Seattle Modern Orchestra & Erin Gee: Mouthpieces

Seattle Modern Orchestra will be be joined by composer and vocalist Erin Gee for the performance of five of her on-going Mouthpieces Series. About these works for voice and ensemble, Gee explains that “the articulatory possibilities of the mouth are often mapped onto the instruments, mirroring and expanding the vocal sounds to form a kind of “super-mouth” that can move beyond the physical limitations of a single vocal tract. Merging the voice with both the instruments and with breath, and repeatedly returning to formlessness through “a more (or less) pronounced utterance of the mouth.” Gee’s sound world is paired with Kaija Saariaho’s Aer, the last movement titled Phoenix from her 1991 ballet Maa.

ERIN GEE, Mouthpiece II
ERIN GEE, Mouthpiece Remix
ERIN GEE, Mouthpiece – segment of the 4th letter
ERIN GEE, Mouthpiece XXIX
ERIN GEE, Mouthpiece X
KAIJA SAARIAHO, Aer for 7 instruments and electronics

(Photo: Jonah Sutherland, still from video)

Feder / Gilleran / Han = Recess

Years of geographical dislocation finally find guitarist Janet Feder (Denver), drummer Jen Gilleran, and pianist James Han reuniting as Recess at The Chapel for an evening of compositions and improvisations based on structure, film, weather patterns, and politics. Maybe. We’re sure about the first two at least. We welcome your company for this rare convergence.

Rae + Levi Gillis

A relatively new group, Rae consists of Abbey Blackwell (bass), Ronan Delisle (guitar), and Evan Woodle (drums). Abbey has written a set of songs with lyrical tunes and sometimes jarring harmonies that complement each other, offering relatable melodies with an avant-garde undercurrent. Abbey, Ronan, and Evan’s background in free improvisation and jazz bring the songs to life — the individuals are a part of the Racer Sessions community and play in a wide variety of jazz, rock, and avant-garde projects. All of those strands can be found in Rae’s music.

Levi Gillis writes intricate songs for guitar and voice. His beautiful harmonies and heartbreaking melodies expand past his background in jazz and into the realm of folk music.

Lori Goldston: Rivulet

Seattle cellist and composer Lori Goldston, joined by a broadly skilled ensemble of local collaborators, premiers Rivulet, a new piece created especially for this concert about collective strength and imagination, and extra-linguistic memory moving in music and water. Composed with graphic and traditional notation, the score tests and dwells in brackish margins between musical conventions. She is joined by Dave Abramson (percussion & drum set), Haley Freedlund (trombone), Kole Galbraith (bass), Greg Kelley (trumpet), and Austin Larkin (violin).

Presented by Nonsequitur.

Smith-McElroy Duo

Flutist Colleen McElroy and saxophonist Evan Smith explore an adventurous program of modern music which will feature the new work Six Moments by Seattle composer Tom Baker.

Colleen McElroy is the Piccolo/Second Flute of the Spokane Symphony, and is also Second Flute/Piccolo in the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a member of Emissary Quartet (an ensemble of four flutes), serves as Vice-President of the Seattle Flute Society.

Evan Smith is a versatile woodwind artist who holds DMA from the University of Washington, where he conducted research into the compositional techniques of Yusef Lateef. He leads an active touring and teaching schedule and is the co-director of the Seattle Saxophone Institute.

Their duo performance was born out of the desire to explore all the timbral flexibilities of the different combinations of flute and saxophone pairings, while following a lineage of composition from 20th century works to contemporary composers and improvisation. Their aim is to expand the palette of existing repertoire for these two instruments while challenging the preconceptions of each instrument’s role in classical and contemporary music.

Kin of the Moon: Wander & Wail

Kin of the Moon has the profound honor to welcome New Music rising star soprano Emily Thorner to Seattle for her only West Coast appearance in 2019. Premiering both Kaley Lane Eaton’s FUNERAL SENTENCES FOR DAMAGED CELLS and Leanna Keith’s Concerto for Tea Ceremony, Emily is known for her command of stratospheric high notes and is highly sought-after for world premieres due to her unusual range and fearless virtuosity. One of only two vocalists to appear at the 2018 Bang on a Can Festival, Emily recorded the US premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Frage, known for its impossibly high tessitura of over twenty-two high F’s and beyond.

