55: MUSIC AND DANCE IN CONCRETE
55: Music and Dance in Concrete is a modular, site-specific work created by composer Wayne Horvitz in collaboration with Yukio Suzuki (choreography and dance), Yohei Saito (video artist) and Tucker Martine (producer / engineer).

Designed to highlight the unique visual and acoustic elements of chosen sites, the piece is grounded by an electronic score, comprised of fragments from 55 composed short motifs for chamber music, and 55 pieces from various invited improvisers.

The work will have it's premiere at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington, on September 22-23, 2012. The Fort's architecture, including concrete bunkers and a massive cistern, create auditory conditions that shape the piece from foundation to performance.

For the Fort Worden live performance, visitors will be able to walk through the concrete structures and experience music, video and dance in the darkened spaces.The 360 degree view of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges at the site will also lend natural beauty to the dance and video aspects of the piece. (See calendar for a full list of events)

Immediately after completing a residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, Mr. Horvitz and Mr. Suzuki will develop the work at Arizona State University and creat a new version of the piece utilizing spaces within the Arizona State University Museum of Art.

55: Music and Dance in Concrete has received initial funding from the MAP Fund and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, as well as support from Arizona State University, and SEEDArts. The project is supported by the Japan Foundation through the PerformingArtsJAPAN program. The Centrum Artist Residency program is made possible by support from the Washington State Arts Commission and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Additional support was provided by 4Culture Site Specific.

More information at the 55 in Concrete Blog

Project info from Centrum Port Townsend

SMOKESTACK ARIAS PREMIERE
Wayne's composition, Smokestack Arias, made its world premiere at ACT Theatre, February 2nd, 2012 in Seattle. The piece is a song cycle for soprano voice, piano and electronics. Commissioned through Jack Straw Productions with funds from Meet The Composer, the work brings light to the labor uprising that culminated in the events known as the Everett Massacre. Each song assumes the perspective of a different woman affected by the uprising and the deaths of slain protesters, giving a personal account of a seminal event in the history of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest.

Composed by Horvitz with text by Robin Holcomb, and directed by experimental theatre artist and choreographer Dayna Hanson, Smokestack Arias features Cristina Valdes (piano) and Maria Mannisto (soprano).

For more on the Everett Massacre visit the UW's Everett Massacre Collection and the Everett Public Library's Everett Massacre Digital Collection.

Additional Funding provided by 4 Culture and the Seattle Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

THE ROYAL ROOM
Wayne's club project, The Royal Room is open, and the opening weekend was quite a blowout. Read about it in the Seattle Times article.

CD RELEASES
With four new releases in 2008, Wayne's CDs have been getting a lot of critical attention. Here are a few examples of recent CD reviews:

Jan P. Dennis, Audiophile Audition
Jennifer Kelly, PopMatters
Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide
Robert Carl, Fanfare

Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voices and Soloist was released on New World Records on April 1, 2008.  From the liner notes by Paul de Barros:

Perhaps the best way to characterize Wayne Horvitz's Joe Hill: 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voice, and Soloist, based on the life and times of the legendary labor activist and organizer is as a radio play that tells the story of a man's life in words, instrumental music and songs.  Like a song cycle, Joe Hill incorporates much previously-written material (nearly all of it re-harmonized).  There are songs by Hill himself, such as The Rebel Girl and There is Power in the Union, but also by others, including the folk poem The Lumberjack's Prayer, Mississippi John Hurt's Spike Driver's Blues, and an old English street cry, Chairs to Mend.  It also employs spoken word, including Joe Hill's famous Last Will and Testament, plus words used as narration and dramatic dialogue.  But song cycles don't usually include ravishingly beautiful stretches of chamber music, much less a completely open line in the score for an improvising guitarist in this case, the most influential one of our time, Bill Frisell.  This Rubik's cube of jazz, folk, classical and popular music is strikingly elegiac and autumnal in tone, more requiem and lament than celebration or call to action.  This is appropriate to its theme of martyrdom, though there are also many exhilarating, jaunty, and humorous sections.  Apart from classical music and the blues, its' other major influences are what has come to be called Americana, or to be more specific, Appalachian music's nasal vocals, affection for open fifths, ambiguity between major and minor thirds, and the jazzy Broadway writing of Leonard Bernstein, particularly his penchant for rapid time-signature changes.  Horvitz has chosen to tell Hill's story in music that is both complex and direct, ironic and sentimental, dissonant and gorgeous, popular and artful, and that relishes a well-wrought song as much as long-form development.

A Walk In the Dark is the first studio release from Sweeter Than the Day since its' eponymous CD from 2002.  Wayne Horvitz notes,  I've been wrapped up in a lot of other works, including some large ensemble projects, an opera of sorts, and CDs including Solos and two CDs from my other ensemble, The Gravitas Quartet.  That being said, Sweeter Than the Day has been consistently touring and performing, and remains one of my favorite projects of all time.

The CD features 11 new originals, showcasing Sweeter Than the Day's signature blend of Horvitz' unique and understated harmonic language, Tim Young's brilliant and beautiful solos, and the group interplay that the band is so well known for.  "This is more of a playing record", says Horvitz.  "It isn't live, but it's a lot closer to that feeling than Forever or Sweeter Than the Day - a little looser and a little edgier: it's got more up-tempo tunes and we stretch more.  Tim does some things that just knock my socks off.  We actually recorded this the same week I recorded the new Gravitas CD, and we do three or four of the same tunes.  The contrast is fantastic between the two bands, and I am blessed to have not one, but two ensembles bringing so much life to my pieces."

Some of that edge can be heard on The 29th Day of May, despite its gentle theme, as well as on A Moment for Andrew (for pianist Andrew Hill), and Between The Floors, both featuring a mutated swing feel driven by newest member Eric Eagle (drums).  Other highlights include Tim Young's blues groove on A Walk in the Rain, two gorgeous ballads, Good Shepherd and Undecided, and the lovely Waltz from Woman of Tokyo, excerpted from a score for the silent film of the same name by the iconic Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu.

VARMINT came into being on New Years Eve 2005 as a one time only covers project. It featured Robin Holcomb and Danny Barnes as the principal singers, along with Tucker Martine - drums, Tim Young - guitar, Steve Moore - wurlitzer piano, Wayne Horvitz - Hammond B-3, and Keith Lowe - bass. Shortly thereafter, Tia Freeborn (ex-O.K. Hotel) opened a small bar called Lottie's Lounge in Columbia City. Lottie's was just a few minutes from the home of Horvitz and Holcomb, who approached Tia with the idea of leaving the Hammond B-3 there and doing a weekly gig each Tuesday.

Shows began with the members of Zony Mash/Sweeter Than the Day, in addition to Holcomb on vocals and Jon Hyde on pedal steel, and lasted for almost two years. Each week featured special guest vocalists and the band maintained a strict rule of "no original material, and no rehearsals." Guests over the years included Reggie Garrett, Karen Pernick, The Tallboys, Dave Keenan, Nova Devonie, Arni Adler, Grant Dermody, Orville Johnson, Laura Veirs, Joe Miller, Casey MacGill, Del Ray, Garfield High Horns, Jed Jedrzejewski, Jim Burns, Paul Hiraga, Terri Moeller, and many more, including two Christmas shows where the entire bar sang along.

A typical night with VARMINT might include renditions by Holcomb of Black Jack Davey and Cluck Old Hen (traditional), Mister Man in the Moon (Michael Hurley), Enlightenment (Sun Ra), Dues (Ronee Blakley from the movie Nashville), the Al Green version of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) and Close To You (Burt Bacharach), with Tim Young singing Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) and It Won't Be Long (Johnny Paycheck), as well as Jon Hyde singing Last Date (Floyd Cramer) and rippin' through the instrumental Bar Hoppin'. Dave Keenan would sit in on Reuben's Train (trad), Laura Veirs would sing Frieght Train (Elizabeth Cotton), and Arni Adler would guest on If He Swings on a String (made famous by Marlene Dietrich.)

In the summer of 2006, the core band went to Montana to record at Snowghost Studios with engineer Brett Allen. In just 2 1/2 days, the band burned through 20 tunes with a "catch it live while it's hot" attitude. With very few fixes or overdubs, these tracks, mixed over a year later, were released in February, 2008 with a guest-filled CD release extravaganza at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle.