MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

A Homecoming for J’Nai Bridges

J’Nai Bridges stars as Delilah in Seattle Opera’s “Samson and Delilah in Concert.” (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

I spoke with J’Nai Bridges for the Seattle Times about her upcoming, long-awaited Seattle Opera debut. She will sing Delilah in two concert performances of Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila.

This is where it all started.

J’Nai Bridges treasures the memories of her youth in Lakewood just outside Tacoma. Growing up in a close-knit, supportive family, she was encouraged to pursue her exceptional musical talents early on. Even today, she can count on her parents and siblings to travel far and wide to see her perform on the world’s leading opera stages — whether at the Metropolitan Opera in New York or in Munich, where she made her European debut in 2017.

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Filed under: Seattle Opera, Seattle Times

Rediscovering Joseph Bologne

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, posing with his fencing rapier, painted by Mather Brown, in 1787. (Public domain)

Here’s my Seattle Times story for Seattle Baroque Orchestra’s upcoming concert devoted entirely to music by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges:

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, defies easy categorization.

For Seattle-based violinist, professor and filmmaker Quinton Morris, Bologne (1745-1799) combined “the entertainment appeal of Michael Jackson and the athleticism of Michael Jordan.” Morris’ award-winning film and performance project “Breakthrough,” which he has taken on tour around the world, presents Bologne’s many-layered story through a contemporary lens.

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Filed under: music news, Seattle Times

Tan Dun Comes to Seattle

Composer Tan Dun (Courtesy of Tan Dun)

My Seattle Times story on Tan Dun and his upcoming appearances next week with Seattle Symphony:

A transformative encounter in cave temples inspired Tan Dun, who will conduct his epic Buddha Passion as part of a Seattle Symphony mini-festival of his works Nov. 3-13.

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Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, Tan Dun

An International Collaboration Brings Wagner back to Seattle Opera with Tristan and Isolde

Teatro Argentino de la Plata’s production of Tristan and Isolde. (Courtesy of Guillermo Genitti / Teatro Argentino de la Plata)

My Seattle Times story on the Tristan und Isolde production by Argentine director Marcelo Lombardero and colleagues, which opens Saturday at Seattle Opera:

Christina Scheppelmann, Seattle Opera’s general director, fervently believes that cross-cultural exchange is vital for the health of the art form. So she invited the prominent Argentinian stage director Marcelo Lombardero and his creative team to bring their vision to Seattle in a production of Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” opening Oct. 15.

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Filed under: directors, Seattle Opera, Seattle Times, Wagner

Morlot and SSO Together Again for Epic Messiaen

Ludovic Morlot conducts the Seattle Symphony in The Mayors’ Concert for Ukraine and Refugees Worldwide earlier this year. (James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

Tonight Ludovic Morlot rejoins the Seattle Symphony for the first of two performances of one of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles… I spoke to the conductor about the program for The Seattle Times:

A new chapter in Ludovic Morlot’s relationship with the Seattle Symphony is underway.

Now holding the title of conductor emeritus, Morlot has chosen some unusual fare for his concerts on June 2 and 4: the orchestral epic “Des canyons aux étoiles …” (“From the Canyons to the Stars …”) by Olivier Messiaen, which will be presented in a multimedia presentation accompanied by video projections by Deborah O’Grady.

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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Olivier Messiaen, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

Reena Esmail’s Violin Concerto for Indian Violinist Kala Ramnath

Reena Esmail, Seattle Symphony’s composer in residence (Rachel Garcia)

ALSO NOTE: Tonight Friday night at 8pm, Reena Esmail curates a program at Seattle Symphony”s Octave 9 space with Kala Ramnath and SSO musicians, titled “Ragamala: A Journey into Hindustani Music.”

I had the pleasure of writing about the marvelous Reena Esmail and her new violin concerto for Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath, which Seattle Symphony will premiere at the Celebrate Asia concert on Sunday, 20 March.

