MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Ludo’s Farewell Concert

Strauss & Dvorak ConductingIt’s already here: this weekend Ludovic Morlot is leading his final performances as music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The program is characteristically enticing and original: Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde followed by a suite from Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (fashioned in 1983 by Marius Constant) and the Nocturnes, and a genuine rarity: Leoš Janáček’s cantata The Eternal Gospel, written on the eve of the First World War.

I’ll be putting together some thoughts on the significance of the Morlot era in Seattle soon. In the meantime, it will be a bittersweet occasion tonight, but with the consoling thought that Ludo should be back here with some frequency thanks to his new title as Conductor Emeritus.

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony

Ludovic Morlot Named Seattle Symphony Conductor Emeritus

This announcement just in from Seattle Symphony:

Seattle Symphony Board Chair René Ancinas and President & CEO Krishna Thiagarajan announced today that Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony’s Harriet Overton Stimson Music Director, has been named to a new position, the Judith Fong Conductor Emeritus, in recognition of his exceptional role in the transformation of the Seattle Symphony over the past eight years. Morlot steps down as Music Director at the end of the current season, becoming Conductor Emeritus this fall. He will be succeeded by Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard, who has served as the Seattle Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor since 2014.

The lifetime title of Conductor Emeritus is being bestowed on Morlot in recognition of his past accomplishments and his future relationship with the orchestra. Morlot will return for regular guest conducting engagements and will have the opportunity to continue working with the orchestra on future recordings, tours and residencies when the Music Director is not available. As Conductor Emeritus, Morlot will continue his fruitful relationship with the Seattle Symphony, which has resulted in an expanded orchestra, nearly 60 commissions and premieres, 19 recordings on the Seattle Symphony Media label, five Grammy Awards, and Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year Award.

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, music news, Seattle Symphony

Heiner Goebbels Brings His Surrogate Cities to Seattle

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Seattle Symphony in Heiner Goebbels’s Surrogate Cities; photo by James Holt

Last night’s program was a landmark not just of this season but of the Ludovic Morlot era. By the end of the concert, which was devoted exclusively to Surrogate Cities by Heiner Goebbels, the thrilling sense of having just shared a one-time experience had palpably swept through the audience.

It was clear that this full-throttle performance by an expanded Seattle Symphony and guest artists Jocelyn B. Smith and David Moss had been an unprecedented evening at Benaroya — opening up new vistas about what a symphony concert can be and how much territory remains unexplored in the context of this revered medium.

The German composer Heiner Goebbels, an especially compelling personality among the postmodern avant-garde (and now 66), emerged in the 1970s as a socially engaged leftist with a radical understanding of the composer’s identity — and responsibility. His interest in the stage and film and in popular musical idioms is anchored in a fascination with the theatricality of musical performance — hence his close and fruitful association with such figures as the East German playwright Heiner Müller.

Goebbels’s efforts to blur stereotypical distinctions (between composing/performing, for example, or music and other arts, let alone between genres) became a signature well before defying such boundaries was a more widely adopted stance.

Surrogate Cities is a massive, immersive project that began in the 1990s as “an attempt to approach the phenomenon of the city from various sides, to tell stories of cities, expose oneself to them, observe them,” in the composer’s own words. Seattle Symphony’s presentation last night included the world premiere of a brand-new section the orchestra had commissioned: Under Construction, which occurs as the sixth of seven sections, the whole work now lasting close to an hour and a half.

Goebbels points out that Surrogate Cities “was inspired partly by texts, but also by drawings, structures, and sounds, the juxtaposition of orchestra and sampler playing a considerable role because of the latter’s ability to store sounds and noises ordinarily alien to orchestral sonorities.”
The work’s title comes from the novel Surrogate City published in 1990 by his contemporary, the Irish writer Hugo Hamilton, which provides the text used in the seventh, final section, “Surrogate.”

The pluralization here is characteristic: Goebbels’s manner is omnivorous (though in a sense different to Luciano Berio, whose musical rivers drifting with postmodern flotsam evoke another category of aesthetic response) — as with John Cage, everything is up for consideration as part of the total art work.

