An invitation from Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Stilian Kirov:
“I am thrilled to invite you to our 19th annual Holiday Musical Salute: Winter Wonderland! I can’t wait to launch the holiday season for our Seattle Symphony family with some great music that I am sure will bring us many moments of joy and inspiration.”
Join the Seattle Symphony as we lift the baton on the holiday season with our annual Holiday Musical Salute. This special holiday concert and luncheon, which will be held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, is a wonderful opportunity to introduce friends and business colleagues to the Symphony and to gather in the spirit of the season. It is also a great opportunity to get a jump on your holiday shopping, all while supporting the musicians behind the music you love. The best part: Proceeds from this event support the Seattle Symphony’s contribution to the Players’ Pension Plan.
When: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Where: Sheraton Seattle Hotel
1400 6th Avenue, Seattle
10:30am: Holiday pop-up shops and hot cider reception 12 noon: Luncheon 12:30pm: Holiday concert with the Seattle Symphony 1pm: Raffle drawing 1:15pm: Shopping continues
Symphony supporter and member of Team Chihuly Jason Christian has designed 300 limited edition glass ornaments to raise funds for the Symphony musicians. The ornaments, in various shades of festive blue, will be available at Holiday Musical Salute.
For more information, to purchase tickets or to pre-order a holiday ornament, please click here.
The following Seattle Symphony concerts will be broadcast on Classical KING FM 98.1 and at king.org.
Friday, December 6, 2013, at 8pm
(from September 19 & 21, 2013)
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
MAURICE RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso
MAURICE RAVEL: Piano Concerto in D major for Left Hand
MAURICE RAVEL: Rapsodie espagnole
MAURICE RAVEL: Pavane pour une infante défunte
MAURICE RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G major
MAURICE RAVEL: Boléro
Friday, January 3, 2014, at 8pm
(from November 7 & 9, 2013)
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
PIERRE BOULEZ: Notations I–IV for Large Orchestra
GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor
Friday, February 7, 2014, at 8pm
(from November 14–16, 2013)
ROBERT SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A major, Op. 129
HECTOR BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Friday, May 2, at 8pm
(from March 20, 22 & 23, 2014)
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Tomoko Mukaiyama, piano
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Suite from Snow Maiden
ALEXANDER RASKATOV: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, “Night Butterflies” (U.S. Premiere):
PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, “Pathétique”
In less than two weeks, the Seattle Symphony will give its first of three performances of the Verdi Requiem. The program — musical qualities aside — is noteworthy for two reasons: It celebrates the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, and it honors the 30-year tenure of Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins.
Speight Jenkins, photo by Yuen Lui Studio
Seattle Symphony annotator Paul Schiavo recently spoke with Jenkins, “a Verdian par excellence,” about Verdi and this masterpiece. Below are some of Jenkins’ thoughts.
On the inherent drama of the Requiem, a composition sometimes called “non-operatic”:
“I think it’s one of Verdi’s operas. Everything in it is mature Verdi, and everything about it is operatic.”
A sheet music excerpt, marked with bowings, for the terrifying "Dies irae" movement of the Verdi Requiem
On the Dies irae movement:
“[It is] one of the most terrifying things [Verdi] ever composed. The Sanctus is kind of ur-Verdi in that it is so — not joyous, but thrilling. And the Libera me, while it’s the part that is the most suggestive of the Church, is one of the hardest pieces for soprano that exists in the Italian repertory.”
On the variety of ways Jenkins has seen the Requiem interpreted:
“The thing that’s fascinating to me is the variety of approaches that conductors take to the Requiem. I’ve heard performances that differ from each other by as much as 13 minutes, with the average being about 78 minutes. That’s a lot of variance. The only other works in which you get anything like it are the Wagner operas, and this again shows what a conductor’s piece the Requiem is.”
On the most memorable versions of the Requiem Jenkins has heard:
“The greatest performances I’ve heard were those of [Claudio] Abbado and [James] Levine. Abbado’s was amazing for its range of dynamics. He could get a pianississississimo right up to fortissississimo, and it was quite something to hear.”
