The orchestra will travel overseas for only the second time in its history in 2016, names pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet as its artist-in-residence and unveils a list of prestigious guests and a collaboration with Fly Moon Royalty.

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In June 2016, the Seattle Symphony will perform overseas for just the second time in its 112-year history. The tour will take the symphony to China and South Korea — and on that tour will be the symphony’s new artist-in-residence, world-renowned pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Those are two exclamation point worthy highlights of the orchestra’s 2015-16 season. But there’s plenty of other exciting news as well.

In his fifth year at the helm, music director Ludovic Morlot will delve again into the classical-music repertoire of his native France, with performances of work by Messiaen, Dutilleux and Fauré. He’ll also embark on a two-year Beethoven cycle that will include all the composer’s symphonies and piano concertos (soloists: Alexander Melnikov, Yefim Bronfman, Imogen Cooper).


Seattle Symphony 2015-16 season

The season kicks off with a concert on Sept. 19. Symphony subscribers have until April 4 to renew their subscriptions; single tickets go on sale in the summer (206-215-4747 or

Other Morlot-led offerings: Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Martinu’s Symphony No. 4, Ives’ “Three Places in New England,” Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, and Berio’s Sinfonia for 8 Voices and Orchestra (with guest vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth).

Principal guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard follows up his Sibelius marathon this season with a performance of Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No. 1 (“The Inextinguishable”) to honor the Danish composer’s 150th birthday. He’ll also take on Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 and Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night.”

Thibaudet’s artist-in-residence gig should keep him busy. In addition to performing concertos by Ravel, Gershwin and Saint-Saëns, he’ll chair the jury for the Symphony’s new International Piano Competition in September, take part in the orchestra’s Chamber Series and give a solo recital of works by Ravel and Schumann.

He’ll also join the symphony on its Asian tour — a two-week journey with performances in Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul, with more dates in China and South Korea to be announced.

The new season also features formidable displays of “Adams power.” “In the White Silence,” an epic meditative work by John Luther Adams (whose SSO-premiered “Become Ocean” won both a Pulitzer and a Grammy), is part of the late-night “[untitled]” series. “[untitled]” also includes Morton Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel” and works by University of Washington composers Richard Karpen, Joël-Francois Duran, Juan Pampin and Huck Hodge. Meanwhile, another Pulitzer/Grammy-winning Adams (John) returns to conduct his violin concerto, “Scheherazade. 2,” with Leila Josefowicz as soloist.

Other big names on the schedule: pianists András Schiff and Lang Lang, and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

In one unusual bit of programming, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death will be commemorated with pieces by Britten, Mendelssohn, Szymanowski and Tchaikovsky (tenor Mark Padmore is guest artist).

Sonic Evolution goes from one concert to two. First up, Seattle painter Jacob Lawrence inspires Derek Bermel’s “Migration Series” concerto for jazz band and orchestra (a collaboration with Earshot Jazz Festival).

That first concert also features Seattle vocalist Shaprece and a first symphony from Seattle’s Wayne Horvitz (with Bill Frisell on guitar). The second Evolution involves collaborations with filmmaker Bill Morrison and pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama and Seattle band Fly Moon Royalty.

Seattle Pops, Baroque & Wine, holiday concerts, organ recitals and several children’s programs all return as usual. Nine Symphony commissions and co-commissions, including works by Anna Clyne and Giya Kancheli, will deliver contemporary fare.

Two tweaks to programming: The “Mainly Mozart” series is canceled, but more Mozart works will be turn up in the main Masterworks season. And “Sunday Untuxed” is being scrapped, although five Friday-night “Symphony Untuxed” concerts are scheduled (two of them pairing chamber works with orchestral pieces).

The opening gala concert, Sept. 19, features Bernstein’s Overture to “Wonderful Town,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Egyptian”) with Thibaudet as soloist.

Symphony president and CEO Simon Woods sums it up nicely when he writes, “Seattle is one of America’s most forward-looking and creative cities, and our programming is intended to reflect and celebrate that spirit.”