Neal Kosaly-Meyer‘s Gradus: for Fux, Tesla and Milo the Wrestler is a continuing micro-epic contemplation of a small but growing collection of piano pitches, and a demonstration of the infinite sound-worlds potentially present in a few notes.
Gradus began with the sentence “Learn to play the piano one note at a time.” Thirteen and a half years ago, Neal Kosaly-Meyer began the project, devoting an extended improvisation session to each individual “A” on the piano keyboard, and to each combination of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 A’s. Working through those combinations took 12 years; since then all the E’s and a couple C-sharps have come in as well. Throughout this time Kosaly-Meyer has endeavored to let the project teach him: to find just how many sounds are available from a single piano note; to hear and play the possible relations between two or more notes; to permit the always lively silences to participate as a chorus; to let each sound be itself, and to allow a music to emerge in which each sound is always its own center.
Since 2002, Gradus has occasionally been brought out for public hearing, at first with only three or 4 A’s, later with more and ultimately all the A’s, last year at the Chapel including the highest E. This year’s performance will include A’s, E’s and the lowest C sharp. In performance, three sections (or “rungs”) are presented, one of 20 minutes, one of 40, and one of 60 minutes for a 2-hour continuous piece. One section always centers on a single pitch, a second on two pitches, and the third on a collection of three or more pitches. Gradus is an occasion for deep listening, for mindful immersion and contemplation of the varieties of pianistic sound.
Seattle composer/violinist Julio Lopez presents four new small-scale pieces for mixed ensembles, as well as Snakemouth, an extended composition/improvisational form for solo violin and electronics. These pieces are built on a conception of music as a performative engagement with ontological structures of thought. Fueled by questions of identity, subjectivity, empathy, and togetherness, these pieces attempt to seek out radical conceptual spaces of “being” (and performing “being”) as well as ways of inhabiting them with beauty and meaning.
Colleen is the alias of French musician Cécile Schott. Over the course of five albums, she has consistently reinvented herself by taking acoustic instruments out of their usual context and pushing the boundaries of their playability, with compositions ranging from the mysterious and contemplative to kinetic and playful. For this concert she’ll be playing the Baroque viola da gamba with live electronic processing and singing. Her new album Captain of None (Thrill Jockey) is the most melodic in her repertoire, featuring fast-paced tracks rooted by prominent bass lines and assorted percussive effects.
Seattle composer/vocalist Hanna Benn opens with a rare solo set. Benn studied composition and sacred vocal music at Cornish College of the Arts. Her works and arrangements have been performed by various ensembles including Saint Marks Cathedral Choir (Seattle), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the CMF Festival Orchestra, Saint Helen’s String Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players and Opus 7. She is currently on commission with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra and a recipient of the National Science Foundation grant to create a site-specific work.
Robert Millis is a founding member of Climax Golden Twins and AFCGT, a solo artist and a frequent contributor to the Sublime Frequencies label. Millis has scored long and short films, created sound installations, produced and designed audio projects, and released many LPs and CDs. His work veers haphazardly between sound art, music concrete, instrumental, improv, field recording, song and collage. Millis has a deep interest in folk and traditional music, so imagine Pete Seeger trying to cover Revolution 9 by the Beatles.
The Vlatkovich 5tet is an ensemble of possibilities. The group focus is to explore and create new possibilities. The possibility of five musicians moving the jazz tradition forward by their non-traditional interactions of melody, accompaniment, harmony, and rhythm. The quintet explores the relationships each of the instruments in the group have with one another. The possibility of changing the orchestration. The possibility of instrumental roles expanding and contracting. The possibility of possibilities is the quest. Creating new music that changes with each listening. Changing not to make the composition unrecognizable, but to develop the core ideas and concepts, to explore all the possibilities. The 5tet demonstrates that the possibilities are infinite. Michael Vlatkovich, trombone; Jim Knodle, trumpet; Jared Burrows, guitar; Clyde Reed, bass; Greg Campbell, drums and French horn.
Presented by Zero-G Concerts.
Inverted Space, the University of Washington’s contemporary music ensemble, concludes its inaugural Long Piece Fest in dramatic fashion with Morton Feldman’s epic 75-minute work For John Cage. Violinist Luke Fitzpatrick and pianist Brooks Tran perform this hypnotic work that blends Feldman’s propensity for expansive time and harmony with Cage’s silence. It is a piece that explores poetic dissonance in a state of prolonged stillness.
