SEATTLE, WA — On September 15 at Benaroya Hall, Music Director Ludovic Morlot celebrates the launch of his farewell season with the Seattle Symphony in a spectacular opening night filled with excitement and virtuosity. Hailed as “one of the best pianists on the planet” (Cincinnati Enquirer), pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins the orchestra for the rarely performed and dazzling piano concerto by the Armenian composer, Aram Khachaturian. Modest Mussorgsky’s triumphant Pictures at an Exhibition opens the program followed by the exhilarating Sabre Dance from the Gayane ballet, also by Khachaturian. The Opening Night Concert will be broadcast live on Classical KING FM 98.1.

The Opening Night Concert also launches the season-long 20th anniversary celebration of Benaroya Hall. Home to the Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall opened its doors in 1998 and has since become the most-visited performing arts venue in Seattle with guests like Nelson Mandela, Ellen DeGeneres, former Vice President Joe Biden, and iconic Seattle Symphony performances featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, the Silkroad Ensemble, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

The 2018–2019 Opening Night Gala following the concert will honor Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot for his significant achievements during his tenure as Music Director. Co-chaired by Rosalind Poll and Terry Hecker, the gala will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of Benaroya Hall. Since arriving in Seattle in 2011, Morlot has continued to develop the high level of performance of the orchestra and charted a new artistic course for the Seattle Symphony, including a focus on the repertoire of French composers Henri Dutilleux, Olivier Messiaen, Hector Berlioz and Pierre Boulez. Morlot’s farewell season includes a special focus on Claude Debussy, including multiple works by Debussy paired with composers whose works influenced him, and modern composers who were influenced by him.

Morlot’s bold programming ideas during his tenure include the late-night [untitled] series for adventurous listeners and the genre-bending and innovative Sonic Evolution series. Morlot also championed important commissions including John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean (2013) and Become Desert (2018), Elliott Carter’s Instances, Giya Kancheli’s Nu.Mu.Zu, Aaron J. Kernis’ Violin Concerto and Agata Zubel’s In the Shade of an Unshed Tear. With Morlot, the Seattle Symphony has won three Grammy Awards on Seattle Symphony Media, the orchestra’s record label that launched in 2014, toured to Carnegie Hall and the West Coast, experimented with multimedia projects and increased its role with families and youth in the community, and with those experiencing homelessness.

The 2018–2019 season will be Ludovic Morlot’s final season with the orchestra after an eight-year tenure. He announced his departure in April 2017, and the orchestra announced his successor, current Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard, in November that same year. Thomas Dausgaard will become Music Director in fall 2019.


Saturday, September 15, at 5 p.m.

Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Seattle Symphony

MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition
KHACHATURIAN: Sabre Dance from Gayane
KHACHATURIAN: Piano Concerto 

Be part of the glamour and excitement of Opening Night as pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony. Featuring Mussorgsky’s bold and opulent Pictures at an Exhibition, the concert concludes with the dazzling virtuosity of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. 

The festivities continue at the Opening Night Gala with dinner and dancing to celebrate Morlot’s final season and 20 years of Benaroya Hall. To reserve a Gala package, please call 206.215.4753. 


Supporting Sponsors: JP Morgan Chase and Nordstrom
Event Sponsors: Aetna, Boeing, Delta Air Lines and Microsoft 


Jean-Yves Thibaudet, considered one of the best pianists in the world, has the rare ability to combine poetic musical sensibilities with dazzling technical prowess. He has performed around the world for more than 30 years and recorded more than 50 albums, with a depth and natural charisma that have made him one of today's most sought-after soloists. Thibaudet has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and won the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d'Or, the Choc du Monde de la Musique and a Gramophone Award. On the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie's birth, Decca released a box set of Satie's complete solo piano music performed by Thibaudet, the foremost interpreter and champion of the composer's work. In 2010 he released Gershwin, featuring big jazz band orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, variations on “I Got Rhythm,” and Concerto in F live with the Baltimore Symphony. He has also had an impact on the world of fashion, philanthropy and film. His concert wardrobe is by designer Vivienne Westwood, and he was the soloist on the award-winning and critically acclaimed films Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. In 2010 the Hollywood Bowl honored Thibaudet for his musical achievements by inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Previously a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Thibaudet was awarded the title Officier by the French Ministry of Culture in 2012.


French conductor Ludovic Morlot has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 2011. During the 2018–2019 season they will continue in their incredible musical journey, focusing particularly on the music of Debussy, and works by composers he influenced or that influenced him. Among others, newly commissioned works this season are Caroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto and the U.S. premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two-Birds. The orchestra has many successful recordings, which have won three Grammy Awards. A box set of music by Dutilleux was recently released on their own label, Seattle Symphony Media, to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

This season Morlot’s guest engagements include the Bamberg, Detroit, Houston and Melbourne symphony orchestras, and the BBC, Bergen and Netherlands Radio philharmonic orchestras.

In 2018 his summer festival appearances included the BBC Proms and Edinburgh Festival (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), the Caramoor Festival (Orchestra of St. Luke’s), the Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles Philharmonic) and the Aspen Music Festival, where he is a regular guest.

He also has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra having been the Seiji Ozawa Fellowship Conductor in 2001 at Tanglewood and subsequently appointed assistant conductor for the orchestra (2004–07). Since then he has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts in Boston, at Tanglewood and on a tour to the west coast of America.

Recent and future debuts include the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Symphony (Wien Modern Festival) and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Morlot has conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London and on tour in Germany. In 2017 he conducted the inaugural concerts of the National Youth Orchestra of China in New York and China. Other recent notable performances have included the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Tonhalle, Budapest Festival, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Helsinki Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic orchestras. Morlot served as conductor in residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon under David Robertson (2002–04). 

Morlot was Chief Conductor of La Monnaie for three years (2012–14). During this time he conducted several new productions including La Clemenza di Tito, Jenůfa and Pelléas et Mélisande as well as concert performances in both Brussels and at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival.

Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School (U.S.) with Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo. He continued his education in London at the Royal Academy of Music and then at the Royal College of Music as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. Morlot was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 in recognition of his significant contribution to music. He is Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle. 


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.


Benaroya Hall is home of the Seattle Symphony and venue of choice for many local arts organizations. It is located on an entire city block in downtown Seattle and is surrounded by numerous restaurants, retail stores and parking facilities. The hall has two performance spaces — the 2,500-seat S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium and the 540-seat Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall — and a 430-stall underground parking garage. Over 450,000 people participate in public and private events annually, making Benaroya Hall the most-visited performing arts venue in Seattle. Benaroya Hall has received numerous awards, including a 2001 American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award for outstanding architecture. For additional information, including rental information, event listings and public tour schedules, please visit