Music’s Universal Connections Inspire New Work

Paul Taub . Photo: Michelle Smith Lewis.

Music’s Universal Connections Inspire New Work

Composer Beth Fleenor wrote “Mycelium” for the March 25 concert celebrating Paul Taub’s 38 years of teaching at Cornish College of the Arts. When she was at Cornish, Taub encouraged her to connect with other musicians. Today, her new work celebrates music's universal connections.

Cornish alumna Beth Fleenor ’04 was happy to contribute a new work for a concert celebrating Professor Paul Taub’s career at Cornish. “Paul Taub was the first faculty member I met at Cornish. When I came to Seattle in 1998 I was fresh out of high school from a small town in the south and had little to no exposure to new music. I had never met a composer or played any small ensemble works. I had never improvised before, even though I was desperate to find my individual voice. Paul was a living encyclopedia of music from the 20th century, and he constantly encouraged me to try new things and connect to other musicians,” said Fleenor in an email interview prior to the event.

She credits Taub for her music career. “At one point I was so overwhelmed I considered leaving school to study business and not play music anymore. Paul sat me down and told me I had what it takes to make my way as a player. As I look back now, 20 years later, I know that had it not been for him, I would have probably stopped altogether, and none of the amazing things that I have seen throughout my career would have ever happened. I will be eternally grateful for his support.”

For the March 25 concert, she contributed “Mycelium,” a meditative work that is centered around a continuous pulsing drone that serves as the stable foundation that connects each section of the piece. “ I was inspired by the concept that fungi are made up of tiny underground threads called mycelium that connect all of the different plants in an area allowing them to communicate with each other. In my research I learned that some call it the ‘wood wide web’ and say the trees in the forest and the mushrooms growing around them are so interconnected it is impossible to see them as individual entities,” said Fleenor. “I feel this way about music. No matter where you go, or who you are connecting with, we are all in some way connected by the power of music. And when you play music, you can directly connect with anyone in the world, beyond language, politics or religion. It is the most universal language I have ever experienced.”

On March 25, flutist Taub will be joined by his colleagues from the New Performance Group, Seattle Chamber Players, IWO Flute Quartet, and others in a program of 21st century music. The concert at PONCHO also includes a work commissioned by Taub by the late Cornish faculty member Bern Herbolsheimer and music by Alexandra Gardner, Jovino Santos Neto, Angelique Pot, and Helena Tulve.

As Professor of Music at Cornish College of the Arts and as a founding member of the Seattle Chamber Players, Taub plays an active role in the Seattle contemporary music scene. He has performed and recorded American and world premieres by internationally known composers including Robert Aitken, John Cage, George Crumb, Janice Giteck, Sofia Gubaidulina, Wayne Horvitz, Ned Rorem, Toru Takemitsu, Reza Vali, and Peteris Vasks among others. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Olympia Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, the Everett Symphony, the Young Composers Collective, and the Esoterics. Currently he is the President of the Seattle Flute Society and President of the Cornish Federation of Teachers.

Proceeds from the concert will go towards Cornish Music student scholarships. Advance tickets are currently available from Brown Paper Tickets or can be purchased at the door. “Deceptive Cadence” begins at 7 pm on March 25 at PONCHO Concert Hall, 710 E. Roy Street.