IN CELEBRATION OF THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF JEAN SIBELIUS
THOMAS DAUSGAARD LEADS THREE WEEKS OF FESTIVAL EVENTS IN HIS FIRST YEAR AS PRINCIPAL GUEST CONDUCTOR
24-HOUR SIBELIUS MARATHON WILL BE STREAMED ON CLASSICAL KING FM SYMPHONIC CHANNEL ON MARCH 29, FEATURING ALL SEVEN SYMPHONIES, VIOLIN CONCERTO AND FINLANDIA
FINLANDIA FOUNDATION TO BESTOW INAUGURAL AWARD OF EXCELLENCE TO SEATTLE SYMPHONY IN RECOGNITION OF FESTIVAL
Seattle, WA – A major highlight of the Seattle Symphony’s 2014–2015 season is Luminous Landscapes: The Sibelius Symphonies, a three-week festival from March 12–28, led by Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard in his first year as Principal Guest Conductor. The festival, which commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Jean Sibelius’ birth with performances including all seven of the composer’s symphonies, the Violin Concerto and Finlandia, is the most extensive festival of Sibelius' music this year in the U.S., and one of a very small number of orchestras worldwide presenting the complete Sibelius symphonic cycle this season.
Executive Director Simon Woods said, “We are thrilled to be holding one of the major celebrations in the world of the extraordinary symphonic legacy of Sibelius. These works are among the profoundest in the symphonic repertoire, and the chance to experience this extraordinary journey from the stirring First Symphony through to the exalted and enigmatic Seventh, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. And we will be in the best possible hands with Thomas Dausgaard — a musician who has a tremendous affinity for Sibelius’ music — as our guide.”
Thomas Dausgaard, who takes up his post as Principal Guest Conductor with these concerts shared, “For many years it has been a special joy to make music with the wonderful Seattle Symphony. It is a great honor for me that our first project together in my new role will be a fusion of the two great S's: Seattle and Sibelius! A cycle of Sibelius' symphonies is always a big event. His music shows us what a transcendental instrument an orchestra can be — stimulating our imagination, sensitivity and intellect, as well as our love for music! I look forward to sharing these qualities with musicians and music lovers over the coming seasons.”
In Seattle, the festival is presented in partnership with the Nordic Heritage Museum which will present Finland: Designed Environments, also opening March 12 and continuing until July 26. Finnish U.S. ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde will attend both the opening of the exhibit and the festival, Luminous Landscapes: The Sibelius Symphonies. The Finlandia Foundation will send a delegation to Seattle for the opening, and Finlandia Foundation President Ossi Rahkonen will bestow the foundation’s inaugural Award of Excellence to the Orchestra.
The Seattle Symphony has also invited guest speakers for festival-related events, Ruusamari Teppo, great-granddaughter of Jean Sibelius, joined by Finnish cellist Jussi Makkonen, and Michael Beckerman, Professor of Music at New York University. The festival performances of the Sibelius symphonic cycle will stream online on Classical KING FM’s “Symphonic Channel” via www.king.org for a 24-hour period following the festival on March 29, beginning at 12 a.m. Pacific Time.
The first week of the festival includes Sibelius’ first two symphonies and his rousing symphonic poem Finlandia on March 12 and 14. On March 13, Finlandia and Symphony No. 2 will be performed as part of the Symphony Untuxed series, followed by a post-concert performance by local Nordic choruses in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. Also that weekend, musicians from the Seattle Symphony will perform Sibelius’ String Quartet in D minor, “Voces intimae,” Sonata in E major for Violin and Piano, and Piano Quintet in G minor on March 15 in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall as part of the Chamber series.
The symphonic cycle continues March 19, 21 and 22 with performances of Sibelius’ Third and Fourth symphonies, as well as the virtuosic Violin Concerto with Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto who makes his Seattle Symphony debut at these concerts. On March 21, Kuusisto will also give a post-concert solo performance in the Grand Lobby where he will perform on electronic violin and use other electronics to create multi-layered improvisations of Finnish dance tunes and well-loved folk songs from the 1700s.
The festival concludes with Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 and 7 on March 26 and 28. Following the March 26 performance, sopranos and pianists Maria Mannisto and Christina Siemens will perform a program of Sibelius’ songs in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium.
The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle will present Finland: Designed Environmentsfrom March 12–July 26, 2015. Finland: Designed Environments looks at the explosion of creativity in Finnish design over the last 15 years. Examples of furnishings, fashion and craft, as well as architecture and urbanism, illustrate how nearly every aspect of Finnish life incorporates thoughtful design thinking — from city streets and summer homes to fashion and food — and is marked by sensitivity to form and material. The exhibition is the first significant U.S. museum presentation since the 1990s to examine contemporary Finnish design.
Jean Sibelius played an instrumental role in the emergence of modern-day Finland as a classical music superpower, with Helsinki at its center. Finland’s connection with Seattle runs deep: once Alaska transferred to the U.S. in the mid-1800s, some of the resident Finns moved down to communities developing along the northwest coastline, including Seattle. Seattle has continued to be a popular place for those of Nordic heritage to reside in the U.S., with 12% of King County residents claiming Nordic heritage. There are many cultural and lifestyle affinities between Seattle and Nordic countries, including fishing, boating, biking and heightened eco-awareness. Sibelius’ music is profoundly rooted in landscape, for example lakes and pine forests, similar to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.
