Seattle Symphony—There's no doubt that the opening of Benaroya Hall, the Symphony's new downtown home, will be the biggest event in the city's classical scene since—well, since Seattle Opera's Tristan und Isolde last month. The SSO's gala opening week—call it "Benaroyapalooza"—starts this very weekend with Gerard Schwarz leading the orchestra in Lazarof, Diamond, Webern, Stravinsky, and Wagner, with special guest Jessye Norman (9/12). They're inaugurating the smaller Recital Hall with a dream concert of Mozart's last three symphonies the next afternoon (9/13). Violinist Kyung-Wha Chung gets to be the first solo recitalist (9/14); Chuck "Feels So Good" Mangione brings his band (9/15). The SSO's "Music of Our Time" series opens 9/16 with works by the orchestra's five former composers-in-residence: Richard Danielpour, Bright Sheng, David Stock, Stephen Albert, and Samuel Jones. Yo-Yo Ma joins the SSO 9/18 in Sheng's Spring Dreams and Strauss' Don Quixote; and a Pip-less Gladys Knight comes for a pops concert 9/19. That morning is Kids' Day, with the Northwoods Wind Quintet and the Magic Circle Mimes doing Peter and the Wolf (9/19). For the grand finale, the "Day of Music"—12 hours of local performers in venues all over the hall grounds—is absolutely free (9/20).
The first regular-season concert (9/24-27) brings André Watts for Macdowell's Piano Concerto No. 2, plus Beethoven and Mahler. SSO autumn guests include violinists Vadim Repin and Sarah Chang, trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger, and pianists Ivan Moravec and Yefim Bronfman; repertory includes new works by Henri Lazarof and Samuel Jones, Beethoven's Sixth and Seventh, Elgar's Enigma Variations, and the dazzling first piano concertos by Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Later in the season, watch for the premiere of Alan Hovhaness' Cello Concerto with Janos Starker (3/18, 3/20), Gil Shaham as soloist for Korngold's luscious Violin Concerto (4/8-10), Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra (4/22-25), and a concert performance of Deems Taylor's opera Peter Ibbetson (4/29, 5/1).
The Distinguished Artists Series is packed with household names: James Galway (10/2), Midori (11/13), Igor Oistrakh (2/16), Katia and Marielle Labeque (3/30), and Dawn Upshaw (4/16). On the Symphony Specials series: Mstislav Rostropovich (12/10), Itzhak Perlman (1/21), and Victor Borge (6/19). The Chamber Orchestra series: six Mozart piano concertos from 1784, Nos. 14-19, with revolving soloists and conductors (10/22, 1/28, 5/13). There are three concerts in the Basically Baroque series (10/16-17, 1/15-16, and 3/5-6); five in the Pops series, notably Burt Bacharach (10/23, 10/25) and Marvin Hamlisch (6/11, 6/13); and three in the Popular Culture series: Ray Charles (10/9), Nigel Kennedy (11/28), and Evelyn Glennie (2/12). Boston Pops wunderkind Keith Lockhart leads the SSO in a Halloween concert; also on this Light Classics series is a Viennese evening (12/30-31) and a concert celebrating spring (5/20). The SSO's Messiah arrives 12/16-17. On the Young Artists Recital series, we'll hear from cellist Daniel Lee (10/27), pianist Adam Neiman (2/23), and violinist Karen Gomyo (4/20). The SSO invites the competition in the Visiting Orchestras series: The St. Petersburg Philharmonic (10/21), the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (2/26), and the Pittsburgh Symphony (3/24). Regular-season concerts are now Thu-Sun. Single tickets are $9 and up; various series and sub-series range from $25.50 to $864. 215-4747. Whew.
Auburn Symphony—Stewart Kershaw leads this first-rate ensemble, comprising players from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Northwest Chamber Orchestra who like the chance to tackle music outside their usual repertories. Two concerts scheduled so far, both at the Auburn Performing Arts Center: one with Tchaikovsky, Copland, and Dvorak (10/24-10/25), the other with Bernstein, Hindemith, and Richard Strauss (1/30-31). 939-8509.
Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra—The BPO's starting an exciting new era, with a new music director, Fusao Kajima, and some welcome programming innovations. He'll debut with the orchestra (not counting his audition concert last spring) 10/8-9 with works by Walton, Mozart, Respighi, and Stravinsky. It's the first of their five regular-season subscription concerts at Westminster Chapel. Highlights later on include Hindemith's zingy Symphonic Metamorphoses (11/5-6) and Mozart's unfinished operatic torso Zaïde (5/27-28). Kajima's also planning an appearance for the BPO at next June's Seattle International Film Festival, accompanying The Battleship Potemkin live with Shostakovich's score. 425-455-4171.
Emerald City Philharmonic—This fall, this enthusiastic group is tackling something no other community orchestra is—a concert opera, Mozart's one-act backstage comedy The Impresario (10/24). Three other concerts round out their season (2/13, 4/19, 6/5). Jim Mihara conducts. 523-0966.
Northwest Chamber Orchestra—They're moving into Benaroya as well with their orchestral and chamber series. Jon Kimura Parker joins Adam Stern and the orchestra for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 on their opening concert, along with works by Brahms, Handel, and Dag Wiren (10/31, 11/1). Oboist Alex Klein is the guest for a Mozart/Haydn concert (11/21-22); coming later in the season will be guitarist Celino Romero (2/20-21), violinist Joseph Silverstein (4/10-11), and flutist Eugenia Zukerman (5/15-16). They'll also bring two orchestral concerts to the Kirkland Performance Center (11/20, 2/19).
Eight chamber concerts will rotate between Benaroya, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Kirkland Performance Center. Highlights include a baroque concert with trumpeter Rolf Smedvig (10/18), a Latin-American program (11/15), and cellist Nathaniel Rosen and NWCO musicians in Schubert's String Quintet (1/9-10). Subscriptions are $35-$145. 343-0445.
Northwest Mahler Festival—The NWMF's gradually spreading out into the regular season. They're repeating their powerful performance last July of Mahler's Sixth at the Seattle Symphony's "Day of Music" Benaroya opening celebration (9/20), with Geoffrey Simon conducting. Around Easter, they're planning to go at Mahler's Second with Eric Hanson on the podium, and the "Symphony of a Thousand," Mahler's Eighth, will get its first Seattle performance in years next July. 667-6567.
Northwest Sinfonietta—Christophe Chagnard leads this acclaimed chamber orchestra, which ventures up north away from its Tacoma home this season. They'll bring Copland, Mozart, Debussy, and Tchaikovsky to the Kirkland Performance Center (10/4) and appear at Benaroya twice, with Saint-Saëns, Ives, Beethoven, and pianist Mark Salman (3/29), and Wagner, Shostakovich, Haydn, and cellist David Tonkonogui (5/24). 425-893-9900 or 296-ARTS.
Northwest Symphony Orchestra—Anthony Spain, a great friend to local composers, leads this Burien-based group which has won national recognition for programming contemporary music. On their season opener (10/17) they'll combine Janice Giteck's Tree with Beethoven's "Eroica." 242-6321.
Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers—To celebrate their 30th anniversary season, they've chosen grand works from three centuries, including Bach's Christmas Oratorio (12/6) and St. Matthew Passion (4/2) and piano concertos by Tchaikovsky (11/13) and Rachmaninoff (2/7), plus the smaller, but just as potent, Soldier's Tale of Stravinsky (5/8-9). 682-5208.
Philharmonia Northwest—A mid-size group, the Philharmonia handles chamber orchestra and full-orchestra repertory equally well; their slimmed-down take on Romantic works can be especially fresh and revealing. In the hands of music director Roupen Shakarian, they'll no doubt bring a little clarity to the saturated textures of Schumann's Third (10/25). Later comes an all-20th-century-French program (12/13), music for the stage by Copland and Strauss (2/21), and classical works by J.C. Bach and Beethoven (4/11). 675-9727.
Sammamish Symphony—Four concerts of orchestral favorites across the lake, featuring Schubert's "Unfinished" (11/8), Tchaikovsky's Second (3/14), and Peter and the Wolf (6/6), plus a holiday concert (TBA). 425-392-3624.
Seattle Baroque Orchestra—They play dazzlingly consistently, with precision and fire, purity and bounce; their concerts combine orchestral richness with chamber-music sensitivity. Their programming is maybe a bit heavy on the 18th-century pops hits this year: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1/22-23), Messiah (12/3-5), an all-Vivaldi show (4/30- 5/1), and, yes, Pachelbel's Canon (10/16-17). (You know, I got a brochure from the Portland Baroque Orchestra advertising a similar schedule, highlighting the Four Seasons and Handel's Water Music. I hope this isn't a trend.) But encountering hot music by new names is half the fun of an SBO concert: I'm more eagerly anticipating the offbeat repertory by Johann Schmelzer (10/16-17) and Camilla de Rossi (3/19-20). The SBO's also doing missionary work on the Eastside, with concerts at the Meydenbauer Center (1/21) and the Kirkland Performance Center (5/2). 675-1805.
