This Month in Seattle: Classical Music Picks for June

It’s time to celebrate the start of summer! Seattle’s classical music scene offers plenty of reasons to party this month. Honor the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth with concerts by the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Choral Company. Help local choral ensemble The Esoterics celebrate twenty years with two festive concerts of vocal favorites. World premieres also abound, including debuts of new works by John Luther Adams and Jefferson Friedman.

Byron Shenkman (Photo: Will Austin)

Byron Shenkman (Photo: Will Austin)

For those who plan further ahead, be sure to mark your calendars for a spectacular summer of chamber music. The Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival and the Olympic Music Festival both begin in late June and continue through July.

Jun. 6 – A bassoon becomes an electronic resonance chamber in the hands of musician and instrument creator Leslie Ross. Catch this unique instrument in action at an intimate recital presented by Wayward Music Series. Outfitted with fifteen microphones, Ross’ bassoon is transformed into an electronic hub that directs sound to speakers placed around the intimate Chapel Performance Space.

Jun. 8 — Seattle Choral Company commemorates Britten’s 100th birthday with a performance of the composer’s 1963 work Cantata Misericordium, which honors the efforts of the International Red Cross. The concert also includes music by up-and-coming Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, whose “Dark Night of the Soul” and “Luminous Night of the Soul” incorporate the writings of St. John of the Cross.

Jun. 9 — Experience Romantic music as it was originally performed. Music historian, pianist, and harpsichordist Byron Schenkman integrates historical performance practice into an all-Schubert program at Town Hall. A cast of talented local musicians will accompany Schenkman onstage for some of Schubert’s most celebrated works, including Shepherd on the Rock for soprano, clarinet, and piano.

Jun. 11 — In 2011, New York-based JACK Quartet wowed the crowd at Town Hall with their performance of Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 2. This month, they return for a concert with Seattle’s favorite cellist, the ever-energetic Joshua Roman. The group will perform a blend of ancient songs and shiny new pieces, including a specially-commissioned work by composer Jefferson Friedman.

Jun. 13 & 15 — Members of the Seattle Symphony and Chorale, Seattle Pro Musica, and Northwest Boychoir join forces for Britten’s monumental War Requiem. Completed in 1962, this masterpiece combines the Latin text of the traditional funeral mass with English writer Wilfred Owen’s poems about World War I. The War Requiem requires an army to perform, including three vocal soloists, chorus, boys’ choir, organ, and a full orchestra.

JACK Quartet (Photo: Stephen Poff)

JACK Quartet (Photo: Stephen Poff)

Jun. 15 – 16 — The ballots are in! The Esoterics celebrate twenty years of choral music with “Score!”, two performances of their favorite repertoire, as voted by members, friends, and fans. The June 15 program focuses on secular pieces, while the June 16 concert celebrates sacred music. Hear works by composers young and old, including Strauss, Barber, Schnittke, choral director Eric Banks, and others.

Jun. 20, 22 & 23 — An avid nature lover, composer John Luther Adams draws inspiration from the rugged wilderness that surrounds his Alaskan home. The Seattle Symphony premieres Adams’ Beyond Ocean, a tribute to the waters of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the world premiere, the SSO performs Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist Sergey Khachatryan.

Jun. 29 – Jul. 26 — Kick off summer with the city’s biggest chamber music festival. With opening concerts and recitals scheduled for the end of the June, the Seattle Chamber Music Society‘s Summer Festival brings the brightest stars of the classical music world to Benaroya Hall’s intimate Nordstrom Recital Hall. Concerts feature repertoire ranging from Bach and Haydn to Simon and Garfunkel.

Jun. 29 – Sep. 1 — Concerts in a barn? This summer, if you’re heading to the Peninsula for a weekend getaway, be sure to stop by the Olympic Music Festival to experience classical music in a rustic setting. Now in its 29th year, the chamber music series features weekly performances of beloved works, including spotlights on Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.

Originally posted in The SunBreak on June 4, 2013.

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