Archive for the “Seattle” Category

On May 15th, pianist Shai Wosner will be performing a brand new Piano Concerto by Michael Hersch. Titled along the ravines, the piece will be making its first ever concert appearance with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, Tuesday May 15th at 7:30 PM.

Shai explains how he came upon his interest for the new work. “When I was looking to commission a new work, thanks to the Borletti-Buitoni Trust of London, I was listening to all kinds of music from composers from different generations and I came across a couple of CDs with piano and chamber works by Michael Hersch. It was clear that he was pursuing his own path with a very strong, personal voice. Those pieces seemed to contain an explosive mix of wildness and melancholy”.

Wosner is another performer that likes to mix the classics with newer, contemporary works. “Programming is really one of the fun parts of being a musician, in my opinion. It’s always nice to fantasize about potential programming ideas, even if, like with any new idea, you may find yourself rejecting it wholeheartedly the next morning. When it comes to recital programs, I try to somehow look for a common thread among the pieces, which sometimes is obvious and sometimes is not. The goal is not so much to include pieces that are similar to each other, but rather a collection of works that are on one hand very different, but that may also resonate, shed light on each other and interact in the context of the program”.

I asked Shai if he would be bringing the new piece into the studio, and he had this to offer: “We hope to be able to record the concerto in the next couple of years. There are also plans for another solo CD and potentially a concerto CD as well that are being discussed. As far as programming is concerned, I am trying to find ‘organic’ ways to fit free improvisation into recital programs. There is nothing new in the concept, of course, and it used to be in fact part of tradition. But I am currently looking for a way to combine it with other repertoire in a meaningful way.”.

Click here for tickets to Shai’s concert with the Seattle Symphony at Benoroya Hall.


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The 2011 Celebrate Asia competition from the Seattle Symphony is now open!

Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia announces the second Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition. The Competition seeks to promote and recognize young composers who are interested in Asian culture, music and traditions.  The concept originated in 2008, when local Asian leaders wanted to find a way to strengthen bonds with the broader community through a cultural celebration. Celebrate Asia is part of the Seattle Symphony’s Around the World series.

The Seattle Symphony, presenting its 109th season in 2011–2012, will come under the artistic leadership of Music Director Designate Ludovic Morlot in September 2011, following the close of Gerard Schwarz’s Farewell Season as Music Director. The Orchestra performs in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. The Symphony is internationally recognized for its adventurous programming of contemporary works, its devotion to the classics, and its extensive recording history. From September through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people.

•Award and Performance
The winning composer will receive a $1,000 cash award and an opportunity to visit Seattle for the world premiere. The winning score will be performed by Seattle Symphony and conductor Mei Ann Chen on February 24, 2012, in Benaroya Hall at the annual Celebrate Asia! concert.
All composers born after January 1, 1966, are eligible.
Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony Music Director
Simon Woods, Seattle Symphony Executive Director
Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning
Members of the Seattle Symphony Artistic Advisory Committee
•Submission Guidelines

1.Works must have Asian influences (for example: Asian folk melodies, Asian stories and legends, Asian traditional instruments).
2.Works must be new, original and accessible.
3.Works should be 3 to 6 minutes in duration.
4.Works should be for orchestra or chamber orchestra with instrumentation no larger than 3333 – 4331 – T+3 – hp – kybd – str. Woodwind doublings are allowed.
5.The submitted work must have had no prior performances.

6.Interested composers should submit:
– A legible, bound, full score
– A recording of the piece on a CD (midi-format is OK)
– A clear description of the composition’s Asian influence(s)
– A biography, with current address, e-mail address, and phone number
– If selected, professionally prepared parts will be required 60 days before the concert.
•Entry Fee and Deadline
There is no entry fee. All entries must arrive no later than Friday, October 21, 2011. Seattle Symphony is not responsible for lost or damaged material. The winning composition will be announced before Friday, November 18, 2011.
•Send submission to:
Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composer Competition
ATTN: Amy Stagno
Seattle Symphony
P.O. Box 21906
Seattle, WA 98111-3669

Questions and inquiries may be emailed to:

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There is another fantastic all-day new music marathon happening and tomorrow it’s Seattle’s turn for the good-times.  Sunday, May 1st, from noon-10pm is the Second Annual May Day! May Day! marathon at Town Hall in Seattle.

This 10-hour performer- and composer-driven celebration of contemporary music is produced by artistic director Paul Taub (of Seattle Chamber Players fame) and is curated by eclectic composer and pianist Wayne Horvitz, pianist Cristina Valdes, and Jarrad Powell (composer and artistic director of Gamelan Pacifica).

