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I'm really excited to share this new multifaceted project - part mobile residency on foot, part recording project, and part 8-person site-specific collaboration. The residency will be conducted over 5 months as I walk 2,600 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. During this epic walk I will be working on a new piece of music, the music serving as a travelogue of sorts in the end. After the walk, the piece will be recorded and released on Quakebasket Records - a label specializing in experimental music. 

A big part of my practice as a composer is being in the wilderness making field recordings, and I will be making many recordings along the way. Starting in southern California I will mail the field recordings to 6 different composers in California, Oregon and Washington who will sift through them, choose one, then create a brief musical response for a solo instrument to accompany the field recording. These pieces with field recording accompaniment will be posted online as I am walking so people can listen to sounds changing over time as I move north, and hear how different composers along the West Coast relate to these sounds nearby them. These recordings will be gathered at the end of the journey and released dually with the piece that I'll be working on. Collaborating composers (south to north) include Carolyn Chen, Scott Worthington, Andrew Tholl, Chris Kallmyer, Brenna Noonan, Scott Unrein, Hanna Benn, and John Teske.

Undertaking a residency pushes artists in new directions and ways of creating that are outside their normal boundaries. Being in the wilderness specifically for long periods of time can change how we simply listen and compose. Many composers have taken walks as part of their practice, and in a variety of ways. For instance, Elliott Carter took a daily walk down 12th street in Manhattan, and, famously, Bach walked 300 miles to hear Buxtehude play! 

In Zen there is a long history of people walking to study with teachers, become hermits, and traverse sacred trails and mountains. In the 1950s Western culture began to interact with these Eastern traditions via beat poets like Gary Snyder - Snyder walked in Japan with an esoteric sect of Buddhists called the Yamabushi. Walking along the sacred Diamond-Womb Trail near Kyoto, Snyder took part in their wilderness rituals - blowing conch shells, chanting and paying homage to deities that inhabit different peaks. These interactions informed his own Zen practice and in turn his understanding of the natural world and man’s place in it - themes central to his work as a writer. 

Perhaps this is an opportunity to begin weaving contemporary experimental music into the mythology of this epic trail, pushing American music into new realms not often engaged with in our gilded concert halls, university classrooms, or every-day-coffee-shop city lives. By having a dialogue with the places we live and work we can create a greater sense of place and community, and walking every inch of that place will surely contribute to that for myself, for the composers who live on the West Coast near the trail, and the communities we all live in - this place that Snyder points out many Native American tribes call simply: Turtle Island. 

I'm undertaking a funding campaign to cover some of the costs and pay the different composers who'll be collaborating on this project. The $8,000 minimum goal is the amount we need to start this project, but additional funds would have to be raised along the way. In the event that the $11,000 mark is surpassed, the excess money will be divided up equally amongst all the composers involved in this project and musicians who'll record the work after the walk is over. 

If you're interested in making a donation to this exciting project, have a look at the perks and pick what's right for you! Thank you!

 
 
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On March 29th, Seattle ensemble The Box is Empty will present new works by Seattle composer Nat Evans, and New York-based composer Leaha Villarreal. Evans’ piece, More Comfort, explores the evolution of our relation to different screens in our lives, mobile devices and televisions as a hearth place, and the nature of our contemporary interactions and language.  Evans has collaborated with writer Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and a team of lens-based artists to create a new work for chamber ensemble, field recordings, spoken text and a series of videos. The videos presented are by artist Rodrigo Valenzuela with additional video curation by Interstitial Theatre’s Julia Greenway. Valenzuela's video will also feature live manipulation of the video - a performative version of the use of our hands with the multitude of devices in our every-day lives.

Leaha Maria Villareal, who will be in attendance for the event, will present a series of works for strings including a string quartet originally written for the JACK Quartet, a string septet, and a new string trio. The string quartet is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days.” In the play, the characters rely on the ringing of a bell to distinguish waking from sleeping, a practice which becomes distorted and irrelevant as time unfolds. The progression of events is not on the outside, as a spectator of the play. Rather, the quartet is expressing the passage of time as if it were the protagonist: inside, looking out. Seattle artist Erin Elyse Burns will be presenting a new video work along with Villarreal’s music. In addition to composing, Villarreal is also the artistic director of Hotel Elefant, which regularly presents contemporary music across New York City.

