Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot unveil 2016–2017 season

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Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot unveil 2016–2017 season
Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot unveil 2016–2017 season. Photo: Brandon Patoc

Seattle – Music Director Ludovic Morlot and President & CEO Simon Woods today announced the Grammy-winning orchestra’s 2016–2017 season, presenting an inspiring array of programming that artfully pairs traditional repertoire with bold new works. In Morlot’s sixth season as Music Director, the orchestra will present the second part of the two-year Beethoven Cycle, innovative concert experiences including Sonic Evolution and [untitled], a Shostakovich Concerto Festival, star guest artists, commissions, premieres, recordings on Seattle Symphony Media, and Morlot’s first opera in Benaroya Hall.

“I greatly look forward to a sixth season with the wonderful musicians of the Seattle Symphony,” Morlot said. “We are on a journey together with our audiences to not only experience the most exciting symphonic repertoire that we all know and love, but to also explore new and unique musical voices. I’m very happy to welcome Hilary Hahn as our Featured Artist next season, and we’re excited to invite her to join us in our education and community projects when she is in Seattle.”

Woods added, “In these past few years Ludovic Morlot and the orchestra have become critically acclaimed for inspiring performances in the concert hall and on recordings. We’re thrilled to continue that exciting work next season with programming and projects that reflect the creativity and forward-looking spirit of our audiences and our region, while carrying that same creativity into our work to share music with thousands of local school children and our 50 community partner organizations.”

Ludovic Morlot will conduct his first opera in Benaroya Hall, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges with staging directed and designed by multidisciplinary designer Anne Patterson, and Messiaen’s Trois petites liturgies de la présence divine, in addition to well-known works such as the fifth symphonies of Mahler, Prokofiev and Bruckner. This season also marks the second year of a two-year Beethoven Cycle that includes all nine symphonies and all five piano concertos. This season, Ludovic Morlot will conduct Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9, and Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, featuring pianists Inon Barnatan and Emanuel Ax, respectively.

Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard, in his third season with the orchestra, returns to conduct three subscription programs including Nielson’s Symphony No. 3 programmed alongside Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto and the U.S. premiere of a new work by Helen Grime; an all-Rachmaninov program including Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Alexander Melnikov; and an all-Strauss program consisting of Four Last Songs with Erin Wall and An Alpine Symphony.

As Featured Artist next season, Hilary Hahn will perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto on the Masterworks Season as well as a solo recital on the Distinguished Artists series. While in Seattle she will also take part in the Seattle Symphony’s education and community engagement programs.

The Seattle Symphony will again present two bold Sonic Evolution programs, which in the past have celebrated the city’s unique musical legacy through new commissions and artistic collaborations with artists such as Mike McCready and Sir Mix-a-Lot. In the fall, Ludovic Morlot will lead a Sonic Evolution program focusing on grunge, indie rock and funk. The program features Scott McAllister’s Black Dog, a rhapsody for solo clarinet and wind ensemble that takes inspiration from Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the world premiere of Kenji Bunch’sMegalopolis, inspired by the Afrobeat genre, in addition to other pieces and local guest musicians to be announced closer to the performance date. The spring Sonic Evolution concert will feature Seattle R&B/hip hop duo THEESatisfaction which will perform a world premiere by composer Judd Greenstein, commissioned for this occasion.

The inventive and relaxed late-night [untitled] concert series returns with three distinctive themes. The first, an all-Polish program conducted by Ludovic Morlot and Pablo Rus Broseta, includes guest composer and soprano Agata Zubel, who will perform her own Chapter 13. In addition, two works by Lutosławski will be performed, including Chain 1 and Chantefleurs et Chantefables with Agata Zubel. The second program features three works by Russian composers including Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s Récit de Voyage, Ustvolskaya’s Octet for 4 violins, 2 oboes, timpani and piano with pianist Alexei Lubimov, and Pavel Karmanov’s The City I Love and Hate. The final program is inspired by two American icons, Andy Warhol and Thelonius Monk. The program includes Paul Moravec’s Andy Warhol Sez, Yannis Kyriakides’ tinkling conducted by Pablo Rus Broseta, and a staged performance of selections from ANDY: A Popera, by Heath Allen and Dan Visconti.

