Press Release:


Press Release:

Wednesday, 8 February, 2017

Full Programming Line-Up Announced for Feb 8 Performance

2400 Free Tickets Were Reserved Within Hours; Simulcast to Recital Hall and Standby Tickets Now Available

Live Streaming on Seattle Symphony Website, Facebook Page and Periscope Starts at 7:30 p.m. Pacific

Pictured: Seattle Symphony giving the world premiere of Alireza Motevaseli’s Fantasia for Santoor and Accordion in January 2016. Photo by Brandon Patoc

Seattle, WA–The Seattle Symphony will present Music Beyond Borders: Voices From the Seven on February 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium with simulcast to the 500-seat Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall. The free tickets to the performance in the Auditorium were reserved within hours of the concert announcement on Saturday, February 4, necessitating the simulcast to the Recital Hall. Those with tickets to the performance are asked to be in their seats by 7:15 p.m., and those wishing standby tickets are asked to queue in The Boeing Company Gallery by 7 p.m. Those not able to attend in person are invited to experience the rich and diverse musical heritage of these countries via live stream on the Seattle Symphony’s website and Facebook page, as well as Periscope. The program will include orchestral and chamber works by noted classical composers including Rahim AlHaj (Iraq), Kinan Azmeh (Syria), Alireza Motevaseli (Iran), Ali Osman (Sudan), Gity Razaz (Iran) as well as a popular dance song from Somalia and “America the Beautiful.”

“Our musicians and I are passionate about using our art form to create connections with others and celebrate the diversity of our community,” shared Music Director Ludovic Morlot. “Many of our musicians are immigrants themselves, so when they suggested we create a concert like this, we enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to bring the universal power of music to speak across boundaries and borders.”

President & CEO Simon Woods remarked, “During the past week, I’ve seen the arts community around the U.S. coming together in meaningful ways following the recent executive order restricting travel and immigration from certain countries. At the Seattle Symphony, inclusivity is a core value. We feel inspired to add our voice, with the hope that we can bring our community together to celebrate the freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas which the arts have always stood for, especially in times of division and conflict.”

The program opens with Iranian composer Alireza Motevaseli’s Fantasia for Santoor and Accordion, which received its world premiere with the same soloists during the Seattle Symphony’s annual Celebrate Asia performance in January 2016. The santoor is a type of hammered dulcimer with a long history in Persian and Indian music. The accordion provides a sound akin to the garmon, a related instrument commonly used in Russian music. Motevaseli (b. 1992 in Tehran, Iran) is a composer, conductor and bassoonist who lives in Tehran and performs with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.

Composer Gity Razaz shares this about her work Metamorphosis of Narcissus, “[it’s] a musical drama reflecting on the internal and psychological transformation of Narcissus, beginning with his obsessive self-infatuation, moving through his drowning in the pond that reflected his image, and ending with his rebirth as the narcissus flower.” Razaz (b. 1986 in Tehran, Iran) lives in New York and graduated from The Juilliard School. Her teacher, composer John Corigliano, said “… her Middle-Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling. She is on her way to becoming a major force in contemporary music.”

Ali Osman’s Afromood is based on African rhythms and will be performed on violin, tambourine and piano. Osman (b. 1958 in Omdurman, Sudan) is a Sudanese composer who currently resides in Egypt and teaches composition at the Cairo Conservatory. His master’s and Ph.D. specialized in traditional Sudanese and Arabic music.    

Rahim AlHaj (b. 1968 in Baghdad, Iraq) is a Grammy-nominated musician and composer who has lived in Jordan, Syria and Iraq, and currently resides in the U.S. In 1991, after the first Gulf War, AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq due to his political activism against the Saddam Hussein regime. In 2015 AlHaj was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the U.S. His piece Letters from Iraq expresses the love and pain of lives lived by the people of war-torn Iraq, and is based on actual mailed letters. It merges deep emotion and great beauty, and melds Iraqi and Western classical genres to form something entirely new. It features the Oud, which is an Arabic instrument related to the mandolin or lute, and which will be played by the composer.

Ladaneey is a song that comes from the repertoire of a famous Somalian disco/funk band called Dur-Dur Band. The soloist, Samatar Yare, is a native of Somalia who immigrated to Seattle in 2001. He is in demand throughout the Pacific Northwest at important Somali community events, including weddings and cultural celebrations and has a substantial online presence with almost a million YouTube followers worldwide. 

Kinan Azmeh (b. 1976 in Syria) is a 2017 Grammy-nominated clarinetist and composer who has lived in New York since 2000 and is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. Last week he was uncertain as to whether he would be able to return to his Brooklyn home of 16 years after a concert tour in Europe and the Middle East. Fortunately he was admitted to the U.S. and will perform the clarinet solo at this performance. Ahmez shares this about his Suite for Improvisor and Orchestra: “The first movement, November 22nd, depicts a sort of a sonic homesickness while abroad, where one finds oneself missing the familiar surrounding sounds of childhood. The second movement, Wedding, tries to capture the mood found in a wedding party in a Syrian village. I would like to dedicate this movement to all the Syrians who managed to fall in love in the last six years in spite of all the suffering. Falling in love is probably one of the very few human rights that no authority can take away from you.”

At the conclusion of the performance, the audience will be invited to join the orchestra in singing Samuel Ward’s “America the Beautiful.”

Approximately one quarter of the Seattle Symphony’s musicians are immigrants.

The Seattle Symphony is a member of the League of American Orchestras, which has issued this statement on the executive order.

PROGRAM DETAILS (updated Feb. 8):

Music Beyond Borders: Voices From the Seven
Live performance in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya Hall

Simulcast to Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall
Livestream available on Seattle Symphony website, Facebook page and Periscope

Wednesday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Pablo Rus Broseta, conductor
Anjali Joshi, santoor
Murl Allen Sanders, accordion
Mae Lin, violin
Matt Decker, percussion
Joseph Adam, piano
Rahim AlHaj, oud
Samatar Yare, vocals
Kinan Azmeh, clarinet
Seattle Symphony


Fantasia for Santoor and Accordion





Metamorphosis of Narcissus







RAHIM ALHAJ — (IRAQ) / arr. Zack Kear

Letters from Iraq

Last Time We Will Fly Birds

Fly Away



TRADITIONAL — (SOMALIA) /arr. Steve Herzog*




Suite for Improvisor and Orchestra

November 22nd




SAMUEL WARD / arr. Arthur Luck

“America the Beautiful”


Special thanks to all the musicians for donating their services to make this event possible.

* “Ladaneey” courtesy of the Augsburg College Alumni Band directed by Robert Stacke. Transcription/Arrangement by Steve Herzog.


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 two 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.

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