Seattle Symphony Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard and President & CEO Krishna Thiagarajan announce the Grammy-winning orchestra’s 2019–2020 season, charting the course for a new artistic partnership and a new era in the orchestra’s history. The season’s programs reflect Dausgaard’s strong desire for the orchestra’s sound to reflect and represent humanity, as well as his deep curiosity about the creative process. In addition to featuring several dozen living composers, and composers who have been left out of the traditional symphonic canon, Dausgaard has invited the community at large to participate in music-making as artists, composers and performers.

“I’m thrilled to join the Seattle Symphony on a journey that reflects our world and the pressing issues of our time,” shares Dausgaard. “It is my dream for our musicians and our audiences to feel a joint ownership of this orchestra, reveling in our performances and the joy and richness of classical music and the voices of today. In many of our programs, and especially our Beethoven 2020 Festival, our orchestra will be a means for our community to tell its story. We want the Seattle Symphony to be a source of life and vitality, offering spiritual experiences which inspire on many levels and where each program expresses something about who we are. I can’t wait to get started.”

“We are so inspired by Thomas Dausgaard’s expansive vision for community, youth and making great art more accessible for everyone,” comments Thiagarajan. “His first season of programs will take us on an extraordinary journey of human expression, from the traditional and familiar to the bold and innovative. Next month we’ll open our new immersive venue, Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, making even more experimentation and growth possible with Thomas in the years ahead. As we prepare to embrace new artistic leadership, we also express immense gratitude to Ludovic Morlot for our eight-year partnership which has elevated the orchestra to international recognition, while strengthening our community bonds. We also thank our incredible audiences and community for their support and invite everyone to join us at Benaroya Hall next September as we usher in a new chapter for Seattle with Thomas as our Music Director.”



Among the many highlights of Dausgaard’s first season as Music Director, several programs stand out including R. Strauss’ Salome; an all-American program featuring Bernstein’s Songfest, Hannah Lash’s Double Harp Concerto and Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song; Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; and Haydn’s The Creation.

Thomas Dausgaard and the Seattle Symphony will perform R. Strauss’ rich and expressive Salome, one of the greatest masterpieces of the 20th century. Joining Dausgaard for these performances are soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin as Salome, bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams as Jochanaan, tenor Peter Bronder as Herodes, mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens as Herodias and tenor Ross Hauck as Narraboth.

In a program focused on distinctly American music, Dausgaard has programmed the U.S. premiere of Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and the world premiere of a Double Harp Concerto by Hannah Lash, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and performed by harp soloists Hannah Lash and Valerie Muzzolini, alongside Bernstein’s deeply moving Songfest which sets 13 poems by 13 American poets in a song cycle. About Songfest, Dausgaard shares, “When I was about 12, I had watched Bernstein on TV conducting Brahms’ First Symphony, without which I think I would not necessarily have become a conductor. In 1988 I was lucky to be a student at Bernstein’s conducting master class at the Schleswig Holstein Festival where he conducted Songfest. His total identification with the music, just pouring it out of himself so that it became alive and gripping was overwhelming. It is an incredibly powerful work, without pompous celebration, but celebrating diversity in humankind as well as in music.”

Dausgaard will pair Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. While both were Russian composers and near-contemporaries, each invented very different musical languages. In keeping with Dausgaard’s tradition of deeply exploring the historical context and influences on composers in his “roots” programs, performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring will be prefaced by discussion and performances of traditional Russian folk music and dance.

Haydn’s masterpiece The Creation, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, will be performed by the orchestra for the first time since 1961. Joining them will be soprano Julia Lezhneva, tenor Kenneth Tarver, baritone Benjamin Appl and the Seattle Symphony Chorale. As Dausgaard describes the work, “from its dramatic depiction of chaos at the beginning to the magic creation of light, the moon, the sun and of all living creatures — ending in Adam and Eve falling in love — this is music of the most sublime inspiration, humor and joy.”


The Seattle Symphony’s first-ever Nielsen cycle, which began in 2017 with the Grammy-nominated recording of Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 with Thomas Dausgaard, will continue with a live concert recording of Symphony No. 2 in April 2019 and Symphony No. 1 in January 2020. Thomas Dausgaard has previously released two critically acclaimed recordings with the Seattle Symphony (Mahler’s Symphony No. 10, Deryck Cooke version and Nielsen Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4), and his future recordings with the orchestra will continue to capitalize on the orchestra’s compelling live performances, recorded masterfully for the Seattle Symphony Media label by the orchestra’s Grammy-winning recording engineer, Dmitriy Lipay.


In celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in the year 2020, the Seattle Symphony joins musical organizations around the world in mounting anniversary celebrations. The Seattle Symphony’s Beethoven 2020 Festival promises to be a major event for the community, culminating in season-long creative work that puts community members at the forefront in exploring Beethoven’s continued relevance to modern society. In the space of three weeks, the orchestra will perform all nine symphonies alongside new works created, inspired or performed by community members.

In recent years, the Seattle Symphony has taken the unusual step of curating community artistic projects in a way that honors the intention of individuals and organizations in the community, and now bring these projects to the main subscription series. These projects, which have invited community members to compose and perform alongside Seattle Symphony musicians, have furthered the community’s conversation about music in surprising and intensely meaningful ways. They include Prism Project with youth from Accelerator YMCA, New Horizons and YouthCare; Lost and Found with Path with Art; We Are the Art with Plymouth Housing Group; We Are All Here as part of a larger community project presented by Path with Art, All of Us Belong with Catholic Housing Services, Compass Housing Alliance, Mary’s Place and Plymouth Housing Group; Lullaby Project in partnership with Mary’s Place; and Native Lands with local tribes, which will now be reimagined for the Beethoven 2020 Festival.

Born out of a time of revolution and upheaval, Beethoven transformed the role of an artist in society and the fundamental role of music as a mode of self-expression. Seattle Symphony Vice President of Education & Community Engagement Laura Reynolds shared, “In Seattle, we are exploring the role of an orchestra in its community and using composition to connect with our region, which is in a period of dramatic change. We’re asking what it means to be in and of this time in history, what it means to be a Pacific Northwesterner, and who is granted access to a place in the program book.” Vice President of Artistic Planning & Creative Projects Elena Dubinets added, “Audiences will hear Beethoven’s symphonies through the lens of four world premieres which reflect our time and our place, and we hope that will transform our understanding of who we are and why symphonic music is such a critical component of modern self-expression.”

The festival launches on June 11 and 13 with the stories of local youth. A New Work for Youth Chorus and Orchestra will be composed and performed by teens from across King County with leadership from local composer Angelique Poteat, to be performed alongside Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3. Poteat is a former participant in the Seattle Symphony’s Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop, and since then her works have been performed at Benaroya Hall on multiple occasions. This will be her second major commission from the orchestra following the premiere of her Cello Concerto, also in the 2019–2020 season.

That same week, on June 12 and 14, the Seattle Symphony will give the world premiere of 2017 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Tyshawn Sorey’s New Work for Cello & Orchestra featuring Artist in Residence Seth Parker Woods. This world premiere will be performed alongside Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2 and 7. This is Sorey’s first commission from the Seattle Symphony, one of the many facets of his role as the Seattle Symphony’s 2019–2020 season Composer in Residence.

On June 18 and 20, members of regional native tribes build on their landmark Potlatch Symphony project from 2013 with composer Janice Giteck, and will perform the world premiere of Potlatch Symphony 2020, featuring the return of violinist Swil Kanim and native flutist Paul Chiyokten Wagner. Potlatch Symphony 2020 will be performed on the same program as Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 6 and 8. That same week on opposite days, the orchestra will perform the world premiere of a new work composed by community members in a process led by composer Charles Corey. This new work will be written specifically for the unique instruments created by composer-inventor Harry Partch (1901–74). A collection of more than 50 of these microtonal instruments currently resides at the Harry Partch Instrumentarium at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, under the direction of Charles Corey.

In the final week of the Beethoven 2020 Festival, the orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy featuring pianist Francesco Piemontesi and Symphony No. 9, “Choral” with soprano Celina Shafer, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, baritone Dashon Burton and the Seattle Symphony Chorale. In the spirit of shifting the role of the artist and building community in the concert hall, the entire audience will be invited to join in singing the “Ode to Joy” finale along with the orchestra and chorus.


For the 2019–2020 Seattle Symphony season, Dausgaard has programmed music from 25 contemporary composers representing the human experience from many bold perspectives, including 11 world premieres. Continuing the Seattle Symphony’s tradition of commissioning new works, there are eight commissioned world premieres. In addition to the four commissions for the Beethoven 2020 Festival, there are Elena Langer’s Figaro Gets a Divorce Suite, Hannah Lash’s Double Harp Concerto, Angelique Poteat’s Cello Concerto and Reena Esmail’s Sitar Concerto.

The orchestra is also proud to present the world premieres of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s Short Stories II, Juan David Osorio’s El Paraíso según Maria and the 2020 Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition winner, which will be announced in the fall, and the U.S. premieres of Daniel Kidane’s newly rewritten “Dream Song,” Flo Menezes’ Grand Écart, Eddie Mora Bermúdez’s Plegaria, Olga Neuwirth’s Aello – ballet mécanomorphe featuring flutist Claire Chase, and Ryan Wigglesworth’s Mozart Variations.

In addition to the above commissions and premieres, contemporary works include Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, Chick Corea’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Anthony DiLorenzo’s A Little Russian Circus, Huang Ruo’s Folk Songs for Orchestra, David Sampson’s Morning Music, Bent Sørensen’s Pantomime and Mignon from the Papillons trilogy, Conrad Tao’s Oneiroi and Lotta Wennäkoski’s Flounce.

Composer John Adams will conduct the orchestra in an all-Adams program as part of the Masterworks Season, including his Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? featuring pianist Jeremy Denk, and City Noir.

The late-night [untitled] series returns with three programs, featuring boundary-pushing contemporary music performed by chamber ensembles in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. The first concert, performed by the Seattle Symphony’s brass section, is a unique pairing of antiphonal Renaissance music by Gabrieli interwoven with works by contemporary American composers including David Sampson’s Morning Music, Gunther Schuller’s Five Pieces and Anthony DiLorenzo’s A Little Russian Circus. The second concert in the [untitled] series features four leading contemporary Latin American composers in a performance led by newly named Douglas F. King Associate Conductor Lee Mills and new Conducting Fellow Lina Gonzalez-Granados of Colombia. Works on this program, which features pianist Cristina Valdés, include the world premieres of Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’ Short Stories II and Juan David Osorio’s El Paraíso según Maria, and the U.S. premieres of Eddie Mora Bermúdez’s Plegaria and Flo Menezes’ Grand Écart. The final concert in the series, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, features Pantomine and Mignon from the Papillons trilogy by Danish composer Bent Sørensen, 2018 winner of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.


Cellist Seth Parker Woods will serve as the Seattle Symphony’s Artist in Residence in the 2019–2020 season. His work in the new immersive performance venue, Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, will begin in March 2019. His residency includes mentoring young musicians, performances in Octave 9 and the world premiere of 2019–2020 season Composer in Residence Tyshawn Sorey’s New Work for Cello & Orchestra as part of the Beethoven 2020 Festival.

As Composer in Residence, composer and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey will also perform concerts in Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center; work with community partners; help facilitate the Link Up Classroom Competition Challenge, as well as host the performances for over 10,000 local elementary school children; and participate in additional activities during the season.

