Elena Dubinets and Ludovic Morlot
Under Music Director Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony has increased its performances of new music. We asked Dr. Elena Dubinets, Vice President of Artistic Planning, to discuss the Symphony's [untitled] series and other initiatives.
What is the goal behind the [untitled] series and contemporary music programming in general?
The Seattle Symphony strives to expand our programming in such a way that every audience member can find something for his or her enjoyment and enrichment. Seattle audiences are very well educated with diverse tastes and ambitions, and we know that a substantial part of our patrons comes to our concerts in order to learn something new and to experience broader ranges of music-making. Also, we believe that our musicians like performing music of our times. In fact, both our [untitled] series and chamber music series, as well as a substantial portion of the main stage concerts, are programmed based on the musicians’ proposals that we annually collect. We always receive a substantial number of requests for contemporary music.
Any composers or performers you are particularly excited about presenting in Seattle and why?
Being Russian, I am really excited that the Symphony was able to commission a new piano concerto from one of the most important living Russian composers, Alexander Raskatov. It’s a co-commission with the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, and we will be performing it in March 2014. The composer will come to Seattle for this occasion, and we are working on setting up master-classes and workshops with him both at the Symphony’s Young Composers Workshop and at the local colleges. The soloist for whom the Concerto is being written – the phenomenal Japanese pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama living in Amsterdam, an exciting and influential advocate of contemporary composers, – is also one of the musicians I have been looking forward to hearing perform with our orchestra. And, it is incredible to realize that the premiere will be led by one of the most experienced specialists in contemporary music in the world and now our own Ludovic Morlot.
Any artistic risks you would want to talk about?
We always risk when we put a contemporary music piece on a program. It would be much “safer” to perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony instead of Varese’s Ameriques or Messiaen’s Turangalila. Full houses and positive feedback would be guaranteed. But we are not looking for easy paths and we are trying to bring our audiences along on an exciting journey that we believe might open thesenew horizons to many people.
What is the relationship between the Seattle Symphony and local performers of contemporary music? Any plans for collaboration?
We have been actively building bridges within the community. We have several ongoing partnerships with the University of Washington and Cornish College, including the annual readings by our orchestra of the new scores created by the University of Washington composition students and a collaboration with Janice Giteck, the Cornish College professor of composition, on our Native Lands project with members of local Indian tribes. Seattle Modern Orchestra’s conductor Julia Tai regularly attends the Seattle Symphony’s rehearsals and consults with Ludovic.
For those new to this kind of music, what aspect would provide an easy point of entry?
Our [untitled] performances take place in the beautiful Benaroya Hall lobby, and the audience members can roam during the performances, get closer to the performers if they want, or enjoy a drink while music is being played. The [untitled] atmosphere is both informal and intimate and we hope that it will help to break many boundaries. These concerts are shorter (70-80’) and without an intermission. We have also decided to preview each of the previously announced programs this season with an additional free performance that begins an hour before the main concert in order to set the right atmosphere and let people communicate with the musicians and among themselves before the main program. Our next [untitled] performance of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire on February 15 at 10 pm will be preceded by an additional performance at (9pm) of the same composer’s Cabaret Songs by Maria Mannisto and Cristina Valdes, and the whole evening will be set up in cabaret style. We are already virtually sold out which is a very good sign that many people have been enjoying this new concert format.
To learn more about the [untitled] series concert on February 15, visit here.