MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

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

This Is Beethoven

The film “ordinary grief / the people to come” from zoe | juniper will premiere at the This Is Beethoven festival. (Juniper Shuey)

My Seattle Times story on This Is Beethoven, Seattle’s citywide digital festival that will take place from 16 to 19 December.

Milestone anniversaries are supposed to be predictable events.

And since no figure in the classical music firmament looms as large as Ludwig van Beethoven, the classical music world was counting on the composer’s 250th birthday this year as a major selling point. But coronavirus started wreaking its havoc, and countless Beethoven-related events had to be scuttled — or adapted on the fly to constraints no one could have predicted….

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Filed under: Beethoven, Seattle Times

The Adventurous Mahan Esfahani

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Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani plays with the Seattle Symphony on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12. (Kaja Smith)

Here’s my Seattle Times profile of harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani:

“Controversial artist” is not one of the images that a professional harpsichordist tends to conjure. It cuts against the grain of countless stereotypes involving restraint, uptightness, dusty academicism. But flipping stereotypes is one way of characterizing the remarkable career of Mahan Esfahani, who makes his Seattle Symphony debut this weekend (Jan. 11 and 12) as the soloist in a program juxtaposing two generations of the Bach family.

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Filed under: Bach family, Seattle Times

The Routes of Slavery Traces a Musical Journey of Resilience

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Performers in The Routes of Slavery, which comes to Seattle on Tuesday, Nov. 6. (Foundation Centre Internacional de Music Antiga)

My Seattle Times story on the upcoming Seattle performance of Jordi Savall’s The Routes of Slavery is now online:

Joined by a global array of musicians, music researcher and virtuoso Jordi Savall traces the relevant story of the African diaspora and its musical legacy across centuries and continents in The Routes of Slavery.

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Filed under: early music, Jordi Savall, Seattle Times

Gaman at Music of Remembrance

Shokichi Tokita.jpgI had the privilege of interviewing Shokichi Tokita for my latest Seattle Times  story. As a boy of 8, he was incarcerated with his entire family at the infamous Minidoka”War Relocation Center” in Idaho soon after Pearl Harbor.

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Filed under: Music of Remembrance, Seattle Times

The Esoterics: Concert Review

esoterics

Photo by Bruce Weber

Review of The Esoterics for the Seattle Times:

The Esoterics Sing Radically Secular Rewrites of Texts from the Christian Mass

The Esoterics have a reputation for giving voice to new ideas. But this past weekend’s program explored a concept that was unusual even for them.

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Filed under: choral music, review, Seattle Times

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