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Wayward Music Series: The Ballad of Ishtar

  • Chapel Performance Space 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, 4th floor Seattle, WA, 98103 (map)
Okay, this you must not miss. It’s an original opera, part-composed and part-improvised, by a raucous crew of the most badass and experimental performers and composers around.
— Jen Graves, The Stranger

The Ballad of Ishtar is an electro-acoustic, semi-improvised opera that responds to our world-wide rape culture crisis.

Its contemporary language is shaped by its particular musician creators, whose backgrounds all include improvisation and composition. Featuring singer/clarinetist Beth Fleenor in the title role and okanomodé (aka SoulChilde BlueSun) as the androgynous character Asu Shu-Namir, the ensemble represents the intersection of many facets of current art music and responds to the 400-year-old genre of opera with contemporary methodologies (conduction led by Wayne Horvitz), sounds (live-electronic soundscape and prepared guitar by William Hayes) and virtuoso improvisational skill. Other characters are played by vocalist extraordinaire Jimmie Herrod (the Queen of the Underworld), and a dance representation of Ishtar by violinist/dancer/improviser/composer Paris Hurley. The instrumental ensemble comprises saxophonist Ivan Arteaga, violist/composer Heather Bentley, trumpeter Ahamefule J. Oluo, King Crimson guitarist Trey Gunn, leading virtuoso on the touch guitar; Grammy award-winning bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, and guitarist/actor Michaud Savage.

"The Ballad of Ishtar"
Ishtar: Beth Fleenor / vocals, clarinet
           Paris Hurley / movement
Asu Shu Namir: okanomodé / vocals
Queen of the Underworld: Jimmie Herrod / vocals
The Gatekeeper: Michaud Savage / vocals, percussion

Wayne Horvitz / conduction
Ivan Arteaga / saxophone
Ahamefule J. Oluo / trumpet, percussion
Trey Gunn / touch guitar
William Hayes / electronics, prepared guitar
Heather Bentley / viola
Evan Flory-Barnes / bass

More Info
The Stranger
Vanguard Seattle