first Community Concert, titled Ram Tori Maya, which features a Seattle Symphony string quartet sharing the stage with students of Swaranjali School of Music, an institution dedicated to the preservation, learning, and performance of Hindustani classical music. This program will explore pieces arranged or composed by Esmail herself along with a carefully curated selection of popular Indian works.

The second community concert will be on Tuesday, May 17, at 7 p.m., with Associate Conductor Lee Mills conducting music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hannah Kendall, Astor Piazzolla, Johannes Brahms, and Carlos Simon.  2022 Young Artist Henry From will join the orchestra for the last movement from Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Filed under: music news, Seattle Symphony

World Premiere of Tres minutos

Music by Nicolas Benavides

New from the Seattle-Based Music of Remembrance:

On Sunday, May 15 at 5:30 pm, Music of Remembrance returns to Benaroya Hall for its final live concert of the season. The program, titled Tres minutos, features the world premiere of a compelling new opera of that title by composer Nicolas Benavides and librettist Marella Martin Koch.

Commissioned by MOR, Tres minutos explores the intimate human dimensions of an urgent issue for our time. It tells the story of Nila and Diego, a sister and brother who share family bonds, but not citizenship. Allowed a brief supervised reunion at the border that separates them, they wrestle with questions of identity, duty and belonging. The work is a timely reminder that beyond the arguments about immigration policy are actual people with real lives, deep emotions and complicated relationships.

Tres minutos comes at such an important time in our country,” remarks composer Nicolas Benavides, “a time when we have a refugee crisis and we have the choice to make it better or make it worse.” Starring soprano Vanessa Isiguen and baritone José Rubio in a production conceived and directed by Erich Parce and conducted by the composer.

The program includes chamber works by two composers who spoke out through their art in the darkest of times. Hans Krása, murdered in Auschwitz, is perhaps best known for his iconic children’s opera Brundibár that was performed 55 times by casts of young prisoners in the Terezín concentration camp. His Theme with Variations for string quartet was played by inmates in Terezin in a performance that was exploited by the Nazis for their infamous propaganda film “The Führer Gives a City to the Jews.” Géza Frid, in mortal danger as a stateless Jew in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, organized clandestine house concerts and was active in the underground as a forger of coupons and identity cards. Frid’s Podium Suite, featuring violinist Mikhail Shmidt and pianist Jessica Choe, is an explosion of fireworks — dramatic, virtuosic and rhythmically intense.

Performing as MOR instrumental ensemble are musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra: clarinetist Laura DeLuca, violinists Mikhail Shmidt and Natasha Bazhanov, violist Susan Gulkis Assadi, cellist Walter Gray, double bassist Jonathan Green, and pianist Jessica Choe.

tickets available here


Theme with Variations (1936)          Hans Krása
Mikhail Shmidt, violin     Natasha Bazhanov, violin
Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola     Walter Gray, cello

Podium Suite, Op. 3 (1928)          Géza Frid
Mikhail Shmidt, violin
Jessica Choe, piano


Tres minutos
Music by Nicolas Lell Benavides
Libretto by Marella Martin Koch

More on the creative team:

Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS). He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, Khemia Ensemble, and Nomad Session. He was a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nicolas was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at The Glimmerglass Festival and has been a fellow at the Del Mar International Composers Symposium. He premiered a new opera for Washington National Opera called Pepito with librettist Marella Martin Koch. Nicolas and Marella were selected as the recipient of West Edge Opera’s Aperture commission to develop an evening length opera about civil rights icon Dolores Huerta. He is also developing an opera with librettist Laura Barati as part of MassOpera’s New Opera Workshop. Other notable projects include a new dance piece called On Trac|< for The Glimmerglass Festival in collaboration with dancer Amanda Castro, Little Cloud for Khemia Ensemble, a new string quartet for Fry Street Quartet, and a new orchestra work for Gabriela Lena Frank’s Composing Earth initiative with support from New Music USA. Nicolas has studied at Santa Clara University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

Marella Martin Koch is a librettist and director originally from Los Angeles. In addition to Tres minutos, she wrote the 20-minute opera Pepito with composer Nicolas Lell Benavides for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. Since its Kennedy Center premiere, Pepito has been performed across the country, recorded as a cast album “full of nuance and emotional pull” (Chris Ruel, Operawire), and released by New Opera West as an “entrancing” animated short film (Claudia Kawczynska, The Bark). Her and Nicolas’ upcoming full-length opera Dolores won the inaugural West Edge Opera Aperture Commission. Other notable credits as librettist include Ten Minutes in the Life or Death of… (music by Tyler J. Rubin), lauded as “quizzical and wonderstruck” (Steven Winn, SF Classical Voice) at West Edge Opera’s Snapshot 2021; and Elinor & Marianne (music by Aferdian), an original concept album inspired by Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility produced by The Rally Cat with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, City Council, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Currently based in NYC, she teaches theatre and writing to middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and is developing a full-length play called Friend Animals with Midnight Oil Collective. With over a decade of experience in non-profit arts administration and production, she founded and leads the multidisciplinary opera/theatre company The Rally Cat. 

MFA, NYU/Tisch. BA, UC Berkeley.

Filed under: music news, Music of Remembrance

Reena Esmail on PBS Tonight

Tonight, on the miniseries Great Performances: Now Hear This, Scott Yoo will profile the life and work of Reena Esmail as well as the Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad.

Filed under: music news

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