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Jocelyn B. Smith, vocalist, and Ludovic Morlot with Seattle Symphony; photo by James Holt

At the same time — and Morlot brought this out brilliantly — Goebbels shows a connection to some surprisingly traditional ideas about working out musical motifs and cells and establishing coherent architectures. It is in its arresting juxtapositions — of rigorous, “serious” orchestration with all-out aural assault from aggressively amplified samples, instrumentals and radically different kinds of vocals, symphonic logic and surreal sound images — that Surrogate Cities casts its spell, provoking unexpected thoughts about the repertoire and suggesting the overlooked musicality of daily life.

Goebbels also created the lighting design that in some ways functions like a second conductor. Over 150 cues call for lots of different moods: from luminous gold to mystical, intimate blue or the shadows of a dodgy nightclub, later followed by a kind of rock arena flamboyance. The composer has here discovered a new “art of transition,” the lighting assisting the transformations in character of his urban soundscapes.

The vast orchestra meanwhile became a veritable spectacle, swelling to fill the Benaroya stage, with five percussionists perched atop a raised platform upstage. Their “extra” instruments (balls swirling in a glass bowl, shaken sheets of foil) enhanced the character of Goebbels’s orchestration as inherently theatrical.

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Heiner Goebbels, David Moss, and Jocelyn B. Smith (l-r); photo by James Holt

Prominent roles for two vocalists are integral to this symphonic spectacle. Jocelyn B. Smith was a highlight during a movement of three songs (“The Horatian”) recounting a story from ancient Roman history, her mezzo in the tragic refrain about inevitable violence plummeting deep into the soul of each syllable.

David Moss, an unclassifiable vocalist and improvisational genius for whom Goebbels tailored parts of the work, was a trippingly tongued, one-man vocal orchestra, commanding an improbable spectrum of pitches and complex rythms (imagine Elliott Carter penning patter song).

A lengthy section that blends sampled sounds with the orchestra (including an especially moving use of Jewish chant preserved on “scratchy recordings from the 1920s and ’30s”) brought to mind more recent efforts, such as the electronica brand with which Mason Bates initially made his name — to the detriment of the latter, which seem distinctly pedestrian by comparison.

Goebbels can summon the energy of a rock band from his forces, but without “dumbing down” the orchestra: he makes room for subtle dynamic differentiation and fascinating timbral combinations of the live instruments and his palette of sampled industrial sounds. An especially exciting moment was the carefully built, superheated crescendo Morlot elicited in the final section, leading to Moss’s vocal outburst, “She’s been running…”

“The associations I have are with a realistic, certainly contradictory, but ultimately positive image of the modern city,” according to Goebbels. “My intention was not to produce a close-up but to try and read the city as a text and then to translate something of its mechanics and architecture into music…”

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, review, Seattle Symphony

Demarre McGill Dazzles in Dalbavie Flute Concerto

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Demarre McGill, Ludovic Morlot, and Marc-André Dalbavie with Seattle Symphony

Seattle Symphony audiences are familiar with Demarre McGill’s magical flute artistry from countless solo moments he’s performed as the ensemble’s principal flute. But this week’s program puts him center stage for the Flute Concerto by Marc-André Dalbavie — and it was an unforgettable highlight of Thursday’s performance.

The French composer wrote his Flute Concerto in 2006 for the Berlin Philharmonic’s principal flutist, the Franco-Swiss Emmanuel Pahud, so you can readily imagine the caliber of playing required. Even at 17 minutes, relatively brief for a concerto, the piece keeps the soloist frenetically active for long stretches.

McGill negotiated its challenges with pure grace and eloquence, engaging in Dalbavie’s unusual dialectic with the orchestra. Rather than a sweet-tuned concerto of airy charms, the flute seems to be simultaneously urging on and trying to tame the orchestra’s ebullient spirits. McGill projected a complex protagonist, Orphic in the central slower section, sprightly as Puck girdling the earth in the rapidfire passages.