Below is the beginning of the Dies irae, conducted by Abbado.
On the soloists – several of whom Jenkins has presented at Seattle Opera — that will sing in the Symphony’s Requiem performances:
“It’s a young group, all with marvelous voices. [A]ll four parts are important, and you need four really balanced singers — true soloists, but balanced.”
See and hear the terrifying, joyous and passionate Requiem for yourself on November 21, 23 and 24. Read program notes and get your tickets here.
Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning, is particularly excited about the orchestra’s November 7 and 9 performances of Pierre Boulez’s Notations (alongside Mahler’s Sixth Symphony) this week. Below, she shares her thoughts on Boulez and this interesting piece, which he composed in 1945 and revised in 1978.
In her own words:
Sometimes, great artists catch an inspiration and put it on paper, but then come back to the same idea many years later and look at it from a new perspective. At this week’s concerts, Ludovic Morlot will compare the musical ideas of the most important living composer of today, Pierre Boulez, both as a young man and as a mature artist.
Boulez wrote his aphoristic Notations for piano in 1945, when he was a 20-year-old student, and they became his first published work. Even if he didn’t write anything else, these 12 marvelous miniature visions would have elevated the composer to an important place in the history of 20th-century music, thanks to their completely original timbral and structural modern sensibilities. More than 30 years later, Boulez decided to adapt some of these piano snippets for extra-large orchestra, reimagining and expanding them with the help of new compositional ideas and the incredible color that a large orchestra provides.
This week, the Seattle Symphony and pianist Kimberly Russ will perform several movements from the Notations in both piano and orchestral versions for you to enjoy. With the exception of some very rare performances, I bet most of you haven’t seen such a large orchestra on the Benaroya Hall stage! We are even building a stage extension so that there is room for all musicians required by this amazing score.
Click here to read program notes about Notations and Mahler’s Sixth, and to get tickets to this week’s concert.
Zartouhi Dombourian-Eby, the Seattle Symphony’s Robert & Clodagh Ash Piccolo, will be performing Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C major, RV 443, with the orchestra on November 1 and 2. (Get your tickets here.) You might say she knows this piece well. After all, she first learned it when she was in junior high, and for a long time it was one of the few significant pieces in the repertoire available for piccolo. And now, her own edition of Vivaldi’s three piccolo concertos, RV 443, 444 and 445, is in its third printing.
You have published an edition of three Vivaldi concertos for piccolo. What is special about these concertos? What is unique about your edition?
These concertos weren’t discovered until the 1950s, and they were the mainstay of the piccolo repertoire until about 20 years ago. It was about all we had to play. My edition is the first one where all three concertos are in the same volume and where there are “performance tips” included.
When you were learning piccolo, you had these three pieces and maybe a few others. The repertoire has grown significantly since then, but when you return to these, is there a special place in your heart for them?
Yes. For me, I was finishing 7th grade and I was in a 7th–9th grade junior high. The piccolo player in the band was a 9th grader and she was graduating. So, at the end of the year my band director handed me this piccolo concerto (RV 443) and said, “Here, why don’t you learn to play this over the summer.” It really was kind of my introduction to the piccolo — learning to play this piece.
A facsimile of the opening notes of Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto, RV 443
In the preface to your edition, you talk about adding dynamics and ornamentation. How do you decide to add all that? How do you know that it belongs?
Well, a lot of that just comes through playing a lot of Baroque music and knowing what the traditions were for ornamentation. In the case of the concerto I’ll be playing, the slow movement is the one that I’m ornamenting a lot, and this is the one movement that has any repeats in it. Almost always, when Baroque composers include a repeat, they expect you to ornament the music the second time around. Baroque music is kind of more like jazz in a way, in that they did not write any articulations or dynamics — they expected you to ornament and put in extra notes. My edition has pedagogical suggestions in there, so hopefully it’s helpful to people who don’t play piccolo much or who don’t have a teacher to explain to them these special “piccolo things” that we (piccoloists) do.
