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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 19, 2014
THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY & LUDOVIC MORLOT
First Three Recordings Released Digitally April 1; Physical Street Date April 29
Seattle Symphony Performs as Part of Carnegie Hall’s Spring For Music May 6
Revitalized Organization Celebrates Second Straight Year
The first three releases on the new label feature Ludovic Morlot conducting the Seattle Symphony in works by French and American composers, celebrating the flourishing relationship between French conductor and American orchestra that has electrified audiences in Seattle. The discs include works by Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, George Gershwin, Henri Dutilleux, Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns.
The Seattle Symphony has an extensive catalogue of over 140 recordings, which have brought forth twelve Grammy Award nominations throughout its history. Under the leadership of Ludovic Morlot, now in his third season as Music Director, and Executive Director Simon Woods, the Symphony plans to build a new discography to include both live and in-studio recordings spanning genres and time periods and including both “core repertoire” and some of the eclectic and contemporary programming the Seattle Symphony has become recognized for at home.
The launch of the label has been made possible through an innovative media agreement with the Seattle Symphony’s musicians, agreed as part of a new contract ratified in 2013. Under the agreement, the organization – unusual among American orchestras – is able to release a significant number of recordings each year from both live concerts and “studio” sessions, which will allow the building of a significant catalog over a relatively short period. The Symphony’s musicians will share in the label’s net revenue, and have a voice in planning and contractual matters. All recordings are made in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall using the Symphony’s own state-of-the art in-house recording facility, supervised by audio engineer Dmitriy Lipay.
An important characteristic of the label is the combination of live and studio recordings which allows the organization an unprecedented breadth of repertoire choices that are less easily achieved with an “all-live” label. Recordings, which are being distributed by Naxos of America, will be available in both physical and digital formats from a variety of retailers.
The recordings have been engineered to audiophile standards and aim to capture as realistically as possible the sound of the orchestra performing on the Benaroya Hall stage, with naturalistic imaging, depth of field and dynamic range. Digital content will be available in four formats: regular stereo, “Mastered for iTunes,” 96k 24-bit high resolution, and 5.1 surround sound. See below for list of online outlets.
Executive Director Simon Woods, who holds nearly a decade of experience in the recording industry, explains, “Over the past three years, this orchestra has developed a highly sophisticated sound under Ludovic Morlot’s leadership, producing night after night of inspired music making. Our new label will not only introduce this partnership to a global audience, but also reflect the creative and imaginative programming that we have become known for at home.”
The Seattle Symphony is grateful to Joan Watjen for her generosity in underwriting the launch and initial recordings on Seattle Symphony Media in honor of her late husband, Craig, who was a member of the Seattle Symphony’s Board of Directors. The couple supported the construction and installation of the Watjen Concert Organ which is featured in the new recording of the Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony.
“The repertoire we have chosen for these first three releases reflects the intimacy and excitement that the orchestra and I feel in playing French and American music,” commented Morlot. “All of the works on these discs are personal to me, and I’m proud to be able to see the work that the Seattle musicians and I have done together over the past three years represented on disc. In particular, the works by Elliott Carter and Henri Dutilleux are very special for me. Both composers sadly passed in recent years, but I shall never forget the way in which their mentorship and inspiration contributed towards my development as a musician. May these recordings stand as my own small personal tribute to their friendship and their immense achievements.”
Henri Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1, Tout un monde lointain, The Shadows of Time
Regarding The Shadows of Time, Morlot recalls, “I first met Henri Dutilleux in the fall of 2001 after having spent the summer as a student at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home. The Boston Symphony commissioned The Shadows of Time and I had the privilege of sitting next to Dutilleux during rehearsals as he reworked his score from its previous premiere. I witnessed firsthand his considerable creative powers, as he was a perfectionist in the best sense of the word and always engaged. We subsequently met over martinis in Paris, discussing music and literature. He made an important era of 20th century music come alive for me, and in the process deepened and enriched my understanding. I feel grateful to have known him.”
Ravel: Orchestral Works, Saint Saëns: Organ Symphony
Symphony No. 3, also known as the “Organ” Symphony, features the Watjen Concert Organ, a 4,489-pipe instrument, conceived as part of the original design for the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium in Benaroya Hall. The instrument, which was unveiled in 2000, was made possible by a generous gift from Craig and Joan Watjen.
Ives: Symphony No. 2, Carter: Instances, Gershwin: An American in Paris
All works on this disc were recorded live. A short video describing the label is here.
For more information and sound clips, visit Seattle Symphony Media online.