Saturday March 29 - 8pm - $5-15 sliding scale
The Chapel at The Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, Seattle, WA
natevansmusic.com
leahamaria.com
theboxisempty.org

Photo by Rodrigo Valenzuela
 
 
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     Last spring I had a short gap in my schedule so I decided on a whim to surprise some new friends of mine in the wind quintet The City of Tomorrow and write them a piece of music - something I rarely have the chance to do much anymore. Just as I was getting into the beginning stages of imagining the piece, I was suddenly immobilized by an asthma flare-up - one of many many times over the course of my life that I have had to alter day-to-day activities to deal with this disease.
     Despite the adjustments I am always making to accommodate asthma, there are in the end many positive things that it has forced me to consider. Perhaps most pertinent to this work is while on frequent hikes or walks in the woods or desert, the simple need to sit and rest forces one to look at what's really happening all around you, rather than whisking through - triumphing in miles or peaks bagged. The concept that 'nature' is nothing but 'beautiful' or 'peaceful' fades away. At any given moment there are animals giving birth or being eaten or both, a new tree growing out of a stump, a group of trees conspiring over ten years to choke out a competitor - sending signals to one another in chemical whispers - an epic chase, an accidental death, a group chant at dawn, a long drink of water, a bear taking a shit, a coyote yelping to hear his own voice resounding off a sheer rock cliff, mushrooms pushing through a sea of moss. All this activity is in perfect balance, and sighing and breathing back at us endlessly. Sitting in the woods catching my breath countless times I always come back to that sense of being just another animal, that ultimately the refreshing thing for me about being outside and breathing is that nature does not discriminate - you just are.
     And so, Music for Breathing grew out of those observations built up over time while arrested by my lungs. There are moments of guided improvisation, short soloistic moments for each instrument, and also some opportunities for the wind quintet to play conch shells and stones - a ritualistic flourish in dialogue with the esoteric Buddhist sect the Yamabushi - moving along sacred trails and chanting and blowing conch shells. The City of Tomorrow will play Music for Breathing in a few different places in Texas this month - you can have a listen to some excerpts and have a look at event details below.

February 18th - Austin, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 7pm, Bethell Hall

February 20th - Seguin, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 7 pm, Ayers Recital Hall, Texas Lutheran University

February 23rd - Huntsville, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 2 pm, Recital Hall,  Sam Houston State University

February 24th - Houston, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 7pm, Arts League Houston

February 25th - Nacogdoches, TX -  The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 7:30 pm, Cole Concert Hall Stephen F. Austin State University

 
 
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This month in Florida (where Sawgrass meets the sky), there will be two performances of my work. First, in St. Petersburg an organization called New Music Conflagration will present Two Old Ghosts - for saxophone and electronics. This piece was originally commissioned by Evan Smith and The Box is Empty, and is written to be open in regards to instrumentation. So, the presenters have decided to try it with two saxophones instead of one. More information about this concert on January 5th in St. Petersburg can be found here.

Next, on January 12th in Orlando, percussionist Matt Roberts will debut a piece that he commissioned from me entitled LOG.
  Although LOG is for the concert hall, it is also a site-specific work. The percussionist is instructed to find some sort of log to perform upon, as well as make a field recording of the place the log was collected. Additionally, I made a custom music box that is affixed to the log which acts as a sounding board. The performer then plays on the log, plays the music box on the log, and all of this is with the field recording from the log's place of origin serving as a counterpoint and accompaniment - a dual presentation and exploration of the sonic environment moved into a nearby space. More info about the LOGstravaganza in Orlando can be found here.

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After a brief break following its most recent incarnation at Interstitial Theatre, the aurora borealis-inspired Space Weather Listening Booth returns! We'll be recording entire piece with live performers for KEXP's weekly show Sonarchy with Neil Welch on saxophone, Greg Campbell on percussion and Tom Baker on electronics, guitar and theremin. We're recording it in January, and it'll be broadcast in mid-March - you can stream it any time on KEXP's website after the performance. In other news, you can now buy the entire Space Weather Listening Booth 4-channel sound installation - and it comes with two remixes by John Teske and Yours Truly. Head over to our Bandcamp site to check it out! You can also find our signature 'I CAN HAS SPACE WEATHER?' t-shirts there.

 
 
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After a successful exhibition of Space Weather Listening Booth at ONN/OF festival in January, composers Nat Evans and John Teske are reprising their aurora borealis-inspired sound installation at Interstitial Theater's temporary storefront location in Belltown, Seattle starting on November 22nd.

The electronic portion of the installation will be playing during gallery hours, with a live performance on December 6th at 8pm featuring multiple performers improvising with the electronic track. Audience members are encouraged to bring pillows, sleeping bags, blankets etc for maximum enjoyment of the immersive surround-sound experience.

Space Weather Listening Booth is an immersive acoustic and electronic performance piece based on the aurora borealis, by Seattle composers Nat Evans and John Teske. Listeners hear the collision of the different space weather events that cause the aurora borealis, realized through an electronic track in surround sound and in performance live musicians encircle the audience. Premiered as a sound installation with miniature private performances at Seattle's ONN/OF Festival, Space Weather Listening Booth has since been adapted for live performance and for other installation spaces.

