Saxophonist and composer Neil Welch is recognized as a major voice of the Seattle jazz and experimental music fields. His work spans avant-garde jazz, to modern composition, solo saxophone, North Indian classical music, and electronic sound processing. Downbeat Magazine called Neil "an impassioned tenor player" and All About Jazz calls his work "stunning and extraordinary." Neil is dedicated to expanding the saxophone's role in modern improvisation and composition.
Born in Edmonds, WA Neil was called to the saxophone at an early age. While in high school, he participated in the famed Essentially Ellington Competition in New York and was awarded the Outstanding Tenor Saxophone Soloist Award by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Neil attended the University of Washington, graduating with a B.M. in Jazz Studies in 2007. His teachers have included saxophone master Jay Thomas, University of Washington professor Michael Brockman, in addition to nearly 5 years of study with master sitar player Pandit Debi Prasad Chatterjee.
Early in his career, Neil was awarded Emerging Artist of the Year (2009) and Outside Jazz Group of the Year (2011) by the Earshot Jazz Society. Most recently, he was awarded a Jack Straw Artist in Residency (2017) through the Jack Straw Foundation, and nominated for Earshot Jazz Golden Ear awards (2018) in the categories of Outside Jazz Group of the Year, Concert of the Year, and Album of the Year. Neil’s longstanding drum and saxophone + electronics duo Bad Luck—co-run for over a decade with drummer Chris Icasiano—has taken him to nearly every major city in America. Additionally, Neil is a founder of the famed weekly performing arts series the Racer Sessions. Founded in 2010, the Racer Sessions has documented thousands of live improvisations and fostered artistic collaborations between hundreds of musicians from Seattle and around the country.
Neil teaches saxophone privately throughout the Seattle area in addition to Whidbey Island. He is an artist faculty and Program Coordinator for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra Jazz Scholars and Musical Pathways Project education programs, which mentors students and teachers alike throughout the school year in underserved music programs in SE and SW Seattle. Through these programs, Neil has committed to teaching student populations in low-income and rural areas for over 10 years. At the college level, Neil was an artist faculty instructor at Cornish College of the Arts from 2017-2018. As co-director of the Seattle Saxophone Institute, Neil helps provide an innovative, sound-immersive educational curriculum for Middle and High School saxophone students in the Seattle area.
Abbey Blackwell is a multi-faceted bassist in Seattle, WA. She has been a member of many musical scenes in Seattle’s music community, including the improvised, rock, classical, and jazz spheres. In addition to playing in a variety of groups, she also has a band of her own, Rae, which features her compositions and group improvisation.
Abbey has recorded with a variety of artists including La Luz, Great Spiders, Red Ribbon, Cassandra Jenkins, Macklemore and Myrkur. In addition to recording, she plays in a variety of groups around town including with Wayne Horvitz, The Seattle Modern Orchestra, Tomo Nakayama, and most recently her band Rae. In addition to playing around town, she teaches group and private lessons to students of all ages.
Versatile soprano Emily Thorner is rapidly making her mark in contemporary music around the world, and now resides in Stuttgart, Germany. Known for her command of stratospheric high notes, Ms. Thorner is highly sought-after for world premieres due to her unusual range and fearless virtuosity. Ms. Thorner recently was one of only two vocalists during the Bang on a Can New Music Festival in 2018. In 2018-2020, she will make appearances in Boston, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Seattle, and Austria. While on tour, Ms. Thorner has been heard on Wartburg Radio with choir Canto Armonico, and as a soloist for the Jubiläumsfeier des Goethe-Instituts Dresden.
A featured soloist with Sound Icon, she recorded the US premiere of Wolfgang Rihm's Frage, known for its impossibly high tessitura of over twenty-two high F's and beyond. Recent collaborations include: recording choir Vox Futura, the Grammy award-winning Hans Zimmer International Tour, New Hampshire Music Festival, Hub New Music, Boston Musica Viva, and Sound Energy at the New Music Gathering.
Upcoming projects that will be written for her voice include Daniel Felsenfeld’s world premiere of Exposed with Transient Canvas, a world premiere of Funeral Sentences for Damaged Cells with Kin of the Moon, and collaborations with composers Max Hundelshausen, Noam Faingold, and Howard Chen. Her next performance takes place in Graz, Austria with Impuls Academy, and Boston/New York for a double performance of Rumpelstiltskin with Guerilla Opera. Rumpelstiltskin will also be recorded on Navona Records (the classical label of PARMA records) in Spring 2019.
Ewa Trębacz (pronounced Eva Trembatch) is a Polish-American composer living in Seattle. Her works range from purely instrumental compositions, to compositions with computer realized sound with live performance, to sound tracks for animated films, to experimental stereoscopic video. Her current artistic explorations are oriented towards immersive media. She often uses space as a catalyst for improvisation, working through Ambisonic recording sessions in acoustically inspiring spaces. Ewa comes from Kraków, Poland, earning her first music degree from the M.Karłowicz School of Music, specializing in violin performance. She graduated with a Master's in Composition in 1999 from the Academy of Music in Kraków, where she studied under renowned composer, musicologist and teacher Bogusław Schaeffer.
