Fermata | Joshua Roman Plays All Four Parts of His New Cello Quartet “Offshoot”

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Joshua has composed a new Cello Quartet and used the grand acoustics of the Great Hall to perform all four parts himself. Layering the tracks together reveals the full breadth of the new piece, “Offshoot”.

In the digital short below (available only to subscribers until 10/26) Joshua talks about how his composition process has evolved since becoming Town Music Artistic Director in 2012. He explores how, sometimes, mistakes or frustration can lead to moments of inspiration and motivation and how being a performer and being a composer stretch different creative muscles.

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Fermata Residency | Joshua Roman Multi-Track Cello Test (Subscriber Exclusive)

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Joshua recorded multiple tracks on his cello in The Great Hall (see the backstage footage here) and stitched them together into this composition. This multi-track test is in preparation for other collaborative, multi-track work with Fermata collaborators.

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Life On The Margins Special Editions

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The Life on the Margins podcast features co-hosts Marcus Harrison Green, Enrique Cerna, and Jini Palmer as they share stories not just about marginalized communities, but from within, and alongside them. In each bi-weekly installment of this residency podcast, they engage with the narratives and experiences of our city, sharing them more widely with the Town Hall community.

In solidarity with the Black and Brown community in the fight for justice against police brutality and the institutionalized racism that enables it, the hosts of the Life On The Margins podcast have released two special edition episodes featuring discussions of police accountability, racism as a public health threat, the search for answers surrounding the death of Manuel Ellis while in police custody.


June 7, 2020

It Can Happen Here, Too


In this special edition of Life on the Margins, we probe deeply into the case of Manuel Ellis, a Black Tacoma man who died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody on March 3rd, 2020. The investigation into his death was seemingly dormant until it roared into the public spotlight this week after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee demanded a full investigation into the 33-year-old’s death. Since then, video footage of his fateful encounter with police, along with an audio recording of him saying the words “I can’t breathe,” have led the mayor of Tacoma to call for the firing of the four officers involved in the case.

We discuss the case and hear directly from the Ellis family, about their hard-fought battle for the truth. We also discuss how it relates to the national unrest currently raging around police accountability.

June 5, 2020

Rage, Riot, Racism : The Killing of George Floyd

The May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man, by Minneapolis police sparked outrage and protests across the nation that sees no signs of abating. If anything, the demonstrations have intensified the longstanding desire for America to address chronic and systemic racial disparities.

Also needing to be addressed, is law enforcement’s accountability to communities of color. Those are issues we continue to have in our own backyard, as the family of a Tacoma man who died in police custody continues to search for answers.

In this special edition, an emotional conversation Dr. Ben Danielson, pediatrician, and medical director at Odessa Brown Clinic in Seattle’s Central District, about racism as a public health threat. We also hear from the family of Manuel Ellis, who are still searching for answers three months after his death in police custody. And Matt Chan has commentary on the relationship between the Asian and Black communities.

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 37

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In episode #37 of In The Moment, Chief Correspondent Steve Scher talked with Alva Noë (5:48) about the philosophy of baseball. Noë explores the benefits of a slow and easy game and how it provides time and room for reflection. He asserts that, in a way, we’re all playing the game by asking the same questions as the players do in the moment. The pair pays tribute to ex-Mariners player Ichiro Suzuki and the generational magic of watching a game with your kids, meeting the players, and catching a ball. 

Host Jini Palmer talked with Edward Wolcher and Megan Castillo (17:50), Town Hall’s Curator of Lectures and Community Engagement Manager, about our upcoming Homecoming festival in September. They tell us about the lineup of speakers, artists, and fun unique programs in store—what’s new, what to expect, and what to look out for. 


Still Curious?

-Hear a Big Think interview with Alva Noë discussing contemporary research on human consciousness.

-Join Edward Wolcher for a discussion on solving climate change in an August installment of Town Hall’s beloved Penny University series.

-Check out Town Hall’s Homecoming Festival lineup!

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 36

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In episode #36 of In The Moment, Correspondent Grace Madigan sits down with Ed Levine (3:33) to explore his journey and the inspirations that led him to create his food blog Serious Eats. Levine names some of his favorite foods and food memories, and delves into the ways his passion for food has always brought him joy.

Chief Correspondent Steve Scher talks with Charles Fishman (12:07) about the unsung heroes of NASA behind our trip to the moon. Although the astronauts got all the coverage at the time, Fishman talks about his fascination with the people involved behind the scenes. Fishman and Steve chat about how people love space—whether it’s the hardware, the equipment, or the museums. They close with a discussion of the ways in which the things we do on earth requires outreach and investment into space in the form of satellites and other infrastructure.

Host Jini Palmer highlights a segment from Lee McIntyre (21:49) in his June 3 program in defense of science. McIntyre contends that scientific evidence can’t be used to convince people who don’t believe in evidence. He tells us that in order to sway anti-evidence thinkers, we need to influence their reasoning and establishing trust. McIntyre outlines how people often believe speakers who they think they can trust rather than listening to facts, data, and science. With the rise of the information age, McIntyre asserts that people can go online and find multiple arguments—many of which are conspiratorial and unsupported—that support their views. He closes by arguing that this trend is creating what he calls a “culture of denial.”