When you look at the facsimile to this work, you get to see Vivaldi in action. He writes notes in the margins. He crosses stuff out. Then he changes his mind and crosses that out and writes in the original again. So you get so see him being human. What did you learn about him from editing your edition of these concertos?
I loved seeing all this. Well, he got really lazy. Look at this section:
You see all the notes he wrote out [in the first bar, on the left]? He started writing them out that way. Then he got lazy and just wrote them as chords — which you can’t play on the piccolo. It’s just an assumed arpeggio. He did that several times, where he’s just kind of like, “Okay, you know what to do here. I’m not going to bother.” That, I thought, was pretty funny.
My favorite quote from the preface is “Vivaldi should not sound like a sewing machine.” Can you explain this quote?
So much of this music is arpeggios, you know, back and forth, like the arm of a sewing machine. What I mean is when you play it, don’t just have it sound like it’s mechanical. Make music out of it. You still play the notes, put expression in it. Which, of course, is not there. It’s not written in, because Vivaldi did not write this stuff in!
Creative Diaspora: Émigré Composers from the Former USSR
March 22-23, 2014
To complement the U.S. premiere performances of Alexander Raskatov’s Night Butterflies piano concerto, the Seattle Symphony (the co-commissioner of the piece) is organizing a symposium on music of Russian diaspora. Alexander Raskatov is perhaps the most recognized Russian composer living outside of Russia from the generation born after the Second World War. His opera A Dog’s Heart was co-commissioned and premiered by the Netherlands National Opera and English National Opera in 2010 and later performed at Teatro alla Scala in March 2013. His orchestral works have been performed by such luminaries as Valery Gergiev, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and others.
Dozens of important Russian composers left Russia as a result of the First World War and the 1917 revolution, including Igor Stravinsky and Sergey Rachmaninov. A “Russian invasion” has left palpable traces in the world musical landscape, especially since many “true” American composers (such as George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and others) were born in the Russian-speaking immigrant families. The impact of the Russian émigré composers on Western music has been even more substantial, because many of them became highly regarded music and composition teachers in the music institution worldwide. The latest wave of music emigration from the former USSR is comparable in numbers to the early 20th-century’s wave and includes such important names as Alfred Schnittke and Sofia Gubaidulina.
The conference, “Creative Diaspora: Émigré Composers from the Former USSR,” aims to further the discussion of the music created within the diaspora, by promoting music by important but unfairly forgotten or not yet well-established Russian émigré composers and advocating for the inclusion of issues related to Russian émigré music into the general studies of border crossing, emigration and diaspora.
Conference participants include:
Alexander Raskatov, composer
Richard Taruskin (University of California, Berkeley)
Laurel Fay (G. Schirmer Inc.)
Claudia R. Jensen (University of Washington)
Peter Schmelz (Washington University in St. Louis)
Marina Ritzarev (Bar-Ilan University, Israel)
Natalie Zelensky (Colby College)
The conference will take place in Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center at Benaroya Hall. All conference presenters will be invited to the Seattle Symphony’s performance of Raskatov’s Night Butterflies by pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama conducted by Ludovic Morlot on March 22, 2014, in Benaroya Hall, and to a post-concert reception organized by the University of Washington’s School of Music and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
We welcome paper proposals from scholars across music history, theory, ethnomusicology and other disciplines related to the conference theme. To submit a proposal for an individual paper, please send a message with a subject line “Creative Diaspora Submission” with your name, affiliation, paper title and an abstract of no more than 250 words for papers of 25 minutes in duration to email@example.com by December 1, 2013.
Picture this: It’s a Tuesday afternoon and Music Director Ludovic Morlot is leading the Seattle Symphony in a rehearsal of an upcoming Masterworks Season program, the first performance of which will take place in a little over 48 hours. Because it’s a rehearsal, the lights are dim and the seats in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium are empty — except for one man.
