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In this subscriber-only video Joshua performs (both cello and voice) and intimate rendition of Hallelujah.
In this subscriber-only video Joshua performs (both cello and voice) and intimate rendition of Hallelujah.
Community and relationships have never been as important as they are right now. It does seem weird to say since I have not been able to shake someone’s hand in over 9 months, unless you count my new office mate Gus (he’s a dog—he’s not a good assistant, but he is a good boy). Our connections have shifted, and in some cases have become stronger and more apparent.
The importance of community and relationships also makes complete sense as we struggle through this challenging time. When there’s struggle, it’s always important to reach out a hand to offer help and partnership. Supporting the spectrum of arts, civics and cultural groups of the city will bring this community to a stronger place. And I hope to continue with partnerships like the one between Town Hall Seattle and Bushwick Seattle.
Town Hall Seattle has always been an organization that reaches out. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from Town Hall is the importance of strong partnerships in the community. Let the roots grow deep with those who share your vision.
I’ve been working at Town Hall in various capacities for many of the past 15 years. I could never bring myself to fully step away from the Town Hall team that has been so supportive and educational for me and my work with Bushwick. I’m still happy to work and stay connected with the event and office staff while I learn more about production and connection. I look forward to supporting Town Hall again in person when we can all be welcomed back into performance spaces.
Over the 10 years of partnership between Town Hall and Bushwick we have seen music inspired by The Bible, Winnie the Pooh, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Humpty Dumpty, Michael Pollen, Cheryl Strayed, and Shel Silverstein—and that’s just to name a few of the wonderful events we’ve shared together on the Town Hall stages. There have been singer-songwriters, authors, poets, full orchestras, bands, choirs, actors, food and most importantly: community.
In 2010, I remember Town Hall’s Executive Director Wier Harman walking into Bushwick’s very first event down at the Can Can Cabaret, ready to support local art and to provide a future stage. I remember Shirley, Ginny, and Mary excitedly bidding on live auction items in our fundraisers! I remember former Town Hall staffer Anthony Detrano offering our education program, STYLE, our very first Seattle Public School contract. I remember Ashley Toia trusting Bushwick to fill in at the last second for a Saturday Family Concert event.
Since Bushwick’s start back in 2010, Town Hall has treated us like a part of the family. encouraging our work and, more importantly, those who are creating the work. Our artwork is hanging on the office walls. Town Hall staff have become Bushwick performers, and Bushwick performers have become Town Hall staff members. We have multiple Town Hall alum sitting on our Board of Directors as we look into the future.
We are proud to call Town Hall Seattle a partner in bringing music, words and education to the Seattle community, and look forward to many more years ahead.
From “Quartet for the End of Time” to pieces written this year in response to the pandemic, and stops in between, four local chamber musicians and Joshua himself consider the feeling of time being stretched or displaced, an occurrence that is all too familiar these days. Join us for an affecting evening of chamber music from phenomenal local musicians that will leave a lasting impact. Watch the teaser below and click here for more info and tickets.
In this experimental interview, Joshua talks with long-time Town Music collaborator Aaron Grad. They use musical improvisation to deepen connection and inspire openness, and discuss what it means to ‘be present’ and how difficult it is to accept help from others.
Note: This interview was filmed before the current gathering restrictions were in place in WA state.
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My friend Hayley Young was moved by a piece I wrote recently – one of the more hopeful works from the Musical Journal I was commissioned to create in response to the pandemic. It’s a piece that came to me during a big road trip through the Western United States, and I immediately felt compelled to send this music to people that I thought might need a moment of hope. That’s a little unusual for me; I’m often self-conscious about what I write and hesitant to share. In this instance, though, I felt that the music that I created was something I very much needed to not only write, but to hear – and that others might have that same need.
Hayley immediately called me after listening to it with the idea to bring producer Ryan Hadlock on board, go to his Recording Studio and not only record the piece, but document the process for a special project she’s working on. She brought Alex Crook to run cameras and along with Ryan’s engineer Taylor Carroll we spent three days setting up, recording, and mixing the track, capturing everything on video along the way.
