SEATTLE SYMPHONY NAMES LUDOVIC MORLOT JUDITH FONG CONDUCTOR EMERITUS
MORLOT BECOMES THE JUDITH FONG CONDUCTOR EMERITUS FOLLOWING EIGHT TRANSFORMATIONAL YEARS AS THE HARRIET OVERTON STIMSON MUSIC DIRECTOR
THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY RECEIVES $1 MILLION GIFT FROM LONGTIME SUPPORTER JUDITH FONG TO NAME THE CONDUCTOR EMERITUS POSITION
SEATTLE, WA – Seattle Symphony Board Chair René Ancinas and President & CEO Krishna Thiagarajan announced today that Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony’s Harriet Overton Stimson Music Director, has been named to a new position, the Judith Fong Conductor Emeritus, in recognition of his exceptional role in the transformation of the Seattle Symphony over the past eight years. Morlot steps down as Music Director at the end of the current season, becoming Conductor Emeritus this fall. He will be succeeded by Music Director Designate Thomas Dausgaard, who has served as the Seattle Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor since 2014.
The lifetime title of Conductor Emeritus is being bestowed on Morlot in recognition of his past accomplishments and his future relationship with the orchestra. Morlot will return for regular guest conducting engagements and will have the opportunity to continue working with the orchestra on future recordings, tours and residencies when the Music Director is not available. As Conductor Emeritus, Morlot will continue his fruitful relationship with the Seattle Symphony, which has resulted in an expanded orchestra, nearly 60 commissions and premieres, 19 recordings on the Seattle Symphony Media label, five Grammy Awards, and Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year Award.
“We are all tremendously proud of the transformation the Seattle Symphony has undergone with Ludovic as our artistic leader, partner and friend, and we are thrilled to plan our future relationship with him in this new role as Conductor Emeritus,” shared Board Chair René Ancinas. “We are grateful to Judith Fong for her leadership and support of our artistic priorities. The Seattle Symphony is setting the pace for how an orchestra reflects and responds to its community, and we’re confident that our orchestra will continue to rise in relevance and global reputation with the arrival of our incoming Music Director Thomas Dausgaard.”
Ludovic Morlot shared, “It has been an honor and a privilege to be Music Director of the Seattle Symphony for the last eight years. I am overjoyed to know that I will be a member of that beautiful family for years to come. What a thrill it is to be able to continue to dream ambitious projects with the Seattle Symphony beyond that chapter. I add my sincere thanks to Judith for her steadfast support of the orchestra and our vision, and for encouraging my personal growth as an artist.
“It is my pleasure and privilege to support the Seattle Symphony in conferring this honor upon Maestro Morlot for all he has achieved during his tenure here. There is no one more deserving,” commented Judith Fong. “By pushing the creative envelope in his willingness to take risks, our audiences benefited greatly — while the orchestra gained worldwide respect and recognition. For this, the Seattle community owes him a debt of gratitude.”
President & CEO Krishna Thiagarajan shared, “It gives me great pleasure to celebrate the close and warm relationship that Ludovic has developed with our community, and the personal friendships built over the past eight years. Ludovic’s many accomplishments here have been a joint effort with our incredible musicians, administration and board. Today, the name ‘Seattle Symphony’ is synonymous with creativity and going beyond the boundaries of what it means to be a modern classical orchestra. This title is a culmination of an extraordinarily creative and productive partnership.”
During Ludovic Morlot’s tenure, the Seattle Symphony has seen thrilling performances, inventive programming bringing together the familiar and the unfamiliar, award-winning recordings, touring to Carnegie Hall and the West Coast, daring multimedia projects, as well as work with youth, families and the community.
On arriving in Seattle in 2011, Morlot set a new artistic course for the Seattle Symphony. Morlot’s bold programming was embodied by 58 commissions and 56 world premieres by an impressive roster of composers ranging from John Luther Adams to Aaron Jay Kernis to Caroline Shaw; 19 recordings on the Seattle Symphony Media label; the launch of the late-night [untitled] series for adventurous listeners; and genre-bending programs which celebrated the past, present and future of Seattle’s music scene and paid tribute to legendary artists from rock to hip-hop.
Several major projects, including John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean, Kernis’ Violin Concerto performed by James Ehnes and Morlot’s deep exploration of French repertoire — in particular the music of Henri Dutilleux — have earned the orchestra five Grammy Awards in the past five years, as well as the distinction of being named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year. Adams’ current major release, Become Desert, was conducted by Morlot in Seattle and at UC Berkeley during the Seattle Symphony’s 2018 residency there. Become Desert will be released on June 14, 2019, on the Cantaloupe Music label.
