January 2017 Salon previews

Tom Baker

Three Movements

2017 marks 25 years since the first public performance of a piece of mine called "The Green Guitar" for solo guitar. In that span, I have written many works for solo guitar, including this piece to be performed on the Salon: "Three Movements". This piece is in 3 movements, each of which is a study of a different kind of physical movement: Slalom, Butoh, and R.E.M. It will be premiered by Satchell Henneman, a senior performance major at Cornish College of the Arts.

Andrew Olmstead

Spooky Action

Taking inspiration from comics and musicals, draftsman Elk Paauw and composer Andrew Olmstead combine mediums to tell stories. All sound and art is produced by hand in real time. The combination of music and visual art is intended to communicate more effectively with the audience and in more precise ways. The pace of development is tightly scheduled, but there is some room for improvisation is the thematic material. Spooky Action's short set for the Salon will be a blend of audio-visual portraits, poetry, and theatrical illustrations.

On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @spookyactionart

Nadya Kadrevis

it will be a trio, I'm doing an experiment on the fibonacci sequence along some lyrics I wrote.

essentially we will be improvising without leaving the fib sequence, so for example 112358 translates into aabcea or ggabdg the musician can start on any note they wish but staying in the form, meanwhile phineas will sing lyrics I wrote, musicans will also switch instruments during performance, this is not a collaboration albeit for the musicians improvising within the said constraints.

Jay Hamilton

Impossible Thoughts

This is an opera that will be presented as a live contemporary dance performance with prerecorded music and video projections all working together to tell the story. Music is by me (Jay Hamilton) with choreography in development by Erica Akiko Howard. We are looking for an Art Director. The singers you will hear are Emily Reisser, Sid Law, and me.

The story takes place on another planet, where alien beings have learned that an exploratory space ship from Earth is quickly approaching. These beings look mostly human, but they have wings, communicate telepathically, and have an intelligence superior to that of Homo sapiens. They need to understand who the people of Earth are and what their world is like...and decide whether to help them, or even to make contact at all. Frankly, they aren't impressed with Earthlings' ability to handle the technology they already have...

Meanwhile, the Space Ship Commander has a chronically ill childhood friend back on Earth who she communicates with across the reaches of space. The alien beings listen in on their transmissions.

Composers' Salon | Friday, January 6, 2017

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Tom Baker
  • Jay Hamilton
  • Nadya Kadrevis
  • Andrew Olmstead

Friday, January 6, 2017, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation

November Salon Previews

Keith Eisenbrey

Corollaries

A common trope of music criticism is the idea that the structure that generates, or that is presumed to generate, a piece should be perceivable and understandable by a listener. With new or difficult music this often arises in the form of a protest: “Nobody could hear that!”, followed by a detailed story of exactly how it could not be heard. The response is usually in the form: “I can”, followed by a detailed story of exactly how it could be, and of exactly how, presumably, it was, in fact, heard. Years ago, listening to some early Stockhausen or other, I realized that the least interesting aspect of it, for me, was the fact that it happened to be twelve-tone. I asked myself then why exactly it should matter that the generating structure (the chart) should be what we understand or perceive the piece to be.

One of the underlying points made by Benjamin Boretz, in Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought is the notion that carefully analyzing our methods of thinking about music can reveal alternatives to those methods, and that in so doing new musical possibilities could be invented. I make no claim that I was the first to try this, but sometime in the 1990’s I asked myself what music might sound like if I redefined, for compositional purposes, the idea of the modular interval. In other words, what would happen if notes an octave apart weren’t treated as the same note, if some other interval were treated as generating matching pitch classes? Specifically I started inventing systems in which the modular interval (traditionally 12 semi-tones) was redefined to be 17 semi-tones (an octave plus a Perfect 4th). Since then I have written many of these “mod 17” pieces, using both content-determinate and order-determinate systems.

I have found that, in practice, thinking along these lines tends to loosen the ties between designed-in structures and my listening perception of what is going on in the music, often to the point where I doubt whether the chart could possibly be derived, even with careful analysis of the score, from the music itself. A problem, perhaps, just not my problem. For me it has been exhilarating. Among other things, it operates as a subtle fracturing of the idea of the note as the atom of musical thought, an exciting result.