This cross-disciplinary experience is something I can’t wait to share – we had a unique opportunity to learn from each other because of how the project was set up. Like much of the work I’m doing right now, it required a radical shift in expectations: let go of the results-driven process and instead, be present, generous, and ready to work with the resources you have. Of course we knew we would end up with a recording and a video, but along the way we were able to go so much deeper and come out with something special because we didn’t hold ourselves to a predetermined outcome. Our combined skills, perspectives, equipment, and the magic of time and a beautiful space took us to a place of connection you do not often find when control is the focus rather than trust.
We will update you when this film is completed and can be shared. In the meantime, I hope that the idea of being present and aware inspires you to find gratitude and inspiration from that which is already a blessing in your life.
Peace, Love, and Cello
The idea for a Widespread Orchestra began as a poem by Mighty Mike McGee. It begins “Today, I dance knowing / someone somewhere dances with me” and San Jose-based composer Noah Luna was inspired to write a piece where people could come together, despite their physical isolation. He began work on a composition for chorus and cello and partnered with Joshua Roman as part of his Fermata residency, here at Town Hall to produce the project.
In October, dozens of singers sent us their voices (and some even sent videos) to bring to life Noah’s vision, alongside Town Hall’s very own Joshua Roman on the cello.
Watch the final product below!
Wed 10/28 was the first Feature Release of Joshua’s Fermata residency and Joshua takes time to thank the team and artists who made it possible! He also gives a glimpse of what’s to come.
As a practice of recognition, land acknowledgment has the capacity to create broader public awareness of the histories that have led to this moment. On its own, acknowledgment is a small gesture. But when combined with efforts towards cultivating authentic, equitable relationships and informed action that benefits native people, reconciliation and accompliceship become possible. As a space of knowledge and community gathering, Town Hall Seattle embarked on a journey in which we could ask ourselves as an institution, “What do we have to offer?” and “How can we make an impact?”
In Summer 2019, Town Hall invited Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA) to serve as artists in residence. UNEA convened an intergenerational group of native elders and youth to create a formal Land Acknowledgement for Town Hall that honors the indigenous history and celebrates the indigenous present and future of the land we occupy. UNEA’s Clear Sky Native Youth Council drew inspiration from oral and documented histories, and Land Acknowledgements created by indigenous First Nations in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and parts of the United States to write their statement.
Clear Sky Native Youth participated in two workshops and met with Snoqualmie Tribe Chief Andy De Los Angeles. Chief Andy De Los Angeles is a direct descendant of dᶻakʷ’yus (“Doctor James Zackuse”), the Lake Union Duwamish district chief and the Healer at Licton Springs who cured David Denny’s daughter of a skin disease that Euro-American doctors could not cure.
Town Hall’s collaboration with Clear Sky Native Youth Council resulted in this written Land Acknowledgement:
We acknowledge that we are in the homeland of Chief Seattle’s dxw’dəwɁábš (People-of-the-Inside, the Duwamish Tribe of Indians), the First People of this land. The Duwamish are the first Indian Tribe named in the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty’s title. On January 22, 1855, Chief Seattle was the first signatory to the Point Elliott Treaty at Mukilteo. Three other chiefs signed the Point Elliott Treaty on behalf of the Duwamish Tribe. The Duwamish homeland extends from Lake Sammamish west to Elliott Bay, and from Mukilteo south to Federal Way, a total of 54,700 acres.
The Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot Tribes are also sovereign nations indigenous to Puget Sound. Many people living at these sovereign nations and elsewhere are descendants of the Duwamish Tribe and have ancestral ties to this land.
We raise our hands to honor Chief Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe of Indians and all descendants of the Duwamish Tribe. We thank them for their hospitality as the First People of this land, and for our continuing use of the natural resources of their Ancestral Homeland.