This years marathon features 25 sets by local ensembles and soloists, including:

Seattle Modern OrchestraMichael LimMelia WatrasChristopher DeLaurentiStuart DempsterTom Baker, Briggan Krauss/Wayne HorvitzJazzEdScrape, Maria Mannisto/Robin Holcomb, Beth FleenorZachary Watkins, Christian Asplund,  Tekla Cunningham & Harumi FlesherStephen Fandrich, Seattle Percussion Collective.

Be there!

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We covered some great shows coming up this month in the Bay Area and NYC, now it’s Seattle’s turn. For the next two weekends (June 4-6 & 11-13) On the Boards will be hosting the 2010 NW New Works Festival which features “emerging and established artists from a variety of performance disciplines” and “highlights artists who are pushing themselves to take on new challenges.” Looking over the list of showcases it seems that the festival is primarily focused on new theater and dance, but there are a few music related sets in there if you look hard. The Mint Collective, Josephine’s Echopraxia, and Corrie Befort all appear to be cross-disciplinary/music/multimedia/collaborative productions.

On the Boards is also bringing back “PODFEST” as part of the festival.  From June 4-13, On the Boards will roll out 6 short videos (video podcasts featuring performance made for film), one each Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival. They can be viewed at and in the lobbies prior to each festival showcase.

All the information about the festival, including youtube videos for all the artists, can be found here.

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Washington Composers Forum. Like any of these ventures, they’ve had some busy and some moribund periods. But more than most and especially through the last decade, the WCF has been a pretty consistent force, beacon and shelter for composers of all stripes (as I can personally attest to from my own long sojourn in the Seattle area). They’ve been great about getting the word on opportunities out to their members, sponsoring commissions, readings and concerts, and their Composer Spotlight series (a different composer holds court each month, sharing whatever they think is important in their world)  has been a fabulously smart and successful local draw for years now.

The WCF is having their celebratory concert this Thursday evening, May 6th, 8pm at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, 4th Floor, Seattle / Tickets at door. $5-15 sliding scale), as part of their Jack Straw-supported Transport Series. The concert of world and regional premieres will feature the Icicle Creek Piano Trio, Pacific Rims percussion quartet, violist Melia Watras, and the Seattle Phonographers Union. Highlighted on the program is the premiere of a new work by composer Wayne Horvitz, an inaugural commission by Washington Composers Forum, launching the organization’s new commissioning program. Other composers on the bill include Christopher Bailey, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Diane Thome, Huck Hodge and John Cage — and if you’ve never yet seen the Seattle Phonographers Union in action, you’re in for a spookily wonderful treat.

.   .   .   .   .

Meanwhile, the next day just down the road in Portland, Oregon, Third Angle New Music Ensemble is finishing their season with a concert titled “Views from Cascadia” (7:30 PM, The Old Church, 1422 Southwest 11th Avenue, Portland / Tickets: $30 general/$25  65+ & students). The chamber music program features pieces by Tomas Svoboda and David Schiff from Portland, John McKinnon from La Grande, and Charles Nichols from Missoula, Montana.  This is Third Angle’s big bon voyage before it performs at the Beijing Modern Music Festival in late May, taking a few of these Northwest sounds to introduce to an international audience.

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0910_scp_lgThose of you who are familiar with the contemporary arts scene in Seattle know that there are two organizations which have been dedicated to presenting new and interesting works from around the world for over 20-years: On the Boards and the Seattle Chamber Players.  And those of you who are familiar with me know that I have a special love for Seattle and all the interesting musical and artistic projects that are embraced there.  So, if you are in Seattle I would encourage you to check-out some upcoming SPC performances at OtB (especially since I can’t be there!).

February 26-28: SCP will be performing five concerts in three days featuring new music from Italy, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, and Iceland.  It is all part of their Icebreaker series and this set of concerts is subtitled “Love and War” – all the details can be found here.

And then…

March 4-6: SCP return to On the Boards for special collaboration with Pacific Musicworks in a theatrical production of “Songs of War I Have Seen” by German composer and director Heiner Goebbels.  More information about these performances can be found here.

There is no question that the Seattle Chamber Players founder and flutist, Paul Taub, has been one of the most influential figures in Seattle’s contemporary music scene for a long time.  I was able to get Paul on the phone for a few minutes back in June and I’m happy to finally share it with all of you now.  Like most of my interviews with musicians, we talked about composer-performer relationships, but it’s also interesting to hear him speak a little about the Seattle Chamber Players’ dedication to contemporary music from Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union.  You can download or listen to the audio here.

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