Fate has been kind in wildly varying degrees to different composers. There are those whose works are consistently well-represented in concert halls and on stages everywhere; a good many of the orchestral works, songs, chamber pieces and operas of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, to name but three, are usually available to the concert-goer or opera aficionado on a steady basis. Then there are composers who are household names, even though a relatively small portion of their output is widely known. Take Handel, for example -- considering the vast amount of great music he produced, it is surprising (and a shame) that he is known to music-lovers almost exclusively by a handful of works: Messiah, The Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks, and um...um... And then there are those who, in spite of devoting their lives to the production of very fine, if not excellent music, are known to the general public by a solitary composition. Read the following names, and see if more than one piece comes to mind, let alone whether you've ever heard something other than that one piece: Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Gustav Holst, Arthur Honegger, Ferde Grofé. If you're one of the lucky ones who have actually heard a work other than these respective gentlemen's I Pagliacci, The Planets, Pacific 231 and Grand Canyon Suite, you may consider yourself a member of a select sect indeed.
(Being a "one-work [wo]man" is by no means limited to the world of music. Is Miguel de Cervantes remembered for anything but Don Quixote, Louisa May Alcott Little Women, or Anthony Perkins his portrayal of Psycho's Norman Bates?)
To the shortlist above would have to be added Paul Dukas, whose orchestral scherzo The Sorcerer's Apprentice receives hundreds of performances per year; its already-popular status was increased goodness-knows-how-much-fold when Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski included it in their glorious and immortal collaboration Fantasia. I have no qualms about naming Dukas as one of the greatest of all French composers, even though I have only heard and studied about eight of his works and, at this writing, have only performed two of them. Sadly, those eight comprise roughly two-thirds of his music that anyone can know: in a spasm of self-criticism, he destroyed most of his extant manuscripts shortly before his death, not wishing to be remembered by anything he felt to be of subpar quality. All the more reason to be grateful for his Piano Sonata, the ballet La Péri, and the opera Arianne et Barbe-Bleu which, in this writer's opinion, more than gives Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande a run for its money.
And then there is the Symphony in C, perhaps my favorite of all his works, which I am going to conduct with the Seattle Philharmonic for the first time in my career in March. I personally find this work to be at least the equal of Bizet's Symphony in C, Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony and the Symphony of Ernest Chausson and, no doubt putting me at odds with many in the musical establishment, vastly superior to Franck's Symphony in D minor. (I might not go so far as to damn the latter as harshly as did Charles Gounod when he dubbed it "the affirmation of incompetence pushed to dogmatic lengths", but I don't make any special effort to listen to it, either.) If you know Dukas solely by The Sorcerer's Apprentice, then you already know of his gift for superb orchestration, his ability to create an atmosphere, and his delicious sense of humor. What may surprise you about the Symphony is the romanticism and poignance of Dukas: the slow movement must surely count as one of French music's most eloquent and moving creations, the expression of a man possessed of deep and passionate feelings who knew full well how to express them.
Do both yourself and Monsieur Dukas a favor, and give his Symphony a listen. At the very least, you will end up knowing twice as much of his music as you did going in!
Seattle and Denver Philharmonic Orchestras Connect for Super Bow Championship
Denver/Seattle – January 30, 2014 – The Denver Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) has teamed up with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) to create the music video mashup, “Battle of the Batons: Super Bow I.” The mashup features an original arrangement of John Denver and Mike Taylor’s “Rocky Mountain High,” and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”
You can view the video at www.battleofthebatons.com.
In less than a week, more than 40 musicians and volunteers came together from both orchestras to produce the three-minute video. The collaboration gave the arts organizations a platform to cheer on their respective NFL teams who will compete in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2.
DPO Board President Jon Olafson said, “Since this is such an exciting time in both of our cities, we thought it would be fun to collaborate together on a Super Bowl project. [The mashup] is a great way for our orchestras to show support for our communities,” said Olafson.
“We want to let the Seahawks and Broncos know that the cultural organizations of their cities are behind them, and share in the excitement!” said SPO President Michael Moore.
Despite the orchestras’ friendly social media banter, the collaboration proves that music can rise above fierce rivalry and bring people together.
The video was produced by Ligature Creative and filmmaker David Sherman; original orchestration by Tim Olt.
(Check it out! Our concert is in lights in the picture!)
