Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas at Jack Straw Productions
Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas—a new installation at Jack Straw Productions by Byron Au Yong and Randy Moss—exudes an exquisite darkness whose shifts, gradients, and strips of black bewitch the eye.
Upon entering, the room seems pitch-black despite a circle of opalescent radiance set a few inches above the floor. Thick, light-smothering curtains shroud the room. Discerning distance inside is difficult. Blind, I shuffle in and kneel before the ring, a campfire-size reef of salt illuminated by a ring of 104 miniature LED bulbs. Bent like miniaturized streetlamps, the LEDs strobe slightly, mimicking the undulating veins of light seen in sunlit water.
Sound, echoing summertime performances of Au Yong's Bottled Operas, hovers in each corner; performed last month at local rivers, lakes, fountains, and other waterways, Au Yong's Operas mingle traditional operatic voices with water-based percussion. Bass-baritone David Stutz and other singers intone whimsical lines such as, "We are in a helicopter, helicopter, helicopter...." Additional sounds, notably a lapping creek and the careening tone of a gong dipped in water, float around the room—in a spooky yet serene involution of the rushing, sunlit water of the initial Bottled Operas.
The darkness dries up: As your eyes adjust to the lack of light, distinct bands, rings, and zones of black emerge throughout the installation, except at the center of the ring, which remains an eerily bottomless pool. A cushioned, low-slung bench rests against a wall. Placed away from the circle, it comes into view just when you might want to sit.
Alas, a single-channel video projection waits outside in the lobby. Replaying the initial site-specific performances, the scrolling picture-in-picture boxes resemble an arts-channel documentary. This small kiosklike piece feels superfluous; it belies the captivating experience inside.
Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas runs through Fri Nov 21 at Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919, Mon–Fri 9 am–5 pm, free.
Cellist Joshua Roman spearheads an evening devoted to "20th Century American Masters." On the docket: George Crumb's Cello Sonata, "Gra" for solo clarinet by Elliott Carter, a Philip Glass string quartet, and John Adams's hauntingly serene "China Gates" for solo piano. I'm curious to hear Roman's take on Steve Reich's "Clapping Music," which will either acquire a sumptuous series of secondary echoes or congeal into mush in Town Hall's "Great Hall." Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 800-838-3006, 7:30 pm, $15–$20.
The hoary phrase "meat-and-potatoes classical" does not refer to hits like big-time Beethoven symphonies (i.e., numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9) but instead means solid, often very good, works of the second rank. Here, Gerard Schwarz and the band present two prime specimens, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opulent orchestral tone poem Scheherazade and the Piano Concerto No. 2 of Tchaikovsky with John Lill as the soloist. Also Fri Oct 10 and Sat Oct 11 at 8 pm as well as Sun Oct 12 at 2 pm. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 215-4747, 7:30 pm, $17–$105.
Organized by pianist Cristina Valdés, the Seattle Latin-American Music Festival serves up a feast of chamber music. For the penultimate night of the festival, guitarist Michael Nicolella and the Icicle Creek Piano Trio offer a trio of pieces by Leo Brouwer—the Danza del Altiplano, La Espiral Eterna, and Elogio de la Danza—alongside compositions by Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann, Adina Izarra, Pablo Santiago Chin, and Ivan Ferrer Orozco. Two works by Astor Piazzolla, "Oblivion" and "Primavera Portena," round out the program. The final night of the festival on Fri Oct 10 boasts electroacoustic and chamber works variously scored for flute, violin, bass, bass clarinet, piano, and prerecorded sound, including Ricardo dal Farra's "Homotecia" for piano and tape, and Babel for flute and live electronics by Rodrigo Sigal. Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 789-1939, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding scale donation.
Reedman Greg Sinibaldi, drummer Denali Williams, and guitarist Zach Stewart update early '70s jazz-rock. Goat retains the extended solos, adventurous harmonic progressions, and blues roots of jazz while incorporating ballsy electronics courtesy of Sinibaldi's breath-controlled synth and Stewart's looped guitar patterns. Egan's Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market St, 789-1621, 9 pm, $5.
This a cappella ensemble premieres director Eric Banks's "surround sound choral opera" derived from sacred Zoroastrian texts The Seven Creations. Banks is blessed with composerly craft and an avid ear for spatializing sound; this piece should be lovely. Online reservations advised for the Oct 11 performance; see www.the esoterics.org for details. Also Sun Oct 12 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church at 3 pm. Olympic Sculpture Park Pavilion, 2901 Western Ave, 935-7779, 8 pm, $15–$20.
GRETA MATASSA QUARTET
One of our burg's finest jazz vocalists, Matassa sings standards, old chestnuts, and forgotten gems. Her 2007 disc, The Smiling Hour (Origin), recasts the antique Victor Herbert clinker "Indian Summer" into a strutting swing tune. Matassa's sassy, agile phrasing and pliable hornlike scatting would make Ella Fitzgerald, one of Matassa's idols, proud. Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, 8:30 pm, $15.
Clarinetist Sean Osborn herds a coterie of clarinetists in this annual day of workshops and master classes. Devoted to avant-gardes past and present, the culminating concert features works by Carl Maria von Weber, John Cage, Astor Piazzolla, and Eric Mandat. Brechemin Auditorium, School of Music Building on the UW Campus, 685-8384, 7 pm, free.
In a season-long cycle of Beethoven string quartets at Benaroya, the Pacifica Quartet plays a cross-section of early, middle, and late works: Beethoven's youthful String Quartet in B-flat major, op. 18, no. 6, whose gloomy nickname, "La Malinconia," belies a smiling Scherzo; his op. 95 "Serioso" quartet; and my favorite of the bunch, the late-in-life String Quartet in A minor op. 132. J. W. N. Sullivan, author of the sometimes laughable but nonetheless relevant 1927 volume Beethoven: His Spiritual Development rightly describes the A minor and other late quartets as "strange seas of thought" where "Beethoven has discovered unsuspected islands and even continents." Recital Hall at Benaroya, 200 University St, 215-4747, 7:30 pm, $25.