Seattle Creative Orchestra—Highly flexible, this new-music group plays chamber and orchestral works and likes to add all sorts of interesting instruments from other musical cultures. They have two concerts planned so far, one with the fabulous percussion quartet Pacific Rims playing music by Christian Asplund, Henry Cowell, and William Duckworth, plus an improvisational piece by Key Ransone (9/19); the other's early next year in the new On the Boards on Queen Anne (2/5-6) with music by Seattle composers Tom Baker and Jarrad Powell. 789-3628.
Seattle Philharmonic—It's American music, mostly, on the SP's season opener (10/18, 10/25): Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Bernstein's overture to Candide, and, one day after the Northwest Symphony plays it in their season opener, Janice Giteck's Tree. They'll also play a Sinfonietta by Estonian composer Eduard Tubin. A holiday concert (12/6) features a soloist on an instrument I'll bet you haven't heard live before: a glass harmonica, played by William Wilde Zeitler. 525-0443.
Seattle Youth Symphony—Jonathan Shames leads this high-school age group in some decidedly adult repertory, including plenty of contemporary works. Their season opens with Five Easy Pieces, written just for them by UW professor Joel-Francois Durand, plus Bloch, Mozart, and Stravinsky's Petrushka (11/22). On 2/28 they're doing Schubert's Unfinished, Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel, and a new work by Anthony Brandt; on 5/16 Brahms' Fourth, a new cello concerto by SYSO alumnus Daniel Asia, and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloë. 362-2300.
University of Washington Symphony—Peter Ëros leads the orchestra, a top-notch group to judge by its impressive work in the pit for UW's Fledermaus and Falstaff last season. This year, they're celebrating their centennial (!!!) on 12/8 with a special concert of Beethoven, Hindemith, and Brahms (the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Craig Sheppard). Coming later are concerts combining Leo Weiner, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mendelssohn (2/18), and then Haydn and Carmina Burana (3/12). 543-4880.
Young Composers Collective—With Sonora dissolved and Fear No Music keeping a low Seattle profile, the Collective, I think, is the oldest contemporary music group around. Sometime this fall, they'll have a concert to celebrate the CD release of their music for the film Metropolis, with excerpts from the score plus a preview of their upcoming dance work SCREAM! LionDogs, slated for an On The Boards run (3/4-6). (By the way, they'd love to find some local silent-filmmakers to work with, so if you are one, get in touch.) Also due this fall is the release of Ian Lucero's documentary on the group, the premiere of which will probably involve some sort of live musical performance. 545-1289.
Seattle Opera—One production down (Tristan und Isolde), four to go in their '98-'99 season. In SO's version of Faust, Vinson Cole sells his soul to Greer Grimsley's Méphistopheles (10/17-31). The original Man Who Loved Too Much, Don Giovanni comes next (1/16-30), followed by Samuel Barber's Vanessa (2/27-3/13) with Sheri Greenawald (last season's Florencia and Mimi). The season closes with Johann Strauss' champagne farce Die Fledermaus (5/8-22). 389-7676.
University of Washington—Question: How many operas can you think of without a love-interest plot? For one, there's Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, which will be the first of UW's two productions this season (11/11-15). Next spring comes Kurt Weill's Street Scene (5/12-16). 543-4880.
ArtsWest—Home-grown chamber music in West Seattle. First up, a recital of 19th-century piano favorites played by a relay of six pianists (9/27); then Irish music for voice and fiddle (11/13); baroque showpieces for trumpet and soprano (2/21); a song recital of American composers from Ives to Giteck (3/21); and chamber works by Bartok, Goldschmidt, and Schubert (5/7). 938-0339.
Belle Arte Concerts—The prime source for chamber music on the Eastside, their lineup includes pianist Andre-Michel Schub (9/20), the Diaz String Trio (10/25), musicians from the Spoleto Festival USA (2/28), the Colorado Quartet (3/21), and the Bridge Ensemble (5/16). 425-454-2410.
