The Sound Ensemble: Life After Y2K

The Sound Ensemble is a flexible and diverse group of professional musicians who believe in the power of music to create community, entertain and transform lives. They bring the music they love to society’s gathering places, providing potent musical experiences for our community through inspired performance.

The musical landscape is perpetually in flux. Think of all the various bands that have been popular throughout your life. Just as life didn’t end after Y2K, composition of exciting and poignant music didn’t die with Brahms or Stravinsky. During this concert we will share with you music that we find rich with beauty that has been composed in the years following 2000. Just as in the mainstream music industry there are a wide variety of genres, here we will perform music from a number of different “schools” of composition:

Sarah Bassingthwaighte Premiere
Sean Osborn 12-4-6 (2005)
Marcin Paczkowski Deep Decline (2015)
Greg Dixon Premiere
Daron Hagen Chamber Symphony (2003)

Seattle Composers’ Salon

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

Tom Baker
Jay Hamilton
Nadya Kadrevis
Andrew Olmstead

The Seattle Composers’ Salon fosters the development, performance and appreciation of new music by regional composers and performers. At bi-monthly, informal presentations, the Salon features finished works, previews, and works in progress. Composers, performers, and audience members gather in a casual setting that allows for experimentation and discussion. Everyone is welcome!

Daniel Menche + Cameron Shafii + Project Metamorphosis

An evening of abstract instrumental music featuring Daniel Menche, Cameron Shafii, and Project Metamorphosis.

In a genre known for its randomness and chaotic structure, Daniel Menche has established himself as a musician with an uncharacteristic sense of focus and determination. Rather than creating “noise,” he strives for order and cohesiveness. Aural intensity is not a representation of confusion or the chaotic, but a concerted effort to provoke and stimulate the listeners imagination by generating intensely powerful sounds and music. Characterized as both extremely loud and patiently subtle, as both sonically intense and emotionally powerful, Daniel Menche’s performances are works which realize their own sonic presence, entities that give form to an emotional rawness with highly textural and dominating sounds.

Cameron Shafii is a San Francisco-based producer practicing generative and systems music. His compositions are inflected with software processes involving spectral analysis, convolution, recombination, file handling, and stochastic elements. His works do not impose upon the listener any temporal scheme – ‘engagement/disengagement’ in Greimassian terms – refusing to form what we call a narrative tension. But his music has kinetic movements and climaxes; a functional exploration of sounds that range from microscopic and minimal, to macro and maximal. Shafii has remixed, reprocessed and produced compositions for Anòmia and Farmacia901. Currently, he is working in conjunction with Scald Rougish (Chris Douglas) for a forthcoming collaborative release. He runs the Ge-stell label.

Project Metamorphosis features meditative reflections on solo guitar, developing narrative themes through the use of loops and structured improvisation. Described as “a series of guitar explorations that form a cosmic emotionalism not quite ambient music and not quite progressive rock” (Foreign Accents PDX), the music flows between minimalist drone to richly layered melodies.

Karen Bentley Pollick: Violin, Viola & Video Virtuosity

International new music violinist Karen Bentley Pollick returns to Seattle after recent performances at the Music of Changes festival in Klaipeda, Lithuania and SPECTRUMNYC with a diverse program fusing music and videos from Lithuania, France, Lebanon, Israel and America. To celebrate the interplay between light and dark during the longest night of the year, the visuals will evolve from black and white diptychs and grey scale pen and ink drawings, to a kaleidoscope of abstract colors, desert and Martian landscapes, and cityscapes in Beirut and Vilnius.

Ethereal Baltic harmonies haunt Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s Serenity Diptychs. Israeli spectral composer Ayal Adler contributes Contrasts in Time, an intense interaction of colors – both in sight and sound. In Cluck Old Hen Variations, David A. Jaffe merges Paganini with bluegrass fiddling style. Dominique de Williencourt’s soulfully evocative Mont Ararat simulates a duo of duduks on scordatura viola. Hooked to the Silver Screen by Daniel Felsenfeld is an homage to David Bowie’s Life on Mars, with the plaintive viola solo mirroring the meanderings of Rover questing for a mate. Randall Woolf’s thought provoking music is featured in the film Beirut is a House of Many Rooms. Brian Moon’s lamentation Duetto con Bobik features the vocals of Karen’s beloved, yet deceased beagle merged with camerawork by her current hound dog Fella on the cobblestones of Vilnius. (Complete program notes are here.)

