E8 The Mix | | SUNDAY, MAY 12, 2019 2 R star, and so that onewas kind of rock-sound- ing, so their different personalitieswere re- flected in themusic.” Themusic for chill rock star Jayden is all strings, while spunky Vivian gets a percussive beat tapped on the body of the harp. The completed songswere recorded on April 22, a significant day for Percival. “I am sixmonths sober today,” she said backstage after the recording session. Since arriving atMary’s Place, Percival has gotten treatment for addiction and found a job at Safeway. She nowgets to see her sons, ages 8 and10, who livewithher ex-husband, on theweekends. Shortly after the February Lullaby Project workshop, shemoved out of Mary’s Place and into a house share. Percival is quick to credit the numerous organizations that helpedher—REACH, Mary’s Place andUnionGospelMission, which gave her bus ticketswhen shewas having a hard time getting to her appointments. “I don’t think people get just howmuch they [these programs] do help,” Percival said. “Granted, it couldn’t haveworked if I wasn’t willing, but these programs need to be there for people that arewilling. Because I couldn’t have done it onmy own. You knowwhat Imean? ... And now I live in a house, I’memployed,my babies are healthy andhappy.” Having played classical instruments for 10 years herself, Percival said she knewhowher songwas going to soundwhenperformed, so itwasn’t a surprise. But still: “Itwas awesome.” As she heardher lullaby being playedbymusi- cians on that day, her attentionwas on the twins. “I could tell that they recognized their names!” she said. Now, she’s looking forward toMother’s Day, when the Symphonywill host the public per- formance—an opportunity for themothers and children to share the lullabies they’ve createdwith their families and friends. “TheMother’s Day concert is just amazing. It’s somoving. I remember talking to the moms afterwards last time and theywere really proud of what they haddone and really felt a sense of accomplishment. I thinkwe all felt that,” saidDombourian-Eby. Percival plans to sit up front at that concert withher twins, hermother and the other Lullaby Project families. Like the othermoms, shemight say a fewwords before her song is performed, or shemight simply enjoy the music as her photo is shown on a big screen above the stage. The choicewill be hers on Mother’s Day. The Lullaby Project “shows the kids that they are special, that theymatter,” saidPer- cival. “I’m just looking forward to the concert. That will be cool to hearwith all the other moms. And I’mreally excited to havemymom listen to it.” Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer; This report is supported, in part, by the Rubin Institute forMusic Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Ann and GordonGetty Foundation. M I K E S I E G E L / T H E S E A T T L E T I ME S Shawna Percival listens to the lullaby she wrote for her twins Vivian, left, and Jayden being performed by members of the Seattle Symphony. selves through song and throughwriting and there aremultiple studies onhowsongwriting can be therapeutic and be helpful for people who are experiencing hardships.” Mary’s Place—withwhomthe Symphony had partnered since 2011 on a programto provide tickets for peoplewho otherwise couldnot access classicalmusic performanc- es—was “immediately excited to be part of this project,”Heald said. The LullabyProject involves several steps: a creativeworkshop inwhich participants fromMary’s Place meetwithSymphonymusi- cians (whohadbeenprovided trainingon collaborative compositionby theSPUmu- sic-therapy graduate stu- dents); professional arrange- ment and recordingof the lullabies; a sharing session where theparticipants hear the final lullabies; andapublic performance of themusic. This year, the first step—a daylong creativeworkshop— took place Feb. 2 atMary’s Place inBurien. Stephanie VanderVelden, health-services programmanager forMary’s Place, said families at the Burien centerwere invited to participate, andultimately, four mothers and three childrendid. This is the first year that children staying at the shelter joined themusicians towrite their own songs, said VanderVelden. “It just kind of happened or- ganically that day. The kids got really interest- edhearing themusic and seeing themusi- cians.” Each participant joined a teamwith one musician and one graduate student. Through discussions and guided exercises, the resi- dentswrote the lyrics and selected the instru- ments for their lullabies. Based on their input, themusicians developedmelodies. By the end of the day, they hadwritten a song together. One childwrote a song about playingwith a staffmember atMary’s Place. Two siblings eachwrote a song for theirmother. One of the moms, whose ownmother had recently passed away, alsowrote about hermother. The other three songswere dedicated to chil- dren from2months to 16 years old. VanderVelden said theopportunity to cele- brate their families “really shows in the songs that themoms and thekids havewritten. Be- yond the challenges theyare experiencing, there is somuch loveandconnectionandpride that these families still carry.” < Lullaby FROM E1 The lyrics, notes and cellphone recordings fromtheworkshopwere then given to arrang- ers at the Symphony, who prepared sheet music for the selected instruments. The Sym- phony’s sound engineer recorded the final songs at BenaroyaHall withSymphonymusi- cians. Sometimes, like Percival, theworkshop participantswere able to attend the recording session, but usually they hear the final lulla- bies for the first time at a sharing session where they receive aCD, saidHeald. “We’ll listen to the final cuts for the first time so ev- eryone canhear the final product together and reflect on…the journey that everybodywent through in creating these lullabies together.” Sharing lullabies Percival, themother of the 2-month-old twins, said she first came toMary’s Place six months ago. REACH, a branch of Ever- greenTreatment Services that provides recovery and social services to adults living out- side, “was the initial ones that foundme on the streets,” she said. “I was living under a bridge, sixmonths pregnant, and I didn’t care because I was getting high all the time. And then they askedme if I wanted help, and for the first time in a very long time I said, ‘Yes, I will take help.’ The first thing they didwas takeme toMary’s Place, and I’ve been sober ever since.” She learned about the Lullaby Project while she andher twins, Jayden andVivian, were living atMary’s Place’s new family shelter in Burien. Percival didn’t hesitate to take part, having playedharp and violinwhen shewas growing up. Thosewere the instruments shewanted to have inher song. But, ultimately, she said, her babieswere her only inspiration for her lullaby, which devotes a verse to each of the twins.Withher musician team, “we talked about the different things about the girls,” she said. Those conversationswere the basis for the lyrics. Seattle Symphony piccolo player Zart Dombourian-Eby, whowas onPercival’s song- writing team, said they “took herwords and we’d repeat thewords and kind of get them into a singsongy rhythm, and then you kind of add amelody to that and it kind of evolves.” Themelodieswere also inspired by Per- cival’s descriptions of her daughters. “Shewas already seeing, at a very early age, the twinswere very different in personality,” saidDombourian-Eby. “One of them’s her rock PERFORMANCE Lullaby Project Celebration Concert 11 a.m. Sunday, May 12; Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center at Benaroya Hall, 200 University Street, Seattle; free but no tickets available as of press time; call box office (206-215-4700) or check website ( ) for updates on ticket availability no kids. Becausewewere in a bar. Gemma: That vaudeville vibe was fun, too, in theway that even though theywere only singing the arias on a bare stage, they still played the scenes rather than just singing like theywere in a recital. When baritone Charles Robert Ste- phens andmezzo-soprano Elizabeth Galafa sang “Là ci darem lamano” from“DonGiovanni,” you really got just howcreepy and predatory the character of DonGiovanni is. The contrast betweenGalafa’s innocent Zerlina and her sultry Carmen in the “Habanera” was a great illustration of howmuch acting is involved, even in themiddle of the singing. The overall experience Gemma: People can get really precious about opera, so it’s easy to ignore how trashy it is. But opera is quite at home in a placewhere they sweep the peanut shells off the table onto the floor. And it’s hard to beat a $5 cover charge. Tantri: Somuch opera is all about prostitutes falling for slumming princes and angry lovers and drunk- en brawls—big emotions in rough places. Some of those songs felt more appropriate at the BlueMoon than they do in the rarefied air of an opera hall. The single accompany- ing keyboardist on a synthesizer and the occasional funny prop (yes, therewere Viking horns), contrast- edwith the high-quality singing, made thewhole thing click. _____ Opera on Tap: Performances generallymonthly at venues around town. Next performance is 7:30 p.m. May 22; Hale’s Ales, 4301 LearyWay N.W., Seattle; $5-$15 suggested donation; OperaOnTapSeattle BlueMoon: The BlueMoon tav- ern books live bands (not opera) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; hosts openmic onWednesdays and Sundays; the Andy Coe Band plays most Mondays; andwhen there is noOpera on Tap, free pool on Tues- days. Open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. week- nights, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. weekends; cover charge varies; 712N.E. 45th St., Seattle; 206-675-9116, Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based freelance writer; Tantri Wija is a Seattle-based freelance writer; . This report is supported, in part, by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. ByGEMMA