Walking down the street, checking the mailbox at the post office across the street, sometimes the sign will catch the eye and it's always exciting to see your group's name in lights. Especially when it's at Benaroya Hall! It's been a lot of weeks and many rehearsals coming, but this Saturday we're excited to bring you three different takes by three different composers on the 1001 Arabian Nights story!
If you're already planing on coming, or if you're thinking about coming to join us (and we really, really, really hope you do), here are a few thigns to know or remember:
•This upcoming "Wondrous Land of Tales" concert is on a Saturday at 2:00PM! If you've been to one of our concerts, you'll know that this is different from our norm.
•At the end of the concert we are having our usual chat with Adam Stern--just come forward to the first few rows and join our maestro who will be chatting about the program and answer a few of your questions, too!
•If you want to be in on any updates (known traffic advisories, or any other hepful information) if we have any, you might want to connect with us on Twitter (@seattlephil) or join our event on Facebook.
Some logistics or other information:
LivingSocial - if you purchased tickets via our LivingSocial promotion, your tickets will be available at will call under the name of who purchased the deal.
Will Call tickets (including tickets purchased via the LivingSocial promotion) - the Benaroya Hall box office will open 30 minutes prior to the performance. You can pick your tickets up there! The box office is nearest the entrance on the 3rd Ave. & Union St. intersection.
Parking - Benaroya Hall parking is typically $12 on event days, and this is going to be an event day! If you plan ahead (perhaps enjoy lunch at one of the nearby restaurants, or at Pike Place Market), you might be able to find parking at one of the nearby garages for less.
Public Transportation - The 3rd Ave. side of Benaroya Hall is a stop for many buses, including the 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, (*deep breath*) 25, 27, 33, 36, 40, 43, 49, 66, 70, 83, and 84. The University Street Tunnel Station directly below the concert hall is served by the 550, 41, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 101, 102, 106, 150, 255, 316, and the LINK Light Rail. Please carefully check schedules to give yourself enough time (One Bus Away, anyone?).
Hopefully there won't be any errors in the bus information above, but please double-check if you plan on travelling that way. Some of the routes may or may not operate on weekdays only, or they may be on a special schedule for an unforeseen reason (fortunately any Seahawks earthquakes haven't been forecast until Sunday).
I think that's it! We have one rehearsal to go this Wednesday and then we take this program to the stage!
(We're really excited to play this for you this Saturday!)
Peter Mack and the Seattle Philharmonic during the sound check.
It’s 2014. Can you believe it’s already 2014?! There have been so many changes at the beginning of this season that a moment to take a deep breath and take a look in retrospect and prospect didn’t arrive until, well, 2014. If you were with us at our first concert, you’ve probably noticed the two major changes for this season.
Firstly, we’ve got a new concertmaster. Mitchell, who has played beautifully for us for the past few years, is now pursuing the many other avenues his career is bringing him. We bid him farewell and thank him for sharing with us his artistry and wish him well—keep an eye out if you frequent the concerts and shows in the Puget Sound area because you might just see his name! Taking over is Jae-In Shin, and if you haven’t heard her play yet, I strongly urge you to come to our concert on 18th January—she, and a few other talented musicians in our orchestra, will be prominently featured!
Perhaps the most noticeable change, though, was a different yet very familiar performance venue for the first two concerts this season. After a very last-minute policy change enacted by our normal performance venue, we were sent searching for another venue that can appropriately host an orchestra of our size and after a leap of faith, we decided to host our first two concerts at Benaroya Hall. It wasn’t an easy decision, but if there’s anything we’d like to say after our first concert, it’s one thing: thank you.
Thank you for supporting us throughout the years, thank you for supporting us in this new season, and thank you for supporting us at Benaroya Hall! We sure hope to see you there again in a few weeks, but in light of that first concert, I think it might be good to know what you do for us.
The view before the sound check.
Benaroya Hall is a venue that many of us have visited, but mainly it’s to attend Seattle Symphony concerts. For many of us, it would be the first time we’d been on the stage of this fantastic concert hall, and as we looked into the empty hall as we walked off stage after our sound check, the buzz among the orchestra members was growing with intensity.
French horn player Dick Griffith takes a moment to run through a few musical items prior to the opening of the house.
It was quite exciting to watch—some musicians went over their parts for one last time, some seeking whatever space they could find to focus, and yet others were glued to a backstage monitor to watch the hall slowly (but very, very surely) fill with people.
When we took the stage, all of you provided us with a view that none of us could have ever imagined:
The view after the concert. Thank you, all of you!