The Seattle Symphony’s dedication to commissioning new works is once again evident with commissions from Agata ZubelGabriel ProkofievKenji Bunch, Judd Greenstein and Aaron Jay Kernis. Kernis’ Violin Concerto will feature violinist James Ehnes. Notable premieres also include the U.S. premiere of a new work by Helen Grime.

The season will open with Ludovic Morlot conducting an ebullient program featuring acclaimed American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at the Opening Night Concert & Gala on Saturday, September 17. The program will include Handel’s Overture from Music for the Royal Fireworks and “Ombra mai fu” Aria from Xerxes; Pacini’s “Ove t’aggiri, o barbaro” (“Where are you, O cruel man?”) from Stella di Napoli; Rossini’s “Tanti affetti”(“So many emotions”) from La donna del lago; Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel; Bernstein’s Overture from West Side Story; Bernstein & Sondheim’s “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story; and George and Ira Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” from Girl Crazy.

In addition to the Opening Night Concert & Gala, other special concert events not included in the subscription series and currently avai
lable to subscribers only are: cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma, performing Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1; violinist Itzhak Perlman, performing J.S. Bach’s Violin and Oboe Concerto alongside Principal Oboe Mary Lynch as well as conducting Mozart’s Requiem; Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 9; the festival-like Celebrate Asia event honoring Seattle’s Asian communities and conducted by Shizuo Z Kuwahara; a one-night-only performance by the King’s College Choir; two Sonic Evolution performances; and a full line-up of Holiday events. 

In addition to a solo performance by violinist Hilary Hahn, the Distinguished Artists recital series will feature a duo recital with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Yuja Wang, and a duo piano recital featuring Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin.

Making their debuts this season are guest conductors Alan BuribayevAlessandro De MarchiJames FeddeckEdward GardnerEmmanuel Krivine and Shizuo Z Kuwahara; violinist Aleksey Semenenko; cellists Sol Gabetta and Edgar Moreau; and pianists Leif Ove AndsnesInon BarnatanBertrand ChamayouLucas DebargueGeorge Li, and Alexei Lubimov. A number of vocal debuts will take place including sopranos Eleanor DennisJoyce DiDonatoHélène GuilmetteAudrey LunaJulie PasturaudErin WallMary Elizabeth Williams and Agata Zubel; mezzo-sopranos Karine DeshayesRowan Hellier and Rinat Shaham; alto Helen Charlston; contralto Yvonne Naef; countertenor Reginald Mobley; tenors Gwilym BowenJean-Paul Fouchécourt and Robert Murray; baritones Pierrick BoisseauRobert Davies and David Soar; and bass Jonathan Lemalu.

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, schools and communities. Link Up, a music education program that originated from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute, is a highly participatory multi-year music curriculum for 3rd to 5th graders. In the 2015-2016 season, it will serve more than 10,000 students in grades 3 to 5 from nearly 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. Schools have the opportunity to further explore the Link Up curriculum through additional activities and instruction in partnership with a Seattle Symphony teaching artist through a five or ten week residency, offered at minimal cost to all participating schools.

The Symphony’s Community Connections program for nonprofit organizations allows marginalized communities to attend Symphony performances for free, attend pre-concert workshops and participate in in-depth creative projects. Part of the Seattle Symphony’s commitment to expand relations with its community, it currently involves more than 50 local nonprofits and works with youth, cultural and social service groups for customized pre-concert events, music-making workshops, creative projects and community concerts. Examples include the Lullaby Projectfor mothers experiencing homelessness, and prison visits by Symphony musicians and teaching artists. In addition, the Symphony continues its commitment to nurturing young musicians in the community and presents numerous Side-by-Side Concerts with local high school and youth orchestras. 

The Masterworks Season encompasses the Symphony’s core programming of symphonic repertoire. Additional subscription series include Distinguished Artists, Baroque & WineUntuxed[untitled]Fluke/Gabelein Organ RecitalChamberSeattle PopsClassical KING FM Family Concerts and Tiny Tots. Two popular subscription series are being expanded in the 2016–2017 sea
son. These include the Masterworks Season Sunday matinee series is increasing from 7 concerts to 8 concerts, and the Seattle Pops series is increasing from a 5-concert package to a 6-concert package. Non-subscription performances may be added to subscription orders now, and will go on sale to the general public on August 6.