The Seattle Symphony had been conducted by Gerard Schwartz for the past 30 years. His orchestra was regarded as a very tight, clean, and intricate group. What many thought it lacked was great passion. Some say there was no edge. While classical music purists were still attending the concerts, it has been argued that the group did nothing to attract a younger audience.
Classical music is dying. It’s a common sentiment. As a former member of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and a current music performance major at the University of Washington, I come from the perspective of one of the players responsible for keeping it alive. My friends and I are members of the classical groups of the future. We appreciate what can be heard at symphony halls and opera houses while too many of our peers do not. It is a constant battle, a struggle, and a concern for the classical music community that quite simply there are not enough people aged from their teens through their thirties who are interested in music the way it was written pre-guitar and pre-synthesizer.
This season, the Seattle Symphony hired a new artistic director by the name of Ludovic Morlot. Mr. Morlot is a young Frenchman, known for his emphatic passion and showmanship. He has already made waves in the Seattle music community. He and members of the Symphony played at Bumbershoot, a performance that featured an electric bassoon solo and a bass solo in which the bassist converses with the audience. Morlot has opened up symphony rehearsals to the general public. The symphony offers two free complimentary tickets once an adult ticket is purchased for those aged 8-18. Morlot’s premier performance, to a sold out Benaroya Hall, has been met with widespread acclaim. He joined the orchestra during one piece, led them in a reportedly outstanding rendition of Gershwin’s American in Paris, and a Gulda piece featuring a drumset and electric guitar. The renovation is on, and it is exciting.
Morlot is trying to win over new, younger fans while maintaining the attention of those well versed in classical music. So far, after just one concert, he is succeeding. Go see a symphony. See what the buzz is about. You just may like what you hear.