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The rehearsals have been incredible. Mahler’s “Tragic” Sixth Symphony in the hands of the Symphony bleeds melancholy. And Jane Eaglen’s Isolde brings forth tears. Are you going to be there?

To prep: first, go Wagnerite. Next, catch Mahler Madness. Then, read up on the connection between Wagner’s Tristan and Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in John Sutherland’s recent Seattle Times piece.

Now, buy tix.


Mark O'ConnorWelcome to Seattle Symphony’s SummerFest! It is a great pleasure to be the Festival Director and to return to my hometown of Seattle, a place where I was born and spent my formative years. I have had the great fortune of performing my compositions with Seattle Symphony in years past, and of adding my performances to each season at the fabulous Benaroya Hall since its opening.

Over the years, I’ve mulled over how great it would be to help create a music series that combined the best of classical, jazz and folk music in a summer festival setting hosted by the great Seattle Symphony. We have accomplished just that at SummerFest. I have invited some of the greatest musicians in the world, known for their boundary-crossing musical imagination and innovation, to join us. I invite all of you to take one incredible musical journey for a few weeks, exploring new music projects, celebrating the great music traditions, and enjoying some performances by some of the best musicians in the world.

Our festival features an extraordinary lineup. Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Earl Scruggs with family and friends, and Maestro Schwarz conducting Wagner and Mahler are just a few of our festival’s highlights. Regarding my own festival performances, I am looking forward to the Northwest premiere of my Double Concerto for violin and cello, For the Heroes, with the dynamic cellist Maya Beiser and Seattle Symphony. I am also bringing my “Hot Swing,” too, along with mandolin wizard Chris Thile for an evening of some hot picking!

We want to make some music history with this festival, a music model that is brand new and cutting edge. I, for one, am glad that it is happening right here in my hometown of Seattle. Enjoy!

Mark O’Connor

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!