Salmon in the Crowd

Original Post Date: June 28, 2018


In June 2018, Palaver made its first foray to the West Coast, lured by tales of tacos, traffic, and cactuses galore. We spent a wonderful ten days in and around Los Angeles, playing concerts, teaching workshops, and crisping in the California sun. We also wore a lot of pink shirts, leading to the popular hashtag #salmontour2018.

As always, our tour included a strong focus on education; we presented several workshops to students from the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra, the Harmony Project in L.A., and the San Diego Youth Symphony. I was impressed with the students’ willingness to jump into new experiences, from master classes to improvisation.

We began our concerts with two baroque pieces, Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” and Battalia a 10 by Biber, who evokes the drinking songs and cannon fire of war with shocking extended techniques and a biting irony that rings as true in the Trump era as it did in 1673.  

At the heart of our program, titled A Voice in the Crowd, was a piece by our dear friend and phenomenal composer, Ian Gottlieb. Ian is an LA local who did an enormous amount of work to arrange venues, community partnerships, food, housing, and rides for fourteen needy musicians, and we could not be more grateful. His piece, titled Even, was written several years ago and inspired by Ian’s own experience playing in Palaver in its infancy as a ensemble. In the tradition of the concerto grosso, Even pits solo voices against ostinatos and rich unison passages, playing with our expectations of foreground and background and building to a heartrending climax. It gets right to the heart of the joys and frustrations of playing in a conductor-less group and, by extension, living and working in community.

The Salmon Tour gave us many opportunities to reconcile our disparate voices and desires, from the 12-passenger van to the concert hall. I believe this intensive time together will inform our work for years to come. In the meantime, stay tuned for our album release and upcoming residency at Bay Chamber Music Festival in Rockport!  

-Lysander Jaffe


Palaver Strings