Seattle Symphony Press Kit
The Seattle Symphony, under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot, is a vital part of the Pacific Northwest cultural scene and is recognized for its extraordinary performances, programming, recordings and community engagement. With a dedicated subscriber base of more than 28,000 patrons, the Symphony performs or presents over 200 performances annually to an audience of more than 315,000 people. In both 2007 and 2008, the Seattle Symphony won Emmy Awards for its first two self-produced television specials, Seattle Symphony from Benaroya Hall, and Seattle Symphony from Benaroya Hall: Brahms, Kernis and Kodály.
Since its first performance on December 29, 1903, the Seattle Symphony has held a unique place in the world of symphonic music. During its formative years, it was the charismatic Sir Thomas Beecham who most developed the Orchestra's skill and reputation. In 1954 Milton Katims began his 22-year tenure as Music Director, greatly expanding the Symphony's education programs. Rainer Miedél, Music Director from 1976 until his death in 1983, led the Orchestra on its first European tour in 1980. Gerard Schwarz was appointed Music Advisor in 1983, and Music Director in 1985. During his tenure, the Seattle Symphony made more than 125 recordings and garnered 12 Grammy nominations.
The Orchestra has given more than 100 premieres since 1983, including commissions by seven major American composers in celebration of the Symphony's Centennial Season in 2003–2004, and 18 newly commissioned works in 2010–2011, in honor of Schwarz’s final season as Music Director. Both in live performance and on recordings, the Seattle Symphony has devoted itself to presenting often-neglected masterpieces by mid-20th-century composers, whose music is once again establishing itself in the hearts of American concertgoers. Many of these works can now be heard on re-mastered recordings recently issued on the Naxos label.
The Orchestra is now under the artistic leadership of Ludovic Morlot, one of the leading conductors of his generation. During 2011–2012, Morlot’s inaugural season, the Symphony enjoyed critical acclaim for its blockbuster performances of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, and Holst’s The Planets; the inaugural presentation of Sonic Evolution, a commissioning project designed by Morlot to feature new works honoring Seattle’s musical heritage; and a season-long exploration of the music of French composer Henri Dutilleux.
In 1998 the Seattle Symphony inaugurated its new home, Benaroya Hall, noted for its architectural and acoustical splendor. Three years later, the Orchestra opened Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center, where people of all ages explore the world of symphonic music through exhibits, classes and live music presentations. The Symphony’s education programs, alongside its nationally recognized community engagement programs, bring classical music to nearly 100,000 people of all ages each year, including students at approximately 200 schools in the Pacific Northwest.