That man is Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Stilian Kirov. He’s seated about 15 rows back and has a score open on his lap. He flips pages to keep up with the music that Morlot and the orchestra are rehearsing onstage, and he occasionally jots down notes in the margins. Kirov is essentially preparing to conduct the concert himself, in the unfortunate event that Morlot is unable to. Rare as this is, it did happen this past January. And, on just a day’s notice, Kirov stepped in and led the orchestra and soloists in the Symphony’s fifth annual Celebrate Asia concert — a stunning and memorable affair.
Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Stilian Kirov, photo by Yuen Lui Studio
“You always have to be prepared and ready to step in,” Kirov shares. “It was challenging, but I had a great time with the orchestra. The musicians are always wonderful and very supportive, and the soloists were also absolutely fantastic. The experience was very important for me.” But, as the Seattle Symphony’s Associate Conductor (he was Assistant Conductor last season but earned the promotion to Associate beginning in September), Kirov has much more on his plate than covering rehearsals and performances. In addition to being prepared to fill in on a moment’s notice, the Assistant/Associate Conductor’s duties include leading concerts (especially neighborhood, family and education concerts), editing concert recordings for radio broadcast and grant support, and working with the artistic staff on programming ideas.
Just this month, for example, Kirov leads a Mainly Mozart series program, three Community Concerts (two of them side-by-side performances with local high schools) and a Discover Music family concert. In other words, Kirov must continually think about the audience, the way the music is presented, and the inherently community-centered responsibilities that come with being a musical leader at the Seattle Symphony.
As it stands now, the Assistant Conductor position typically runs for one or two years and sometimes includes a promotion to Associate Conductor. The position, which gives young musical leaders some very valuable experience, has proven to be a valuable link in the career trajectories of many former Seattle Symphony Assistant/Associate Conductors. A few examples: Adam Stern (Assistant 1992–96; Associate 1996–2001) is now Music Director of the Seattle Philharmonic and the Port Angeles Symphony; Alastair Willis (Assistant 2000–02; Associate 2002–03) is now Music Director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra; and Carolyn Kuan (Assistant 2006–07; Associate 2007–09) is the newly appointed Music Director of the Hartford Symphony.
Alastair Willis, former Seattle Symphony Assistant and Associate Conductor
Willis, who conducted over 100 concerts in three seasons with the Seattle Symphony, says, “Every experience, large or small, helped me prepare for what was next. The variety of programming, the flexibility, the ton of repertoire I learned, my relationship with the musicians, the musical politics and so much more. It’s no understatement that my three years with the Seattle Symphony helped shaped me into who I am today, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for that.”
Seattle Symphony bassist Travis Gore (pictured above: bottom, right) is one of several Symphony musicians who will be performing with their own ensembles at the Symphony’s free Day of Music this Sunday, September 22. Read on to learn more about Feeds on Majesty, Gore’s indie rock/psychedelic folk side project with fellow Seattle-area musicians Bryant Moore, Margaux Le Sourd and Rob Tucker. Then, check out the full schedule of performers and come on down to Benaroya Hall this weekend!
How did you come by Feeds on Majesty as your band’s name?
It came from a quote of a Rumi poem translated by Coleman Barks entitled “The Force of Friendship.” The specific quote out of context is, “Anyone who feeds on majesty becomes eloquent” — majesty being God’s manifested beauty inward and outward. The poem is about the relationships of people and their being drawn together in a shared vibration whether they know it or not. That “eloquence” coming from the focus on God (or majesty, spirit, love, inspiration, humanity … however one wishes to view it) is what I think we as musicians, composers and songwriters are always attempting to capture. I felt a resonance with the idea and thought it described the intention behind the music we’re performing.
How long have you been playing together? What drew you together as a group?
Bryant Moore and I were loosely playing together since 2010 and we had the idea of starting a band together. Then, my sister put on an art auction for prostate cancer two years ago in Sodo and had been asked to play but had no lineup, so we quickly crammed for our first show and brought friends together to play with us for it. We kind of lost momentum for a while after that due to some family health issues on my end over the past few years, but recently, for the first time after an attempt to form the band around the record, I feel like we have a band now. Seattle is a tough town for people to commit to a project — everyone plays in three to seven different bands so scheduling recording sessions, rehearsals and shows is tough, especially when the Symphony schedule is usually opposite to most people’s.
