Seattle Symphony Celebrates Morlot’s Achievements to Date Including Bold Programming, Award-Winning Recordings, and Projects with Youth, Families and the Community
Conductor and Orchestra Look Forward to New Projects Through 2019 and Beyond
Seattle, WA – Music Director Ludovic Morlot today announced that he will step down as Seattle Symphony Music Director in 2019, after eight seasons with the orchestra. Since 2011 Morlot has re-energized the organization with his thrilling performances, his innovative programming bringing together the familiar and the unfamiliar, and his award-winning recordings, as well as his work with youth, families and the community. Morlot and the Seattle Symphony are committed to developing the thread of creative and exciting programming that has distinguished his tenure, and as such, Morlot will continue to conduct the orchestra regularly beyond summer 2019.
“I will be forever grateful and proud to have been given the opportunity to help write a chapter in the history of the Seattle Symphony,” shared Morlot. “And what a beautiful chapter it is; thrilling performances played to full houses, the appointment of so many outstanding musicians, three Grammys, a strong list of commissions and premieres, a memorable concert at Carnegie Hall, an upcoming residency at Berkeley, and so much more. I am also extremely appreciative of the commitment that the community as a whole has offered to me at the artistic helm of this extraordinary organization. The decision to step down as Music Director when my contract comes to an end in 2019 is not one I have taken lightly. We are in the midst of a wonderful, stimulating and exciting artistic journey and I look forward to continuing this in the next two seasons. However, I feel that by 2019 the time will be right for me to explore new musical opportunities and for the Symphony to have the inspiration of new artistic leadership.”
“We can’t overstate the passion, excitement and inspiration that Ludovic has brought to Benaroya Hall and beyond since his arrival in 2011,” said Leslie Jackson Chihuly, Chair of the Seattle Symphony Board of Directors. “From day one, Ludovic embraced the vision of redefining the role of the 21st-century orchestra, and in doing so has created unforgettable performances and recordings. He has also been part of important community projects that reflect our Seattle values. From the traditional masterpieces to innovative programs like our late-night [untitled] series and our Family Connections ticketing program, he has reignited excitement about the organization among audiences and critics. On behalf of the Board, we deeply appreciate Ludovic’s cultural leadership, and look forward to great performances in the future.”
David Sabee, Chair of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization, added, "Ludo’s tenure as Music Director has been an enriching and exciting time for us. From his visionary leadership of our commissioning program and the nurturing of such projects as John Luther Adams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean to the brilliant curation of the ongoing window into Benaroya Hall provided by our multiple Grammy Award-winning recording series, Ludo has been an inspirational guide, a true orchestra builder, and an unflagging champion of the Seattle Symphony. We eagerly anticipate two more artistically exciting years with him.”
President & CEO Simon Woods commented, “From the first moment I met Ludo, just before I was appointed to my current position, I knew that here was a fine musician of immense intellectual caliber who was also looking for new ideas and new ways of thinking about an orchestra. As all good music directors should do, he has challenged and stimulated us over the past six years in all the right ways, to think more boldly and more creatively about how to keep our art form vibrant and our orchestra on an upward trajectory. I can’t thank him enough for his vision, and for his role in making the Seattle Symphony what it is today.”
A Seattle Symphony search committee including representatives of the musicians, Board and staff will be appointed to select the next Music Director.
On arriving in Seattle in 2011, Morlot set a new artistic course for the Seattle Symphony. Morlot’s bold programming ideas included the late-night [untitled] series for adventurous listeners, Sonic Evolution which celebrates the past, present and future of Seattle’s music scene and has paid tribute to legendary artists from rock to hip-hop, and important commissions such as John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean, which was premiered by the Seattle Symphony in Seattle and New York, and for which the composer received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in music and the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In Spring 2018 Morlot will conduct the premiere of Adams’ companion work, Become Desert, with the Seattle Symphony in Seattle and Berkeley, California.
Many of Ludovic Morlot’s live performances with the orchestra are commercially available on the Symphony’s own label, Seattle Symphony Media. Last fall the orchestra’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-winning recordings of French composer Henri Dutilleux were released in a box set to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
This season Morlot and the orchestra completed a two-year cycle of Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos, and he led several world premieres including commissions by Agata Zubel and Gabriel Prokofiev. This June Morlot will conduct Ravel’s opera L'enfant et les sortilèges in Benaroya Hall with stage design ceated by artist Anne Patterson.
In Seattle, Morlot has taken a special interest in the orchestra’s youth and family programs including conducting several Side-by-Side Concerts with local youth and high school orchestras, and also students at the University of Washington, where he is Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies. Morlot has also conducted concerts on the KING FM Family Concerts series, and helped to launch the popular Family Connections program that invites up to two youth ages 8–18 to attend Masterworks and Pops series performances free with a paying adult.
In serving the larger community, Morlot has partnered with numerous organizations on artistic projects and conducted the Seattle Symphony in the recent livestreamed performance, Music Beyond Borders: Voices From the Seven, which showcased music and musicians from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia and Sudan.
About Ludovic Morlot
The French conductor Ludovic Morlot has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 2011. Amongst the many highlights of his tenure, the orchestra has won three Grammy Awards and gave an exhilarating performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014, as reported in the The New York Times: “The performance Mr. Morlot coaxed from his players was rich with shimmering colors and tremulous energy.”
This season, Morlot returns to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic and make his debut with the Minnesota Orchestra. He has regular relationships with the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has also conducted the symphony orchestras in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Morlot has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra having been Seiji Ozawa Fellowship Conductor in 2001 and subsequently appointed assistant conductor for the orchestra and their Music Director James Levine (2004–07). Since then he has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts in Boston, at Tanglewood and on a tour to the west coast of America.
Earlier this season, Morlot made his debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, in the closing concert of the prestigious Wien Modern Festival. He has also conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and next month will conduct the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time. Last season’s engagements in Europe included the DSO Berlin and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has also conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London and on tour in Germany. Other recent notable performances have included the Budapest Festival, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle, Orchestre National de France, Royal Concertgebouw, Tokyo Philharmonic and Tonhalle orchestras. Morlot served as conductor in residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon under David Robertson (2002–04).
Ludovic Morlot was Chief Conductor of La Monnaie for three years (2012–14). During this time he conducted several new productions including La Clemenza di Tito, Jenůfa and Pelléas et Mélisande. Concert performances, both in Brussels and Aix-en-Provence, included repertoire by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Britten, Webern and Bruneau.
Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. Morlot was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 in recognition of his significant contribution to music. He is Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle.
About the Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony is one of America's leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard from September through July by more than 500,000 people through live performances and radio broadcasts. It performs in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world — the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall — in downtown Seattle. Its extensive education and community engagement programs reach over 65,000 children and adults each year. The Seattle Symphony has a deep commitment to new music, commissioning many works by living composers each season. The orchestra has made nearly 150 recordings and has received three Grammy Awards, 23 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.