Concert tickets start at $17 and may be purchased at seattlesymphony.org, by calling the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office at (206) 215-4747, or by visiting the Ticket Office in Benaroya Hall, located on the corner of Union Street and Third Avenue. Ticket Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., and Saturday, 1–6 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased through the Seattle Symphony’s iPhone and Android apps.
For a worldwide schedule of events celebrating Jean Sibelius, please visit www.sibelius150.org.
To view a full schedule of Seattle Symphony events, see below.
Thomas Dausgaard is Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana (ORT), and Honorary Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, having previously served as its Principal Conductor from 2004–2011. He is renowned for his creativity and innovation in programming, the excitement of his live performances and his extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed recordings.
He has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including in Europe the Munich Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He began his North American career assisting Seiji Ozawa, and has since appeared with The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Washington National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony and the Montreal Symphony. He is also a regular visitor to Asia and Australia, appearing in recent seasons with the New Japan Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies. Festival appearances have included the BBC Proms, the Salzburg Festival, Mostly Mozart and Tanglewood.
As a recording artist, he enjoys long-standing relationships with the BIS and Da Capo labels and has made well over 50 CDs, including complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Schumann and Rued Langgaard. “Opening Doors,” his new series for BIS with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, has recently won praise for performances of 19th-century repertoire more usually associated with symphony orchestras. Future recording plans include Schubert and Brahms cycles for BIS, and a disc for Da Capo of the works of Pelle Gundmundsen-Homgreen, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Thomas Dausgaard has been awarded the Cross of Chivalry by the Queen of Denmark, and elected to the Royal Academy of Music in Sweden. His interests beyond music are wide-ranging and include a fascination with the life and culture of remote communities: he has visited head-hunting tribes in Borneo, volunteered as a farmer in China and stayed with villagers on an island in the South Pacific. Currently he lives in Denmark with his family.
Pekka Kuusisto is internationally renowned as both soloist and conductor, and for his fresh approach to the repertoire. The Guardian declared him to be “A violinist whose rare gift is to become, rather than perform, the music he plays.” This season includes debuts with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig and Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. He also directs The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on a tour of South America. Recent orchestral engagements include the Cincinnati, City of Birmingham, Finnish Radio, Singapore and Toronto Symphony Orchestras; the Philharmonia and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Washington D.C.’s National Symphony Orchestra. He plays a Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini violin of 1752 kindly loaned by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Founded in 1903, 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 live from September through July by more than 300,000 people annually. 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 100,000 children and adults each year. The Seattle Symphony has a deep commitment to new music, commissioning many works by living composers each season, including John Luther Adams’ recent Become Ocean, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The orchestra has made more than 140 recordings and has received 18 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.
Luminous Landscapes: The Sibelius Symphonies is sponsored by Finlandia Foundation, Finlandia Vodka and Bang & Olufsen
Pekka Kuusisto’s performances are generously underwritten by the Hot Chocolate Fund through the Seattle Symphony's Guest Artists Circle.
Thursday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, at 8 p.m.
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 1
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2
Finnish ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde and Finlandia Foundation President Ossi Rahkonen to open the Sibelius Festival at Thursday night’s concert.
Pre-concert Talk at 6:30 p.m. on March 12
Speaker: Ruusamari Teppo, the great-granddaughter of Jean Sibelius
Pre-concert presentations at 6 p.m. on March 14
Speakers: Seattle Symphony Operations & Artistic Coordinator Jeanne Case and New York University Professor of Music Michael Beckerman
Pre-concert Talk at 7 p.m. on March 14
Speakers: Ruusamari Teppo, the great-granddaughter of Jean Sibelius and cellist Jussi Makkonen
Friday, March 13, at 7 p.m.
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2
Special performance of Finnish choral music with a post-concert performance by local Nordic choruses in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby.
Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m.
SIBELIUS: String Quartet in D minor, “Voces intimae”
SIBELIUS: Sonatina in E major for Violin and Piano, Op. 80
SIBELIUS: Piano Quintet in G minor, J. 159
Thursday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 21, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 22, at 2 p.m.
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 3
SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto in D minor
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 4
Pre-concert Talk one hour prior to each performance
Speaker: Stephen Bryant, Seattle Symphony Violinist
Ask the Artist with Thomas Dausgaard and Pekka Kuusisto on Thursday, March 19, in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby following the concert.
Post-concert on Saturday, March 21, in the Grand Lobby, violinist Pekka Kuusisto will create multi-layered improvisations of Finnish dance tunes and well-loved songs from the 1700’s using the electric violin, loop machines and octave machines.
Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, at 8 p.m.
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 6
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 7
Pre-concert Talk one hour prior to each performance
Speaker: Alex Pinto, Senior Nehru-Fulbright Scholar
On Thursday, March 26, following the concert, sopranos and pianists Maria Mannisto and Christina Siemens will perform in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium.
SIBELIUS / text by Johan Ludvig Runeberg: Illalle, Den första kyssen, Norden
SIBELIUS / text by Ernst Josephson: Jubal
SIBELIUS / text by Josef Julius Wecksell: Demanten på marssnön
SIBELIUS / text by Johan Ludvig Runeberg: Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklingsmöte
SIBELIUS / text by Larin Kyösti: Kaiutar
SIBELIUS / text by Anonymous: Hiljainen kaupunki
SIBELIUS / text by Josef Julius Wecksell: Var det en dröm?