We have a great group now who are all fantastic writers of their own and I feel we work and communicate really well. Bryant Moore is mostly playing guitar now and singing, Margaux Le Sourd is playing keys and singing, I’m playing upright and singing, and Rob Tucker from the ballet is playing drums. It’s a great group of people.
You lead a double life as a musician: playing classical double bass in the Symphony, and as a member of Feeds on Majesty. How do these two parts of your musical life influence each other? Are they complimentary or competing?
Totally complimentary except for scheduling at times. I’ve played in bands my whole life with varying intensity. I think playing in a band really helps your pacing of phrase and sense of rhythm in orchestra and chamber music. The classical realm helps the other too in regard to composition and intricacy of ensemble. I think we as classical musicians are more prone to picking things apart which can be good and bad. You need to learn from your practice, but you can focus so much on a detail that it takes the magic away.
If you could describe your band’s style in 5 words or less, what would you say?
It’s hard to say when you are so close to it, but I would hope it would go something like this: Haunting, Violent, Beautiful, Ethereal, Surreal.
What can Day of Music audiences expect when they hear Feeds on Majesty this coming Sunday?
Music from our record, as well as some new songs which will be on our next release!
Seattle Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik
Jeff Tyzik may be a familiar face to you. After all, he has conducted the Seattle Symphony several times, including two Seattle Pops series programs last year after he was named Principal Pops Conductor Designate. He’s known for his brilliant programming and arrangements, and for his friendly, engaging onstage presence. This month, the Seattle Symphony welcomes Tyzik as he conducts a program of all-Gershwin music, featuring several hit numbers from the composer’s famous Porgy and Bess.
This is your first official program as our new Principal Pops Conductor — why did you choose an all-Gershwin line-up?
George Gershwin is one of America’s greatest composers. Like Leonard Bernstein, Gershwin knew no musical boundaries when he created music. He composed shows, concertos, orchestral works including An Americanin Paris, and what I consider to be one of the first American operas, Porgy and Bess. His music is exciting, melodic and a mix ofclassical and jazz styles.
Porgy and Bess is an extremely popular opera with a lot of great music and a storied performance history. Why has this work stood the test of time?
Porgy and Bess is a masterpiece! The one-hour suite we are performing is well arranged and orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett, the arranger who worked with the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe and many others. This suite captures the essence of the opera and is full of all the wonderful songs we know and love.
Do the selections you chose from Porgy and Bess capture the arc of the story? What wouldyou tell audience members who aren’t familiarwith the storyline?
This suite tells the story very well. If you don’t know the story, the music is so good that you will enjoy it immensely and miss nothing. Every song is meaningful in its own way.
How did you select Janice Chandler-Eteme and Kevin Deas as the soloists for this program?
I’ve performed this suite many times with Kevin and Janice, and I’m convinced that if Gershwin were conducting this concert he would have wanted them to be his soloists as well.
How do the other works by Gershwin on this program complement the selections from Porgyand Bess?
I wanted to give some of Gershwin’s music that we don’t always hear a bit of the spotlight in this concert. We will perform his first published composition, Rialto Ripples. It’s a ragtime piano piece from 1914 that I arranged for orchestra. His Lullaby for String Orchestra was lost for 50 years and is a beautiful, elegant little gem. After a visit to Cuba, he composed Cuban Overture, an exciting and rhythmic work for orchestra. We start out the concert with the Overture to Funny Face, a vintage show he wrote in 1927. My idea was to show how some of Gershwin’s early work led to his great masterpieces.
Tyzik takes the stage to conduct this program on September 26–29. Get your ticketshere.
Most of all, we’d like to say a big WELCOME BACK to Music Director Ludovic Morlot and our orchestra. Their beautiful music fills Benaroya Hall once again as they prepare for Opening Night with Lang Lang on Sunday. Hope to see you there — pick up one (or more!) of the remaining tickets here.