Still Curious?

Charles Fishman appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air to discuss his upcoming book about the 1969 moon landing, One Giant Leap.

-Check out Ed Levine’s blog Serious Eats—just be prepared to get hungry!

In an interview with CBC Radio, Lee McIntyre expounds on the “culture of denial” facing modern science.

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 34

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Episode 34:

Bonus Content:

This listening guide is a two-parter! In episode #34 of In The Moment, Chief Correspondent Steve talks with Rachel Louise Snyder (5:25) about her research on domestic abuse and sexual intimate partner violence. Snyder upends many myths and misunderstandings about what is commonly called “domestic violence.” She outlines how even the language we use doesn’t fully capture its insidiousness. Snyder addresses domestic violence as a global epidemic and talks about how some people are trying to end it.

Host Jini Palmer covers a conversation between Executive Director Wier Harman and Town Hall founder David Brewster (15:51). Wier and David spoke at this year’s Director’s Dinner about Town Hall’s past, present and future. David gives us a glimpse into some of the problems he ran into when trying to get Town Hall off the ground, and they banter about the visions and plans for Town Hall that have stayed true since the beginning.

Then in a bonus episode, Correspondent Charles Cross talks with John Waters (1:08) about his transgressive movies, living with stars, and some shared moments in Seattle. Waters reflects on what he’s learned along the way and where he’s going now.


Still Curious?

-Rachel Louise Snyder has spoken in numerous segments on NPR’s “All Things Considered” as well as APM’s “Marketplace” and PRX’s “Global Guru” series.

-Interested in attending next year’s Director’s Dinner? Town Hall members get an invitation every year! To learn about other benefits of membership, visit our membership page.

-Check out this NPR spotlight featuring John Waters on the May 20, 2019 episode of Fresh Air.

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 33

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In episode #33 of In The Moment, Chief Correspondent Steve Scher talks with Sandro Galea (3:55) about reforming America’s way of thinking about health. Galea invites us to think beyond just insurance and access to doctors or medicine, instead widening our scope to talk about larger systemic issues: how diseases that are biological, environmental, are also inextricably related to stress, opportunity, and security. He asserts that we need to think about health economically and socially, as an issue related to larger political decisions. Galea says that experiences, opportunities, health are a product of our entire life—much of which we have no direct control over. According to him, it’s incorrect and unfair to assume that people have full autonomy over their health; we have to recognize that our collective well-being is a collective responsibility.

Correspondent Minh Nguyen talks with Nancy Fraser and Bhaskar Sunkara (14:02) about how America has been in a political state of neoliberalism roughly 30 years, and how this system is now being widely challenged and questioned. Fraser says that, by coupled terms like “feminism” and “anti-racism” with the progressive neoliberal agenda, neoliberalism led to the election of Donald Trump. She asserts that neoliberalism has contributed to union-breaking, financialisation, and policies that have hollowed the living standards of all working class Americans. Nancy underscores her hope that the public at large can gain a larger understanding that we live in a classist society—one which she hopes we can transform into democratic socialism. Sunkara outlines the idea of what democratic socialism means to them, emphasizing the need for the redistribution of wealth and power. He expresses the importance of the idea that things can change, entreating politicians to lay out clear agendas for reform rooted in real needs.

And host Jini Palmer shares her discussions with Ray Williams (25:08) of Black Farmers’ Collective, as well as other volunteers at our Town Green Day of Service. Jini talks with Ray about the Collective’s plans for creating a model for sustainable urban farming. Their current project is in its beginning stages, and Ray outlines plans for the farm to expand and include a gathering space, an ADA accessible path from the street, and a trench for collecting rainwater. He discusses his hopes for the involvement of local chefs, the gathering of compost and building supplies, and the increased support of local businesses and the community as a whole.


Still Curious?

-Sandro Galea expounds on his collective approach to health in an interview with WBUR.

-Town Hall’s event with Nancy Fraser and Bhaskar Sunkara is part of Red May, Seattle’s month-long festival of radical art and thought. We’re hosting two more of the festival’s events, one on May 17 and one on May 23.

-Want to get to know the work of the Black Farmers’ Collective? Check out their website!

Listening Guide: In The Moment Episode 31

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In episode #31 of In The Moment, Chief Correspondent Steve Scher talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith (3:45) about the incredible groundswell of community movements that took place around the time of the 2018 election. Smith comments on the remarkable strides made in just one year, with states adopting gerrymandering reform to combat election rigging, restoring voting rights for felons, and securing public funding for campaigns. Smith shares the hope he felt from these election results and real moments of democratic change—and the broader movements they inspired.