ALEXANDER AND TANTRI WIJA Special to The Seattle Times Welcome back to Art Outings— an occasional series inwhichwriters for The Seattle Times try out local cultural happenings pairedwith drinks and snacks/food. In this installment, Seattle Times Pacific NWMagazine columnist Tantri Wija and arts writer Gemma Alex- ander celebrate the 85th anniversa- ry of storied Seattle dive BlueMoon tavernwith an evening (on April 23) of Opera on Tap. And no, Opera on Tap is not a drink— it really is classical opera performed in a bar. The next Opera on Tap event is at Hale’s Ales onMay 22. The setting Tantri: The BlueMoon is a genu- ine, old-school, nonhipster dive, with 85 years of grooves dug into thewooden tables like the craggy, tattooed skin of an old sailor, and walls and shelves covered in band posters, patrons’ stickers and dusty tchotchkes. There’s a stage at the back and a rowof benches so heavy and gnarled they look like “Pirates of the Caribbean” props, and a pool table (covered for this performance) that sits unapologetically in the middle of the prime seating area. It’s great. Gemma: It really is. Real dive bars are an endangered species but the BlueMoon is legit old Seattle, home to artists and leftists since 1934. It’s been threatened by prog- ress a couple of times. But they’ve made zero concessions to the city’s gentrification. I never went to the BlueMoon before Opera on Tap, and honestly, I thinkmymisspent youthwasmisspent in thewrong dive bars. The drinks Gemma: Ironic cans of PBR are available if youmust, but $7 pints support a rotating selection of local breweries. They’ve got standbys like Georgetown Brewing Company’s Manny’s Pale Ale and Pike Brewing Company’s XXXXX Stout —and a few I’d never heard of before. I got one of those, the Landwink IPA from Triplehorn Brewing Company in Woodinville. A lot of PNWIPAs are hop-dominated, but this onewas prettywell balanced. I would happi- ly drink it again. Therewas a full bar, too—or at least a basic bar. We came over to our table and swiped themonto the floor for us)which made us feel like the literal peanut gallery. That, pairedwith opera, was glorious, like being allowed to color on thewalls during a dinner party. The opera Gemma: I wishwe could claim it as a local idea but the Opera on Tap concept was imported fromNew York. There’s a Seattle branch and themembers fulfill their dual mis- sion of introducing opera to new audiences and creating perfor- mance opportunities for younger, less well-known singers by perform- ing classic arias at a different bar everymonth. It’s a little like open- mic night for opera singers. Tantri : Yeah, given the format, I was a bit surprised at howgood they all were, particularlyMarcus Shel- ton, who performed a couple of what he described as “pasta sauce ad” Italian chestnuts—“La donna èmobile” and “Questa o quella” from“Rigoletto”—servedwith a pile of eyebrowacting and buffo-style saw the bartendermixing drinks. Tantri: We also heard himmixing drinks, and crushing beer cans, and all the other bar stuff, very loudly, during all the singing. Which actual- ly added to thewhole experience— I kind of felt like I was in an opera tavern scene instead of just watch- ing one. I had anOld Seattle Lager fromMaritime Pacific Brewing—an upmarket version of a humble Bud with a fewmore hops and a cleaner finish. The snacks Gemma: Peanuts! Really, they just had peanuts. I think they had pretzels, too, but on Tuesdays the peanuts are free and I feel like that’s important. If you’re really hungry, theywelcome you to order out for delivery. The delivery address is posted above the bar. So really, you can have anything youwant to eat at BlueMoon. Tantri : They also let you throw the peanut shells on the floor (we didn’t know that until the bartender, taking pity on the newbies, actually MUSIC emotional voice-wringing that, pairedwith his butter-smooth tenor voice, shavedhead andhandlebar mustache, mademe feel like I was watching a bar scene in “TheGodfa- ther, Part II.” Gemma: Since this iteration of Opera on Tapwas a birthday party of sorts for the BlueMoon, I was bettingwewould hear “Happy Birthday” andwe did. Opera on Tap set lists have a theme everymonth and this onewas arias set at parties or in crowds. Tantri kept waiting for “Libiamo” from“La Traviata”— the ultimate party song. They finally delivered it at the end. Like a rock band, they saved the biggest hit for the finale. Tantri: The showalso had a vaudevillian/cabaret vibe, with jokes and explanations between the singing, whichwas great, although the explanation bits could have been tighter and a littlemore grown-up— I like getting a quick rundown of the context of the song, but it sounded like theywere ex- plaining it to kids. And therewere Opera in a dive bar proves to be a perfect pairing D E A N R U T Z / T H E S E A T T L E T I ME S Melissa Plagemann sings at the Blue Moon during an Opera on Tap performance in April. ART OUT I NGS |