And upon seeing all of you in the seats, it reminded us that while we often find ourselves excited to see our favourite soloist or band play, there’s likely a very equal excitement that goes along with seeing those that came out to see them play. We definitely felt it that day, and for that, we thank you. Thank you for joining us at the beginning of this concert season. Thank you for that thrill that only you could give. Thank you for your enthusiasm and thank you so very much for making that first concert the wonderful experience it was! We hope you enjoyed it, and we definitely hope you’ll come to hear us again!
Looking forward, we have the second concert of our season coming up. Also at Benaroya Hall, and this time we’re going to be playing three pieces that share one very common thread: the story One Thousand and One Nights. There are some familiar pieces, some perhaps not as much, and if you want to learn more about the pieces we’ll be playing, here’s Adam Stern to talk more about those—and to even give some insight on a few of the details we’ve been working during the rehearsals:
As with each concert, please feel free to stick around at the end and have a discussion with Maestro about the pieces—they happen right after the concert, right in the first few rows. Everyone’s invited!
If you’re still looking for tickets, perhaps you might want to check out our LivingSocial deal that’s going on as well.
Otherwise, if you’d like to connect with us, we’re on Twitter and Facebook, too! If you respond to the Facebook event for this concert, you’ll receive updates or any other pieces of information that might be relevant or helpful for those attending the concert. Or, if you want to just say hello, we welcome you to do that, too :)
From all of us to you: happy New Year!
No matter what instrument we play, as individual members of the orchestra we have our own parts to practice, our own passages to learn and get under our fingers, but outside of the rehearsal room our parts sound lonely and just empty enough to tell us that there's something much bigger at work than ourselves (yes, even playing music can have its own share of metaphors for life). We have to come together and work together to turn a single clarinet part into a supported melodic line in a symphony.
And that's what happens for us nine months out of the year: we receive our parts, we read through it as best as we can in the first rehearsals and we get a very rough and imperfect idea of what the final piece sounds like, and where we'll have to do some work on our own in the coming weeks. Some of the music might be familiar to us in melody but unfamiliar to us in such a way that when we see the music we might say to ourselves, "oh, so that's how the notes go," or we discover that the part that sounded like a high 'cello part was actually a viola part (and the viola players begin to panic invisibly...joke, joke).
The beauty of all of this is that we come together from all parts of the community to form the Seattle Philharmonic, a community orchestra. Some of us are musicians by profession, teaching locally, some studying music at the local colleges, but the rest of us are also lawyers, bankers, and engineers, too. Some of us work for the local airline, or behind the scenes for the opera, but we all come together on Wednesdays to put together a few pieces to share with you four times each year. Our repertoire has featured works from familiar composers but maybe the particular works we feature are some of their lesser-known. Sometimes we'll feature something completely new--so new that it hadn't been heard in the U.S. before, and sometimes even the whole world. We explore new music together with each rehearsal series and then share our discoveries with you on concert day--which is perhaps the essence of us being a community orchestra. We come from all walks of life to see where our collective love for music takes us.
On most any given day you'll find us everywhere, not just enjoying orchestra concerts, because if you keep an eye out, you might see some of the Seattle Philharmonic members playing in bands, hiking on the trails, maybe even in the airplane towing those banners you'll see over the skies of the city. One evening out of the week, though, you'll find us all in one spot making music.
At home, when we practice, it's just us and our individual parts; we gather on Wednesdays to explore these works of art as a community.
Also at home, we can also listen to a recording as individuals as well, but in a concert hall with a live orchestra, we are all a part of a community.
In fact, no matter what side of the lights we sit, we're all part of the same community and we're all sharing in the music at that concert. Together. Shared as a community. Having said that, we truly hope you've enjoyed our 2012-2013 season and thank you for joining us this year. We hope you're joining us as we close it out this Sunday (19 May) with two wonderful pieces that are so contagious and moving that it might be a bit difficult to sit completely still, and we definitely hope to see you at the beginning of our 2013-2014 season.
In the meantime, feel free to check out our podcast to learn more about the upcoming concert. We're excited about the Brahms, and we're really, really excited about the de Falla!
Meany Hall is located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, near the intersection of 15th Avenue NE and NE 41st Street.
Free parking is available on Sunday in the Meany Hall underground garage (41st Street and 15th Avenue). Accessible parking is also available.
If you have questions about handicapped accessibility at Meany Hall, please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer Gynt: Overture
Piano Concerto in a
Rose Jo-Shih Cheng, piano (2013 Don Bushell Competition winner)
Symphony in C