Modern Music Ensemble with Ludovic Morlot and Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 7:30pm
$10 all tickets
UW Modern Ensemble

The University of Washington Modern Music Ensemble, Cristina Valdés, director, performs works by Marc Andre Dalbavie, Pierre Boulez, Tristan Murail, and the U.S. premiere performance of 'Wanderlied' by Betsy Jolas. With special guest conductor Seattle Symphony Music Director (and head of conducting at UW) Ludovic Morlot and faculty cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir.


Dalbavie: Palimpseste 
(Mario Torres, conductor)                                                                                  

Betsy Jolas: Wanderlied  (U.S. Premiere Performance)
(with Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello, Ludovic Morlot conductor)

Pierre Boulez: Dérive 2 
(Lorenzo Guggenheim, conductor)

Tristan Murail: Le Lac
(Ludovic Morlot, conductor)

Artist Bios

Cristina Valdés, piano

Considered one of today’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music, Cristina Valdés is known for presenting innovative concerts with repertoire ranging from Bach to Xenakis.  She has performed across four continents and in venues such as Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre, Jordan Hall, and the Kennedy Center.  Ms. Valdés has appeared both as a soloist and chamber musician at festivals worldwide including New Music in Miami, the Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico City, Brisbane Arts Festival, the Festival of Contemporary Music in El Salvador, Havana Contemporary Music Festival, and the Singapore Arts Festival.

 An avid chamber musician and collaborator, Ms. Valdés has toured extensively with the Bang On a Can “All Stars”, and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Players, the Mabou Mines Theater Company, the Parsons Dance Company, and Antares.  She has also been a featured performer on both the Seattle Symphony’s Chamber Series and [UNTITLED] concerts.

 Cristina has appeared as concerto soloist with the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, the Seattle Philharmonic, Philharmonia Northwest, the Eastman BroadBand, and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra.  Most recently, she performed the piano solo part of the Ives 4th Symphony with the Seattle Symphony.

 Cristina Valdés joined the faculty of the UW School of Music in Fall 2014 as an artist in residence in the keyboard program. 

French conductor Ludovic Morlot has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 2011. Among the many highlights of his tenure, the orchestra have won three Grammy Awards and gave an exhilarating performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014, as reported in The New York Times: “The performance Mr. Morlot coaxed from his players was rich with shimmering colors and tremulous energy.”

During the 2017–2018 season Morlot and the Seattle Symphony will continue on their incredible musical journey, focusing particularly on the music of Berlioz, Stravinsky and Bernstein. In addition, they will be presenting some exciting new works by John Luther Adams, David Lang and Andrew Norman and welcoming Alexandra Gardner for a residency. The orchestra will also be performing on tour in California, including a two-day residency at the University of California, Berkeley. The orchestra has many successful recordings, available on their own label, Seattle Symphony Media. A box set of music by Dutilleux was recently released to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

This season, Morlot will be conducting at Seattle Opera for the first time (Berlioz Béatrice et Bénédict), make his debut with the Orchestra of St Luke’s and will return to the Atlanta and Houston Symphony Orchestras. He has regular relationships with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and New York and Los Angeles philharmonics. Morlot also has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra having been Seiji Ozawa Fellowship Conductor in 2001 at Tanglewood and subsequently appointed assistant conductor for the orchestra and their Music Director James Levine (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.

Outside North America, recent and future debuts include the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Symphony (closing concert of the prestigious Wien Modern Festival), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, MDR Leipzig and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestras. Morlot has conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London and on tour in Germany. Other recent notable performances have included the Royal Concertgebouw, Czech Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Tonhalle, Budapest Festival, Orchestre National de France, Helsinki Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. 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 TitoJenůfaand Pelléas et Mélisande. Concert performances, both in Brussels and Aix-en-Provence, included repertoire by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Britten, Webern and Bruneau.

Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London 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.

Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir

“Riveting” (NYTimes) cellist, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Toronto and Iceland Symphonies, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the US, Europe and Asia.  Following the release of her debut recording of Britten’s Suites for Solo Cello on Centaur Records, she has performed in some of the world’s greatest halls including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and Disney Hall. The press have described her as “charismatic” (NYTimes) and praised her performances for their “emotional intensity” (LATimes).

An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri, St. Lawrence and Cavani Quartets and has performed in numerous chamber music festivals, including Santa Fe, Seattle, Orcas Island, Bay Chamber, Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. She is cellist of the Seattle-based group, Frequency, and cellist and founding member of Decoda, The Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall.