For its opening night concert last September, when the Seattle Symphony returned for its first full season since the pandemic struck, it was music by Reena Esmail that launched the program. She continues in her role as composer-in-residence with the world premiere of a newly commissioned violin concerto …

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Filed under: Reena Esmail, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, violinists

SOUNDbox, the New Series at Nonsequitur

The SOUNDbox team includes, from left, Marina Albero (curator), Steve Peters (Nonsequitur director), Heather Bentley (board member), Carlos Snaider (curator) and Leanna Keith (curator). (Daniel Husser)
The SOUNDbox team includes, from left, Marina Albero (curator), Steve Peters (Nonsequitur director), Heather Bentley (board member), Carlos Snaider (curator) and Leanna Keith (curator) (credit: Daniel Husser)

Here’s my Seattle Times story on a new Nonsequitur series that’s about to launch at the Chapel Performance Space:

Experimental music. Contemporary classical and post-classical. Free improvisation. Electroacoustic. Sound installation. Avant-garde … There’s a bewildering babel of labels used to try to classify artists who are defiantly unclassifiable….

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Omar Willey is a SOUNDbox curator and a virtuoso of the spoken word. (Omar Willey and Creative Commons)
Omar Willey is a SOUNDbox curator and a virtuoso of the spoken word. (Omar Willey and Creative Commons)

Filed under: Nonsequitur, Seattle Times

John Adams Returns to Seattle

Composer and conductor John Adams returns to Seattle Jan. 6 and 8, his fourth round with Seattle Symphony since making his podium debut here in 2004.  (Musacchio-Ianniello-Pasqualini)
Composer and conductor John Adams returns to Seattle Jan. 6 and 8, his fourth round with Seattle Symphony since making his podium debut here in 2004. (Musacchio-Ianniello-Pasqualini)

Here’s my latest Seattle Times story, about John Adams as composer and conductor:

Seattle Symphony audiences have another reason to be proud of their band…

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Filed under: John Adams, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

Andy Akiho’s Seven Pillars Premieres at Emerald City Music

Sandbox Percussion is scheduled to perform Andy Akiho’s “Seven Pillars” in Seattle on Dec. 3 and in Olympia on Dec. 4.  (Daniel Ashworth)
Sandbox Percussion is scheduled to perform Andy Akiho’s “Seven Pillars” in Seattle on Dec. 3 and in Olympia on Dec. 4. (Daniel Ashworth)

Seven Pillars, an epic for percussion quartet by the marvelous composer Andy Akiho, receives its live performance world premiere this weekend in Seattle by the Sandbox Percussion ensemble. My story for The Seattle Times:

“The spirit of percussion opens everything,” musician John Cage once declared. He had in mind the way percussion music can open the door to unaccustomed ways of listening — and even of perceiving the environment around us…..

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And this weekend brings another not-to-be-missed percussion classic: Michael Gordon’s hour-long Timber, for six players, which is being presented by Base: Experimental Arts + Space: 6520 5th Avenue South, #122nd, Seattle, WA 98108 on Dec 4 and 5 at 3 and 8pm. Features a six-player instrument built by local master carpenter Isaac Anderson & light design by Kevin Blanquies.

Filed under: new music, percussion, Seattle Times

Seattle Opera Meets the Museum of Flight

Seattle Opera at the Museum of Flight, producing “Flight.” (Ted Huetter / The Museum of Flight)
 Seattle Opera at the Museum of Flight, producing “Flight.” (Ted Huetter / The Museum of Flight)

My latest story for The Seattle Times:

We’ve all been there.

The familiar dread that accompanies air travel — Will my flight be delayed? Will I end up stranded? — has only become aggravated in the time of the coronavirus. But the reverse side to such anxieties is the promise of escape, which leads us ever onward. The resulting ambiguity gives airports their tremendous symbolic power.

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The company premiere of Jonathan Dove and April De Angelis’s Flight will be streamed on the Seattle Opera website from April 23-25; tickets $35.

Filed under: Seattle Opera, Seattle Times

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