In 2004 she became one of the first doctoral students at the University of Washington Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS), where she studied computer music with Richard Karpen and Juan Pampin. She graduated with a Ph.D. in 2010 with her audiovisual immersive work Errai. Currently Ewa works at DXARTS as a Research Scientist and teaches courses related to digital sound and immersive media. For an extensive look at Ewa’s international creative output, please visit ewatrebacz.com.
Karin Stevens began her training most notably with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater and The Seattle Children’s Theater. Her artistic lens has been influenced by a diverse movement background and travel, including a theatrical performance experience as a teen in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and a year studying dance in Spain as a young adult. While completing a B.A. in dance from the University of Washington, she was awarded a Mary Gates Endowment for Student Leadership Grant for her work with at-risk youth through dance. In 1999, Stevens began presenting her work and since has completed more than 70 dances. As Director of Dance at Dr Philips H. S., Orlando, FL, 2000 – 2003, she created many notable dances and was awarded multiple invitations to present in various national and local dance festivals, including a request to teach and choreograph for The Orlando Ballet School. In 2003, Stevens was awarded a full scholarship and teaching assistantship to the Mills College MFA Dance program. While dancing with the Mills Repertory Dance Company her performance in Molissa Fenley’s, Water Courses, was recognized in the Voice of Dance. Following graduate school, Stevens formed Oakland Dance Encounter, collaborating with local composers and performing in many Bay Area venues.
Stevens returned to Seattle in 2007 to form Karin Stevens Dance. 2009 – 2011, her company was established as the resident dance company of the Fremont Abbey Arts Center. As Dance Curator for the Fremont Abbey Stevens produced a number of curated dance events and assisted in the mission and launch of dance educational classes, workshops and community outreach. Stevens has danced for VOCI Dance, Double Vision, Omega West, Push Up Something Hidden Dance, Westwick Dolder Dance Theater, Molissa Fenley and Dancers, Penny Hutchinson, and various Seattle, Los Angeles and Bay Area independent choreographers. In February 2009 she joined master choreographer Molissa Fenley, as an associate artist, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The versatility of Stevens choreographic ability has been seen on the stage with Taproot Theatre, Book-it Repertory Theatre and through a commission by Theatre Puget Sound. Her company, Karin Stevens Dance, collaborates with many local and regional artists, composers, and music ensembles. Karin is also the mother of three daughters!
Currently based in the Los Angeles area, Strange Interlude was founded by harpist Lily Press and cellist Simon Linn-Gerstein who have been performing as a harp and cello duo since 2007. As both a duo and larger ensemble Press and Linn-Gerstein design intimate salon-style concerts with programs that are carefully curated to include seldom-performed works, pieces by contemporary composers and transcriptions and arrangements for their unique instrumentation.
Strange Interlude’s performances combine their love of chamber music with their passion for crafting non-traditional concert experiences that incorporate story-telling to bring the audience further inside the works they play and the technical, artistic and personal process of making a piece of music come alive.
Strange Interlude has performed as part of the Advent Library Chamber Series, the Nave Music Series, the Salem Arts Festival, the Candlelight Concert Series and at ArtShare LA and Spectrum NYC and has also created music for performances by Monkeyhouse, a Boston-based dance company, and for the Dance Department at Endicott College. They have collaborated with numerous composers to premiere new works for harp and cello, including Daniel Lemer's "Lone Tree Music," Mike Frengel's "On Thin Ice," and Kaley Lane Eaton's "subtle energy."
Based in the Seattle area, Rachel Yoder performs in a variety of solo, chamber and large ensemble roles, including appearances with the Seattle Modern Orchestra, Odd Partials clarinet/electronics duo, the Universal Language Project, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra and Yakima Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves as editor of The Clarinet, journal of the International Clarinet Association, and adjunct professor of music at the DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA). Recent projects include the premiere of William O. Smith’s Microtonal Ritual (2018) and a video production of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint at the Classical KING-FM studios. Rachel earned a DMA in clarinet performance from the University of North Texas, and also holds degrees from Michigan State University and Ball State University.
Daniel J. Husser is a videographer and cinematographer based in the Seattle area. He specializes in filming local concerts for small ensembles and solo recitals, and acts as Kin of the Moon’s official videographer. For the “A New Phase” concert, Daniel created a video score titled “Synthetic Evolution,” combining his interest in composition with his skills in cinematography and graphic storytelling. Daniel's video style is cinematic and dynamically plays with lighting within venues. With Franklin-Husser Entertainment LLC, he has worked on two short films for the horror anthology Nightmare Emporium and is currently working on his second feature film. More at husservideo.com.