The 2018-2019 season started with a national TV appearance with the Iceland Symphony on their annual “Our Classics” program. Also this season, Sæunn makes her debut with the BBC and Seattle Symphonies performing the award-winning cello concerto, Quake, written for her by Páll Ragnar Pálsson. Chamber music appearances take her to Carnegie Hall in New York City, Seoul, Glasgow, Cleveland and Los Angeles, as well as recitals in Reykjavík, and Chicago following the Spring 2019 release of her recording of Icelandic solo cello music on the Sono Luminus label.

Highlights of the 2017-2018 season include the US premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Wanderlied and the Hong Kong premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Canticle of the Sun, as well as recitals and chamber music appearances in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Glasgow, London and Reykjavík. In addition to commissioning Daníel Bjarnason to write his piece for multi-track celli, Bow to String, Sæunn enjoys close working relationships with composers of our time such as Páll Ragnar Pálsson, Halldór Smárason, Melia Watras, Jane Antonia Cornish and Þuríður Jónsdóttir.

Sæunn has garnered numerous top prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook.  Her teachers and mentors include Richard Aaron, Tanya Carey, Colin Carr and Joel Krosnick.

Born in Reykjavík, Iceland, Sæunn serves on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, teaching cello and chamber music. For more information, please visit


Mario Alejandro Torres

Mario Alejandro Torres a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, is in his first year of doctoral studies at University of Washington, pursuing a degree in orchestral conducting under the mentorship of David Alexander Rahbee and Ludovic Morlot. Mario is co-conductor of UW Campus Philharmonia Orchestras, and assistant conductor for UW Symphony Orchestra. Mario holds a Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Ithaca College under the mentorship of Jeffery Meyer. As a violist, he holds a Bachelor (’13) and a Master (’14) of Music in Viola Performance from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Additionally, Mario has been a conducting student of Michael Jinbo at the Monteux School and Music Festival, where he has also served as an orchestral assistant. He has also performed in master classes led by Larry Rachleff, Donald Schleicher, and Mark Stringer.   

He has guest conducted Orquesta de Camara de San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the Eddy Snijders Orchestra in Paramaribo, Suriname, the Caddo Parish High School Honor Orchestra in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the Youth Orchestra of Académie Musicale Occide Jeanty in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti. 

As a violist, Mario has soloed with Orquesta de Camara de San Pedro Sula, NSULA Symphony and Chamber orchestras, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and the Monteux School and Music Festival. Mario has been a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and he performed with them in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, and England. He has been co-principal violist for Texarkana Symphony Orchestra, South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and Shreveport Summer Music Festival. He has also play with Shreveport, Longview, Rapides, Marshall, and Costa Rica Symphony Orchestras. As an educator he has taught at Escuela de Música Victoriano Lopez in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Louisiana Academy of Music in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Mario also holds degrees in Computer Information Systems and Business Administration, and completed a nine-month professional certificate program in Community Leadership, Teaching Artistry, and Social Entrepreneurship for musicians with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas’ Global Leaders Program.

Lorenzo Guggenheim

Lorenzo Guggenheim is a young conductor and music student raised in Argentina. A pianist since childhood, he was trained in jazz and popular music as well as academic music. He is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Orchestra Conducting at the University of Washington School of Music under the mentorship of Senior Artist-in-Residence Dr. David Rahbee and Seattle Symphony’s Music Director Ludovic Morlot. Lorenzo is a teaching assistant at the UW, where he is co-conductor of the Campus Philharmonia orchestras and assistant conductor of UW Symphony Orchestra.

He graduated with Honors in 2014 from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina licensed in Orchestral Conducting. He also studied Contemporary Music Ensemble Conducting’s Diploma in Conservatorio de Musica “Manuel de Falla” in Buenos Aires. His professional debut came in 2012, conducting the Symphony Orchestra of the Catholic University of Argentina and since then he has conducted in some of the most important theaters in Argentina. In 2014 he conducted in the renowned Teatro Colon with the Academic Orchestra of its Institute for the Arts as parts of the “Interpretes Argentinos” Series. In the same year he performed as a guest conductor for the Compania Oblicua, a leading ensemble dedicated to contemporary music, with Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat at Usina del Arte in Buenos Aires.

After completing studies in Argentina, he traveled to the United States to continue his studies at the University of Washington, where he studied Choral Conducting with Dr. Giselle Wyers, Opera Conducting with Tom Harper, Advanced Jazz Studies with Coung Vu and Ted Poor, American Musical History with Larry Starr, and worked as a diction coach for the UW's December 2014 production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.