Carnegie Hall: Spring for Music & (Le) Poisson Rouge
Furthering its commitment to bringing the Seattle Symphony to a world stage, the Symphony appears as part of the Spring For Music festival Tuesday, May 6, 7:30 pm at Carnegie Hall.
Ludovic Morlot leads the East coast premiere of John Luther Adams’ atmospheric and revolutionary work Become Ocean, a Seattle Symphony commission which received its world premiere in Seattle June 20, 2013. Alaskan-based composer John Luther Adams has made nature the subject of his compositions for nearly four decades. Become Ocean was inspired by the oceans of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest and immerses the audience in an organic and constantly evolving sound world that reflects the natural environment with an orchestral technique that is deeply original and unique to Adams. Adams explains: “My music has led me beyond landscape painting with tones into the larger territory of ‘sonic geography’ – a region that lies somewhere between place and culture, between human imagination and the world around us. My music is going inexorably from being about place to becoming place.” The score includes a message from the composer, which reads, “Life on this earth emerged from the sea. As the polar ice melts and sea level rises, we humans face the prospect that once again we may quite literally become ocean.” Regarding the world premiere of Adams’ work, The New Yorker wrote, “It may be the loveliest apocalypse in musical history.” For a brief video clip about Become Ocean, click here.
The geographical theme of the Symphony’s Carnegie Hall program also includes Claude Debussy’s La mer and Franco-American composer Edgard Varèse’s Déserts.
In keeping with Spring For Music festival tradition, the musicians will not appear in the customary formal concert dress at Carnegie Hall. Instead their attire will be highlighted by a collection of custom accessories designed by Seattle fashion and costume designer Michael Cepress.
The Seattle Symphony brings an experimental program to (Le) Poisson Rouge Monday, May 5, 10:00 pm. This concert is inspired by the popular late-night series in Seattle named [untitled] which presents uncompromising new music for chamber ensembles and small orchestra in a casual setting, using multimedia elements. The May 5 performance includes six members of the Seattle Symphony (Zartouhi Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; David Sabee, cello; Michael Werner, percussion; and Kimberly Russ, piano) with a contrasting lineup of works mirroring the compositions performed at Carnegie Hall. Debussy’s Pagodes, Varèse’s Density 21.5, Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No. 1, Nikolaev’s Jimi Hendrix-inspired piece vnik-ton experience, a world premiere by Seattle-born Angelique Poteat inspired by Pearl Jam entitled Much Difference, and John Luther Adams’ The Light Within (conducted by Ludovic Morlot) complete the eclectic LPR program. The concert reflects the 20th century history of Seattle and points to initiatives that the Seattle Symphony has spearheaded, including work to support emerging composers, and serving as a launch pad for new music.
Under the leadership of Simon Woods, Ludovic Morlot, and Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly, the Seattle Symphony is also announcing today a balanced budget for the second straight fiscal year. In common with many US orchestras, the Seattle Symphony experienced financial turbulence during the economic downturn, however, after two years of budget reduction, stringent cost control, successful fundraising and concessions from musicians during contract negotiations, the organization is now entering a period of financial sustainability and solidity.
About the Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony, founded in 1903, is recognized as a major symphonic orchestra in the United States and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot the Symphony is heard live from September through July by more than 315,000 people. Its innovative education and community engagement programs reach over 100,000 children and adults each year. The orchestra has completed more than 140 recordings, received twelve Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. The Seattle Symphony performs in one of the world’s finest concert venues – the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall – in downtown Seattle.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 7:30pm
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS Become Ocean
Monday, May 5, 2014, at 10:00pm
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Pagodes
Seattle Symphony’s 2014-15 Season Announcement Video
The first three discs on the Seattle Symphony Media label are available now for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes. The download street date is April 1, and the physical street date is April 29. Additional retailers will include Google Play, HDtracks and eClassical.
The Seattle Symphony will host the 2014 League of American Orchestras National Conference, which will take place from June 3 – 6. For more information about this year’s conference, please visit http://www.americanorchestras.org
The Seattle Symphony is grateful to Joan Watjen for her generous support of Seattle Symphony Media CDs in memory of her husband, Craig.
The first recording in the series, featuring works by Henri Dutilleux, is made possible by the French-American Fund for Contemporary Music, a program of FACE with major support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, SACEM, Institut Français, the Florence Gould Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Xavier Phillips’ performances were generously underwritten by Sheila Noonan and Peter Hartley.
The Seattle Symphony’s world premiere of Elliott Carter’s Instances was supported in part by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Seattle Symphony’s New York tour is sponsored by Delta Air Lines.
Generous support for the commissioning of John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean has been provided by Brian and Lynn Grant.