Members of Seattle Symphony and School of Music faculty Melia Watras, viola, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello, and Cristina Valdés, piano, present a program including world premieres by UW Music director Richard Karpen and faculty member (and SSO bassoonist) Seth Krimsky, along with works by Páll Ragnar Pálsson and Thomas Larcher. Seattle Symphony Music Director (and head of UW Conducting) Ludovic Morlot and David Alexander Rahbee conduct.
Seth Krimsky: New Work, world premiere
David Alexander Rahbee, conductor
Páll Ragnar Pálsson: Quake
Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello
David Alexander Rahbee, conductor
Richard Karpen: New Work, world premiere
Melia Watras, viola
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Thomas Larcher: Böse Zellen
Cristina Valdes, piano
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
The French conductor Ludovic Morlot has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 2011. During the 2018/19 season the orchestra continues on its incredible musical journey, focusing particularly on the music of Debussy, and works by composers he influenced or that influenced him. Amongst others, newly commissioned works this season are Caroline Shaw’s Piano Concerto and the US premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s At Swim-Two-Birds. The orchestra have many successful recordings, which have won two 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, Ludovic’s guest engagements include the Houston, Detroit, Melbourne and Bamberg Symphony Orchestras, and the Netherlands Radio, BBC and Bergen 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 Orchestra) 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 Orchestras. Ludovic 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. Ludovic served as conductor in residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon under David Robertson (2002-04).
Ludovic was Chief Conductor of La Monnaie for three years (2012-2014). During this time he conducted several new productions including La Clemenza di Tito, Jenufa and Pelléas et Mélisande as well as concert performances in both Brussels and at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival.
Trained as a violinist, Ludovic studied conducting at the Pierre Monteux School (USA) 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. Ludovic 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.
David Alexander Rahbee is currently Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities and teaches conducting. He is Music Director and Conductor of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and founder of the UW Campus Philharmonia Orchestras. He is a recipient of the American-Austrian Foundation's 2003 Herbert von Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, the 2005 International Richard-Wagner-Verband Stipend, and a fellowship the Acanthes Centre in Paris in 2007.
Dr. Rahbee has appeared in concert with orchestras such as the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Kammerphilharmonie Berlin-Brandenburg, Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Orchesterakademie der Bochumer Symphoniker, the Dresden Hochschule orchestra, Grand Harmonie, the Boston New Music Initiative, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja (Ecuador), Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Cool Opera of Norway (members of the Stavanger Symphony), Schönbrunner Schloss Orchester (Vienna), the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, the Kennett Symphony, and the Divertimento Ensemble of Milan. He collaborated twice with the Seattle Symphony in 2015, assisting for the performance and recording of Ives’ Fourth Symphony, and as guest conductor for their Native Lands project. He has collaborated with several prominent soloists such as Sarah Chang, Jon Kimura Parker, Jonathan Biss, Glenn Dicterow and David Chan. He has been a guest rehearsal conductor for numerous young orchestras, such as the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony Orchestra of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University, and the Vienna University of Technology orchestra, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO), and Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO). He has served on faculty of the Pierre Monteux School as Conducting Associate, has been resident conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine and guest conductor at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Dr. Rahbee was an assistant at the Vienna State opera from 2002-2010. As part of his fellowship and residency at the 2003 Salzburg Festival, Dr. Rahbee was assistant conductor of the International Attergau Institute Orchestra, where he worked with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He has been selected to actively participate in masterclasses with prominent conductors such as Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Jorma Panula, Zdeněk Mácal, Peter Eötvös, Zoltán Peskó and Helmut Rilling, and counts Nikolaus Harnoncourt to be among his most influential mentors. From 1997-2001, David Rahbee was conductor of the Fidelio Chamber Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts, selecting its talented young members from Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, Boston University, The Boston Conservatory, and the Longy School. From 1997 to 2000, he served as assistant conductor of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (formerly known as the Hingham Symphony) in Massachusetts.