The In Recital series will include violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Steven Osborne in separate solo recitals, a duo recital featuring mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter and pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, and the history of American song in a unique program titled Song of America: Beyond Liberty performed by baritone Thomas Hampson and a jazz ensemble.

Acclaimed guest soloists include violinists Elisa Barston, Elisa Citterio*, Augustin Hadelich, Noah Geller, Gidon Kremer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Itzhak Perlman, Dmitry Sinkovsky and Thomas Zehetmair; violist Susan Gulkis Assadi; cellists Efe Baltacıgil, Daniel Müller-Schott and Seth Parker Woods*; flutist Claire Chase*; harpists Valerie Muzzolini and Hannah Lash*; harpsichordist, organist and pianist Anthony Romaniuk*; pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Yefim Bronfman, Chick Corea*, Jeremy Denk, Lang Lang, Paul Lewis, Wayne Marshall, Steven Osborne, Beatrice Rana, Daniil Trifonov, Cristina Valdés and Ryan Wigglesworth*; violist Susan Gulkis Assadi; soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, mezzo-sopranos J’Nai Bridges*, Wallis Giunta*, Michaela Martens* and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, tenor Kenneth Tarver, baritone Thomas Hampson, and bass Davóne Tines.

Guest conductors include John Adams, Marc Albrecht*, Ryan Bancroft*, Elisa Citterio*, James Feddeck, Matthew Halls, Cristian Măcelaru, Maxim Emelyanychev*, Eun Sun Kim*, Tianyi Lu*, Wayne Marshall*, Steven Mercurio, Anthony Romaniuk*, Dmitry Sinkovsky, Natalie Stutzmann*, Masaaki Suzuki, Ryan Wigglesworth* and Thomas Zehetmair.

* Seattle Symphony debut. For a full list of artists and debuts, see visit the Seattle Symphony Press Room.


The Seattle Pops series includes Warner Bros. presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony 30th Anniversary Edition conducted by George Daugherty and featuring clips from the iconic Looney Tunes cartoons; The Movie Music of John Williams conducted by Lawrence Loh; Holiday Pops conducted by Stuart Chafetz with the University of Washington Chorale; the premiere of a new Pops program — The Best of Quincy Jones — conducted by Jules Buckley who will make his debut appearance and featuring vocalists Sheléa and Jonah Nillson; the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Scotty Barnhart; and a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald called Frank & Ella conducted by Michael Krajewski and featuring vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Tony DeSare.


The Seattle Symphony’s 2019–2020 season will open with a sparkling Opening Night Concert & Gala program on September 14, featuring guest pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4. The orchestra will also perform R. Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and Nielsen’s Maskarade Overture. Thomas Dausgaard, who is Danish, will fittingly open his tenure as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony with the work of Carl Nielsen, widely considered Denmark’s greatest composer. Dausgaard is especially close to this musical heritage, as both his grandmother and his piano teacher had been students of Nielsen’s, and as mentioned above, the orchestra is currently engaged in a recording cycle of Nielsen symphonies.

The Seattle Symphony will again collaborate with local Asian communities to present the 12th annual Celebrate Asia concert in March with next year’s program conducted by Tianyi Lu. The program includes the world premiere of Reena Esmail’s Sitar Concerto dedicated to Ravi Shankar’s 100th anniversary and featuring sitar player Guarav Mazumdar, Conrad Tao’s Oneiroi, Huang Ruo’s Folk Songs for Orchestra, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue featuring pianist Conrad Tao. The winning piece from the Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, dedicated to finding and nurturing young composers who are inspired by the music of Asia, will also receive its world premiere at this concert. Pre- and post-concert festivities showcase singers, dancers and instrumentalists ranging from Taiko to Bollywood.

