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SEATTLE, WA – Today, Gramophone announced the Seattle Symphony has won the Orchestra of the Year Award, an award that recognizes the artistic excellence of an ensemble. The winner of the Orchestra of the Year Award was announced at the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Awards ceremony in the Grand Connaught Rooms in London. 

The Seattle Symphony was among seven other international ensembles nominated for the award, and the only nominee outside of Europe. Selected by Gramophone’s editors and critics, finalists were chosen from recordings made from June 2017 through May 2018 and the winner was voted on by the general public. The Gramophone Classical Music Awards celebrate the most outstanding recordings of the past year, and this new award gave listeners the opportunity to vote for an orchestra they believe has made an exceptional contribution to recorded music.

“The Seattle Symphony has a long and highly distinguished tradition of making recordings, and that tradition has continued under the musical directorship of Ludovic Morlot and his successor Thomas Dausgaard. The orchestra’s dynamic work in concert and the resulting recordings have clearly captured the public’s imagination who delivered an astounding 47 percent of votes to make the Seattle Symphony our inaugural Orchestra of the Year, an Award sponsored for the first time by Apple Music,” commented James Jolly, Editor in Chief for Gramophone.

“We are all absolutely thrilled. This award validates our record label, Seattle Symphony Media, as a key element in defining our international reputation,” shared Krishna Thiagarajan, President and CEO of the Seattle Symphony. “As we begin a new season of exciting concerts, this award also recognizes the extraordinary artistic accomplishments made under Music Director Ludovic Morlot. We are so honored to be named Orchestra of the Year by Gramophone. Thank you to all our supporters and congratulations to Ludovic Morlot, Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard, the musicians of the Seattle Symphony and recording engineer Dmitriy Lipay for recognition of your artistic achievements!” 

“I am so proud of our orchestra for winning Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year Award,” said Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony Music Director. “We’ve had an incredible journey together over the past seven years and I’m looking forward to another season of inspiring concerts and exciting releases of music on the Seattle Symphony Media label, with a focus on French repertoire.”

The eight international ensembles nominated for the award were the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Il Pomo d’Oro, Seattle Symphony, Les Siècles and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. The award was announced alongside other special awards such as Artist of the Year, Young Artist of the Year and the coveted Recording of the Year. The Orchestra of the Year Award was the only one decided by public vote.


Alexander White, the Seattle Symphony & Opera Players' Organization Chairperson and Assistant Principal Trumpet commented, “To be the first orchestra named Orchestra of the Year by Gramophone is an extraordinary honor for the musicians of the Seattle Symphony. The orchestra is thrilled to be nominated for this award amongst so many great orchestras and is proud to represent our city and supporters worldwide. We promise to continue giving phenomenal concerts and beautiful recordings of works both familiar and unfamiliar. On behalf of the musicians of the Seattle Symphony, thank you: we are Orchestra of the Year!”


Under Music Director Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony has seen thrilling performances, inventive programming, Grammy Award-winning recordings, touring to Carnegie Hall and the West Coast, and daring multimedia projects. The orchestra has embarked on an eight-year exploration of French music, spanning over a hundred years of music by Berlioz, Debussy, Dutilleux, Fauré, Messiaen, Ravel and others featured in concert and on Seattle Symphony Media, the orchestra’s in-house record label launched in 2014.


The 2018–2019 season includes the releases of three all-French albums on Seattle Symphony Media. On September 14, the orchestra will release Berlioz’s Requiem conducted by Ludovic Morlot, joined by tenor Kenneth Tarver. The digital release of this album also includes Tarver’s performance of La mort d’Orphée. In January 2019, an album featuring works of Berlioz, Ravel and Debussy with tenor Ian Bostridge will release including Debussy’s Le livre de Baudelaire orchestrated by John Adams and Berlioz’s Les nuits d’ete. Seattle Symphony Principal Oboe Mary Lynch and Principal Flute Demarre McGill as well as cellist Jay Campbell will be featured in an August release of concertos and orchestral works by Marc-André Dalbavie.

Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard assumes his role as Seattle Symphony’s Music Director in the 2019–2020 season, continuing recording projects with the orchestra that began following his appointment as Principal Guest Conductor in 2014. Dausgaard’s projects with the Seattle Symphony include the 2016 live recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 (performing version by Deryck Cooke), which was named Disc of the Year by Europadisc and nominated for a 2017 Gramophone Award with the review stating, “this exceptional issue from the Pacific Northwest ought to be a game-changer for all concerned.” During the 2018–2019 season, the orchestra will also continue to record its first-ever Nielsen cycle with Thomas Dausgaard, which began in November 2017 with the “thrilling” (Gramophone) release of Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4.


“The Seattle Symphony has a long tradition in the recording studios; under Gerard Schwarz, its Music Director from 1985 to 2011, it recorded extensively for Delos and Naxos leaving a priceless discography of largely American music. Now this 115-year-old ensemble is back making recordings (usually based on live performances) and is sounding superb. Ludovic Morlot (2011–19) has focused on French repertoire including Messiaen and Dutilleux — with a rewarding side-step towards Charles Ives — while the ensemble’s Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard has taken them into other underexplored areas of the repertoire. After last year’s Gramophone Award-shortlisted Mahler Ten, we’ve had a bracing and thrilling coupling of Nielsen’s Third and Fourth Symphonies.”

Three Places in New England
Orchestral Set No. 2
New England Holidays

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Seattle Symphony
Seattle Symphony Chorale

Poèmes pour Mi
Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jane Archibald, soprano
Cynthia Millar, ondes Martenot
Michael Brown, piano
Northwest Boychoir
Seattle Symphony

Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia espansiva 
Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable” 
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor

Estelí Gomez, soprano 
John Taylor Ward, baritone 
Seattle Symphony 


Launched in 2014, Seattle Symphony Media is the Seattle Symphony’s independent in-house record label. The Symphony has an extensive catalogue of nearly 150 recordings, which have brought forth three Grammy Awards, 23 Grammy Award nominations and two Emmy Awards throughout its history. Under the direction of Music Director Ludovic Morlot, the Symphony's in-house record label features both “core repertoire” and some of the eclectic and contemporary programming for which the Seattle Symphony has become recognized. The label includes both studio recordings and performances captured live in concert, allowing the organization an unprecedented breadth of repertoire choices. 

All recordings are made in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall and engineered by the Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Dmitriy Lipay. Using the Symphony’s own state-of-the-art in-house recording studio, recordings have been engineered to audiophile standards and aim to capture as realistically as possible the sound of the orchestra performing on stage with naturalistic imaging, depth of field and dynamic range. Distributed by Naxos of America, the recordings are available in both physical and digital formats from a variety of retailers. Digital content is available in stereo, “Mastered for iTunes,” 96k 24-bit high resolution and 5.1 surround sound. 

To obtain a physical or digital review copy of any Seattle Symphony Media release, photos, liner notes or any other information on Seattle Symphony Media, please contact Shiva Shafii at

The Seattle Symphony is grateful to Joan Watjen for her generous support of Seattle Symphony Media CDs in memory of her husband, Craig.


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 three 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.