Ludovic Morlot led a vivid, gorgeously textured performance that was the theme of the entire generous program, mostly a French affair. He began with another of his specialities, Maurice Ravel’s Suite from Ma mère l’Oye. This time, I detected a radiant, but never forced, tone of elegiac wonder in Sleeping Beauty’s Pavane and the concluding scene of the Enchanted Garden. There was ebullience in the latter as well, underscoring a kinship with the parallel concluding moment in The Firebird. The SSO’s playing was at its most refined, full of silken caresses and subtly articulated rhythms.

The first half ended with the world premiere of Tropes de : Bussy, an ambitious symphonic work the SSO commissioned from Joël-François Durand, Associate Director of the UW School of Music. The title alone requires considerable unpacking and points to the layered associations and post-modern play of Durand’s score. Explains the French-born composer, who developed his concept of the piece while orchestrating some of the piano Préludes of Debussy: “As I kept re-working my arrangements, I gradually started to modify the original music, as if adding more and more interpretive filters with each attempt… Tropes de : Bussy is at first glance a pun on the French composer’s last name, but it also reflects the distance I took from the original texts, revealing and at the same time hiding most of the actual music.”

Durand chose five of the Book I Préludes (Les sons et les parfums, La danse de Puck, Le vent dans la plaine, Des pas sur la neige, and Minstrels. There was much to admire in the imaginative soundscapes he conjured from a large orchestra. If the piece seemed to overstay its welcome, stretching the game of hide-and-seek with the familiar Debussyan harmonies and ideas on at great length, it offered numerous enchanting moments (particularly the “slow” movement after Des pas sur la neige. With its deconstruction of rhythmic structures, the finale after Minstrels recalled something of Ravel’s strategy (though not his sound world) in La valse.

To conclude, Morlot led the one non-French work on this wonderful program. His account of Mozart’s later G minor Symphony, K. 550, glistened with the textural alertness that had been his focus in the French pieces. Taking the Andante at a brisk “walking” tempo worked especially well, and Morlot set off sparks by leaning into the cross-rhythms of the Minuet. The relentless drive of the outer movements gained freshness from being juxtaposed with the Dalbavie.

Review (c) 2019 Thomas May

Filed under: commissions, Ludovic Morlot, Maurice Ravel, Mozart, new music, review, Seattle Symphony

New Concertos by Caroline Shaw and Kinan Azmeh at Seattle Symphony

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Caroline Shaw, Jonathan Biss, and Ludovic Morlot with Seattle Symphony; photo (c) Brandon Patoc

My coverage of recent world premieres by Caroline Shaw and Kinan Azmeh has now been posted at Musical America.

SEATTLE—As Ludovic Morlot’s final season at the helm of the Seattle Symphony gets closer to the final stretch, his legacy of nurturing new music is coming into sharper relief. The SSO’s last two programs in particular—otherwise so strikingly different in character and mood—each unveiled commissions that took the form of brand-new concertos of genuine distinction: Watermark, Caroline Shaw’s score for pianist Jonathan Biss; and a moving work composed by and for the brilliant clarinetist Kinan Azmeh.

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Kinan Azmeh with Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot premiering his new Clarinet Concerto; photo (c) Brandon Patoc

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Filed under: Caroline Shaw, Kinan Azmeh, Ludovic Morlot, new music, Seattle Symphony, Silk Road Project

Kernis and SSO to the Grammys

This Sunday we’ll find out whether Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony’s recording of the Violin Concerto by A.J. Kernis with James Ehnes as the soloist wins either (or both) of its two Grammy nominations: for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Classical Instrumental solo. Hard to believe two years have passed since that wonderful premiere. Here’s the review I wrote back then:

In last night’s Seattle Symphony concert led by Ludovic Morlot, James Ehnes introduced a brand-new violin concerto written for him by one of today’s finest composers, Aaron Jay Kernis. This was the U.S. premiere; last week Ehnes gave the world premiere in Toronto (a co-commissioner with SSO).

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Filed under: Aaron Jay Kernis, James Ehnes, Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony

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

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