Teske and Evans used geomagnetic data, information about solar wind and other phenomenon, and interpreted this data through a series of sounds that interact and slowly change over time. Additionally, to represent the auroral band that rotates around the poles of the earth, the composers plotted a course for the sound to migrate and turn slowly around the listeners. Space Weather Listening Booth is a sound experience that allows one to hear and feel the movement of these great forces, and experience time and physical space through a new lens.

"One room mesmerized me: Space Weather Listening Booth." - Jen Graves, The Stranger

"...should be performed again somewhere else as soon as possible." - CityArts

November 22nd - 6-9pm - Space Weather Listening Booth opens at Interstitial Theater - 2231 First Ave, Seattle - Regular open gallery hours 1-7pm Saturday + Sunday

December 6th - 8pm - Space Weather Listening Booth live at Interstitial Theater - 2231 First Ave, Seattle - $5 suggested donation

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Composers Nat Evans and Ross Simonini have created a new score for dance in collaboration with Chicago-based choreographer Kate Corby. The new piece, Digging, was derived entirely from experiences in intensive meditation sessions over the summer - a direction from Corby that she and her dance troupe also followed. Since Evans and Simonini were already both daily meditators, as an alternate meditative activity they decided to create a chant to recite every day as a way to transform a phrase they found disagreeable. After deciding on the phrase, “kill two birds with one stone,” they broke the words down syllable by syllable to create a chant and began practicing daily over the course of a few weeks. Although Evans and Simonini live in Seattle and New York respectively, they were able to work on this project together remotely by recording all of their various experiments with this invented chant and experiments in ritual as related to sound and the breath. They then took this cache of recordings as source material to create a new electro-acoustic composition that builds and folds over on itself through processing and editing.

Digging will be presented by Kate Corby and Dancers along with music by composers Tim Russell and Ryan Ross Smith at the Chicago Cultural Center October 24-27th. All events are free, and the shows are at 6:30pm, with the exception of Sunday’s show, which begins at noon. More information can be found here, and an excerpt can be heard below.

 

Rubber & Tin

08/13/2013

 
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Bubble gun = sonic triggering device.
Rubber & Tin is a bicycle ride through the city of Seattle that combines homemade musical-bicycle instruments, site-specific listening, smoothies and cartography. On Friday, August 23rd, join composers and sound artists Nat Evans and Chris Kallmyer in a workshop at The Henry Art Gallery to build bike-bound-instruments and other ramshackle devices designed to create sound from your pedaling. The group will then depart for the Burke-Gilman trail making a clangorous drone as they move. Along the way the mobile ensemble will be directed to stop, circle up, and simply listen – our attentions, hearing and observations shaped by this new lens of an instant and temporary community. After exploring the trail and it sounds, the ride will end at Gas Works Park where participants can enjoy smoothies from bike-powered blenders, converse, and ponder sounds of the urban fauna. As folks depart, their sonic bicycles slowly dissipate into the broad landscape of the city. Here are the details:
Friday, August 23, 2013, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Meet in the Plaza outside the Henry.
FREE with Museum Admission
FREE to cyclists

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The notorious Bike Flute.
The Rubber & Tin event is the first event in a series called House Guests.  Nat Evans and Chris Kallmyer will be creating sound works around everyday household tasks like cooking, gardening, cleaning, biking, and walking. These works will take place in the coming months in and around Seattle for small audiences of 10 to 100 people. For instance, in the fall, they'll lead an expedition into the North Cascades to hunt for Chanterelle mushrooms. At the site where mushrooms are found, a soup will be made utilizing the foraged bounty. Sound and musical works will accompany the soup making as the participants look observe and consume the soup together.

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Jangley things betwixt the spokes.
These experiments in converting every-day activities into sonic and community based events have been an ongoing dialogue of ideas and trial and error - each artist bringing their own set of interests, skills and ideas to re-shape the context through collaboration. For Rubber & Tin the flow of ideas for the group ride took a circular path. Evans & Kallmyer initially conceived of the concept as a group experiential event, then moved on to proto-typing instruments that participants could make and affix to their bikes. Some things came easily - jangly recycled items were easy enough for Nat to alter his bike, but making bells from old sink parts proved to troublesome, or totally impractical to do with a group of people. Similarly, Chris made a Bike Flute, which has an excellent sound, but requires the cyclist to travel exceedingly fast! Eventually, at the suggestion of Chris, they settled upon a few different categories of sound-devices.

Category 1: Traditional
Baseball cards and clothes pins have been quintessential tools for kids interested in altering the sonic nature of their bicycles since the mid-20th century, and will be available for decoration and sonic alteration.

Category 2: Experimental
A myriad of different recycled and re-purposed metallic items will be available to create some different, basic sounds that are powered by their bicycle being in motion. Though some examples will be available, Nat and Chris are making this category one of potential - the potential for people to innovate given the right tools and materials.


