Thursday, January 13, 2011

Night School is back in session.

...five months of upcoming night school events at the ever-glamorous hotel sorrento: perched on first hill in the emerald city known as seattle. we couldn't be more excited about the mash-up of strange and lovely offerings ahead, wallace shawn, simon ford, a metal band named lesbian, the portland cello project, sharifa rhodes-pitts, odeonquartet, absinthe, blindfolded vodka, erick castro, mount eerie, kaylee cole, chopin and silent reading...

clearly the "only thing all of these things" have in common is....

Night School at the Sorrento: Winter/Spring Term commences...

Penthouse Symposium No. 10
: Wallace Shawn in conversation with Sean Nelson. No. 11: TBA No. 12: Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts.

Chamber Vs. Chamber No. 5
: Odeon Quartet, Mount Eerie, and Kaylee Cole. No. 6: Portland Cello Project and Lesbian.

Drinking Lessons No. 17
: Blind Vodka Tasting. No. 18: Master class with Simon Ford and Erick Castro. No. 19: Absinthe Soiree Part Deux with American Standard Time

The Silent Reading Party continues with Kyle O'Quin playing Chopin....

Winter term begins with some lovely news, City Arts will now be co-producing the Night School series and documenting each event in a series of journal entries authored by editor Mark Baumgarten and available at We have an incredibly rich line-up of happenings at the hotel, here is the complete line-up, (sorry about the length) stay tuned for a few late Spring additions.

Penthouse Symposium No. 10 : Wallace Shawn in conversation with Sean Nelson.

Thursday, January 20th.

Wallace Shawn in conversation with Sean Nelson. Topic: Wallace's new book Essays.

The Penthouse Symposium concept is simple: we will continue to host some of the leading intellectuals, artists, and writers of our time for an intimate and casual course on a subject of their choosing. Past Symposiums guests have included: Atul Gawande, Garry Wills, Lesley Hazleton, Bill Mckibben, Alan Khazei and many others.

*Upon confirmation of their reservation guests will receive a pdf of required reading. In a Symposium dialogue is encouraged.

$40/person, includes a hearty stew and a copy of Wallace Shawn's new book. Buy tickets here.

Facebook event page.

Our thanks to Town Hall Seattle for making this event possible.

Wallace Shawn. Known to stage and film audiences as an extraordinary character actor, Shawn is also an Obie Award-winning playwright and best-selling author. His celebrated works include The Designated Mourner and The Fever, along with the poignant film My Dinner With Andre, which Shawn co-wrote. His most recent work, Essays, released in 2009, is a highly personal, often self-deprecating collection of Shawn's perspective on life, politics, morality and the power of art.

Sean Nelson is a Seattle writer/musician/filmmaker. Probably best known for being the lead singer in Harvey Danger, which disbanded last year, he was also in the Long Winters, and has recorded with Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Robyn Hitchcock, the Minus 5, and many other bright lights besides. His debut solo LPs, Make Good Choices and Nelson Sings Nilsson, are due out in 2011. Nelson co-wrote and starred in Lynn Shelton's My Effortless Brilliance. His debut as a screenwriter/co-director, Treatment, will be making the film festival rounds this year.

Penthouse Symposium No. 11: TBA

Penthouse Symposium No. 12: Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, author of Harlem is Nowhere

April - date TBA. *Pick up the current copy of Harper's for a feature excerpt from Harlem is Nowhere. **Sharifa will appear on NPR's All Things Considered Jan 31st - check local listings.

Topic: Sharifa's new book: Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America.

$40/person, includes a hearty stew and a copy of Harlem is Nowhere.. Tickets available Feb. 1st at Brown Paper Tickets.

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, New York Times Book Review, Harper's, The Nation, Boston Globe, Transition, and Times Literary Supplement. She has received awards from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Originally from Houston, Texas, she graduated in 2000 from Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar in the United Kingdom. Sharifa is writing a trilogy on African-Americans and utopia; her first book, Harlem is Nowhere, will be published in 2011 by Little, Brown & Company.

Chamber Vs. Chamber No. 5 and No. 6.

Feb. 7th : No 5

7pm. Fireside Room.

"Cold Landscapes"

Mount Eerie with the OdeonQuartet and rising-star Kaylee Cole.

(Odeon quartet features members of the Seattle Symphony)

These three musical outfits will explore the relationship between music and place, and specifically cold and frozen places.

Ticket: $18 (only 70 seats available). Buy tickets here.
Facebook event page.

April 17th: No 6

7pm. Fireside Room.

"Metal and Resin"

The Portland Cello Project and Lesbian.