Then, correspondent Reagan Jackson talks with renowned Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (17:36) about his proudest memory. Thiong’o responds with a story of his mother, who put him through school and instilled in him the value of always doing his best, even though she couldn’t read or write. Thiong’o also discusses the time he spent in exile and the reason he was incarcerated by the Kenyan regime for over a year after the release of his landmark play Ngaahika Ndeenda. Thiong’o and Jackson talk about the current political climate, Thiong’o’s hopes for the future of his own legacy, and the importance of authors writing in their native tongue to preserve the philosophy and culture each language contributes to the world.

And host Jini Palmer shares recordings from the Town Hall community, who provided questions for therapy columnist Lori Gottlieb (25:22) in preparation for her arrival on Town Hall’s stage on April 10, 2019. Jini presents Gottlieb’s insightful responses to each of these intriguing and personal questions.


Still Curious?

-Hedrick Smith appears in numerous video discussions of democracy, including this video exploration of the material in his book Who Stole The American Dream?

In this video interview, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o shares his thoughts on memories and how they make us who we are.

Lori Gottlieb writes the column Dear Therapist for The Atlantic, where she addresses many of the same kinds of questions that the Town Hall community asked.

-Town Hall’s Jonathan Shipley interviewed Lori Gottlieb for our blog. Check out their conversation on the Town Crier!

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 30

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In episode #30 of In The Moment, correspondent and Grist editor Matt Craft sat down with journalist Dahr Jamail (2:17) to discuss his experience exploring different parts of the world to witness climate change firsthand. Jamail explains that he believes that one of the major causes of climate disruption comes from people growing disconnected with nature—they just adjust a thermostat and don’t see the impact on the environment around them. Craft and Jamail discuss dealing with the heaviness of the topic, and how Jamail sees climate change scientists looking at their research as soldiers on a battlefield. He nods to the bleakness of our environmental future, and entreats us to act and preserve the land before it’s too late.

Chief Correspondent Steve Scher interviews Siri Hustvedt (12:28) about whether we can trust our own memories to be accurate or if we use memories to construct fictions for ourselves. Hustvedt recalls reading Emily Dickinson at a young age, musing on the idea that her younger self could never have understood what those poems were about. Still, they inspired her to write back then, but what her older self remembers and what the younger self wrote about are different. Hustvedt reconciles the differences between past and present, delving into the ways her writing has evolved and the ways we’re all constantly changing.

And host Jini Palmer highlights a  theatrical radio performance from the Mahogany Project for the 13th annual Urban Poverty Forum (24:16). The Mahogany Project shines a light on the facts and repercussions of the U.S. worldwide military presence, our military aid in eradicating terrorist groups, and delves into the consequences of our massive national military spending. They share details on the disproportionately low pay offered to U.S. troops despite the large federal military budget, and the blowback of this spending on taxpayers in the form of reduced resources for housing, healthcare, food, and education.

Still Curious?

-Dahr Jamail has written many articles for online publications such as Truthout.org, including this video discussion of climate change.

-Siri Hustvedt discusses the striking similarities between physicists and poets in this video interview.

-Town Hall presented the 12th annual Urban Poverty Forum last year. You can listen to a recording of the full event in our podcast archive.

-Want more details about U.S. military spending? The Department of Defense website offers an overview of the 2019 military budget, as well as archived overviews from previous years.

Listening Guide: In The Moment Ep. 29

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In episode #29 of In The Moment, correspondent Katy Sewall talks with John Lanchester (3:58) about his book The Wall. They delve into Lanchester’s inspiration for the book—a recurring dream. Lanchester recounts the prescient nature of his dream, which took place before discussions of Brexit and Trump’s border wall. The dream took place in the future of our world impacted by global climate change and a rising sea level, and followed a lone figure standing on a dark, cold wall. Scher and Lanchester explore the notion that walls such, though typically made for security and safety, often create exclusion and othering for those on the opposite side. Lanchester says that those who participate in othering must make constantly make excuses and seek justifications, and must train themselves to see the others as people wholly unlike themselves. In order to change how people see the world, says Lanchester, we need imaginative works of fiction.

Chief Correspondent Steve Scher interviews renowned biologist Frans de Waal (12:20) about our assumptions about animals. They discuss the common perception that animals only have instincts or minimal associative learning. De Waal recalls how in the 1990s his contemporaries laughed off his proposed theories of animal empathy and sympathy—yet he continued his research undaunted, inspired by the close relationships and knowledge he had developed about the primates he worked with. He discusses the process of measuring the physiological effects of emotions in animals, as opposed to feelings which are individual experiences. De Waal also reports that he’s just as happy to work with animals while relying solely on observations.

And host Jini Palmer sits down with Town Hall’s Marketing Manager Jonathan Shipley (21:44) to discuss the Town Crier blog and his interview with translator Michael Straus. Shipley discusses how he learned that the process of translation is not verbatim, but a more complex consideration of finding the “spirit” of the text. Jini and Jonathan delve into the importance of the translator as a part of the finished work, and of the ways which audiences interpret or receive that work.

Still Curious?

-Frans da Waal gave an enlightening TED talk on the moral behavior of animals.

-NPR offers a fascinating recorded interview with John Lanchester about one of his previous books How To Speak Money.

-You can read Jonathan’s interview with Michael Straus on the Town Crier.

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