Three World Premieres:

Concerto for Tea Ceremony by Leanna Keith invites the audience to experience a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, an activity practiced by Leanna’s family for generations. Inspired by “cha dao” or “the way of tea,” performers are given a set of instructions which are triggered by the elements of a live tea ceremony ritual. The text asks the audience to consider how meditation works, and gives permission to try to practice a meditation-like state throughout the piece, while also allowing and expecting both the audience and performers to fail. The music slowly evolves from a setting of peace to one of full-blown distraction, reaching for clarity by the end.

Crow by Leanna Keith is a love letter to the Pacific Northwest. As a Midwest refugee, Leanna’s experience moving to Washington State was colored by suddenly seeing crows every day, having never seen them in Middle America. She would spend hours outside watching them, the ways they would move while alone, the ways they flocked together. Having moved without knowing anyone in the region, her taiko drum ensemble became her newfound flock. Upon learning that the onomatopoeia for the sound of a taiko drum being hit on the rim was “KA” (also the onomatopoeia for the sound crows make in Japan), an idea was born to combine the two musical realms she loved so dearly. The piece combines taiko drums with piano, vibraphone, and viola – passing a melody around the ensemble where the tune is dissected into pieces, and then warped and reattached through the sounds of the taiko drum.

FUNERAL SENTENCES FOR DAMAGED CELLS by Kaley Lane Eaton is a multi-movement work for Emily Thorner, ultra-soprano, and ensemble Kin of the Moon that tells the story of Kaley’s family’s journey through multiple generational traumas and how that relates to our current societal predicament. The birth of her great-great-aunt in an insane asylum; the orphaning of her great-grandparents; tumultuous migration to the American West; her grandfather’s tragic experience in a concentration camp; her mother’s untimely death; and the current situation of the living generations of her family, caught in a limbo on this continent they did not rightfully inherit, faced with the disintegration of the American dream. How can the singing voice be a metaphor for epigenetic transmission of trauma and information? How does the evolution of language contribute to our ability to express these traumas? The creation of FUNERAL SENTENCES has been sponsored, in part, by a generous composer grant from CityArtist.

Inverted Space: Reflected Duality

Inverted Space Ensemble presents a concert that incorporates the Harry Partch Harmonic Canon, multiple toy pianos, cimbalon, and multiple string quartets. Toy pianos will be featured in two Seattle premiers of works by Luke Fitzpatrick and Jeff Bowen, which also use Harry Partch’s Harmonic Canon. Brooks Tran will perform John Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano. Harry Partch Ensemble Director Charles Corey will perform the music of Kurtag on cimbalon featuring soprano Sarah Kolat. In addition, the concert will present String Quartets by John Cage, Robert Ashley and La Monte Young.

Karl Fousek + Norm Chambers + RM Francis

Three solo electronic performances:

Karl Fousek (b. 1984) is a musician and composer. His works explore the sonorities of electronic sound synthesis algorithms, analog and digital, in a variety of contexts: from improvised music, to generative composition, to drone and minimalism. As a performer he is committed to the pursuit of a truly “live” electronic music, participating in both concerts for solo synthesizer and in group improvisations alongside electronic and acoustic instrumentation. His music has been published internationally on labels such as Second Editions (DE), Dinzu Artefacts (US), Mondoj (PL), an others; and he has been featured in concert at MUTEK, Cluster New Music + Integrated Arts Festival, The Banff Centre, Sounds Like Audio Arts Festival, Vector Festival, and elsewhere. As collaborator Karl has worked with musicians Roger Tellier-Craig, Yves Charuest, and Nicolas Caloia; artist David Hartt; and filmmaker Dan Brown amongst others. As an educator he has given lectures and workshops on sound synthesis, performance, and algorithmic composition at Parsons School of Design, Université de Montréal, and many of the festivals at which he also performs. Karl is currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Emerging from a love of early electronics, concrete/tape music, soundtracks and early new age, Norm Chambers creates worlds of sound that touch on many elements and moods, from spatially motivated ambient to aspects of minimalist composition and improvisation. Chambers utilizes an array of synthesizer equipment to achieve his sounds, in addition to field sounds and occasional acoustic elements