Including an all-Dalbavie disc coming out July 26, 2019, Morlot will have conducted 19 recordings on the Seattle Symphony Media (SSM) label during his tenure as Music Director. SSM launched in 2014 following a new agreement with Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization that enabled the orchestra to release a significant number of recordings each year from both live concerts and studio sessions. Morlot has conducted the Seattle Symphony on several other labels, perhaps most notably in five previously unrecorded works by American composer George Perle on Bridge Records.
Morlot’s programs also ventured into the theatrical with dramatic use of staging, lighting and costumes in works such as Stravinsky’s Persephone with inventive puppetry and sets designed by Michael Curry, and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, with stage design by Anne Patterson. Composer celebrations, festivals and collaborations included the American music festival, Tuning Up! in 2016, and a city-wide Shakespeare Festival in 2018 which featured Morlot conducting Seattle Opera’s production of Beatrice & Benedict.
Beyond inviting collaborations with the most exciting composers and musicians in the classical realm, Morlot also created partnerships with Seattle artists from a variety of genres including Mike McCready, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Bill Frisell. The 2015 collaboration with McCready and other members of Seattle bands Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains and Temple of the Dog resulted in a compelling performance and recording in tribute to Mad Season and former bandmate Layne Staley. In another compelling performance, Morlot’s collaboration with Sir Mix-a-Lot, performing the premiere of Gabriel Prokofiev’s orchestral arrangement of “Baby Got Back,” resulted in a video that immediately went viral.
Morlot’s focus on developing the sound of the orchestra included deep exploration of French masters, spanning over a hundred years of music by Berlioz, Debussy, Dutilleux, Fauré, Messiaen, Ravel and others. In the 2018–2019 season, which was also the centenary year of Debussy’s passing, Morlot placed special emphasis on an exploration of the composer. Through concert programs and recordings, Morlot traced Debussy’s influence into the present with music by contemporary French composers Pascal Dusapin and Marc-André Dalbavie.
Further developing the orchestra’s sound, since his arrival in 2011 Morlot hired 32 musicians, or approximately 30% of the orchestra, including eight principal musicians and five assistant or associate principals. An important advancement during Morlot’s tenure was the expansion of the winds and trumpet section from three to four positions for each instrument. These sections were enlarged to enhance the quality of the orchestra, and to attract and retain the best musicians.
In Seattle, Morlot has taken a special interest in the orchestra’s youth and family programs including conducting several Side-by-Side Concerts with local youth and high school orchestras, as well as students at the University of Washington School of Music, where he is Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies. Morlot has also conducted the Symphony’s KING FM Family Concerts, and championed the popular Family Connections program that invites up to two youth ages 8–18 to attend Masterworks and Pops series performances free with a paying adult.
In serving the larger community, Morlot has partnered with numerous organizations on artistic projects and conducted the Seattle Symphony in the 2017 livestreamed performance, Music Beyond Borders: Voices From the Seven, which showcased music and musicians from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia and Sudan.
LUDOVIC MORLOT HARRIET OVERTON STIMSON MUSIC DIRECTOR
Ludovic Morlot has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 2011. During the 2018–2019 season they have particularly focused on the music of Debussy and newly commissioned works have included Caroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto and the U.S. premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two-Birds.
This season, Morlot’s guest engagements have included the Houston, Melbourne and Bamberg Symphony Orchestras, and the Netherlands Radio, BBC and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestras. In 2018 his summer festival appearances included the BBC Proms, Hollywood Bowl and the Aspen Music Festival. He also has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra having conducted them in subscription concerts, 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 Orchestras. Other recent notable performances have included the New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Budapest Festival, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras.
Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School (U.S.) and then continued his education in London at the Royal Academy of Music and then at the Royal College of Music. 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. Since September 2011 the orchestra has been led by Music Director Ludovic Morlot who becomes Conductor Emeritus at the end of the 2018–2019 season. In September 2019, Thomas Dausgaard will become the next Music Director following five seasons as the Seattle Symphony’s Principal Guest Conductor.
The Symphony is heard from September through July by more than 500,000 people through live performances and radio broadcasts and 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 five Grammy Awards, 26 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and was named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.