Say Hello to Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center!

The grand opening of Octave 9, Seattle’s newest music venue, is slated for March 3, 2019.

By Shiva Shafii

On March 3, the corner of Second Avenue and Union Street in downtown Seattle will be abuzz for the Grand Opening of Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, a one-of-a-kind technology-infused venue offering a glimpse into the future of music.

For over 16 years, the 2,000-square-foot space housed Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center, but on March 3 it will reopen as Octave 9, a place that reimagines the way we experience music, learning and community. But how? Through technology and design that transports audiences sonically and visually.

The space boasts a powerful, state-of-the-art Meyer Sound Constellation® acoustic system that uses 42 speakers and 30 microphones, referred to as the “photoshop of sound” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross. With the touch of a button, Constellation can transform the acoustics of Octave 9 from a cozy lounge to the spacious sound of a concert hall to the Grand Canyon. Octave 9’s modular surround screens with 13 moveable panels can encompass an audience during a live performance or illuminate light glistening off the desert sands as a surround-sound recording of John Luther Adams’ Become Desert plays.

The Grand Opening of Octave 9 will be celebrated from March through June with a variety of concerts and events, showcasing Octave 9’s capabilities and versatility. GeekWire affirms the inaugural season of concerts to be just “as experimental as the space.” With five world premieres and over 70 instrumentalists performing works from over 70 contemporary composers, Octave 9 represents a bold commitment to the music of today.

“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.”

What better example of this than the Contemporary Music Marathon on March 23–24? With 24 consecutive hours of programs co-curated by musicians, composers and artists, featuring music from over 50 contemporary composers, the marathon is split into three “acts” — Nightfall, Dreams and Daybreak. Marathon passes are available for the entire 24-hour period or you can purchase individual acts separately.

An immersive overnight experience, Dreams is curated by composer and artist Marcin Pączkowski who will transform the space through performance into an interactive sound installation from midnight to 7am. In this all-night performance, audience members will be enveloped in sound and mesmerized by the atmospheric and immersive visuals that are responding to every note. At sunrise, John Luther Adams’ songbirdsongs starts the new day leading into the final act, Daybreak.

The Contemporary Music Marathon will be the second time Seattle audiences get to hear Octave 9’s first Artist in Residence, cellist and interdisciplinary artist Seth Parker Woods, in the space. Parker Woods’ comfortability with the intersection of technology and music promises to continue Octave 9’s sense of innovation.

Parker Woods will also perform on one of two chamber concerts in Octave 9 curated by Derek Bermel, the Seattle Symphony’s 2018–2019 Composer in Residence. Bermel’s first program tells a narrative of American music at the intersection of jazz and classical while the second program is an exploration of contemporary music in dialogue with electronics and spatialization. These concerts also include commissioned works from Seattle-based composers Stephen Newby and Kaley Lane Eaton. The Seattle Symphony also commissioned Bermel to compose a new work using Octave 9’s unique technology, which will be premiered by Seattle Symphony musicians in the space on April 28. 

From multi-sensory chamber concerts and interactive performances, to illuminating conversations alongside artists and composers, to events for families that spark curiosity, Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center is Seattle’s newest home for innovative experiences.

Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center is named in honor of Seattle philanthropists James and Sherry Raisbeck, who provided a $2 million matching challenge to transform the former Soundbridge. The name was inspired by the size of a concert grand piano, which spans just over seven octaves. A nine-octave range, then, pushes past the boundaries, redefining what is musically possible.

“Sherry and I are thrilled to support the Seattle Symphony’s commitment to both innovation and community in this new space,” James Raisbeck shared. “Our gift is a vote of confidence and an invitation to others to join us in making Octave 9 a destination for education, inspiration and engagement for music lovers of all ages.”

Bring your family and friends down to check out Octave 9 at one of the many Grand Opening events!


Leadership support for Octave 9 construction was generously provided by James and Sherry Raisbeck, Norcliffe Foundation, Sage Foundation, 4Culture/King County Building for Culture and LMN Architects. Programming is supported by the Judith A. Fong Music Directors Fund. We thank all the supporters who have made Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center a reality.

Posted on January 31, 2019