Seattle Symphony Brings Community Partners and Local Composers Together for Digital Beethoven Fest

Digital Beethoven Fest features special performances and hosted panel discussions throughout the week of June 22, 2020, in addition to regular broadcasts.

On June 22, the Seattle Symphony kicks off Digital Beethoven Fest in a week-long celebration to commemorate Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The online festival features hosted panel discussions by Symphony musicians and staff with local artists and composers in addition to special performances throughout the week.

Before Benaroya Hall’s closure due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Symphony’s Beethoven Festival was originally planned as a major feature of the 2019–2020 season, with four commissioned compositions to have their world premieres alongside performances of all nine Beethoven symphonies. Though the originally scheduled concerts cannot proceed at this time, the Seattle Symphony invites the public to partake in free online events and performances.

Throughout the season, Music Director Thomas Dausgaard and the Seattle Symphony have been working in close collaboration with valued partners — the Seattle Symphony Community Youth Chorus, local Native American communities, and Northwest Center and Best Buddies — to bring community members onstage as artists, composers and performers.

In recent years, the Symphony has curated community-driven artistic projects to amplify the voices and stories of marginalized populations (past collaborations include Prism Project with youth from Accelerator YMCA; Lost and Found with Path with Art; We Are the Art with Plymouth Housing Group; and Lullaby Project in partnership with Mary’s Place).

Of the four commissioned works that were to premiere during the original Beethoven Festival, three are Community Compositions created in partnership with local composers Angelique Poteat, Janice Giteck and Charles Corey, alongside high school vocal students, members from local Native American communities, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Angelique Poteat and the Seattle Symphony Community Youth Chorus completed a new piece, Dear Humanity for Youth Chorus & Orchestra, through a series of workshops with students aged 14–18.

Janice Giteck, in partnership with Native American artists Swil Kanim and Paul Chiyokten Wagner, completed a new piece, Potlatch Symphony 2020, through a series of collaborative cultural exchanges.

Charles Corey and clients of Northwest Center and Best Buddies partnered to compose a new work, Together, This Journey.

The fourth commission features a collaboration between the Symphony’s Composer in Residence Tyshawn Sorey and Artist in Residence Seth Parker Woods in a new work for cello and orchestra by Sorey titled For Roscoe Mitchell.

While the orchestra cannot gather as originally planned, the artists and community partners will join virtually to share in music and conversation exploring Beethoven’s legacy and continued relevance in the present day. Three panel discussions will be hosted by Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning Raff Wilson.

On Monday, June 22, at 2pm PDT, Music Director Thomas Dausgaard opens the Digital Beethoven Fest by introducing audiences to background on the festival, ongoing community partnerships, and Community Composition projects. Native American musician, storyteller and activist Paul Chiyokten Wagner, who is a collaborator on Potlatch Symphony 2020, will join Dausgaard in conversation around culture, place and shared humanist values at the core of Beethoven and local Native American narratives.

On Wednesday, June 24, at 2pm PDT, composer Angelique Poteat and Community Youth Chorus Director Megan McCormick will lead a discussion on Dear Humanity, the new work composed by Poteat and the chorus. Dear Humanity focuses on climate change and its effects on youth today. Christine Siegert, Beethoven scholar and Publishing Director at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany, will also join the conversation to share her expertise.

On Friday, June 26, at 2pm PDT, composer Charles Corey and Seattle Symphony Principal Oboe Mary Lynch join to discuss Together, This Journey, the composition written by Corey in collaboration with clients of Northwest Center and Best Buddies. Lynch, who has worked with the program this season along with fellow musicians, will share her personal experience of her Best Buddies partnership. The conversation will explore how Beethoven challenged the traditional role of the composer and how Together, This Journey challenges the idea of who gets to be a composer today.

All panel discussions will be available through the Seattle Symphony’s YouTube channel. In addition, the Symphony will share special performances by members of the orchestra and Beethoven Festival partner artists throughout the week. The Seattle Symphony’s Digital Beethoven Fest is presented in partnership with Goethe Pop Up Seattle.

Digital Beethoven Fest brings special online events to audiences in addition to the Symphony’s regular broadcast lineup. As our community confronts the current global health crisis, the Seattle Symphony will continue sharing performances that provide strength, comfort and joy through video rebroadcasts and livestreams until the orchestra can return to the Benaroya Hall stage. The weekly schedule is available at

The Seattle Symphony looks forward to welcoming audiences back to Benaroya Hall again very soon and wishes everyone health and comfort in the coming weeks.

Community Compositions are supported by a generous grant from the American Orchestras' Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.

Seattle Symphony Future Fund

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Posted on June 2, 2020