In Corollaries I wondered what would happen if I took the 17 integer row I have been working with recently and, instead of applying it to the pitch-classes as a tone row, apply it instead to the intervals between pitches, as an “interval row”—ignoring, as it were, what the notes are as pitch-classes and shifting syntactic emphasis to the relations between them. Of course intervals, being relations and not objects, have some interesting qualities. Is it an interval up or an interval down? Is the inversion of the interval also fair game? For my first foray I decided to go as dirt simple as I could. For (Up’s Up) I present the interval row (in three interval-transpositions) as a series of intervals going up (flipping around to the bottom when I run out of keyboard). (Down’s Down) is the same but with descending intervals. (Up’s Down) are the inversions descending from top to bottom and (Down’s Up) are the inversions from bottom to top.

soundcloud.com/keith-eisenbrey

Daniel Webbon

St. Helena

St. Helena is a small and extremely remote island in the South Atlantic. It was used by the British as a waypoint during ocean crossings and is a prominent feature in Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Mason & Dixon. I have never visited St. Helena, and I probably never will, but Pynchon’s description left a powerful impression on me, particularly his line, “The Wind, brutal and pure, is there for its own reasons.” As I began to get a sense for this piece and where it wanted to go, this scene from Pynchon’s novel, this idea of constant wind, brutal and pure, resonated strongly with me.

In the piece, I deal with the issue of time as a constant, unavoidable parameter. I wanted to comment on the rather peculiar phenomena of the performer having a click-track which only they can hear and in doing so explore the idea of ever-present but rarely instantiated time.

soundcloud.com/daniel-webbon

Neil Welch

Exit Cycles

Saxophonist and composer Neil Welch will debut Exit Cycles—four brief compositions for tenor/soprano saxophones and mezzo-soprano vocalist. Neil will be joined by Danielle Sampson, a widely-acclaimed vocalist who recently moved to Seattle from San Francisco. Exit Cycles came to light while reading William Carlos Williams’ Kora in Hell, and Neil’s work here addresses the experience of entering into and exiting from the artistic process in day to day living.

neilwelch.com

Composers' Salon | Friday, November 4, 2016

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Keith Eisenbrey
  • Jeremy Shaskus
  • Daniel Webbon
  • Neil Welch

Friday, November 4, 2016, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation

September Salon previews

Sheila Bristow

"The Finding" and "Leap into Love", for mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano

Two songs from a cycle-in-progress, using poems about ecstatic dance from many cultures. "The Finding" is a contemporary Canadian poet's vision of a Sufi dance experience; "Leap into Love" is from the writings of 13th century mystic, Mechthild of Magdebourg. Performed by composer/pianist Sheila Bristow, mezzo-soprano Melissa Plagemann, cellist Nathan Whittaker.

sheilagailbristow.com

Carson Farley

Contrasts for piano, violin, flute, and cello

carsonicsproductions.com

Jessi Harvey

"Pieces of the Puzzle" is the second movement of my piano work, Eden Untamed, inspired by a speech about the issues faced and burdens borne by the 20th century composer and dedicated to Scott Muller. Continuing on from the first movement, "Themes Amuck", one of the original themes is warped and split into multiple pieces, recombined, and put back together.

soundcloud.com/masterjgeorge

Ian McKnight

Airship Pirates!

I composed my newest piece as if it were the score to a movie set in the steampunk universe. Steampunk is a recent fantasy and alternate history genre that imagines what would have happened if technology had progressed faster during the Victorian era. It is characterized by crazy inventions and flying contraptions usually powered by steam.

This piece imagines a flying pirate airship. The piece starts quietly at the dock as the pirates prepare the ship. The sounds of machinery and workers become louder as the ship becomes ready to take flight. When the ship finally breaks above the clouds there is a moment of peace as the airship floats through the air. The pirates come upon another unsuspecting airship. The music becomes increasingly intense as they approach the other ship and attack. At the end, the pirates celebrate their victory with a drunken dance.

ianmcknight.bandcamp.com

Composers' Salon | Friday, September 2, 2016

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Sheila Bristow
  • Carson Farley
  • Jessi Harvey
  • Ian McKnight

Friday, September 2, 2016, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation