MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Seattle Symphony Performs Stravinsky’s Perséphone

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Stravinsky’s Perséphone at Seattle Symphony in Michael Curry staging; photo by Brandon Patoc

My review of a very memorable evening with Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony, and the visual artistry of Michael Curry:

Since its tepid première at the Paris Opera in 1934, Perséphone has remained among the most neglected of Stravinsky’s major scores, unable to find a comfortable home on the opera, ballet or concert stage.

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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, review, Seattle Symphony, Stravinsky

Swept Away by Morlot’s La mer

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This week’s Seattle Symphony program culminates in one of music director Ludovic Morlot’s specialities: La mer, the finale to a program initially designed around orchestral color.

It opens with Escales (“Ports of Call”) by Debussy’s younger compatriot Jacques Ibert. This tripart travelogue from the early 1920s unabashedly exploits clichéd Orientalist and Spanish tropes, but the composer’s treatment of the orchestra is fresh, and Morlot found enough appealing nuances here to make it an enjoyable outing — and to pique interest in hearing more of this now-neglected composer’s considerable output.

The program had originally been slated to include a real rarity — Scriabin’s Piano Concerto, an early work that isn’t exactly in most pianist’s ready-to-go rep. Daniil Trifonov withdrew because of illness at the last minute, so it wouldn’t have been reasonable to expect Inon Barnatan to play the Scriabin when he agreed to save the day.

Scriabin’s synesthesia was meant to be a linking thread here — and perhaps something about Debussy’s Russian influences? — but the substitute turned out to be quite satisfying anyway: Mozart’s K. 488 Piano Concerto, which dates from just before the Figaro premiere.

I was impressed by Barnatan’s SSO debut two years ago (in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto). Once again, there was much to admire in his ultra-refined approach to the Mozart, which I heard on Thursday night — all the more striking, given that the concerto’s seemingly straightforward textures were surrounded by the complex hues and ravaging color fields of the rest of the program.

But I was puzzled by the shift from Classical poise to Romantic exaggeration of gesture in the minor-key slow movement, which contains some of Mozart’s most heart-rending music. Barnatan is such a naturally expressive interpreter that I think he would have been more effective without adding italics. Still, there were moments of that elevated beauty squeezed from the most commonplace phrase that set Mozart apart. The finale had all the joie de vivre of the Figaro that was waiting in the wings.

Morlot combined Respighi’s Pines of Rome with Debussy (Nocturnes) early in his tenure, and this time he took up the Italian’s Fountains. It’s hard to avoid the charge of musical padding here in Respighi’s opulent, neo-Richard Straussian scoring, but Morlot shaped the vignettes into miniature dramas that held interest. The SSO’s playing was at a high level, with especially fine ensemble from the strings.

It all seemed to set the stage perfectly for Debussy’s quasi-symphony La mer — including the times-of-day conceit of Respighi’s homage to Rome, moving from the sun’s fading at the Villa Medici to Debussy’s oceanic dawn.

But it soon became clear that Morlot wasn’t interested in “painting” with tone colors or the kind of pictorialism of Ibert — in other words, that he wasn’t treating La mer as another piece of program music that proves how clever Debussy was at conjuring mental images of aspects of the sea through his orchestration. In fact, and especially in contrast to the Ibert, it became obvious how much Debussy manages to do without resorting to standard musical tropes to suggest water.

Instead, the “colors” here seemed closer to the way we find them used in a Mahler symphony: expressions of an internal cosmos, building into a wordless drama of struggle and affirmation.

In his latest take on the piece, Morlot often went in surprising directions. Most remarkable of all was the intensity of the drama in the third panel, which exuded an almost terrifying ferocity I’d not heard in live performances of La mer.

The synergy with the SSO was exciting. Mary Lynch’s rendition of the ambiguous oboe phrase crowned an evening of stellar playing by the woodwinds. Morlot has internalized Debussy’s score to such a degree that he occasionally created the illusion of writing it on the spot. A moving tribute to Debussy’s continuing relevance.
–Review (c)2018 Thomas May. All rights reserved.

Filed under: Debussy, Ludovic Morlot, review, Seattle Symphony

“Become Desert” from John Luther Adams

This week brings the world premiere of the new large-scale orchestral work from John Luther Adams, which Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot will perform Thursday and Saturday. My preview for The Seattle Times:

“Close your eyes and listen to the singing of the light,” exhorts Octavio Paz in “Piedra Nativa” (“Native Stone”)….

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Filed under: American music, John Luther Adams, Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Times

Seattle Symphony’s New Season Announcement

The 2018-2019 season, just announced, will be the valedictory season for Ludovic Morlot as Seattle Symphony’s music director. And it bears the stamp of Morlot’s imaginative programming, which has been a signature of his tenure.

There’s a lot to be excited about here, especially on the new-music front: 25 contemporary composers on the program. There will be commissions from Chen Yi, Caroline Shaw (a piano concerto to feature Jonathan Biss), John Harbison, Kinan Azmeh (a clarinet concerto, with the composer as soloist), Joël-François Durand, “a new piece woven into Heiner Goebbels’ Surrogate Cities,” and Derek Bermel, who as composer in residence will supply two new works.

PLUS new pieces by George Walker (my profile of this amazing, far-too-neglected American treasure is here), Hannah Kendall (The Spark Catchers), and Pascal Dusapin (At Swim-Two-Birds). This is apart from the many goodies on the late-night [untitled] concert series.

For his eighth and final season, Maestro Morlot will bring a special focus to Claude Debussy to mark the centenary of his death: six works by Debussy throughout the season (Gigues from ImagesPetite suiteJeuxPrintemps, Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande, and Nocturnes). New French voices as well:  Marc-André Dalbavie’s Sonnets and La source d’un regard, and the above-mentioned Pascal Dusapin and the Joël-François Durand commission.

Here’s the full Seattle Symphony press release:

Seattle, WA – Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot and Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihulyannounce the Grammy-winning orchestra’s 2018–2019 season, which culminates Ludovic Morlot’s multi-year exploration of French music past and present, as well as furthering the orchestra’s commitment to commissioning new works and in-depth community-related projects. Several programs with geographic, historical and social context will be presented, including Heiner Goebbels’ Surrogate Cities, the Silkroad Ensemble which embraces difference and cultural collaboration, Jordi Savall’s The Routes of Slavery, and the world premiere performances of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions,” which was composed in response to the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

“For my final season as Music Director, we’ve woven together the many programmatic threads we started seven years ago into a true culmination of ideas,” commented Morlot. “I’m thrilled to explore the music of Debussy in great depth, alongside repertoire that influenced his work, and together with those new French voices of Dusapin, Dalbavie and Durand. This season we will introduce so many new and diverse guest artists to Seattle, and I’m thrilled to embrace the voices of more women composers. When I think of my last season with this wonderful orchestra, it really feels like we’ve had a chance to work on all that we wanted and this beautiful season brings a sense of fulfillment to those dreams.”

Chihuly shared, “Our journey with Ludovic Morlot is coming to fruition next season in so many ways, from the symphonies we all know and love to the latest commissions and premieres, to powerful music that makes a statement about our world today, whether that’s Heiner Goebbels’ commentary on the effects of urbanism on humanity, or George Walker’s artistic response to one of the most painful events in recent history. Here in our community we remain committed to our Simple Gifts initiative which supports those who are experiencing homelessness, and we’re thrilled to welcome Derek Bermel as Composer in Residence, who will have an active role both on stage and in the community.”

Ludovic Morlot will build on his previous explorations of French repertoire with a special focus on the music of Claude Debussy for the centenary year of the composer’s passing. Morlot will conduct six works by Debussy over the course of five subscription weeks throughout the season including Gigues from ImagesPetite suite,JeuxPrintemps, Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande and Nocturnes. These works will be presented alongside repertoire that influenced the composer, including works by Mahler, Strauss, Wagner and Janáček, and Debussy contemporary, Ravel, together with new French voices. Morlot will conduct Marc-André Dalbavie’s Sonnets andLa source d’un regard, the U.S. premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two-Birds, and the world premiere of Joël-François Durand’s Préludes. French-born Durand is Professor of Music at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Following critical acclaim for the 3-disc set of Henri Dutilleux’s orchestral works, upcoming recording plans will continue to capitalize on Morlot’s distinctive interpretations of French repertoire. Recordings featuring Ludovic Morlot and the orchestra performing the works of Berlioz and Dalbavie are planned for the 2018–2019 season. The orchestra will also continue to record its first-ever Nielsen cycle, which began last fall with the release of Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.

Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard, who will become Music Director in the 2019–2020 season and will also be in his fifth season with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor, will conduct three programs, each with a notable premiere. In October Dausgaard will conduct the U.S. premiere of the original first movement of Schumann’s “Zwickauer” Symphony created by Dausgaard from the composer’s manuscript, as well as Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. Two programs in April include the North American premiere of Langgaard’s Prelude to Antichrist, which shares a program with Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2, “The Four Temperaments,” followed in another program by Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” which will be performed alongside the premiere performances of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions,” written in response to the devastating murder of nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, at the hands of a white supremacist. Although Sinfonia No. 5 has been recorded, these are the first public performances.

NEW AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC


The Seattle Symphony continues its dedication to commissioning new works, and for the coming season will perform the following commissioned world premieres: a new work by Chen YiCaroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto, which will be premiered with guest pianist Jonathan Biss; John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? for Orchestra and Obbligato Organ, which will be premiered with guest organist Wayne Marshall; Kinan Azmeh’s Clarinet Concerto, to be performed by the composer as soloist; two new works by 2018–2019 Composer in Residence Derek BermelJoël-François Durand’s Préludes; and a new piece woven into Heiner GoebbelsSurrogate Cities.

Additional premieres include the first-ever public performances of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions,” as described above. The orchestra will give the U.S. premieres of Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers as well as Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two-Birds and which will feature violinist Viktoria Mullova and cellist Matthew Barley. Receiving its North American premiere is Langgaard’s Prelude to Antichrist. Additionally, a new work will be unveiled at the Celebrate Asia concert, following the annual Celebrate Asia Composition Competition.

Originally premiered in 1994, Heiner Goebbels’ multi-sensory production Surrogate Cities is a full-length concert program reflecting on the impact of urbanism on society. With orchestral voices, sampled electronics, musical flashbacks and literary quotes, Goebbels creates a multifaceted concert experience. Jazz vocalistJocelyn B. Smith and narrator David Moss will join Ludovic Morlot and the orchestra for these performances, which will include the world premiere of a new piece the composer has created for the occasion.

The late-night [untitled] concert series returns with three programs, featuring boundary-pushing contemporary music performed by chamber ensembles in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. At these performances, many of which sell out, audiences gather on all levels of the Grand Lobby, on chairs, stairs, bar stools, restaurant booths, bean bags and carpet squares, and the bar remains open throughout. The first, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, features Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen’s hour-long Schnee, inspired by the music of Bach and Steve Reich. Conducted by Ludovic Morlot, the second program features Berio’s Circles and a Boulezmasterpiece, Sur incises, which is scored for three pianos, three harps and three percussionists. Lastly, Symphony Tacoma’s Music Director Sarah Ioannides will lead soprano Maria Männistö and Seattle Symphony musicians in a 1920s German cabaret-style “Im wunderschöenen Monat Mai,” the reimagined love songs of Schubert and Schumann by Dutch composer Reinbert de Leeuw.

FEATURED ARTISTS


The In Recital series (formerly called Distinguished Artists) will expand from three concerts to four concerts in the 2018–2019 season. The four-concert series will include solo recitals by pianists Inon Barnatan and Sir András Schiff, a duo recital with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Enrico Pace and a recital featuring tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

Among those making their Seattle Symphony debuts this season are guest conductors Gustavo Gimeno,Jonathon HeywardSarah IoannidesKirill KarabitsVasily PetrenkoShiyeon Sung and Dima Slobodeniouk; violinists Nicola Benedetti and Viktoria Mullova; pianist Steven Osborne; cellists Matthew Barley and Sheku Kanneh-Mason; organist Katelyn Emerson; harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani; mandolin player Avi Avital; sopranos Yasko Sato and Yulia Van Doren; mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu; altoAvery Amereau; tenors Colin BalzerĽudovít Ludha and Sean Panikkar; baritones Michael KellyDavóne Tines and Andreas Wolf.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES*


The Silkroad Ensemble returns to Seattle in February to join Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony for a one-night-only performance. The Seattle Symphony will perform two works it has commissioned, a new work byChen Yi, a former Music Alive Composer in Residence with the orchestra, and a new clarinet concerto by Kinan Azmeh, a Syrian clarinetist and composer featured in the documentary The Music of Strangers who created a sensation with his emotional performance at the Seattle Symphony’s Music Beyond Borders: Voices of the Seven, which was a free, livestreamed concert given in response to the travel ban that was issued in January 2017. Azmeh’s Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by Classical Movements for the Seattle Symphony as part of the Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program. In addition to these world premieres performed by the orchestra, the Silkroad Ensemble will perform Azmeh’s The Wedding, Vijay Iyer’s City of Sand and Edward Perez’s Latina 6/8 Suite featuring bagpipe player Christina Pato.

The Seattle Symphony will again collaborate with the Asian community to present the 11th annual Celebrate Asia concert in January with this year’s program conducted by Shiyeon Sung. The program, which prominently features Korean composers and artists, includes Unsuk Chin’s snagS&Snarls featuring guest soprano Kathleen Kim, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini featuring guest pianist Seong-Jin Cho, and two traditional works, “Missing Mt. Keumkang” and “Arirang.” The program will open with John Adams’ The Chairman Dances from Nixon in China and will also include Pubbanimitta for suona and orchestra. Pubbanimittawas written in 2011 by rising Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen who received the 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship. The winning piece from the Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, dedicated to finding and nurturing young composers who are inspired by the music of Asia, will also receive its world premiere at this concert. Pre- and post-concert festivities showcase performers from Seattle’s many vibrant communities, from Lion Dance to Taiko and from traditional performances to Bollywood.

Composer, clarinetist and conductor Derek Bermel will serve as the Seattle Symphony’s Composer in Residence in the 2018–2019 season. While in Seattle, Bermel will help lead the orchestra’s spring Simple Gifts Community Composition project co-created with residents of Compass Housing Alliance, a leading provider of housing services for veterans experiencing homelessness. The resulting composition will be performed jointly by veterans and members of the Seattle Symphony. Simple Gifts projects represent an opportunity for community members experiencing homelessness — who often feel invisible — to be seen and heard, with their voices amplified by the art they are creating together with the Seattle Symphony (more info below). Bermel will also serve as the workshop director for the annual Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop, where he will guide 10 pre-college-age students through a 12-week workshop to create new chamber pieces that will be performed by Seattle Symphony musicians at a culminating performance. One of Bermel’s works will be introduced to 10,000 school children through the Seattle Symphony’s Link Up program which he will conduct in March.

In November, the Seattle Symphony and Early Music Seattle will co-present Jordi Savall: The Routes of Slavery. In this monumental project spanning centuries and featuring musicians from Africa, Europe and the Americas, early music expert Jordi Savall leads a singular experience of music, dance and spoken word tracing the story of the African diaspora in the Old and New Worlds. The Routes of Slavery draws together markedly distinct musical stories from West and North Africa, Baroque Europe and the Americas to create a musical illustration of one of humanity’s darkest chapters, weaving together traditional African griot music with Baroque song, spirituals and rich Afro-Latin traditions from the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and beyond.

Additional special concert events include the Opening Night Concert & Gala conducted by Ludovic Morlotfeaturing renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Saturday, September 15; a performance by the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, including Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 performed by Christian TetzlaffItzhak Perlman performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto; the two-night Brahms Concerto Festival conducted by Pablo Rus Broseta and featuring rising star artists; a live-to-picture screening of the film Amadeus; and a full line-up of Holiday events.

*Special concert events are not included in the subscription series and are currently only available to subscribers.

EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY INITIATIVES


The Seattle Symphony will present a robust season of programming for families. Families will enjoy pre-concert activities with crafts and an instrument zoo. The youngest listeners (ages 0–5) will be treated to a five-concertTiny Tots series. Each concert features a different section of Seattle Symphony musicians. The Classical KING FM Family Concert series (designed for ages 6–12) features the full orchestra. Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta will conduct three of the four concerts, with guest conductor Farkhad Khudyevleading the third concert with guest artists Magic Circle Mime Co.

In addition to presenting a full schedule of performances, the Seattle Symphony is deeply committed to creating meaningful community partnerships and education programs. The orchestra’s extensive education and community initiatives reach more than 65,000 people each year through a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of various audiences including families, young artists and schools. Link Up, a national program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, is a highly participatory multi-year music curriculum for 3rd to 5th graders. In the 2018–2019 season, it will serve more than 10,000 students in grades 3 to 5 from over 100 schools in 30 districts. Over the course of each year’s program, students learn to sing and play orchestral repertoire while focusing on specific concepts, including rhythm, melody, tempo, orchestration and composition. In addition, the Symphony continues its commitment to mentoring young musicians in the community and presents numerous Side-by-Side Concerts with local high school, college and community orchestras.

The Symphony’s Community Connections program aims to provide nonprofit organizations across the Puget Sound region with equitable access to high-quality cultural experiences. We build bridges with diverse communities throughout the region through access to free tickets to concerts, music-making and special projects. This program serves more than 70 local nonprofits that work with youth, active military and veterans, seniors, cultural organizations, health services and social service organizations. Examples of our work include theLullaby Project for parents experiencing homelessness, and prison visits by Symphony musicians. In June 2016 Seattle Symphony launched the Simple Gifts initiative which partners with social service providers to empower individuals experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity to connect with their creativity; develop deeper roots in the community through service, advocacy and collaboration; spark joy and inspire hope in individuals and communities that face disproportionate amounts of hardship; and raise awareness of the homelessness crisis that is occurring in King County. Of the Seattle Symphony’s 70 community partners, 22 specifically work with homelessness.

The Masterworks Season encompasses the Symphony’s core programming of symphonic repertoire. Additionalsubscription series include Seattle PopsIn RecitalBaroque & WineUntuxed[untitled]Fluke/Gabelein Organ RecitalChamberClassical KING FM Family Concerts and Tiny TotsNon-subscription performances may be added to subscription orders now and will go on sale to the general public on August 4, 2018.

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony

Berlioz Festival Coming Up at Seattle Symphony

Hector BerliozMy story on Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony, and Berlioz immersion in the Seattle Times:

Ludovic Morlot’s connection to Hector Berlioz goes deep. When he was 12, his parents moved to a house just a few miles from La Côte-Saint-André, the composer’s native village in the southeastern corner of France.

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Filed under: Berlioz, Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

Gidon Kremer with Seattle Symphony

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Gidon Kremer; © Paolo Pellegrin

My review of Gidon Kremer’s visit with Seattle Symphony:

It’s entirely characteristic of Gidon Kremer to choose a discovery piece rather than a surefire crowd-pleaser for what was a rare appearance in Seattle…

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Filed under: Gidon Kremer, Ludovic Morlot, Mendelssohn, review, Schumann, Seattle Symphony

Thomas Dausgaard To Take the Reins at Seattle Symphony

It’s official: Thomas Dausgaard, the first name that came up as Ludovic Morlot’s possible successor, will become music director of the Seattle Symphony as of 2019. He has signed a four-year contract.

Thomas Dausgaard, currently SSO Principal Guest Conductor, was widely believed to be the conductor SSO management would tap, ever since Morlot announced he will step down at the end of the 2018-19 season.

My most recent review of Dausgaard in action with the SSO in an all-Strauss program is here.

Here’s the full press release from Seattle Symphony:

SEATTLE, WA – The Seattle Symphony announced today that Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard will become the orchestra’s next Music Director, beginning in the 2019–2020 season. Dausgaard will succeed current Music Director Ludovic Morlot whose tenure concludes after the 2018–2019 season.

Dausgaard has served as the Seattle Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor since 2014. Additionally, he is Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (through 2019), Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana, and Honorary Conductor of the Danish National Symphony, having previously served as its Principal Conductor from 2004–11.

“For several years, it has been clear that Thomas’ partnership with our musicians is grounded in deep mutual respect and admiration,” commented Leslie Jackson Chihuly, Seattle Symphony Board Chair. “His deepening relationship with the orchestra has produced some of the most electrifying concerts we’ve heard in Benaroya Hall these last few years. His work has been a wonderful complement to Ludovic’s exemplary artistic leadership. Ludovic and Thomas share many creative instincts which have shaped and contributed quite naturally to the exciting evolution of our music making. Thomas is simply the right leader for the next step in our artistic development. We greatly look forward to welcoming him to our Symphony family, and we know he will bring profound inspiration and warmth to our community.”

“Making music with the Seattle Symphony is very special to me,” shared Dausgaard. “Their inspiring artistry fuses generosity, team spirit, devotion and abandon. The orchestra is supported by an equally passionate board and administration, as well as a tremendous audience in the beautiful and acoustically stunning Benaroya Hall. I love the city of Seattle and the great natural beauty of this magical part of the world. So it is with deeply felt joy and honor that I look forward to becoming Music Director of the Seattle Symphony. My warmest thanks to my distinguished predecessors who took the orchestra to its present excellence — and to everybody now asking me to take the Seattle Symphony into the future.”

“This is a joyful outcome for the Seattle Symphony!” added President & CEO Simon Woods. “Thomas Dausgaard has evolved through his career into an artist of extraordinary insight, with all the musical and technical skills to translate his ideas into the most inspired music making. His relationship with the Seattle Symphony goes back over a decade, and for him to move from Principal Guest Conductor to Music Director represents a kind of organic artistic progression that is rare and treasurable. With his highly individual approach to programming, his deep history with recording and his experience as music director with a number of important European orchestras, he is in every way imaginable the perfect fit for our organization.”

Thomas Dausgaard’s close relationship with the Seattle Symphony began in 2003 with performances of Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony, giving Seattle audiences a first glimpse of his creativity and dynamism. Dausgaard’s first season as Principal Guest Conductor in 2014–2015 was marked by a three-week Sibelius Festival which celebrated the composer’s worldwide 100th birthday with performances of all seven of his symphonies. Since then, Dausgaard’s exhilarating and propulsive interpretations of symphonies by Mahler, Nielsen and Rachmaninov have inspired both orchestra and audiences, leading The Seattle Times to write, “The results are thrilling, with completely involved musicians playing for an unusually attentive audience, and a conductor who is a passionate advocate for music that is unapologetically beautiful,” and in another review, “You can tell by the wild cheering emanating from Benaroya Hall: Thomas Dausgaard is back in town.”