Dr. Rahbeeʼs principal conducting teachers were Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin and composition from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in orchestral conducting, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Montreal in orchestral conducting. He has also participated in post-graduate conducting classes at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna. His arrangements of various music for brass are published by Warwick Music, and his articles on the music of Gustav Mahler have appeared in journals of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, among others. Dr. Rahbee has placed among finalists for the American Prize, in the category of Orchestral Programming in the college/university division for three consecutive years, including second place for the 2014-15 season of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra. He is co-editor of Daniels’ Orchestral Music (6thedition) and Daniels’ Orchestal Music Online (DOMO), the gold standard among conductors, orchestral administrators, orchestral librarians as well as other music professionals and students reseaching for orchestral programming.
Hailed by Gramophone as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality” and by The Strad as “staggeringly virtuosic,” violist/composer Melia Watras has distinguished herself as one of her instrument’s leading voices. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, while achieving acclaim as an established recording artist. Upcoming highlights include the release of her new album Schumann Resonances, featuring world premiere recordings of her own compositions, on Planet M Records; the world premiere of a new viola concerto by Richard Karpen, with conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony; and performances in Switzerland.
Watras’s discography has received considerable attention from the press and the public. The Strad called 26 “a beautiful celebration of 21st century viola music.” Ispirare, which features the world premiere recording of Pulitzer Prize-winner Shulamit Ran’s Perfect Storm (written for Watras), made numerous Best of 2015 lists, including the Chicago Reader’s (“Watras knocked the wind out of me with the dramatically dark beauty of this recording”). Short Stories was a Seattle Times Critics’ Pick, with the newspaper marveling at her “velocity that seems beyond the reach of human fingers.” Of her debut solo CD (Viola Solo), Strings praised her “stunning virtuosic talent” and called her second release (Prestidigitation) “astounding and both challenging and addictive to listen to.”
Watras’s compositions have been performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Bloomington (IN), Denmark and Spain, by artists such as violist Atar Arad, pianist Winston Choi, cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, singer Galia Arad and violinists Manuel Guillén, Yura Lee and Michael Jinsoo Lim. Her music has been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and can be found on the upcoming album Schumann Resonances and on 26. Watras’s adaptation of John Corigliano’s Fancy on a Bach Air for viola is published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and can be heard on her Viola Solo CD.
Watras is violist of the Seattle-based ensemble, Frequency, for whom she has composed. For twenty years, Watras concertized worldwide and recorded extensively as violist of the renowned Corigliano Quartet, which she co-founded. The ensemble’s album on the Naxos label was honored as one of the Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New Yorker. Other chamber music explorations include improvising in concert with jazz innovators Cuong Vu and Ted Poor.
A versatile performer, Watras has enjoyed collaborations with dance and theater. She appeared as violist/dancer in the premiere of Kathryn Sullivan's At Home, at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City. Music from her album Viola Solo was featured in director Sheila Daniels’s production of Crime and Punishment at Intiman Theatre, and she worked as music consultant for Braden Abraham’s production of Opus at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Melia Watras was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and began her musical studies on the piano at age 5. Soon after, she turned to the viola and made her debut at 16, soloing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Her formal studies took her to Indiana University, where she studied with Atar Arad, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. While at Indiana, Watras began her teaching career as Professor Arad’s Associate Instructor, and was a member of the faculty as a Visiting Lecturer. She went on to study chamber music at the Juilliard School while serving as a teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet.
Watras serves as Professor of Viola and chair of Strings at the University of Washington, where she holds the Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship and was previously awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship and the Royalty Research Fund. Watras has given viola and chamber music classes at schools such as Indiana University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), and Chosun University (South Korea). She frequently returns to her alma mater, Indiana, to teach as a guest professor. Watras currently resides in Seattle with her husband, Pacific Northwest Ballet concertmaster Michael Jinsoo Lim. She plays a viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.
“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 www.saeunn.com
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.