The Five: Margriet Tindemans, Artistic Director of the Medieval Women’s Choir

Margriet Tindemans

In advance of next weekend’s Medieval Women’s Choir concert — A Voice of Her Own — at St. James Cathedral, Margriet Tindeman’s agreed to participate in The Five.  A Voice of Her Own brings together music from the pen of a number of women composers.  The program will feature pieces by local talents Karen Thomas (Seattle Pro Musica), Sheila Bristow, and Margriet Tindemans as well as works by Hildegard of Bingen.

Continue reading


The Five: Melia Watras plays new music by Shulamit Ran Monday

Melia Watras. Photo courtesy UW.

Just because I can’t hear Melia Watras perform on the 25th, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In case you don’t know, Watras is one of Seattle’s talented crop of violists (a hard instrument to play because of its size.)  She teaches at the University of Washington and is 1/4 of the Corigliano Quartet. She’s good. and she is performing a recital at Meany Hall on Monday night which pairs contemporary pieces for viola and the works that inspired them. George Rochberg’s Viola Sonata along with works by Luciano Berio, Atar Arad (Watras’ viola teacher) are on the program as well as others.

One of the main attractions on the program is a brand new work, written for Watras, by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran. Watras approached Ran about her idea for a concert program that paired contemporary works with the pieces that inspired them, hoping Ran might be interested in the project. To Watras’ delight she was. Inspired by Luciano Berio’s Folksong Black is the color, Ran wrote Perfect Storm for solo viola.

The seed for Perfect Storm was planted in Ran’s mind when she began thinking about famous viola licks.  As she says in her program notes for the piece: “harder to do than with violin or cello.”  The main theme from Black is the color, played on viola stuck. Ran had found her inspiration. Ran uses this theme as a both a return moment and a point of departure for the piece’s development and architecture.  What results is a piece with architectural sweep, and intense which moves between sweet lyricism to episodes of ferocious music.

In advance of her concert tomorrow night, Melia Watras participated in TGN’s series The Five. Her answers follow the jump.

Continue reading

The Five: Nat Evans

Composer Nathaniel Evans. Photo credit: Erin Elyse Burns

Local composer Nat Evans has embarked on a project that fuses nature, music, community, and subjectivity of experience. Sunrise September 18, 2010 is a completely new piece of music written by Evans. It is a site specific, time specific, event specific work experienced differently by everyone who participates in the premiere. Listeners will gather at before 6:30 am on the 18th at Kite Hill in Magnuson Park. This is also the location which inspired the work and will be the vantage point for the sunrise and the premiere.

At exactly 6:30 am (the time the sun will rise up over the Cascades) Evans will give the cue and everyone will press play on their iPod, Zune, Walkman, CD player, or any other device people choose. Participants will be hearing Sunrise, while watching the sun rise. Sunrise will be recorded before the 18th and distributed to people who let the composer know they want to participate. All participants have to do is download the music, load it onto their favorite media player, and show up on the 18th at Kite Hill.

The idea for this new work originated from the composer’s experience with Zen and how the tradition treats natural cycles like sunrise and sunset.  Just as important Evans says, is how individuals experience these cycles.  “Over the years I became interested in how we interact with these cycles,” Evans remarked.  He elaborated further, “there is also the tradition in Indian classical music that certain pieces are to be played at specific times of the day, even specific times of the year.”  Evans took these ideas, put pen to paper, and wrote Sunrise.

Evans is one of Seattle’s talented, up and coming composers. I had the good fortune of introducing a piece of his at the May Day, May Day festival. The concept behind Sunrise is so interesting to me, I asked Evans if he would want to participate in The Five. He obliged. His answers follow the jump.

Oh, and if you want to hear Sunrise, email Evans at and he’ll send you a link for the download. See you at Kite Hill on the 18th!

Evans’ responses to my five questions are after the jump.

Continue reading

The Five: Jayce Ogren

Conductor, composer, singer Jayce Ogren

Jayce Ogren is an example of what is happening in classical music these days. He’s a conductor who has stood before some of the finest orchestras in the world. Ogren finished a tenure with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2009. He has also conducted the Boston Symphony, LA Phil, and City Opera. Before that, he was a conducting apprentice with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under the New York Philharmonic’s Alan Gilbert. With conducting bona fides like these, Ogren could easily stick to cultivating a career as a conductor. But, this Hoquiam native is plunging into composing, songwriting, and on Friday he and a new band of Seattle area musicians — Young Kreisler — debut at ACT with a program of Ogren’s own music, kindred depressants Kurt Cobain and Mahler, and Louis Andriessen’s Worker’s Union.

Continue reading

The Five: an introduction

Rimsky Korsakov. 1/5 of the original The Five

The Five is a feature I intended to start back in July. The feature was supposed to start with the musicians of the Seattle Chamber Music Society. It never able to take off because of the scheduling challenges presented by an always changing line up of musicians.

I wish I could say the idea for the Five is wholly mine, its not. One of my favorite sections in BBC Music Magazine is the column Music That Changed Me. Every issue ends with a musician — famous or not — sharing with readers the three to five albums or pieces of music that changed them.

Each time I finished reading Music That Changed Me I felt like I had been exposed to the inner musical sanctum of whoever the BBC editors had chosen to pen the column that month. In April it was the conductor Antonio Pappano. He shared with readers the first time he ever heard Tristan und Isolde. Pappano described Tristan as a dangerous piece of music and like Liszt under your fingers. I think music lovers appreciate insights like this more than the same old profile pieces that you and I have read hundreds of times.

Named after the five Russian composers – Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Borodin and Balakirev, The Five is a blog twist on BBC Music Magazine’s Music That Changed Me. Periodically, I will ask musicians five questions about pieces of music that are important to them or impacted them in some way. Their answers will be published here for your reading pleasure.