For several years now Bentley Pollick has shared her time between Vilnius and Evergreen, Colorado, pursuing an active career as a soloist and chamber musician, as well as producing various projects in the U.S. and elsewhere. Her unabating thirst for new music, “keen sense for gleaning quality in experimental music and giving these scores their rightful due” (Michael Huebner, Birmingham News) characterizes Bentley Pollick as a highly gifted and creative performer, equally adroit on the violin and viola. Being open to new experiences and social life, she may frequently be seen attending diverse cultural events and collaborating with various artists from across disciplines. In Violin, Viola & Video Virtuosity, she covers a wide range of imaginative interactions between imagery and music.

Neal Kosaly-Meyer: Finnegans Wake

Composer Neal Kosaly-Meyer has embarked upon a 17-year project to learn and perform each chapter of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake from memory, and with acute attention to the musical detail of this remarkable text.

For the third year Kosaly-Meyer is presenting a series of performances of the Wake chapters worked up thus far. The culminating show this year will be the first performance of Chapter 3 in December at Chapel Performance Space. This presentation of Finnegans Wake Part I, Chapter 3 is formal, theatrical, even liturgical, exploiting the acoustics and evocative qualities of the Chapel, supported by minimal but thoughtfully designed sets, props, lighting and sound.

A Finnegans Wake Project proceeds from the conviction that Finnegans Wake is best experienced and understood when read or heard aloud, and that such reading and hearing will best occur if the text has been learned by heart, and rehearsed with care, in the same way a musician prepares a complex piece of music for performance.

CLAP: Briggan Krauss String & Reed Quartet

Briggan Krauss is an internationally recognized saxophonist with a signature sound and unique technical approach to the instrument. But his music took a dramatic turn about five years ago when he became obsessed with playing the guitar, which has completely changed the way he thinks about and approaches music; it has even had a surprising and dramatic influence on his saxophone playing.

This new quartet project represents an important milestone in Briggan’s work, formally putting his guitar and alto saxophone playing together for the first time in the same musical context and to explore how these very different instruments can coalesce and share the same orbit in his work. He likens taking up a completely new and completely different instrument to planting a seed: “It’s as if one’s main instrument is a flower; planting a new seed next to it will not only give you a new flower but it will make the first flower bigger and even more beautiful.”

Krauss will be joined in this performance by some of Seattle’s most interesting improvisers: keyboardist and longtime collaborator Wayne Horvitz, clarinetist Beth Fleenor, and percussionist Greg Campbell.

Presented by Nonsequitur.

Brooks Tran, piano

Brooks Tran, pianist of Inverted Space and Parnassus Project, presents works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, George Crumb, and Yiğit Kolat.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Brooks Tran began playing the piano at the age of seven. He continued his musical studies at the University of Washington where he worked with Patricia Michaelian and Craig Sheppard. Tran has performed throughout the United States as well as on the air, and has been a featured soloist with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, UW Symphony, UW Wind Ensemble, Seattle Youth Symphony, and Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, among others. Always an adventurous collaborator, he performs regularly with chamber partners and has worked with internationally acclaimed groups, including the Emerson String Quartet, Claremont Trio, Cuarteto Casals, and members of the Seattle Chamber Music Society. He has also shared the stage with innovative dance groups from around the world, including Compagnie Marie Chouinard of Montreal, and the Ballet du Grand Théåtre de Genève. Tran is a strong proponent of contemporary music, giving Seattle premieres of Luigi Nono’s …sofferte onde serene… and George Crumb’s Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik, as well as works by local up-and-coming composers, and is a core member of Inverted Space. In addition to performing, Tran is the co-founder and artistic director of Parnassus Project, a chamber collective dedicated to performing in alternative venues and providing a fresh take on the classical music experience. He is currently pursuing his Doctoral of Musical Arts, studying with Craig Sheppard, and maintains a private teaching studio.

Evil Genius + Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand

Evil Genius (Portland/Los Angeles) is a forward-marching experimental jazz trio formed in 2012. The band is made up of Max Kutner on guitars (Grandmothers of Invention, Magic Band, Alphonso Johnson), Stefan Kac on tuba (Milo Fine, Jon Armstong, Hammerstein) and Michael “Bonepocket” Lockwood on drums and percussion (Atomic Ape, Deradoorian, Matt Kivel). The band’s unique sound has drawn comparisons to groups as wide-ranging as the Minutemen, This Heat, and Captain Beefheart to jazz figures like John McLaughlin, Steve Lacy, Henry Threadgill and many more. They have received acclaim from the New York City Jazz Record, Bad Alchemy, Los Angeles Jazz Station, Downtown Music Gallery, El Intruso and more. In the words of Larry Koonse, “This band can do it all — whether its in your face rock, free wheeling open improvisation, 20th century classical music, or jazz — they can pull it off and upend all of your expectations.” Their debut album, “Bitter Human” was released in late 2015 and available through Orenda Records in Los Angeles.

Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand is Jeffery Taylor (guitar), John Seman (contrabass), and Mark Ostrowski (drums). Taking its name from the six-fingered blues slide guitarist, the group creates spontaneous compositions rooted in the language of the blues and free jazz. Taylor weaves guitar improvisations like themes through a sermon, fanning the flames of long-time Monktail rhythm section of Seman and Ostrowski. Reverence for the roots of improvised music meets an unbridled passion to push boundaries, making for a propulsive and unpredictable sound. Their first LP has just been released on Abduction Records.

Zero-G: Jan Koekepan + Fejj + Steve Fisk + Tempered Steel

Zero-G returns with a synapse-stretching lineup of maverick electronic musicians whose singular yet complementary approaches offer a refreshing antidote to the ubiquity of mainstream EDM.

Jan Koekepan studied classical guitar from an early age, developing his ear and learning the limitations of his physical performance talents. His exposure to influences such as Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and Klaus Schulze led him to combine his early training with with electronic synthesis as a transhumanist exercise in pursuit of a musical quintessence. He spends more time on composition than in performance, seeking to blend free-flowing electronic impressionism with the lessons of classical form, substituting timbral complexities for the high arts of technique.

Ffej makes innovative music spawned from the love of electronic sound. He has performed at random and obscure venues around Seattle for over 20 years. Currently, he’s developing his live shows into elaborate multimedia presentations. Boldly taking the stage solo (sometimes in front of video backdrops of his own creation), he sings and plays a keytar from the 80s. He’s backed by sequences and synth patches that represent countless hours of programming.

Few people have as wide a bandwidth as Steve Fisk. His background in analogue audio technology and synthesizers, music history, and production techniques, his years in beats, looping, and programming, his two indie labels, as well as “pre-surround” audio composition and environmental work provide a unique palate of skills to the artists and musicians with whom he he has worked. A veteran of vanguard bands including Pell Mell, Halo Benders, and Pigeonhed, Fisk early on earned renown as a producer, helming sessions for numerous bands and musicians. He was the recipient of a 2015 Stranger Genius Award for his influential legacy as a musician and producer.

Tempered Steel features Ffej, Frank Junk, and Dennis Rea playing amplified, electronically processed thumb pianos. The trio’s seamless improvisations conjure everything from phantom harpsichords and subterranean percussion to as yet uninvented stringed instruments and vintage musique concrete. Recommended to partisans of Harry Partch and John Cage’s prepared piano music, the trio has played Seaprog, the Olympia Experimental Music Festival, Northwest Folklife Festival, Zero-G Concert Series, and numerous underground venues in the Pacific Northwest.

Kyle Hanson/Greg Campbell/Britta Johnson

Nothing will be explained this evening’: Kyle Hanson (accordion), Greg Campbell (percussion), and Britta Johnson (moving imagery) improvise on a set of semi-composed pieces.

Composer and accordionist Kyle Hanson (aka The Murkies) innovated the extended technique described as ‘alternating transverse oscillation of the bellows’ by which he obtains a shimmering sound and immersive effects. His music ranges from ambient soundscapes to psychedelic pop with many stops in between. Kyle Hanson led Seattle’s Black Cat Orchestra for many years with partner and collaborator Lori Goldston, producing four albums, including one with Mirah, and a song with David Byrne; other collaborators include Amy Johnson, Britta Johnston, Curtis Taylor, Eve Cohen, and Bob Jenkins.

Greg Campbell plays percussion in multiple traditions — jazz, classical music, experimental jazz and free improvisation (often using his own hand-built percussion instruments), and is a member of the Ghanaian drumming ensemble Anokye Agofomma and the Seattle Percussion Collective. A graduate of the New England Conservatory and the UW School of Music, where he studied with Tom Collier, he has performed with Stuart Dempster, Bill Smith, Wayne Horvitz, Tom Varner, Michael Bisio, Eyvind Kang, Don Menza, Stewart Copeland, Marc Seales, the Seattle Modern Orchestra, the Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO), the Tiptons Saxophone Quartet, and many others.

Britta Johnson is a Seattle-based stop-motion animator. She makes video installations, short films, and music videos. Her projects and collaborations have shown in venues including Seattle’s Lawrimore Project, Bumbershoot, the Henry Art Gallery, the PICA’s TBA festival, the Walker Art Center, MassMoCA, and the Boston MFA. Recently, her Homeostasis video installation was on display in a group show at Greg Kucera Gallery.