Fermata Digital Short | Key of Connection with Aaron Grad

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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Fermata | Bear Creek Recording Session Behind the Scenes

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
jR

Fermata | Widespread Orchestra Feature Release

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!

Maybe There’s A Way to Celebrate with Us After All…

Hi friends,

On Election Night I wrote to tell you how much we missed you, and missed the chance to share the night’s energy and anticipation with you. I mentioned the power we feel when we’re with people who share our curiosities, our passions, and especially our optimism.

“Optimism” is so often called out as essential to America’s national character. I don’t know if that’s true, but knowing the character of Town Hall for 16 years now I can say that optimism—fundamental to our belief that together we can make the world better for each other—burns hot inside most card-carrying Town Hall-ions, too.

With the last states formally called (if not officially certified) today this election is effectively concluded. And no matter your perspective on the outcome I hope at last you’re getting that sense of closure that allows us to face the future with confidence. I’m going to celebrate with my family tonight—and if you’re in the mood to join me…

A look back through our Media Library will recall some of the extraordinary nights we’ve spent together on the way to this moment: Stacey Abrams and the March for Our Lives, with moving stories of community organization; Amber Tamblyn, on finding political power as you come of age; and World Without Hate, where stories coalesce into a vision of the change we want to see. And from the last three weeks alone–Steve Davis and Chelsea Clinton turn outrage to practical activism; and Jane Fonda/Elizabeth Lesser and Robert Putnam/Shaylin Garrett, issue inspiring calls to overcome self interest in favor of a common interest and heal the country.

After you look back, look forward to tomorrow night’s installment of the Bushwick Book Club, which offers original songs inspired by a book: this time, Eric Liu’s Become America, which collects a number of secular “sermons” from his wonderful Civic Saturdays programs. Many of them are hosted at/with Town Hall. Check out last Saturday’s 11/7 here, and make sure you mark your calendar for next time.

OK, maybe this won’t feel like the laughing, crying, hugging, cheering… But I promise you that in these nights (and too many others to list) you’ll feel the optimism that brought us through to this moment, and the hope that will carry us until we can be together again.

With gratitude and affection,

Wier

Fermata Update | Joshua reflects on the first Feature Presentation

Joshua talks about a project he’s been working on called The Musical Journal and how he felt compelled to do something in response to the moment instead of something planned far in advance.

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See You “Tomorrow”

Hi friends, 

From 2008-2016, hundreds of folks from the Town Hall community spent presidential and midterm election nights together in our Forum space 

That streak was broken in 2018 during our building renovation—and while itabsolutely among the least significant losses of this timeit’s true that we at Town Hall are sad that we’re not spending this evening with friends and volunteers, in community, in our home. (Beyond community—I, for one, will miss emcee Edward’s reassuringly sardonic wisecracks tonight… He always made the best of good news AND bad–)     

You can bet well learn something important about our country tonight—or in the extended, figurative “tonight” of coming weeks, since NO ONE should expect this to be over before every vote’s been counted. But well learn even more about ourselves tomorrow, the literal and the figurative and the years beyond, by what we do nextTonight is milepost on an ongoing road—a road we can cut toward justice, toward mutual respect, toward the best of human potential. And though tonight is an important, and dramatic, point in our story it’s tomorrow I’m most excited to see.  

I don’t have to give you a last chance reminder to dash to your drop box—I’d bet there isn’t a single person on the Town Hall email list willingly sitting this one out. Each of our votes is voice raised for a better world, and your voice won’t go silent tomorrow, as we all get back to figuring out what kind of community we want to share together.  

Because that’s what we hope you get from Town Hall—a place and the encouragement to become more informed, more conscientious, more powerful in pursuing a more perfect community.  

We like to say that Town Hall is a place to celebrate Seattle’s successes, and mourn its losses—and we’d give most anything to be able to gather you together again tonight Coming together is how we feel strong—and its how we glimpse the best of human potential. But that’s for tomorrow. 

You know, the figurative “tomorrow.” 

With gratitude and affection, 

Wier 

Fermata Update | Joshua reflects on the first Feature Presentation

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.

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Town Hall Land Acknowledgment: Beyond Gestures

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. 


Editor’s Note: 

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 lakwalás (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). 

 

 

Fermata Update | Joshua’s on a boat! + info about tonight’s feature event

Joshua talks about the weekend recording session with this week’s featured chamber musicians and gives advice on the best place to get your cello bow repaired!

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Fermata Update | Joshua is back in the building!

Joshua is back in the building after quarantining after his trip to Florida! He shares how excited he is to be back and also gives us a peek at the progress of construction on the building next door.

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