Tom PhilionHello, everyone! I’m Tom Philion, Seattle Symphony’s Executive Director, and I’d like to welcome you to Seattle Symphony’s new SummerFest 2008 blog, where you can get an inside look at the Symphony’s new summer festival. Encompassing some 14 concerts between June 26 and July 14, SummerFest 2008 features an eclectic mix of artists, musical styles and programming, under the collaborative guidance of Grammy-winning American composer and performer Mark O’Connor.

Many know Mark best for his incredible genius as a performer — from old-time fiddle tunes to jazz — through such collaborative projects as Appalachia Waltz with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and appearances on countless recordings with the world’s top artists. But he is also known for his brilliant composition work: from television and film to the concert hall, O’Connor has made incredible contributions to the world of symphonic music, including his double concerto, For the Heroes, which celebrates the heroic efforts of so many following the tragic events of 9/11, and which will feature cellist Maya Beiser and O’Connor himself at SummerFest 2008.

For jazz lovers, Wynton Marsalis and his remarkable musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center perform on July 1, while Mark O’Connor’s own Hot Swing group appears on July 2 with special guest vocalist Sophie Milman and an opening act, the much-heralded Punch Brothers, featuring Chris Thile.

We have the BBC’s Blue Planet Live!, which will include the series’ brilliant footage with full orchestra accompaniment conducted by the film composer George Fenton, along with narration by local actor and the voice of KPLU’s BirdNote, Frank Corrado.

Cirque de la Symphonie, a new touring program making waves across the nation, stars extraordinary cirque artists performing jaw-dropping feats to the classics of the symphonic repertoire. Our festival concludes with banjo icon Earl Scruggs, joined by Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, featuring Béla Fleck with Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee.

We hope you’ll agree that the festival lineup is fantastic. We’ll see you at SummerFest!