Cornish Music Series: Bach-Gamel December 8, 7 p.m.
November 22, 2013
The similarities between music of the European Baroque and Javanese Gamelan are explored in this concert which features Seattle’s renowned gamelan ensemble, Gamelan Pacifica, with vocalist Jessika Kenney and four of today’s Baroque music specialists Linda Tsatsanis (voice), Nathan Whittaker (cello), Janet See (flute), and Byron Schenkman (harpsichord). Part of the Cornish Music Series, the concert is Sunday, December 8 at 7 p.m. at PONCHO Concert Hall, 710 East Roy St., Seattle.
Tickets for this event are $20 general admission, $15 seniors (62+), $10 students and Cornish alumni, and $5 Teen Tix (members only). Tickets are available online at http://www.cornish.edu/music/series or by phone at Brown Paper Tickets 800.838.3006.
The name Bach is synonymous with Baroque music, while the word “gamel,” which means “to hammer” in Javanese, is the root word for the fascinating orchestral music known as gamelan. There are a number of surprising similarities between Baroque music from Europe and the Southeast Asian tradition of Javanese Gamelan. This concert will juxtapose these two traditions, revealing elements of contact, nearness, similitude, and symmetry, be they of musical features (rhythmic structure, melodic flow, timbral qualities, stylized improvisation) or simply atmospheric feel. In the far background of this, one might sense the elusive “universals” of musical expression.
Jessika Kenney is a Northwest based vocalist and composer/improviser who practices the traditional vocal arts of Classical Persian Avaz and Central Javanese Sindhenan.
Her on-going collaboration with violist/composer/improviser Eyvind Kang has been described in the New York Times as “work of delicate beauty” and “serious, refined music”, and includes 2011 and 2012 releases on Ideologic Organ curated by Stephen O’Malley.
Jessika has performed the vocal works of John Cage, Lou Harrison, Jarrad Powell, Morton Feldman, and Tadao Sawai, and collaborated with many others from varied contexts for live performance and recording. Kenney’s compositions focus on the translation of melodic nuance and revelatory atmospheres found in classical poetry, including a new work for gamelan and Persian instruments based on the life and ideas of Jelaluddin Rumi’s teacher, Shams of Tabriz, performed in 2013 by Gamelan Pacifica, as well as “Concealed Unity” for choir and orchestra, co-composed with Eyvind Kang and performed in April 2013 at Reykjavik’s Tectonics festival. Kenney has studied and performed Classical Persian music and poetry with Ostad Hossein Omoumi since 2004, sings as part of many gamelan ensembles, and is an adjunct faculty member at Cornish College of the Arts.
Byron Schenkman has recorded more than 30 albums of 17th- and 18th-century repertoire, including recordings on historical instruments from the National Music Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He received the Erwin Bodky Award from the Cambridge Society for Early Music. Schenkman made his New York recital debut on modern piano in 2009, and his playing was described in The New York Times as “sparkling,” “elegant,” and “insightful.” He is a member of the new period instrument ensemble Gut Reaction and has been a featured guest with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, the Daedalus Quartet, the Northwest Sinfonietta, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He also appears frequently in recital with violinist Ingrid Matthews, with whom he co-founded the Seattle Baroque Orchestra in 1994. Schenkman is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and received his master’s degree with honors in performance from the Indiana University School of Music. He currently teaches at Seattle University and Cornish College of the Arts. In 2012, he also served as guest lecturer in harpsichord and fortepiano at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Janet See is one of today’s outstanding performers on Baroque and classical flute. For over 30 years she has performed as a soloist, in chamber music, and in orchestras throughout North America and Europe. See lived in London for 12 years, where she played principal flute for Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s two orchestras, with whom she recorded the complete Mozart Operas and Beethoven Symphonies as well as numerous other discs. She also played principal flute for The Taverner Players, conducted by Andrew Parrott. In North America, See plays principal flute and has recorded Vivaldi and Mozart Concertos with Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan. She also performs frequently with the Portland Baroque Orchestra and as guest soloist with chamber music ensembles throughout the United States and Canada. Among her highly acclaimed recordings are the Vivaldi Concertos and the complete Bach Flute Sonatas, both recorded on the Harmonia Mundi label. Other labels she has recorded on include DG Archive, EMI, Erato, Hyperion, and Phantom Partner. See is on the Early Music Faculty at Cornish College of the Arts and is an active, enthusiastic teacher of early flutes and also interpreting the nuance and language of Baroque and classical music on modern flute. She received her degree at Oberlin Conservatory, training with Robert Willoughby; her post-graduate training was with Frans Vester in The Hague. See is a qualified teacher of the F. M. Alexander Technique, having trained in London with Walter Carrington.
