Emerald City Music Grooves With Andy Akiho

by Adam McKinney for OLY ARTS

Emerald City Music has recently started its second season. Just about everything about ECM’s shows strays from the highfalutin norm of the classical set. They feature more relaxed environments and more contemporary compositions, thereby aiding in bringing a new audience to classical music. One of their upcoming shows is primed to branch the company even further out.

Andy Akiho will curate and perform a night of music for ECM in Olympia. His foundation in percussion sets him apart from the most familiar composers. His pieces are complex, visceral creations that seem to pulse with lifeblood. Influences of jazz, ambient music and restless experimentation take the fore. Sometimes, as on “NO one To kNOW one” — which will be performed on October 28 — his music seems most inspired by the feverish, uncompromising art rock of the ’70s and ’90s.

ECM artistic director Kristin Lee, an accomplished musician in her own right, met Akiho three years ago. “I was doing a project where I commissioned pieces for the violin, which is my instrument, along with an instrument which is not typically played with the violin,” says Lee. “I came across Andy’s steel pan playing, and saw that he hadn’t written anything for pan and violin, which would be perfect. … When I met him, I think he was still in the composition program at Princeton, and it turned out he was the coolest person ever.” Eventually, Akiho and Lee would come up with a piece called “Deciduous,” which will also be performed when Akiho comes to town. Lee recalls Akiho’s insistence that they perform the piece from memory, an immense challenge that gave Lee a deep respect for Akiho’s dedication to music.

“Andy’s music is so unique, but very familiar at the same time,” says Lee. “We hear all the time about classical musicians being more uptight or stuffy, I guess, but Andy is the complete opposite. … His music is so complex, but you can totally groove to it. … He’s the epitome of what musicians should be in this day and age.”

What: Andy Akiho with Emerald City Music

Where: Minnaert Center for the Arts,
South Puget Sound Community College,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28

How much: $13-$43

Learn more: 360-753-8586 | Emerald City Music

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