RM Francis is an artist living in Seattle working with computer-generated sound via recording, installation, and performance. His dense, kinetic compositions draw upon synthesis techniques specific to the history of computer music from the mid-twentieth century to the present. His work has been published by DRAFT, Agents of Chaos, nada, atrium and is forthcoming from Conditional. He is also a member of Mesh Collaborative, a computer music ensemble employing network architecture to explore novel modes of collective authorship and human-computer collaboration.

Lu Evers: Solo Clarinet

Lu Evers started performing and composing music in the 1970s, as part of the legendary Al Hood’s Jazz Workshop. He went on to be a founding member of Holus Bolus, and leader of several small jazz bands, as well as the saxophonist in many rock and R&B groups in the Seattle area. His quintet in the mid ’80s, which featured bassist Jack Endino, trumpeter Jim Knodle (another Hood alumnus), trombonist Scott Brown, and drummer Matt Cameron, was a critical success.

By 2006, Evers had switched exclusively to clarinet, and recorded an album of originals in New York City. Titled Music from the Left Hand, it will be available online soon. His primary influences on clarinet range from avant jazz greats Perry Robinson & John Carter, to early icons Sidney Bechet & Johnny Dodds, and on to Turkish masters Barbaros Erkose & Mustafa Kandirali.

The solo program will feature many of Evers’ compositions, which explore a variety of song forms as well as the textures and shapes of improvisation, and the space of thought and feeling.

Beth Fleenor: Straight to the Heart

Tiny pies & delectable treats, meditation, and catharsis combine with live music, video, and light in a two hour ritual experience. Created by Beth Fleenor (voice / amplified clarinet / sound & food composition) with Scott Keva James (video art), David Verkade (lighting), and special surprise guests, this will be an evening of taste, breath, listening, motion, and being.

For this performance experience, the Chapel will be divided into four connected spaces, filled with sound, light, video, and food. Audience members are invited to move freely about the space to experience different perspectives of the work created. Above all, the intention is to create a moment of beauty and peace – a space to just be with yourself and others – that stretches out continuously over two hours.

“Divided into four ventricles, the human heart rhythmically pumps blood through our circulatory system, providing the body with oxygen and nutrients, and assisting in the removal of metabolic wastes. Even though emotions are thought to be centered in the brain, a strong rush of emotion such as fear, anger, or love, pumps adrenaline to the heart – accelerating the heart beat. In conversation and thought, we often charge this tiny muscular organ with the responsibility of guiding us in the right direction, or cluing us into aspects of universal connection. Residing in the center of our chest, we use phrases like “listen to your heart,” “follow your heart” and “have a heart” to find our way to a deeper part of ourselves. We seem to seek a pathway to our own inner knowing and our ability to connect that knowing with others…heart to heart. The heart communicates to the brain and body in four ways including nervous system connections, hormones produced in the heart itself, biomechanical information via blood pressure waves, and energetic information from its strong electrical and electromagnetic fields. The heart emits an electrical field 60 times greater in amplitude than the activity in the brain and an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger than that of the brain. It not only can be measured anywhere on the body (using an EKG) but also for several feet outside the body. And interestingly, activity in one person’s heart can be measured in the brain waves of another person. The electromagnetic field of two individuals, touching or within a few feet of each other, can interact so that energy activity in the heart of one individual is measured in the brain waves of the other. The electrical activity of the heart and the brain can be guided into a synchronous electrical rhythm easily measured and displayed by simply focusing on positive and loving emotions emanating from the heart. This state of organ “coherence” is associated with improved higher level functioning, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and improved immune system function.” (Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn) All of which serves as inspiration for this performance experience.

Presented by Nonsequitur.