Hailed as “ravishing” (The New York Times) and possessing “sheer vocal proficiency, a bright, flexible voice, big but controlled, shaded with plentiful color” (The Boston Globe), Canadian soprano Linda Tsatsanis enjoys an active and diverse career. Tsatsanis’ versatile voice makes her equally comfortable on the opera stage and concert hall while being able to sing intimate renaissance song or world-premiere performances. Tsatsanis has appeared as soloist with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Auburn Symphony, Pacific Musicworks, Orchestra Seattle, Helios Opera, and Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and has been presented by the Indianapolis Early Music Festival, San Francisco Early Music Society, and Magnolia Baroque Festival. Tsatsanis holds degrees from the University of Toronto and Indiana University. She has a solo album with Origin Classical, And I Remain: Three Love Stories, described as a “seductive recital of the darker sides of 17th-century love” (Gramophone), and can also be heard on recordings by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Naxos.
Cellist Nathan Whittaker enjoys a unique and diverse career as a concert soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, teacher, and historical cello specialist. He served as the Principal Cellist of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and Columbus Symphony as well Associate Principal Cellist with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Whittaker has performed in various music festivals throughout North America and Europe. He has enjoyed performing with various chamber ensembles across the country and is a founding member of the Seattle-based Op. 20 String Quartet. Currently, he is a member and featured soloist of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and the Seattle Baroque Soloists, and performs regularly with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Portland Baroque Orchestra. As a member of Plaine & Easie, an Elizabethan-era quartet, he won the Grand “Unicorn” Prize in the 2009 EMA Medieval and Renaissance Competition in New York City. Whittaker has served on the faculty of the Indiana University String Academy and was the founding lecturer for the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic “Behind the Scenes” series. Nathan Whittaker earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cello performance from Indiana University; he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in 2012 with Toby Saks at the University of Washington. His private instructors have included Helga Winold, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Stanley Ritchie, Toby Saks and Peter Wiley. He can be heard on CBC and NPR, has recorded with the Harmonia and ATMA Classique labels, and is featured on the debut recording of the Seattle Baroque Soloists.
Originally formed in 1980, Gamelan Pacifica has a reputation for creating diverse productions that merge traditional and contemporary musical forms with dance, theater, puppetry, and visual media. The ensemble has been a guest performer at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of Indonesia, the New Music across America Festival, the Vancouver New Music Society, On the Boards, and the Walker Art Center. In the Northwest, it performs regularly and has appeared at venues including the University of Washington, Seattle University, Town Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Art Museum, Evergreen State College, Centrum, and the Bumbershoot Festival. Some of the most notable artists of Indonesia have been guests of the group, including Sutrisno Hartana, Wayan Sinti, and Didik Nini Thowok. Gamelan Pacifica’s album Trance Gong (O. O. Discs) has received international acclaim. The ensemble is directed by noted composer and Cornish College of the Arts Professor Jarrad Powell; the current performers are Jackie An, Michael Dorrity, Stephen Frandrich, Neil Hiines, Ted Gill, Joe Kinzer, Deena Manis, Anna McDermott, Richard Robinson, Jared Rosenacker, Stephanie Shadbolt, Jesse Snyder, Christina Sunardi, Astrid Vinje and Beth Yip. Gamelan Pacifica is a respected non-profit arts organization that supports various programs and special projects relating to music and dance, with an emphasis on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration. It has been the recipient of numerous grants, including support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Arts International, and is currently supported in part by sustaining funds from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and 4Culture.