Portland's celebrated Cello Project will perform pieces ranging from classical compositions to Motรถrhead and beyond, fusing the beautiful with the brutal. PCP's collaboration with artful noise architects Lesbian will combine lush string arrangements with their epic musical meanderings, making for an undoubtedly unique and unforgettable evening.

Co-produced by KEXP Seek & Destroy host and City Arts Magazine columnist Hannah Levin.

Ticket: $15 (Only 70 seats available). Buy tickets here.

Facebook event page.

Chamber vs. Chamber. As the musical fraction of the Sorrento's Night School, Chamber vs. Chamber endeavors to spark a dialogue between rock and traditional chamber music, combining classical chamber performances with indie-rock theatrics. Each Chamber vs. Chamber evening will include multiple illuminating performances and a lively post performance conversation between the musicians, hosted by City Arts editor Mark Baumgarten.

Performer Bios:


Formed in 1999, OdeonQuartet is comprised of distinguished artists who are dedicated to presenting concerts of the highest artistic quality and building new audiences for chamber music through performances and educational outreach programs. The artists include Gennady Filimonov and Artur Girsky violin(s), Heather Bentley viola and Rowenna Hammill cello. Gennady has been soloist/concertmaster in collaboration with Rod Stewart, Linda Rondstatt, Tony Bennett, Sarah Brightmann, "Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" , "Heart" and many others. Artur has been a member of Seattle Symphony Orchestra since 2006. Heather has appeared as soloist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Rowena joined the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble with which she performed for ten years, eventually as Associate Principal and serves as Associate Principal Cello of the Los Angeles Opera.

Mount Eerie is Phil Elvrum. The 31 year-old multi-instrumentalist has played in other bands, and worked as a producer, but remains best known for this solo project, which began under the name the Microphones in 1997. In 2003, he renamed the project Mount Eerie (and added an "e" to his last name, Elvrum) after returning from a trip to Norway, where he lived alone in a remote cabin for a winter. To date, his most critically acclaimed album is the Microphones' 2001 epic The Glow Pt. 2. The first official Mount Eerie album-following the Microphones' final 2003 full-length, also called Mount Eerie-is 2005's No Flashlight: Songs of the Fulfilled Night. It was followed by 2007's Mount Eerie pts. 6 & 7, a 132-page, hardcover book of his photography, packaged with a 10" picture disk. In early 2009, the journals he kept and drawings he scribbled in Norway were released as a 144-page hardcover book called Dawn. It came with 16 color photo cards and a CD of songs he wrote while living in the cabin.

Kaylee Cole played her first Spokane show in April 2007. By January 2008, she was out in Seattle on a mini seven-show tour that warmed the ears of repeatedly rapt audiences. Cole's diverse audiences across Pacific Northwest gigs have gobbled up her two EPs, waiting hungrily for the release of the album. Recorded in September 2008, her self-released album We're Still Here Missing You, collates Cole's unpretentious lyricism with a style of music that does not waver in its organic attention to unique, charming melodies. Now living in Seattle, Washington Cole spends time touring and working on her new record with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek.

Portland Cello Project. Since the group's inception in late 2007, they have performed with a veritable "Who's Who?" list of Portland musicians, from Laura Gibson to The Dandy Warhols, Horse Feathers, Mirah and Loch Lomond, just to name a few... The group's newest full-length is being released on June 9th, 2009 on their new label, local independent Kill Rock Stars. This CD and indeed the relationship forged with this well-suited record label embodies the group's belief that "collaboration is the cornerstone of independence and artistic freedom." Two of the artists who have collaborated with PCP: Thao Nguyen of Thao With The Get Down Stay Down and local musician Justin Power, contribute four songs each to this CD, the Thao and Justin Power Sessions. And the other four songs on the record are strategically placed examples of cello sublimity and madness: from a Pantera cover, to a solemn religious piece by John Tavener.


Drinking Lessons No 17,18, and 19.

Jan. 24th : No 17.

"Vodka... Blind"

7pm. Fireside Room.

Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty and the President of The Washington State Bartenders Guild is co-hosting this unique evening dedicated to understanding and appreciating that fine white liquid known as vodka. Expect a blind tasting of 8 local and imported spirits. Everyone has a favorite vodka, but how will yours stack up? Reserve your seat now and help us pick the winner- taking the crown as the Drinking Lessons Vodka of the year.

$20/person per class. Sorrento Hotel, Fireside Room. Buy Tickets Here.

Facebook event page.

March 2nd: No. 18.