Indigenous contributions and sacrifices are immense, and we acknowledge the ongoing disparities, racism, and political invisibility experienced by the Duwamish and other Indigenous Peoples of Puget Sound.
In early 2020, we considered the possibility of creating a physical presence in our building that could make UNEA’s statement more visible. Back in our newly remodeled facilities, programming staff raised the idea of placing a sign or plaque in the building that could remind visitors of indigenous displacement. We realized that it was an opportunity to engage with the community that created the work to determine how the piece should be physically represented in the space. It wasn’t ours to interpret, especially as a gathering space committed to full participation and shared power with diverse groups and active collaboration with our community. It felt like the most authentic way to do that was to extend the collaboration with the Native community. This led us to issue a public call for proposals targeted towards Native artists.
Hailey Tayathy (Quileute Nation) had attended Town Hall programs in the past that featured native voices and saw the public art commission as a way for us to open a path towards better supporting indigenous artists.
Tayathy is critical of Land Acknowledgments, as they are often oversimplified euphemisms for genocide. But the Artist in Residence program presented a significant opportunity: To incorporate and uplift indigenous voices. In sharing our platform for leading cultural conversations, Town Hall went beyond gestures. We wanted to give power to our community members.
The selection committee reviewed a pool of half a dozen eligible artists. Made up of UNEA youth Alex Escarcega (Assiniboine Sioux), UNEA board member Marcus Shriver (non native), and artist John Romero (Eastern Shoshone), the group selected Tayathy’s proposal and invited them to complete a residency over the summer. While Tayathy is known as a fiber artist and clothing maker, their work as a Native American drag queen in the Seattle community, often involves collaboration and work with performance collectives.
Tayathy’s design takes its inspiration from Coast Salish wool blanket weaving. Instead of using traditional weaving methods, their tapestry uses wool melton squares laid out in a chevron motif to mimic a Coast Salish pattern. Each square is appliqued by hand onto a cotton quilt backing. An extremely time-intensive practice, Tayathy’s original approach represents a departure from traditional methods to innovate and reimagine craft.
The central image of the tapestry focuses on the structure of a longhouse, where various indigenous people gather together. Symbolizing the native reclaiming of space within Town Hall itself, Tayathy’s piece depicts multiple representations of regional tribal groups.
Town Hall Program Manager Megan Castillo expressed surprise at the development of the artwork. “Our expectations shifted and the collaboration became a huge learning opportunity. Hailey incorporated Coast Salish youth [into the project]. Going into it, we thought we’d have a conversation about the Duwamish.”
Tayathy went into the community and asked native artists to contribute to the commission. Jac Trautman (Duwamish) contributed an abstract black-and-white photographic portrait made with a long exposure, while Tyson Simmons (Muckleshoot), created a stylized mask that complements Tayathy’s visual representation of Coast Salish people.
Since fabrication started, Tayathy has worked each weekend for 20 to 24 hours on the project. Sewing alone has taken close to 200 hours. They experimented with a number of image transfer methods to incorporate Duwamish photographer Jac Trautman’s imagery into the tapestry. Ultimately, Trautman’s contribution will be custom printed on fabric and then sewn onto the tapestry. Currently, Tayathy is also working to identify a Suquamish artist who will contribute to the piece.
Tayathy hopes to complete their commission by November 2020.
Participants in creating this Clear Sky Land Acknowledgement included Alexander, Asia, Alex, Akichita, Chayton, Cante, Snoqualmie Tribe Chief Andy De Los Angeles, Snoqualmie Tribe member Sabeqwa De Los Angeles, past UNEA program director AJ Oguara, and UNEA Elder and Duwamish Tribe member Tom Speer.
This document was prepared by lakw’alás (Place-of-the-Fire, Tom Speer), dxw’dəwɁábš (People-of-the-Inside, the Duwamish Tribe of Indians, the Duwamish First Nation), at dzidzəlál’ič (Little-Place-Where-One-Crosses-Over, Chief Seattle City).