Seattle Symphony
Photo by: Brandon Patoc

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot and Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly announce 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.”

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Ludovic Morlot

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 Images, Petite suite, Jeux, Printemps, 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 and La 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.

Season Highlights

  • DEBUSSY AND FRENCH REPERTOIRE In his eighth and final season as Music Director, Ludovic Morlot will build on his exploration of works by French masters, with a major focus on works by Claude Debussy, as well as his influences and contemporary French composers he inspired, during the centenary year of the composer’s passing.
  • THOMAS DAUSGAARD Principal Guest Conductor and Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard will conduct Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2, “The Four Temperaments,” Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “New World,” and George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions,” among other works.
  • MAJOR WORKS J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9, Brahms’ Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3, Bruch’s Violin Concerto, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2, Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel, Shostakovich’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 15, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
  • SEATTLE SYMPHONY COMMISSIONS The Seattle Symphony will give the world premieres of the following commissioned works: Kinan Azmeh’s Clarinet Concerto, two new works by Derek Bermel, Joël-François Durand’s Préludes, a new piece for Heiner GoebbelsSurrogate Cities, John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? for Orchestra and Obbligato Organ, Caroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto, and a new work by Chen Yi.
  • ADDITIONAL PREMIERES This season will feature the first-ever public performances of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 5, “Visions.” The orchestra will give the U.S. premieres of Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two- Birds and Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers, and the North American premiere of Langgaard’s Prelude to Antichrist.
  • CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS In addition to the above commissions and premieres, contemporary works include Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, John AdamsThe Chairman Dances from Nixon in China, Unsuk Chin’s snagS&Snarls, Marc-André Dalbavie’s La source d’un regard, Reinbert De Leeuw’s “Im wunderschöenen Monat Mai,” Sofia Gubaidulina’s Offertorium, Vijay Iyer’s City of Sand, Edward Perez’s Latina 6/8 Suite, Narong Prangcharoen’s Pubbanimitta, Kaija Saariaho’s Ciel d’hiver, Michael Tilson ThomasAgnegram and Lotta Wennäkoski’s Hava.
  • SURROGATE CITIES The Seattle Symphony will present Heiner Goebbels’ multi-sensory production Surrogate Cities, which reflects on the impact of urbanism on society. The evening-long performance includes the premiere of a new piece woven into Surrogate Cities.
  • COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE DEREK BERMEL Composer, clarinetist and conductor Derek Bermel will be Composer in Residence for the season. In addition to world premieres of two new compositions and other projects, he will co-create the orchestra’s spring Simple Gifts Community Composition project in collaboration with residents of Compass Housing Alliance, a leading provider of housing for veterans.
  • SILKROAD ENSEMBLE The Silkroad Ensemble returns to Seattle, bringing their trademark world-class performers and repertoire connecting East and West. At this performance, Ludovic Morlot and the orchestra will present the world premieres of Seattle Symphony commissions from Chinese composer Chen Yi and Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh. Azmeh’s new Clarinet Concerto was commissioned
  • following his stirring performance at the Seattle Symphony’s Music Beyond Borders: Voices from the Seven, performed in response to the travel ban that was issued in January 2017.
  • JORDI SAVALL: THE ROUTES OF SLAVERY In a 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. Presented in partnership with Early Music Seattle.
  • BRAHMS CONCERTO FESTIVAL Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta leads a two-concert festival featuring rising star violinists Blake Pouliot and Sayaka Shoji, cellist Jay Campbell, and pianists Yury Favorin and Zee Zee.
  • GUEST ARTISTS Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Nicola Benedetti, Vadim Gluzman, Augustin Hadelich, Alina Ibragimova, Itzhak Perlman and Aleksey Semenenko; clarinetist Kinan Azmeh; pianists Behzod Abduraimov, Jonathan Biss, Khatia Buniatishvili, Boris Giltburg, Garrick Ohlsson, Steven Osborne, Sir András Schiff and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; as well as Wayne Marshall, organ; Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord; Avi Avital, mandolin; and Dmitry Sinkovsky, countertenor.
  • GUEST CONDUCTORS Conductors include Andrey Boreyko, Richard Egarr, Mahan Esfahani, Gustavo Gimeno, Jonathon Heyward, Kirill Karabits, Vasily Petrenko, Ruth Reinhardt, Dmitry Sinkovsky, Dima Slobodeniouk and Shiyeon Sung.

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