In collaboration with Boston Early Music Festival and Pacific MusicWorks, the Seattle Symphony will present Orfeo ed Euridice featuring countertenor Philippe Jaroussky as Orfeo and soprano Amanda Forsythe as Euridice. Under the direction of Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Jaroussky and Forsythe will perform three major operatic settings of this tale by composers Monteverdi, Sartorio and Rossi.

Additional special concert events include a one-night-only performance featuring Lang Lang and Dausgaard in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2; special guest Chick Corea performing his own Piano Concerto No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue under guest conductor Steven Mercurio; the two-night Rach Fest conducted by Ryan Bancroft and featuring four rising star pianists; and a full line-up of Holiday events.

* Special concert events are not included in the subscription series and are currently only available to subscribers.


Seattle Symphony will open Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, an immersive new performance venue located in Benaroya Hall, on March 3, 2019. This opening of the third performance space in Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, also takes place during the Hall’s 20th Anniversary Season. Through the nexus of technology, art and design, Octave 9 is the orchestra’s new space for inventive performances, educational programming and community engagement. A broad range of creative residencies and performances are possible, leveraging the embedded technology to push boundaries and pioneer the future of musical experiences. Combining a modular surround screen with 13 moveable panels, 10 ultra-short-throw projectors, motion-capture cameras, and a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound Constellation® acoustic system with 42 speakers and 30 microphones, the technology in Octave 9 can create a 360° shared virtual experience or disappear into the background for a more traditional setting.


The Seattle Symphony presents a robust season of programming for families in the 2019–2020 season. The youngest listeners (ages 0–5) will be treated to a five-concert Tiny Tots series in the 540-seat Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. Each concert features a different section of Seattle Symphony musicians (strings, winds, brass and percussion) with the last concert featuring a chamber orchestra. The four-concert Classical KING FM Family Concerts series (designed for ages 6–12) features the full orchestra in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium. Thomas Dausgaard will lead the orchestra in The Adventures of Peer Gynt featuring music by Grieg and Sibelius. New Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Lee Mills will conduct The Magic Flute and The Snowman. The fourth Family Concert program features the works of Amy Beach, Nadia Boulanger and Florence Price in a program called Wonder Women.

In addition to presenting a full schedule of performances, the Seattle Symphony is deeply committed to creating meaningful community partnerships and education programs. The orchestra’s extensive education and community initiatives reach more than 65,000 people each year through a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of various audiences including families, young artists and schools. Link Up, a national program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, is a highly participatory multi-year music curriculum for 3rd to 5th graders. In the 2019–2020 season, it will serve more than 10,000 students from over 100 schools in 30 districts. In addition, the Symphony continues its commitment to mentoring young musicians in the community and presents numerous, free Side-by-Side Concerts with local high school, college and community orchestras.  

The Symphony’s Community Connections program provides nonprofit organizations across the Puget Sound region with equitable access to high-quality cultural experiences. The Symphony builds bridges with diverse communities throughout the region through access to free tickets to concerts, music-making and special projects. This program serves more than 78 local nonprofits that work with youth, active military and veterans, seniors, cultural organizations, health services, and social service organizations. Examples of this work includes the Lullaby Project, a national program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, in partnership with Mary’s Place for parents experiencing homelessness, and prison visits by Symphony musicians. In June 2016 the Seattle Symphony launched the Simple Gifts initiative which partners with social service providers to empower individuals experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity to connect with their creativity; develop deeper roots in the community through service, advocacy and collaboration; spark joy and inspire hope in individuals and communities that face disproportionate amounts of hardship; and raise awareness of the homelessness crisis that is occurring in King County. Of the Seattle Symphony’s 78 community partners, 25 specifically work with people experiencing homelessness.

The Masterworks Season encompasses the Symphony’s core programming of symphonic repertoire. Additional subscription series include Seattle Pops, In Recital, Baroque & Wine, Untuxed, [untitled], Chamber, Classical KING FM Family Concerts and Tiny Tots. Non-subscription performances may be added to subscription orders now and will go on sale to the general public on August 3, 2019.