Category 3: Kazoos
People will have them. We'll use kazoos for different sound-based investigations along the route, and other sounding devices will be utilized by participants as well. These devices may or may not be cued by the appearance of bubbles.


After these categories were established the artists came back to the experiential aspect of the event - further fleshing out their concept with movement-and-mindfulness-derived group exercises to help shape the flow, perception and energy of the experience of Rubber & Tin. By re-contextualizing these every-day experiences, a greater sense of place and community is engendered, sounds and music are heard in new ways, and people are brought back to the moment.

Please join Nat Evans and Chris Kallmyer for Rubber & Tin and other House Guests events in the coming months.

 
 
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On July 22nd in Seattle, percussionist Bonnie Whiting and cellist Karl Knapp will be in Seattle to present a program of new works by Nat Evans, John Teske, and others at The Chapel. Knapp and Whiting were both professors at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks for the 2012-2013 school year and are doing a series of joint recitals around the country. Each performer will  present solo works as well as duets. Karl Knapp will be debuting a short new piece by Nat Evans for solo cello and train sounds on vinyl. Instead of a typical configuration for solo instrument with electronics, the performer is instructed to acquire an LP of train sounds of their choosing and structure a series of cells written out by Evans to best accompany the recording. For the performance, a portable record player will be on stage with the performer - a live dialogue with a phenomenon of recording from the mid-20th century.

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Percussionist Bonnie Whiting will be playing Evans' work for solo percussionist, field recordings and natural objects entitled The Narrow Aisle to the Deep North. The title is derived from a travelogue by 17th century Zen hermit poet Basho, entitled The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Basho’s work is written in a style that combines haiku with standard prose, and explores the landscape, natural events, societal phenomenon, observation of physical sensations and people he meets along the way. The sound of the spoken Japanese language and ideas are structured in a circular format that continue to mirror and relate back each other throughout his work (see chart). This solo percussion piece is written within a similar structure and is drawn from the same phenomenon, but in the context of sound. Whereas Basho's haiku capture a moment with two juxtaposed ideas, in this percussion solo there are a series of field recordings from Alaska and Washington juxtaposed with different stations that the percussionist moves amidst, playing traditional western percussion instruments as well as natural objects such as tree branches gathered from wherever the piece is being performed. In this way, The Narrow Aisle to the Deep North becomes a sonic travelogue - a record of Evans' work on his own in Seattle as well as his travels to Alaska to work with Whiting on percussion music in the fall of 2012.

The performance will be at 8pm on July 22nd at The Chapel in Seattle. Tickets are $5-15 sliding scale. A few short excerpts from the debut of The Narrow Aisle to the Deep North can be heard below.


 
 
On June 15th, composers Neil Welch and John Teske will present a free site-specific concert deep in the woods of Ravenna Park in Seattle. As darkness approaches, the concert will end with excerpts from Hungry Ghosts - a piece by composer Nat Evans - being performed by candlelight.

Inspired by the Chinese and Japanese Ghost Festival traditions featuring offerings to ancestors and floating lanterns as beacons for long lost spirits, Hungry Ghosts was commissioned by and performed last year at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and featured musicians performing in boats on the 100 Acres Lake at the museum. At that event, the audience was invited to listen and view from the shore, and release lanterns into the water as darkness approached. In the woods of Ravenna Park, the audience will listen as the sounds of the park change over time - a counterpoint to the slowly changing music - and audience members will be given candles to hold to help engender a sense of place and community for themselves and the musicians, as well as reflect on their ancestors while listening and exiting the park together after the event.

The concert will take place on June 15th at 8pm in a clearing just north of the main trail in the eastern half of Ravenna Park - the red X in the map below denotes the location. In case of rain the performance will be held under the 15th avenue bridge in the park.
 
 
Seattle composer Nat Evans will be presenting an original, site-specific music event that fuses nature, music, community, and subjectivity of experience, which will take place just before sunset on Wednesday, June 19th. To take part in Sunset + Music, participants will download the music onto their iPods or other portable listening device ahead of time and arrive at the corner of Chesnut St and Memorial Drive (Luther Ely Smith Square) by 8:15pm. Exactly 10 minutes before sunset (8:19pm) the cue will be given to press play and participants will sit back and observe while listening.    The music, a piece entitled Assemblage, is a mix of new and pre-existing compositions that have been arranged to best complement the changing of light at the pivotal moment of sunset, and is available to download from the composer’s website (see below).

To review...
1. Participants download the music onto their ipods (see below).
2. Show up to the corner of Chesnut St and Memorial Drive (Luther Ely Smith Square) by 8:15pm.
3. Press play when instructed to at 8:19!
Sunset + Music and other time-specific group listening events have been presented by Nat Evans across the United States for the last three years. This Sunset + Music event is being presented by the League of American Orchestras. For more information about the event you can go to their event website or to the composer’s website.