From one Grammy winner to another: Taylor Swift donates $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony, inspired by its commission and performance of John Luther Adams’ award-winning “Become Ocean.”
On Thursday morning, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra announced an unexpected gift — $50,000 from superstar singer Taylor Swift. It was a present from one Grammy Award winner to another.
In a letter to music director Ludovic Morlot, Swift said she was inspired to donate by a recording of John Luther Adams’ Grammy-winning “Become Ocean,” which the Symphony commissioned, premiered at Benaroya Hall in 2013 and then performed at Carnegie Hall the following year as part of the Spring for Music Festival. The composition, Swift wrote, reminded her of going to her local symphony with her grandmother.
“I was thrilled to hear that Taylor was moved by ‘Become Ocean,’” Morlot said in a prepared statement. “This is a powerful piece with a unique soundscape.” The swelling, oceanic composition also won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for music and was described by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as “magnificent” with “a sense of unwinding, of subsiding, of dissolution.”
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Swift’s donation is earmarked for two Seattle Symphony programs: Link Up, a music-education program for elementary-school students — which sends teaching artists into classrooms for weekslong residencies — and its musicians’ pension fund. Link Up has an annual budget of $360,000.
Swift is known for her philanthropy, giving to disaster-relief organizations and arts education. She has donated to her old Nashville high school to renovate its auditorium, gave $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony for her 24th birthday and pledged $4 million to build a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
“We’re especially thankful that she wishes to support our musicians,” Morlot said, “and that she shares our belief that all people should be able to experience symphonic music.”