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Category: Music

June
25th

Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma hosts the 104th annual Sangerfest of all-male Norwegian choruses at Pacific Lutheran University

There aren’t too many musical traditions around here that go back 104 years, but the Sangerfest is one of them. An annual get-together of Norwegian male choirs from up and down the West Coast, the Sangerfest has been going since 1903 (with a few breaks) and this year the Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma is the host choir, with a public choral concert this Friday at Pacific Lutheran University.

“The tradition of male chorus singing is very strong in Norway,” explains NMC director Jon Malmin. “Most villages have a chorus. And when the immigrants came over here they wanted to keep up that tradition.”

And they have. The 29-member Normanna Male Chorus is celebrating 125 years, having begun in 1888 as a Parkland chorus that later merged with a Tacoma chorus. And while the tradition used to be more widespread – at one point there were over 30 Norwegian male choruses in the region, Malmin says – there are still 11 Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association choruses, from Bellingham to San Diego, who’ll meet this week at PLU to sing and have fun. Read more »

May
22nd

Sharing tunes: See world cultures and local performers at this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle this weekend

Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.
Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.

For many folk around Puget Sound (and further afield), Memorial Weekend means one thing: the Northwest Folklife Festival. The free festival, now in its 42nd year, celebrates all things folk: music, dancing, poetry and art from as many cultures as you can think of. But it’s not just a draw for the crowds who come to listen and watch – it attracts plenty of local performers who want to be part of one of the biggest folk festivals in the country. Among them are Olympia bands Sunshine and Irony, The Shivas, Grizzle Grazzle, plus a couple of Oly fisherman poets and more – and what they like best about Folklife is the chance to meet and share with other performers.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun,” explains Julie Bennett, a percussionist with no less than four Oly-based bands playing this year’s Folklife: Celtic band Loch Dhu, the Contra Quartet and Olympia Volunteer String Band (both contradance bands) and a pick-up brass marching band. “It’s an opportunity to meet other musicians and share music we know, whether it’s common tunes or new ones.”

And the way that happens is behind the scenes at jam sessions. Before, after and between the many, many scheduled stage performances at Folklife are the jam sessions, where musicians – who all volunteer their time to perform – just play together and have fun. Read more »

April
22nd

Simon Shaheen brings Arab-Western fusion on oud and violin to Tacoma’s Theatre on the Square

Tacoma’s being treated to a wealth of Arabic music lately, as international oud and violin player Simon Shaheen – who recently played an Old Town Tuesday concert as well as school visits – returns for a concert Friday at Theatre on the Square.

Shaheen, called one of the most significant Arab musicians of his generation, is a virtuoso on both the lute-like oud and the violin, bridging Western classical, jazz and traditional Arabic music with both “mesmerizing frenzy” and “quiet tenderness,” according to ARAMCO World Magazine.

A Palestinian born in the Galilee area, Shaheen grew up playing both instruments,

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March
5th

Magical Strings make musical magic at Fox Island Community Center

Getting a jump on St. Patrick’s Day are the folks over on Fox Island, where the community center renovation is being helped along this weekend by a fundraising concert by Magical Strings.

Begun in 1978 by Olalla’s Philip and Pam Boulding, Magical Strings has grown to include many of the Boulding family playing Celtic harps, hammered dulcimers, concertina, accordion and whistles, many instruments made by Boulding himself. They’ve played on “A Prairie Home Companion” and recorded 18 albums on four labels. Appearing with them this time will be dancers from the Tara Academy of Irish Dance.

The Bouldings will also

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Dec.
17th

The Christmas Revels in medieval Haddon Hall (aka Tacoma’s Rialto) is full of joy, marvelous music and spirits of the best kind.

The Christmas Revels. From left: Harold Smelt, Tony Curry, Keith Dahlgren, Sophie Clements and Kate Witt. Courtesy photo.

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Puget Sound Revels, and so you’d expect a bigger production than most years. What you get, though, in this year’s Christmas Revels – set in 12th century England, and performed in Tacoma’s Rialto Theater – is a professional production that has the best music, most interesting plot and highest production values of any Revels in the last eight years.

Creating a professional-looking Revels isn’t easy. All but a few of the cast are amateurs who rehearse their folk-songs and dances after their day-job is over, and there’s a children’s chorus (16-strong this year), many of whom have never been on stage before. Sets are built by family members, costumes are sewn by friends. Even the paid musicians are sometimes a grab-bag.

But this year it all comes together with a resounding hurrah. Most successful of all is the plot, something the folk-tradition-based Revels doesn’t often come with, and this is spun out with engaging skill by five talented actors. Read more »

Dec.
9th

Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas – Day 7

Welcome to the Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas! Inspired by both the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song and fellow features writer Sue Kidd, who’s offering you her own “Twelve Tacoma Foodie Gifts of Christmas” on her TNT Diner blog, I’ve come up with 12 alternative gifts for Christmas: no partridges in pear trees, but something a lot more uniquely local. (See older posts for the other days.)

 

So here’s Day 7:

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Seven concert tickets, six sumi paintings, five gothic rings…Four pottery bowls, three CDs, two baby

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Nov.
7th

Mexico’s Mariachi Vargas and Washington’s Mariachi Huenachi meet at the Pantages this Sunday

Mariachi Huenachi from Wenatchee High School. Courtesy photo.

It might be a long way from Mexico to Washington, but with music the distance evaporates. This Sunday at the Pantages Washington’s premiere high school mariachi band, Mariachi Huenachi (from Wenatchee, of course) will open the show for the band widely regarded as the world’s best: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. For the Wenatchee students it’s not only their first time in Tacoma, it’s the highlight of a touring schedule that has them taking mariachi joy around the state.

“We play a lot of places – Seattle, Idaho, the Mariners, we even opened for the Seahawks,” says Ramon Rivera, director of the three bands (including Mariachi Huenachi) that make up the mariachi program at Wenatchee High School. “But this is even better. It’s a great honor for our program to be playing with the best in the world. These musicians are (our) idols. The students are so excited; it’s beyond surreal.” Read more »

Sep.
25th

A bluegrassy day at the Proctor Farmers’ Market

Love bluegrass? Love fresh fruit, flowers, meat and veggies? Then the Proctor Farmers’ Market is the place for you this Saturday. During market hours (9 a.m.-2 p..m) the market will host a variety of local bluegrass bands at the not-so-euphoniously-named MarketGrass day.

Musicians include The Pine Hearts and Tattered Dress, plus jam sessions for kids and adults alike, all completely free. Bring an instrument (there’ll be cover provided if it rains) or just a shopping bag and enjoy the atmosphere.

And just so’s you know, the market is open every Saturday through Christmas, then second Saturdays through winter.

9

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