Jessi Harvey is a Seattle-based composer who writes music that embraces cognitive dissonance, combining the traditions and genres of many eras that is distorted, broken, and re-forged into a new amalgam. She has her Master's in Music Theory & Composition from the University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of the Arts in Music from Bryn Mawr College. She regularly works with other performers and artists of other disciplines in animation, theatre, and other visual arts. Jessi is currently collaborating with musical playwright and actress, Emily Cawley, on developing a new musical to be workshopped in late 2017. and working on a performance involving music, performance, animation, art, and storytelling based on the theme, and of the same name, THINGS THAT BREAK, presented in April 2018.
Composer/clarinetist/vocalist Beth Fleenor harbors a strong love for variety & all sonic manipulation, moving freely through genres such as jazz, rock, classical, contemporary chamber, Slavic & American folk, metal, musique concrete, ambient & pop. Her work has been heard internationally from 100,000 seat rock festivals, maximum-security prisons, and performance art in rural bars, to art galleries, bunkers, sidewalks, sacred spaces, and some of the most prestigious concert halls, museums, clubs and theaters in the country. Believing that “art is the discipline of being,” Fleenor uses sound to open the channels of communication between and within individuals and environments. Her work as been heard in live music, recordings, theater, performance art, installation, modern dance, and film. She believes that an emphasis on creativity in a culture gives rise to creative solutions to social problems.
Fleenor is honored to have worked with artists such as Wayne Horvitz, Butch Morris, Bobby Previte, King Crimson’s Trey Gunn, David Byrne, Terry Riley, Robin Holcomb, Jherek Bischoff, Joshual Kohl, Matana Roberts, Briggan Krauss, Skerik, Amy Denio, Samantha Boshnack, Led To Sea, Mirah, Soko, William O. Smith, Eyvind Kang, Malcom Goldstein, Jessika Kenney, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Jim Knapp, Denney Goodhew, Paris Hurley, Jim Black, Timothy Young, Paul Moore, John Tchicai, Gretta Harley, Bright Archer (Johanna Kunin), Mike Dillon, Parenthetical Girls, Robin Lynn Smith, Gino Yevdjevich/KULTUR SHOCK, Shane Perlowin, Implied Violence, Paul Budraitis, Jessica Lurie, Jeff Huston, Bill Patton, Monktail Creative Music Concern, Tom Swafford, John Burrow, Matthew Richmond, Stephen Parris, Michael Owcharuk, Stephen Fandrich, and Zachary Watkins, among many others.
Currently she can be found performing with Crystal Beth & the Boom Boom Band, Workshop Ensemble (WE), Sam Boshnack Quintet, Wayne Horvitz: Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, and Wayne Horvitz: Electric Circus.
Fleenor holds a Bachelor of Music from Cornish College of the Arts. Her work has been supported by Jack Straw Productions, 4Culture, Allied Arts, Artist Trust, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. She has been based in Seattle since 1998.
Renée C. Baker
Renée Baker is founding music director and conductor of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Modern Orchestra Project (CMOP), a polystylistic orchestral organization that grew from the plums of classical music as well as jazz. Ms. Baker is a member of the world renown collective (AACM) Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Critical acclaim for her graphic scores novels has come from performances in Berlin, Poland, London, Scotland and as far reaching as Vietnam. As a featured ensemble, CMOP has been chosen to work with NewMusicUSA and the EarShot program of the American Composers Orchestra.
An expert at ensemble development and training, Renée developed the Mantra Blue Free Orchestra (Chicago), PEK' Contemporary Project (Berlin), the progenitor of Bleueblue Walkers/Bass Kollektief, Twilight Struggles (Berlin) as well as being involved in starting over 20 cutting edge new music ensembles.
Ms. Baker has composed over two thousand works for ensembles ranging from pieces for solo instruments, ballet, opera to large orchestral works that bridge the classical, jazz and creative music genres. As a disruptive force in composition, Ms. Baker’s eclectic visual score compositions led her to create a gestured conducting language she calls CCL/FLOW (Cipher Conduit Linguistics), which she employs when working with numerous cutting edge groups in Cologne, Berlin, Netherlands, London, Chicago, Portland (OR), and other ensembles around the world.
Currently she is working as a film score composer, having composed and released a new score for Oscar Michaeux's “race film” masterpiece BODY AND SOUL (1925) with the music performed by her Chicago Modern Orchestra Project ensemble, to much international acclaim. Included in her first world cinema series was Body and Soul, A Page of Madness and The Golem, all with original scores written by Ms Baker. Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and Ms. Baker were honored guests at the 2016 Ebertfest Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre. Ms. Baker is founder of the BrynIndie Film Society Chicago and has film programs running concurrently at Dominican University, Resistor Chicago, numerous libraries, Japanese Culture Center Chicago, Phantom Gallery Chicago, Indiana University Black Cinema Film Archives,,DankHaus Gallery Chicago, with screenings of over 37 different films scheduled for the 2017 season. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has invited Ms. Baker to screen BNS and lecture at Symphony Center Chicago in February 2017, with individual non series events topping approximately 75 new screenings in the upcoming season.
To her credit Ms Baker has composed cutting edge scores for more than 100 films.
Called the latest AACM visionary by Downbeat Magazine, Ms. Baker is one of the brightest and most fertile minds in active in composition today.