"Gin Roundtable and Master Class with Simon Ford and Erick Castro (Rickhouse/SF)"

Simon Ford is hands down one of the most renowned bartenders and liquor professionals in the world, and we are thrilled he will join us to teach two courses on a subject he knows better than almost anyone. Star mixologist Erick Castro from the renowned Rickhouse in SF will be joining Simon for two distinct Drinking Lessons.

March 2nd. 6:00pm. Penthouse/Sorrento room. Gin Roundtable - only twenty tickets available. Engage in a two hour exploration of the history of gin with Simon while Erick mixes golden age gin cocktails. $40/person. Buy Tickets Here.

Facebook Event Page

March 2nd 8:30pm. Penthouse/Sorrento room. Gin Master Class - only twenty tickets available. Previous bartending experience suggested. 2 hour course on gin history, cocktail technique, and philosophy. $30/person. Buy Tickets Here.

Facebook Event Page

Simon Ford (Industry Visionary and International Ambassador) currently works in the capacity of International Ambassador for Plymouth Gin and the Director of Brand Education for Pernod Ricard USA. Over the past seven years, this role has taken him across the globe training the experts and first-time barkeeps alike as well as directing on-premise strategy for a portfolio of brands in the US. From running a wine shop to opening some of England's most lauded cocktail bars, judging spirits in competition and marketing some of the biggest brands on the planet have made Mr. Ford a highly respected voice in the spirits industry.

Simon received the award for Best Brand Ambassador at New Orleans Tales of the Cocktail 2007 and was named an Industry Visionary in the UK. His bar in the UK has won numerous awards including Best New Bar, Theme Magazine 2002, Best Bar, Theme Magazine 2003 and Best Cocktail offering, Theme magazine 2006 in addition it was named in the Guardian News Paper as one of the top 10 cocktail bars in the UK and as one of the Great Cocktail Bars of the World by the Diffords Guide.

Erick Castro / Rickhouse. After earning his chops at Bourbon & Branch, Castro was assigned the beverage director position at its newest sister bar, Rickhouse. Since it opened in June of 2009, and under the direction of Castro, Rickhouse has been named one of the World's Top Bars by Food & Wine magazine. Recently, it also won The Cheers: Benchmark Award for Top Cocktail Lounge 2010.

April 18th : No 19.

"Absinthe Soiree Part Deux with American Standard Time"


"An absinthe soiree" with Gwydion from Marteau Absinthe and Marc from Pacifique Absinthes and star bartender Nathan Weber from Tavern Law. Held in the Fireside room - the more the merrier. This more casual drinking lesson is only $20 and includes absinthe tasting, history, tasty bites from the kitchen, and several absinthe based cocktails will be available. Greg Vandy of KEXP fame and American Standard Time will be spinning "absinthe" inspired tunes throughout the evening.

$20/person per class. Buy Tickets Here.

Facebook Event Page

Behind the Bar:

Gwydion Stone. Maker of Marteau absinthe, Gwydion founded The Wormwood Society, an organization devoted to absinthe education...

Marc Bernhard. Owner and distiller of Pacific Distillery, makers of Voyager gin and Pacifique absinthe, Marc professional background is in herbs and spices...

Nathan Weber. Star bartender and Bar Manager at Tavern Law, awarded top 25 bars in America by GQ magazine.

DJ Greg Vandy, Was once a bartender but is better known as the famed DJ behind KEXP's Roadhouse and author of the spectacular new blog American Standard Time.

The Silent Reading Party continues...

Five new dates for the Reading Party, now with special guests and music. Kyle O'Quin (Wild Orchid Children and Kay Kay) will play Chopin and other delights on that piano. Come early! January's reading party was sitting-on-the-floor-packed.

Upcoming Dates: February 2nd, March 2nd, April 6th, May 4th

Special Guests: each month we bring in luminaries from the Seattle community, to read silently, and entertain us with their post reading party "book reports" published on the SLOG. Past special guests have included: John Roderick, Heather Mchugh, and Dow Constantine.

The Reading Party runs from 6pm - 9pm in the Fireside Room. There is no charge. Happy hour menu is available for the duration of the event.

Facebook Event Page

"The Reading Party. Silent sustained reading at a bar, because no one wants to read alone."

- Christopher Frizzelle


Mr Frizzelle has more to say about these popular gatherings here...

What is Night School?

Night School is a collaboration between the Sorrento Hotel, Michael Hebb, an array of intellectuals, artists, writers, filmmakers, mixologists, chefs and the leading cultural institutions in the Northwest. Night School was established to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Sorrento Hotel. Please visit for more information.

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