Classical music-briefs: Seattle Symphony's Spring Festival; Seattle Opera Wagner competition finalists; Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra's "Little Maestro" series

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immigrant composers

The Seattle Symphony’s Spring Festival, set for May 28-June 7, will be called “Coming to America: Composers in Pursuit of a Dream,” and will celebrate the work of immigrant composers in full-orchestra and chamber programs. Among the highlights: the opening-night performance of the “Genesis Suite” by several composers (including Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Milhaud), presented in its entirety for the first time since 1945 and featuring visuals by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Narrators for the “Genesis Suite” will be Oscar winners Patty Duke and F. Murray Abraham.

The festival also co-presents Kurt Weill’s “The Little Mahagonny,” produced with Cornish College of the Arts,” and a “Coming to America, for Kids” concert featuring 18-year-old pianist Jeong Choe, in addition to a chamber concert of contemporary immigrant composers.

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Complete programming details and ticket information may be found through the Symphony ( or 206-215-4747).

Wagner Competition finalists

Seattle Opera has announced the finalists for its 2008 International Wagner Competition, the company’s second such contest, following a hugely popular first one in 2006. Eight singers have been selected in auditions held in Munich, London, New York and Seattle: Erin Caves, tenor, from Stockton, Calif.; Jason Collins, tenor, from Beaufort/Seneca, S.C.; Deborah Humble, mezzo-soprano, from Adelaide, Australia; Darren Jeffery, bass-baritone, from Cambridgeshire, England; Peter Lobert, bass, from Jena, Germany; Michael Weinius, tenor, from Stockholm, Sweden; Nadine Weissmann, mezzo-soprano, from Berlin, Germany; and Elza van den Heever, soprano, from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The alternates, who will go on if any of the eight are unable to compete, are Carla Thelen Hanson, soprano, from Rochester, Minn., and Joni Henson, soprano, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. The competition is set for Aug. 16 in Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. More information: 800-426-1619, 206-389-7676, or

“Little Maestros” series

The Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra has launched a new “Little Maestro” Series for children from birth to age 6, with works from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” to Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony, designed to introduce young children to classical music.

Like similar interactive programs presented by the Vancouver and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, the Little Maestro Series is presented in partnership with “Let Your Music Shine! with Lisa & Linda,” from musicians/presenters Lisa Grace Allison and Linda Sebenius. The concerts will take place in such Eastside venues as the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue Arts Museum, Kirkland Performance Center and Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

Also newly announced: the orchestra’s Young Maestro series, for ages 6-11, featuring Bellevue Philharmonic musicians in such works as “Peter and the Wolf” (which inaugurates the series May 10 at the Bellevue Arts Museum).

Single ticket prices are $10, to both series (discounted series subscriptions also are available). For a complete schedule of all the educational performances, call the Philharmonic at 425-455-4171.

Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times music critic

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