MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Becoming the Light

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Composer John Luther Adams with conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Seattle Symphony presents the world premiere “Become Desert” March 29 and 31. (Brandon Patoc )

And what a night: Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot have given the world premiere of Become Desert by the incomparable John Luther Adams.

My review for The Seattle Times here, where I was only able to offer a few hints of how extraordinarily original, enthralling, and transformative this music is.

Filed under: Beethoven, John Luther Adams, review, Seattle Symphony

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

David Lang World Premiere at Seattle Symphony


Tonight brings the world premiere of David Lang’s new opus, symphony without a hero, on tonight’s Seattle Symphony concert at 7.30 pm (PST). Ludovic Morlot also conducts the work to which it responds, Richard Strauss’s magniloquent Ein Heldenleben.

Here’s the Anna Akhmatova poem that inspired Lang:

Poem without a Hero

I have lit my treasured candles,
one by one, to hallow this night.
With you, who do not come,
I wait the birth of the year.
Dear God!
the flame has drowned in crystal,
and the wine, like poison, burns
Old malice bites the air,
old ravings rave again,
though the hour has not yet struck.

Dread. Bottomless dread…
I am that shadow on the threshold
defending my remnant peace.

Let the gossip roll!
What to me are Hamlet’s garters,
or the whirlwind of Salome’s dance,
or the tread of the Man in the Iron Mask?
I am more iron than they.

Prince Charming, prince of the mockers —
compared with him the foulest of sinners
is grace incarnate…

That woman I once was,
in a black agate necklace,
I do not wish to meet again
till the Day of Judgement.

Are the last days near, perhaps?
I have forgotten your lessons,
prattlers and false prophets,
but you haven’t forgotten me.
As the future ripens in the past,
so the past rots in the future —
a terrible festival of dead leaves.

All the mirrors on the wall
show a man not yet appeared
who could not enter this white hall.
He is no better and no worse,
but he is free of Lethe’s curse:
his warm hand makes a human pledge.
Strayed from the future, can it be
that he will really come to me,
turning left from the bridge?

From childhood I have been afraid
of mummers. It always seemed
an extra shadow
without face or name
had slipped among them…

You…
you are as old as the Mamre oak,
ancient interrogator of the moon,
whose feigned groans cannot take us in.
You write laws of iron.

Creature of special tastes,
you do not wait for gout and fame
to elevate you
to a luxurious jubilee chair,
but bear your triumph
over the flowering heather,
over wildernesses.
And you are guilty of nothing: neither of this,
that, nor anything..

Besides
what have poets, in any case, to do with sin?
They must dance before the Ark of the Covenant
or die! But what am I trying to say?

In the black sky no star is seen,
somewhere in ambush lurks the Angel of Death,
but the spices tongues of the masqueraders
are loose and shameless
A shout:
“Make way for the hero!”
Ah yes. Displacing the tall one,
he will step forth now without fail
and sing to us about holy vengeance…

There is no death, each of us knows —
it’s banal to say.
I’ll leave it to others to explain.

Is this the visitor from the wrong side
of the mirror? Or the shape
that suddenly flitted past my window?
Is it the new moon playing tricks,
or is someone really standing there again
between the stove and the cupboard?

This means that gravestones are fragile
and granite is softer than wax.
Absurd, absurd, absurd! From such absurdity
I shall soon turn gray
or change into another person.
why do you beckon me with your hand?
For one moment of peace
I would give the peace of the tomb.

~Anna Akhmatova (trans. Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward)

 

https://www.kanopystreaming.com/product/anna-akhmatova-life-poet

Filed under: American music, David Lang, Seattle Symphony

Thomas Dausgaard and Seattle Symphony in an All-Brahms Concert

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Thomas Dausgaard conducts the Seattle Symphony in a Brahms program at Benaroya Hall. (Brandon Patoc)

My review of last night’s program for The Seattle Times:

For a glimpse of the music of the future in Seattle, head down to Benaroya Hall this weekend to experience Thomas Dausgaard in action….

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Filed under: Brahms, review, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, Thomas Dausgaard

Prokofiev Festival

Coming up at Seattle Symphony, in two parts, conducted by Pablo Rus Broseta:
Part One: Piano Concertos 1 and 2, Violin Concerto 1
Part Two: Piano Concerto 3, Violin Concerto 2, Symphony 1 (“Classique”)

No, Yuja Wang is not taking part — I couldn’t find a video of Conrad Tao in PC 2, which is what I’m most looking forward to.

Filed under: Prokofiev, Seattle Symphony

Simon Woods To Leave SSO for LA Phil

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Simon Woods, who as President & CEO has worked so closely with Ludovic Morlot to reshape the Seattle Symphony and enhance its sense of mission, will head south in January to become Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Michael Cooper reports in The New York Times:

In Los Angeles, Mr. Woods will have far greater resources — and a far larger organization to run. The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s annual budget, the largest of any American orchestra, is approximately $125 million — nearly four times Seattle’s, which is $32 million. But he said he was undaunted.

Here’s the full Seattle Symphony press release:

Seattle Symphony Board to Launch Search for Successor

SEATTLE – The Seattle Symphony’s President & CEO Simon Woods, who has led the organization since 2011, will leave in January to become the Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, widely regarded as one of the nation’s most important and forward- looking orchestral organizations. A search committee led by Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly and Chair-Elect René Ancinas will be formed to launch an international search for Woods’ successor.

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Filed under: Los Angeles Philharmonic, music news, Seattle Symphony

Strange Beauty: The Berlioz Requiem in Seattle

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(c) Brandon Patoc

My review of the Berlioz Requiem performed by Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Symphony:

Even for a composer as naturally original as Hector Berlioz, the Grande messe des morts stands apart for its wild uniqueness…

continue reading

Filed under: Berlioz, review, 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

Dmitry Sinkovsky’s Vivaldi Project

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Dmitry Sinkovsky (Photo credit: Marco Borggreve)

Casting a spell over your audience as a violin virtuoso is remarkable enough. But some musicians are real overachievers.

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Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, Uncategorized, Vivaldi

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