In Seattle, Dausgaard has made a point of exploring the “roots of inspiration” for composers and immersing the audience in unique, contextual experiences. In past seasons this has included local Finnish choirs spontaneously rising up out of the audience to sing Finlandia to great emotional effect during the Sibelius Festival, a chorus of alphorns in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby pre- and post-concert to demonstrate the sounds that Strauss was influenced by when he composed the Alpine Symphony, and the Portland-based vocal ensemble Cappella Romana singing Russian liturgical music to introduce Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Second Symphony to show the undercurrent of Gregorian chant that Rachmaninov would have heard as a child in the Russian Orthodox Church. In the current season Dausgaard will conduct two subscription programs beginning with an all-Brahms concert in January including the Haydn Variations, select Hungarian Dances, Liebeslieder Waltzes and Symphony No. 2, and in June he will conduct Sibelius’ monumental choral symphony Kullervo, presented alongside performances of traditional music by Finnish folk musicians.

A champion of contemporary music, Dausgaard conducted the American premiere of Snow by British composer Helen Grime in June 2017. Snow is part of an ongoing series of commissions in a project devised and launched by Dausgaard titled “Scottish Inspirations” with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Enjoying connections with many of the leading composers of today, Dausgaard maintains long-term associations with Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, Bent Sørensen, Sally Beamish and Hans Abrahamsen, among others, and with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra he is currently engaged in leading an ambitious multi-season commissioning project taking its inspiration from J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and featuring new work by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Olga Neuwirth, Anders Hillborg, Brett Dean, and American composers Steven Mackey and Uri Caine.

With over 70 albums to his name, Dausgaard joins one of America’s most recorded orchestras with its triumphant recent history including three Grammy Awards and rave reviews for many recordings on its own label, Seattle Symphony Media. Dausgaard’s projects with the Seattle Symphony include the 2016 live recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 (performing version by Deryck Cooke), which was named Disc of the Year by Europadisc and nominated for a 2017 Gramophone Award with the review stating, “this exceptional issue from the Pacific Northwest ought to be a game-changer for all concerned.” Dausgaard’s latest Seattle Symphony Media live recording of Nielsen’s Symphonies No. 3, “Sinfonia espansiva,” and No. 4, “The Inextinguishable,” will be released on November 10. The Seattle Times review of the Fourth Symphony from that performance included this description, “Dausgaard underscored the drama in the mighty outbursts from nearly every section; elegant descending passages in thirds, broad unison statements, mysteriously hushed string passages and a blazing finale.”

Thomas Dausgaard was selected as the Harriet Overton Stimson Music Director following a 6-month search by an 11-member search committee comprised of musicians, board and staff and chaired by Seattle Symphony Board member Paul Leach.

 

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, music news, Seattle Symphony, Thomas Dausgaard

Mahler’s Fifth by Way of Ligeti in Seattle

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Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale; (c) Brandon Patoc

The road leading to the fusillade of bright, brisk chords at the end of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony – which concluded Seattle Symphony’s current season – was unusually long and winding. And dark …
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Filed under: Ligeti, Ludovic Morlot, Mahler, review, Seattle Symphony

Ligeti-Mahler Program for Seattle Symphony’s Closing Concert

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I spoke to Ludovic Morlot about his remarkable programming of Ligeti’s Requiem with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony to close Seattle Symphony’s season:

Saying a proper goodbye is an art. Ludovic Morlot plans to conclude his current Seattle Symphony season with a lot more than a bang…

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Filed under: Ligeti, Ludovic Morlot, Mahler, programming, Seattle Symphony

Ludovic Morlot To Make Berlin Philharmonic Debut

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Opera star Joyce DiDonato is shown with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony last September. Morlot and DiDonato will appear together in Berlin later this week. (Carlin Ma)

The Seattle Symphony’s music director has been asked to replace an ailing colleague as guest conductor of this week’s concerts with Berlin Philharmonic — one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.

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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, music news, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

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