SPCO's Liquid Music Series 2012-13 lineup in detail

Zola Jesus is among the highlights of the 2012-13 Liquid Music series.
Zola Jesus is among the highlights of the 2012-13 Liquid Music series.

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra kicks off the Liquid Music series November 2-4 with three sold-out performances by avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson. The co-presentation with the Walker Art Center features Anderson's Dirtday!, the third installment in her trilogy of story works.

The series, devised and curated by Twin Cities' innovative classical/new music attache, Kate Nordstrum, who is known for genre-pushing musical projects at the Southern Theater. and now at the SPCO. The 2012-13 program also features Reid Anderson (The Bad Plus), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond, the Decemberists), Ben Frost, Zola Jesus, Jeff Ballard (Brad Meldhau Trio) and Jace Clayton (aka DJ/rupture). Liquid performances will take place at the Walker's McGuire Theater, the SPCO Center and Amsterdam Bar & Hall.

Gimme Noise sat down with Nordstrum last week to preview the Liquid Music series and discuss its origins, inaugural season highlights and artistic goals.

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How did Liquid Music come into fruition, and how were you able to procure this roster of artists?

Kate Nordstrum: Patrick Castillo, who's the Director of Artist Planning here at the SPCO asked me about exploring the possibility of being here. I felt like it became clear what this could and should be: a series set apart from the full orchestra season, meant to introduce people to classical music pretty broadly defined, and presentations that were on different sizes and scales, that welcomed people who maybe didn't see themselves as classical music aficionados.

Reid Anderson for instance, I've been in communication with him for a couple years now about a project he's been composing for electronics and strings, stuff that's really different from the work he's done with The Bad Plus. I'm a huge fan of his Bad Plus compositions, but he's been really excited to go this new route and debut his first full evening piece.

Is there some tenet, energy or theme that ties these disparate Liquid Music artistic endeavors together, other than just being different?

I started out as a dancer, so in terms of the art form I've been associated with longer, dance was it. Music, for me, started out as a very visceral thing. I'm feeling it in my body, so I tend to gravitate towards musicians that I would say you can FEEL. Like Ben Frost, it's very all-encompassing. You feel surrounded by this sound world that is emotionally engaging. That really interests me a lot. The sensory connotation of Liquid, it just kinda strikes me right because sensory music is something I'm interested in.

Could you briefly discuss the series' programs, performers and what we should expect from each show?

Laurie Anderson at McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center, November 2-4 I can't possibly relay how pleased I am to be co-presenting this concert with the Walker. Laurie Anderson is one of the great performance artists of our time; and Dirtday! will be a regional premiere. Dirtday!'s inspired by our current political moment - American on the eve of a national election - but you can be certain that many other tangents will be woven into Laurie's overarching narrative.  

Reid Anderson's The Rough Mixes with Jeff Ballard, Steven Copes, Ruggero Allifranchini and David Huckaby at Music Room at SPCO Center, December 14-15 Now Reid Anderson, I just met with in New York and he was giddy. He thinks he will release this as an album eventually. It'll be the world premiere of The Rough Mixes for percussion, strings and electronics. He'll be on electronics, won't be doing any work on bass. There will be a really amazing visual landscape that his ex-wife, Cristina Guadalupe will be here triggering. She's a video designer/architect. 

Ben Frost at Amsterdam Bar & Hall, February 9, 2013 Ben Frost, he's incredible. When I was first able to present him and experience his work I was completely floored. I've never felt so viscerally engaged listening to music before, truly bone-rattling. He works with sub bass -- and it's loud, but it's not hurting loud, just so it will push you to your limits and surround you. I love the feeling of being taken somewhere and his music does that. 

Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Worden and yMusic at Music Room at SPCO Center, February 26-27 These are artists I've worked with before and really admire. I think Sarah's compositions are beautiful - certainly classical but sometimes with strains of rock and post-rock textures. Shara Worden has been sort of a muse for her, especially for this song cycle Penelope which will comprise of half the program. Shara will also present work from My Brightest Diamond, her band, a yMusic will back her. My Brightest Diamond would be classified as rock, but Worden is classically trained in opera. yMusic, a NYC-based sextet, has commissioned music from St. Vincent/Annie Clark, Worden, Son Lux - musicians maybe more well known in the rock world, but who are adept classical music writers. I'm guessing they might have a world premier or two to share with us. 

Zola Jesus and Stephen Prutsman; Ian Ding and Ashley Bathgate at Music Room at SPCO Center, March 27-28, 2013 The Zola Jesus program maybe the oddest configuration, but I think it's going to be really fun. We'll start the program with Ashley Bathgate [cello] and Ian Ding [percussion]. Because Zola Jesus is very electronic percussion-heavy, I thought it would be nice to have a more classical percussion duo start the evening. Then it will flow straight into the Zola Jesus set, and Stephen Prutsman, an incredible pianist will be writing new arrangements to her music. Her music is pretty sparse, so there's a lot of room to move. 

Jace Clayton (DJ/rupture) with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, deVon Gray, and Ensemble 61 at Music Room at SPCO Center, April 25-26, 2013 The Julius Eastman Memorial Project is another opportunity for me to work with Jace Clayton [DJ/rupture] who is a really smart musician and primarily works as a DJ. He was inspired by Julius Eastman, a pianist, vocalist and composer who was among the first musicians to combine minimalist processes with elements of pop. His biography is what drove Jace to this project. Eastman was a brilliant but troubled man. His work is very inviting for new arrangements, so Jace felt comfortable entering into his compositions. Jace is not simply going to direct a concert that shows the work of Julius Eastman, but also tells his story, with theatrical elements. It's accessible music, but restaged/reimagined in a really cool way...it's a neat opportunity for us to honor the lift of this lesser-known composer.  

One last question, musician contract talks with the MN Orchestra and the SPCO have been in the news a lot this Fall. How do these negotiations impact the Liquid Series?

Yeah, I think so. We all need to be working together and moving forward together as an organization for anyone to be successful. It's hard to say how it would play out exactly. Liquid performances at the Center don't begin until December, and the Laurie Anderson show is a co-presentation with the Walker, so that will be happening regardless. I'm hopeful. I have to be hopeful. I'm just kinda moving forward.

Visit here for a full season listing.

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