For its season finale, Seattle Modern Orchestra presents two works for soprano and ensemble by American composer/vocalist and Guggenheim fellow Kate Soper, including a world premiere of a new ensemble version of her 2012 piece, Now is forever: I. Orpheus and Eurydice, with text by Jorie Graham, written specifically for SMO. This work explores a discrete moment in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice when the pair meets, that perceptually expands in time. Door (2007) for soprano, flute, saxophone, electric guitar and accordion with text written by Martha Collins exudes a wide emotional range from buoyant and playful to dark and moody. The finale concert will also include two Seattle premieres from celebrated Italian composer Fausto Romitelli and Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Romitelli’s Blood on the floor, Painting 1986 (2000), inspired by the Francis Bacon painting of the same name, emphasizes the violence and destructiveness of projecting reality into fiction. Friedrich Haas’s Monodie for 18 instruments weaves the melodic narrative through the fabric of a virtuosic and highly focused ensemble sound, effectively turning the ensemble into a virtual solo instrument.
The San Francisco-based Friction Quartet will give world premiere performances of Treescape by Nathan Campbell, Friction by Roger Briggs, and a new work by John Teske. Also on the program are Zirma and Euphemia from String Quartet no. 1 “Invisible Cities” by Tom Baker and String Quartet no. 1 by John Adams. With the exception of Adams, all the composers on the program reside in or hail from the Seattle area.
Christian Pincock opens with solo works on trombone and computer using homemade controllers and software for live control of generated sounds and processing.
Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “chillingly effective” (San Francisco Examiner), exists to expand the string quartet repertoire and audience for adventurous contemporary music. Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Chronicle) described their performance as “high-octane music making…a fine blend of rhythmic ferocity and tonal flair.” They have given 63 world premieres and commissioned 30 works.
Composer Viet Cuong‘s music has been described as “show-stealing,” and his writing for oboe is no exception. His Suite for oboe trio was the winner of the 2010 Trio La Milpa Composition Competition, and went on to win a 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award. His works for solo oboe, Six Canadian Scenes and Soda Apple, written six years apart, explore multiple facets of the oboe’s sound and technical capabilities. Soda Apple, which will receive its world premiere at this concert, pushes the oboe to its technical limits. Finally, Trains of Thought, his trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano energetically blends together the resonant sound of the piano with the distinctive sounds of the double reeds. Join oboist Ursula Sahagian and friends for a riveting evening of music for double reeds.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Good Shepherd Center is technically closed this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday. For this reason, audience members will only be able to enter the building between 7 and 8:30 PM. If you arrive after 8:30 you will be locked out, so don’t be late!
Expanding the contemporary classical saxophone repertoire, Kevin Baldwin will premiere new works by local Seattle composers, as well as lesser-performed pieces from famed composers Luciano Berio, Gerard Grisey, and Giacinto Scelsi. All of the works will focus on exploring extended techniques and various compositional methods of dealing with the resultant sounds. These pieces include Berio’s Sequenza VIIb and Scelsi’s Tre Pezzi for soprano saxophone, and Grisey’s Anubis et Nout for baritone saxophone. These works, and the ones created by local Seattle composers, will use a variety of techniques unique to the saxophone to create a unique concert experience.
As a saxophonist and composer, Kevin Baldwin has traveled and performed as a soloist and in ensembles all over the world, including Beijing and Shanghai, China; Paris, France; and Maccagno, Italy. The New York Times called Kevin’s playing “…precise and energetic…” Since then, Kevin has performed with numerous ensembles such as Iktus+, Ensemble Mise-en, Tactus, Qubit, and Tempus Continuum Ensemble. Recently, Kevin has been asked to perform as a soloist and with ensembles at many venues, such as Symphony Space, Roulette, Issue Project Room, and Galapagos in New York City.
An evening of electronic music by three Seattle-based artists, presented by Nonsequitur.
Stella Haze (Cristin Miller) is a writer and musician based in Seattle. Her work emerges from involvement with the improvised and experimental music communities, along with formal training in classical piano, voice and composition. Over the last decade she has performed with a variety of artists in various collaborations including Murderous Copulation of Birds, Seattle Improviser’s Orchestra, and Emma Zunz. Tonight she’ll play two new compositions for voice and electronics. One uses a jazz piece by her late father, composer Kenneth Miller, as a departure point. The piece was originally written as part of a suite to be performed by the LA philharmonic in the 60s. The second composition is inspired by a short story by Rick Bass, The Lives of Rocks.
Pulling Out the Light is sound artist Briana Jones. She uses analog modular synth, sequencers and a looper to create dark ambient soundscapes. Watch videos here, here and here.
Raica is Chloe Harris, electronic musician and co-founder of the Further Records label. Raica always improvises with the machines and boxes. The idea of never knowing what to expect and adapting to the room and surroundings is what drives this project. Analog and digital meet to marry a wall of sporadic and intermixed sounds. Read more about her in the Stranger.