Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seattle Composers Salon, 7/10/2015

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.

First up: Keith’s piano pieces. Or, piano piece. This was a set of very short pieces (the shortest was about thirty seconds) intended to follow after “One” by Keith’s former music teacher – this was “Another”. The six pieces had evocative titles and hypertext:

(Sphinxes can appear most anywhere) – chords.
(Scarabs love to scuttle among the sphinxes) – three scuttles of notes, very very very short.
(Pools stay put) – beautiful, seemingly immobile, languid sounds.
(Potions can be mixed together, bit to bit or batch to batch)
(All options remain open) – these two sections acted as the “classical” development section.
(Smoke is where it ends) – gradually dissipates into the atmosphere.
(As an alternative, try not filling the clavichord with ping-pong balls.)

Next up: The continuation of the mythological trio by Nadia Kadrevis. This is an interesting concept, where the instruments take on the rolls of invented mythological figures (as I once imagined a symphonic-rock version of Tolkien’s “Music of the Ainur”). Here, an angular, modal melody kept reappearing, though the three instruments often used it as a springboard into their own material. It was quite pretty, and the soprano sax (though unfortunately getting out of tune near the end) inevitably recalled Paul Winter and Oregon (the band). The third and last installment will be in a future Salon.

After the introduction (and stage reconfiguration): the next installment of my “garbage piece”. Part one: traffic and yelling in the street, and clang and clatter from pots, lids, sticks, cardboard boxes, and zoob-toobs. I’m afraid that I gave the wrong impression about this, saying that it was a reflection of political noise but containing samples of Pentecostal street preachers. I was not saying that they are supplying the noise. Sometimes they do, but more often they rail against it. The noise is actually coming from all directions in the U.S. government right now. Part two: more traffic, giving way to children playing, a high-school performance of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing”, a 78-record of vintage big-band jazz, an indie-rock band, and bells and reverberations at St. Mark’s Cathedral. All of this was recorded on a single summer evening three years ago. Anyway, following fragmentary instructions, Keith Eisnebrey and I played a scattering of miscellaneous objects as percussion. These “found object” parts create random rhythms that gradually synch up (or not) to the jazz and rock. An audience member asked about the relationship of the recorded sound to the objects on stage: there really isn’t any. This piece is merely about the differences and similarities of noise, sound, and music.

There will be a full performance of this "garbage symphony" at 8:00 on August 28th, at the Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103. Keith and I will play the found percussion, and Keith will also play a piano set.

Lastly, Kam Morrill presented a piano trio (violin, cello, piano) in three movements. Minimalism in the manner of Steve Reich gradually opened up into neo-classical. There was a beautiful pizzicato section; a symphonic gesture that recalled the Tchaikovsky 4 or the Mahler 2. The middle, slow, movement developed a single long melodic line, stretching it to the breaking point (I was reminded again of a symphony, the Bruckner 7) and then abruptly resolved in a different direction. The dance-like, syncopated finale was an unexpected merger of Ginastera and, again, Steve Riech: Latin-inspired dance rhythms were crosscut with other Latin-inspired dance rhythms a smooth harmonic language in open fourths, fifths and major seconds. Despite these disparate influences, the piece presented a coherent and sonorous whole that seemed much shorter than its fifteen minutes.

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