Call it Ludo’s Lounge.
The Seattle Symphony’s late-night “[untitled]” series isn’t quite like anything else on the orchestral calendar. Dreamed up by Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot (“Ludo” to his colleagues), it happens in the Grand Lobby rather than the big concert hall at Benaroya. It offers experimental music rather than old chestnuts. And the pieces tend to be for small ensembles.
“It feels sort of like an after-hours extra for the concert-goers,” says Jordan Anderson, principal bass player for the Symphony, who took part in the first “[untitled]” show back in October. “The lights are down. … There’s cocktails and wine. There’s kind of a low hum of chattering. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”
Anderson, along with the Symphony’s principal oboist Ben Hausmann and principal bassoonist Seth Krimsky, will premiere pieces they’ve written at Friday’s show, “[untitled]: New Expressions.”
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Also on the program: British composer Anna Clyne’s “Roulette,” a spooky piece for string quartet and electronics, and Cambodian composer Chinary Ung’s “Grand Alap,” a twisting, nervous raga for cello, percussion and voices. (“Grand Alap” has been recorded by Symphony cellist Walter Gray and percussionist Rob Tucker, a frequent Symphony guest artist, who are performing it Friday.)
Hausmann’s Oboe Quartet No. 2, for oboe and strings, should offer some forlorn humor, at least going by the titles of its movements: “Four Manic Notes,” “Two Lonely Notes” and “A Pair of Happy Notes.” Krimsky’s “Love Song,” for bassoon, violin, cello and metallic percussion, is adapted from the slow movement of a bassoon concerto Krimsky is writing, so it may be markedly different in character from his wild, Hendrix-flavored works for electric bassoon.
Anderson’s “Traction” is for solo double bass, an instrument not often heard unaccompanied. Earlier this month Anderson gave me a preview of it, bowing and plucking his instrument, taking it places it doesn’t usually go in an orchestral setting, including a high cello-like range.
“I guess I was testing the boundaries a little bit,” the 35-year-old Anderson says.
How did Anderson choose the double bass as his instrument?
He didn’t, he says with a laugh. He started piano lessons at five, but his three brothers were string players and he wanted to be able to perform with them in school concerts. When he asked about taking up a string instrument, the school gave him some firm direction.
“They needed a bass player,” he recalls. “They didn’t have one.”
He won his spot as principal bassist with the Symphony, straight out of music school, when he was only 22. And he still has the pleasure of playing music with one of his brothers, Evan Anderson, who joined the Symphony’s second violin section a few years ago.
So … no “buyer’s regret” about being steered toward the bass?
“There are times,” he admits, “when traveling with a bass can be nothing short of a major pain in the ass. But as for the ‘Don’t you wish you played the flute?’ comment — not a chance.
If you’re up for a Friday Symphony marathon, you can also hear Anderson on bass at the 7 p.m. “Symphony Untuxed” show, featuring Sibelius’ “Karelia” Overture and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
In between those concerts at 9 p.m. is a sneak peek at the musical world of Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, whose symphonic piece, “Become Ocean,” has its world premiere at the Symphony in late June. Friday’s preview, which is free to “Symphony Untuxed” and “[untitled]” ticketholders, includes excerpts from Adams’ “songbirdsongs” for three piccolos and percussion, interspersed with readings of verse by Adams and the late Alaskan poet John Haines.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com