Symphony hosts summer festival

The Seattle Symphony is charting new territory in its programming lineup with a special nine-concert festival called Tuning Up!

“[It’s a] 12-day celebration of the last century’s American musical landscape with nine concerts that traverse musical genres including Broadway, minimalism, avant-garde, jazz, classics and film,” according to You You Xia, public relations manager of the Seattle Symphony.

Ticket prices have been kept low for the series, with patrons able to attend eight Benaroya Hall concerts with a $148 festival pass, or attend individual shows for just $15 to $25.

The series runs June 17 to July 2 at Benaroya Hall, with an outdoor concert featuring nothing but the work of composer George Gershwin at Marymoor Park on June 26.

In a press release, Symphony President and CEO Simon Woods called the series, “a personal collection of ideas brought together by (music director) Ludovic Morlot under one umbrella to stimulate discussion and inspiration, and remind ourselves about the incredible creativity of the past hundred years as we approach the Fourth of July holiday.”

“It’s quite unlike anything else we’ve done, and we’re excited to share it with the community,” he said.

In a release, Morlot said the series delves into music the symphony believes is “eclectic, surprising, stimulating, and uplifting.”

“The last 100 years of American musical creativity has produced an incredible sonic landscape that I can’t wait to explore with our audiences,” Morlot said.

According to symphony spokespeople, the festival takes its name from Edgard Varèse’s Tuning Up, which opens the series on June 17.

The festival lineup includes John Luther Adams’ “In the White Silence,” presented as part of the innovative late-night [untitled] series; Julia Wolfe’s “My Beautiful Scream,” which is performed as a tribute to 9/11; Morton Feldman’s 90-minute minimalist work “Triadic Memories” (performed by pianist Alexander Melnikov,) and an all-Gershwin outdoor show at Marymoor Park featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Guest artists for the series include theremin virtuoso Lydia Kavina who will perform an all-theremin show with symphony musicians.

The theremin is controlled without physical contact by the performer. It is an early electronic instrument that Russian inventor, Leon Theremin, patented in 1928. The instrument has two metal antennae that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and oscillators control frequency with one hand, and volume with the other. A loudspeaker is used to amplify the electronic sound.

The theremin was used in television and movie music adding an eerie element to scores. Concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th and 21st century new music) and popular music such as rock also employ the theremin.

Also in the program is guest violinist Philippe Quint, who will perform Corigliano’s “Chaconne” from “The Red Violin” and other selections both with the orchestra and in a chamber concert with Seattle Symphony musicians. The Festival concludes with a concert showcasing music from Hollywood including selections from Vertigo, Youth, and Selma.

Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office at (206) 215-4747 or (866) 833-4747, or in person at the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office on the corner of Third Avenue and Union Street. Tickets may also be purchased through the Seattle Symphony’s iPhone and Android apps by searching “Seattle Symphony” or “Listen Boldly” at Apple’s App Store or Android’s App Store.