Seattle Symphony Unveils Inaugural Season for Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center

A rendering of the immersive visuals in Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center (Photo: LMN Architects)

With five world premieres and music from over 70 contemporary composers, the launch of Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center represents a bold commitment to the music of today.

Today the Seattle Symphony announced the much-anticipated artistic programming for Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, an innovative new venue at Benaroya Hall opening in March 2019. An unprecedented milestone in the Seattle Symphony’s history, Octave 9’s inaugural season includes five world premieres and features music by over 70 contemporary composers from the opening in March through June 2019.

Octave 9 will be a center for learning and community collaborations, providing a home for the Seattle Symphony’s community and family programs including the Lullaby Project, Sensory Friendly Concerts and First Concerts.

“Octave 9 is groundbreaking,” shared Krishna Thiagarajan, President & CEO of the Seattle Symphony. “In this space, we will live and breathe today’s art and support contemporary composers with a dedicated medium for their work. Arts are the way a society articulates itself, and Octave 9 signifies the importance of supporting the voices of today.”

Tickets for concerts and events in Octave 9 are available starting Friday, November 16, 2018. A complete schedule of opening festivities, including a free community open house, will be announced in February.

Artistic Highlights

The Seattle Symphony is inviting composers, musicians and interdisciplinary artists to explore the venue’s unique creative capabilities. Octave 9’s novel first season includes a 24-hour music marathon; multi-sensory and interactive performances; creative chamber concerts; intimate performances; illuminating conversations with artists and composers; insightful lectures; events for families that spark curiosity; and a new performance venue for the community.

Seth Parker Woods
Artist in Residence Seth Parker Woods (Photo: Michael Yu)

As part of the opening celebrations, the 24-hour, nonstop Contemporary Music Marathon will feature works by over 50 composers, including an overnight “sleepover” incorporating an interactive music installation.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on March 23 and ending at 5 p.m. the next day, the marathon will open with the world premiere of a piece by Melody Parker that showcases the extensive range and ability of Octave 9’s sonic capabilities using Meyer Sound’s Constellation® Acoustic System.

The following hours will include performances of eclectic works by over 50 composers, including John Luther Adams, Anna Clyne, Gabriela Lena Frank, Dai Fujikura, Alexandra Gardner, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lang, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, Angelica Negrón, Gity Razaz, Kaija Saariaho, Tyshawn Sorey and Julia Wolfe, among many others.

Derek Bermel
Composer in Residence Derek Bermel (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

The Seattle Symphony’s Composer in Residence Derek Bermel is curating a series of concerts and community experiences in Octave 9 as part of his residency. Bermel’s first program tells a narrative of American music at the intersection of jazz and classical music. Bermel’s series also includes commissioned works from Seattle-based composers Stephen Newby and Kaley Lane Eaton. Bermel has been commissioned to compose a new work for Octave 9 that will receive its world premiere on April 28, utilizing the unique technological capabilities in the space.

Cellist Seth Parker Woods is the first-ever Artist in Residence for Octave 9, from March 2019 through the 2019–2020 season. He will be a featured performer throughout the opening celebrations, including the March 10 program curated by Derek Bermel and in an hour-long self-curated program during the Contemporary Music Marathon. His marathon performance will include interactive and electronic works by Ryan Carter, Nathalie Joachim, George Lewis and Annea Lockwood.

Hannah Kendall
Composer Hannah Kendall (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Additional concerts in the space will feature in-depth conversations with artists and composers, exploring their creative process during presentations of their music.

Surrounding the performance of their works on the Delta Air Lines Masterworks Season, composers John Harbison, Heiner Goebbels and Hannah Kendall will each share and discuss their music and unveil the inspirations that go into their compositions.

Seattle Symphony musicians and guests will perform works by Seattle-based composers Trimpin, Andrew Stiefel and Ben Hausmann in April; and William Bolcom, Jérémy Jolley and Angelique Poteat in June.

University of Washington Professor Emeritus Dr. Larry Starr will lead conversations in Octave 9 which will further explore the music and themes presented as part of the Seattle Symphony’s Delta Air Lines Masterworks Season, including the music of Shostakovich in March, the current season’s emphasis on French music in April, and the music of Brahms in May.

Community Projects

Building on the history of Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center, which occupied this space from 2001–16, Octave 9 will continue to be a home for the Seattle Symphony’s family, school and community programs. 

The launch of Octave 9 marks the return the Seattle Symphony’s First Concerts, which invite children ages 3­–5 to explore various instruments in the orchestra including the French horn, harp and violin.

The Seattle Symphony’s Sensory Friendly Concerts, a program designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum and with other sensory sensitivities, will move into Octave 9. The concerts invite families with children ages 5–8 to enjoy small chamber works and participatory group songs in a relaxed setting.

Since 2013 the Seattle Symphony has partnered with Mary’s Place, which shelters families experiencing homelessness, to present the annual Lullaby Project. The Mother’s Day Lullaby Project Concert will share the lullabies created by Mary’s Place parents during the workshop.

Venue for Immersive Musical Experiences

The launch of Octave 9 coincides with the 20th anniversary of Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Symphony’s home since 1998. Centrally located in downtown Seattle across the street from the Seattle Art Museum and blocks from the Harbor Steps, Pike Place Market and the Seattle Theater District, Octave 9 will add a third performance venue to Benaroya Hall.

Designed to take full advantage of new technologies, Octave 9 seamlessly transforms to become a performance space, meeting room or interactive classroom, adapting the structure of the space and the acoustics to suit any needs. In addition to transforming to the needs of a specific performance or activity, Octave 9 ensures that each visitor’s musical experience is tuned to perfection, no matter where they are in the room.

The venue combines 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 to create a 360° shared virtual experience.


Octave 9 is funded through a combination of public and private funds, spearheaded by a $2 million match from local philanthropists James and Sherry Raisbeck. Please consider a donation to support this important project today!


To learn more about opportunities to support this project, please contact Associate Vice President of Development Renee Duprel at or 206.215.4764.

Support for the inaugural season of artistic programming for Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center is generously provided by the Judith A. Fong Music Directors Fund.

Benaroya Hall, including Octave 9, is owned by the City of Seattle and is operated and maintained by the Seattle Symphony under a lease agreement. The city also has invested funds to help make Octave 9 possible and preserve an important public asset.

Posted on November 14, 2018