Estonian choral music from touring ensemble Vox Populi on Sept. 19, a tribute to the great Sonny Rollins album “Our Man in Jazz” by faculty drummer Ted Poor and quartet on Oct. 15, and three performances of Gabriel Fauré's rarely-performed 1913 opera Pénélope on Oct. 22, 24, and 25 lead off 2015-16 concert season events at the University of Washington School of Music. The performances are among the first of more than 100 music-related events to be presented in the 2015-16 academic year by UW Music alone or in collaboration with other Seattle arts organizations.
Season highlights include a trio of productions staged in collaboration with UW ensemble-in-residence Pacific MusicWorks, which this year presents three of its four season programs at the UW’s Meany Theater. PMW and UW Music’s co-productions of Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 12, 13), Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Feb. 28) and Gluck’s Orphée (May 20, 21, 22) give UW music students learning and performance opportunities in close proximity to professional musicians and production crew, all convening under the leadership of the School of Music’s Grammy winning artist-in-residence Stephen Stubbs. The fully staged Orphée production reunites Stubbs with frequent collaborator Gilbert Blin, celebrated opera director of the Boston Early Music Festival, of which Stubbs serves as co-artistic director.
In other highlights, renowned guitarist Bill Frisell (an affiliate professor in the Jazz and Improvised Music program) makes multiple appearances, including shows Jan. 14 and Jan. 15 at Meany Theater with jazz studies faculty and UW orchestra and big band students. These special performances are in support of Frisell's 2015 release Michael Gibbs and the NDR Big Band Play a Bill Frisell Setlist, a collection of Frisell songs arranged by his former teacher, Michael Gibbs. Frisell returns to UW in early June for the eighth installment of the Improvised Music Project Festival, running June 2-4 at the Meany Studio Theater with co-headliners bassist Reid Anderson (Bad Plus) and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry.
Other guest artists on the season include violist Garth Knox (Feb. 22), new music groups Ensemble Dal Niente (Oct. 30) and Carnegie Hall's affiliate ensemble DeCoda (April 28), soprano Michaela Martens (April 22), and the School of Music’s 2015-16 Ethnomusicology visiting artists: Sundanese musician Ade Suparman (June 2), Gospel musician (and UW Music faculty artist) Phyllis Byrdwell (March 8) and Afro-Peruvian artist Lalo Izquierdo (Dec. 8).
Among performances by the school’s varied student ensembles, the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Alexander Rahbee, stages an impressive lineup of programs and guest soloists, which in addition to the aforementioned Bill Frisell include former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow on Feb. 12 (a program that also includes a conducting appearance by affiliate professor Ludovic Morlot); soprano and UW Voice faculty artist Cyndia Sieden on Dec. 11; and violinist and former Seattle Symphony concertmaster Maria Larionoff on Nov. 6. Other performances by the orchestra include an April 25 concert at Benaroya Hall—with faculty artists Stephen Stubbs and David Alexhander Rahbee conducting the UW Symphony and Combined UW Chamber Singers and Chorale in works by Haydn and Gluck—and performances (March 11, June 3) by winners of this year’s Concerto Competitions (Nov. 17, 20, and 23).
The School of Music’s faculty performers make multiple appearances on the season. Newly appointed artist-in-residence Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello, makes her UW debut on Nov. 16 with a concert of works by Beethoven, Britten and Rachmaninoff. She also appears with UW colleagues Melia Watras and Cristina Valdés and violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim in a faculty chamber concert March 6. Other faculty performances include quarterly Mallethead Series concerts by percussion professor Tom Collier and guests (Oct. 30, Feb. 12, and May 27) and recitals by Cristina Valdés (piano) (Nov. 3), Melia Watras (viola) (Jan. 26), Michael Partington (guitar) (April 24), and Robin McCabe (piano) (Feb. 18), who also performs—with violinist Maria Larionoff—the complete Beethoven piano and violin sonatas over three evenings in November (Nov. 13, Nov. 14, and Nov. 15) in Beethoven Back to Back.
The Beethoven series, along with more than 50 additional performances and music-related events scheduled for the School’s Brechemin Auditorium and the Walker Ames Room of Kane Hall, will be offered free of admission charges in 2015-16, an arrangement made possible through generous support from School of Music friend Mina B. Person (Read related store here). Additionally, a reduction of ticket prices for UW students and others for paid-admission events at Meany Hall and the Jones Playhouse makes UW Music’s 2015-16 concert season a rich—and economical—resource for music lovers at the University and beyond.