Bridge Ensemble—Probably you're all tired of hearing me gush about them, so I'll just give the facts: two concerts in Benaroya, the first to include a commissioned world premiere by Giya Kancheli (10/13), the second slated for 3/19. This piano quartet also plays Mozart, Shostakovich, and Strauss in Bellevue on the Belle Arte Series (5/16). Don't miss these. For information, call 215-4747 (10/13, 3/19) and 425-454-2410 (5/16).
Cathedral Associates—Plenty of organists, naturally, performing on this concert series at St. Mark's Cathedral: Bruce Neswick (10/16), J. Melvin Butler (1/29), Stephen Cleobury (3/26), and Susan Ferré (5/7). There'll also be a duo harpsichord recital by Butler and Terry Ketcham (9/25), and an evening with dulcimer virtuoso Mitzie Collins (1/8). Plus, the Tudor Choir and the Seattle Baroque Orchestra present their holiday Messiah there (12/3-5). 323-1040.
Early Music Guild—On their International Series: Capriccio Stravagante (10/23), the Tallis Scholars (12/12-13), the Newberry Consort (1/16), Il Giardino Armonico (2/13), and renowned fortepianist Melvyn Tan (5/7-8). On the Recital Series: soprano Julianne Baird with harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree (11/29), lutenist Ronn McFarlane (3/7), and the baroque flute-harpsichord duo of Wilbert Hazelzet and Jacques Ogg (4/18). 325-7066.
Ensemble Sospeso—Provocative concerts are the norm for this energetic young outfit. This fall, they bring pianist Guy Livingston to play 60 one-minute works by 60 different composers from Boulez to Bolcom. They'll play works by young local composers in October and give a recital at the Seattle Asian Art Museum in January. Next spring, they're planning to mount a 12-hour marathon musicircus devoted to John Cage's words and music. Dates TBA. 361-1316.
Ensemble Vindobona—Three concerts from this clarinet/bassoon/piano trio, focusing on three different national styles: music by Slavic composers (11/1), then French (2/14), then Americans from Copland to Artie Shaw (5/9). 364-7710.
Gallery Concerts—Chamber music as it was meant to be heard, at the Frye Art Museum and area churches. Don Angle, the "King of Harpsichord Swing," opens their season with a pops recital (10/3-4), and baroque flutist Janet See is the guest for a recital of French and German composers (11/6-7). Soprano Julianne Baird presents a recital from the English baroque in a Benaroya Hall special event (11/29). Later on come Mozart string quartets on period instruments (1/30-31), songs and trios by Haydn (2/19-20), "Bach and Beyond" for violin and piano (3/13-14), and medieval string music (4/23-24). 726-6088.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church—I hope the acoustic glories of this church don't get overshadowed by Benaroya Hall's glamour—it's a very fine place to hear chamber or orchestral music. Their season opens with two organ recitals: Ann Elise Smoot (10/9) and Joseph Adam (1/8). A production of Benjamin Britten's musical "miracle play" Noye's Fludde comes next (2/6-7), with a free all-Bach concert to close (6/6). 522-7623.
Seattle Chamber Music Festival—It's not just for summer anymore: The SCMF's presenting a midwinter mini-recital at Benaroya Hall. Three concerts (1/8-10) will feature vocal works, with Seattle Opera favorite Vinson Cole, as well as chamber music. New to the SCMF will be horn deity John Cerminaro and flutist Jody Schwarz, alongside some very welcome names from recent summer fests: Martin Beaver, Anton Nel, Toby Saks, Scott St. John, Bion Tsang, and Scott Yoo. 283-8808.
Seattle Chamber Players—Three concerts of all sorts of fun stuff, in Benaroya Hall. Bill Frisell is one of the special guests for their 10/25 concert, which will include works by English hot-buzz composer Thomas Ades, Henry Cowell, Debussy (Afternoon of a Faun for chamber ensemble), Schubert, Otis Spann, plus a world premiere by Wayne Horvitz. Later, they'll combine Schubert with modern Russians Kancheli and Schnittke (1/31) and end with Strauss and Reza Vali (5/22). 367-1138.
Seattle Classic Guitar Society—They're sponsoring solo recitals by Michael Partington (11/14), Steven Novacek (1/30), and David Russell (5/1), and an ensemble concert by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. (10/3), all in Benaroya. 522-6399.
University of Washington/Meany Hall—They bring the finest visiting recitalists in their two concert series. The International Chamber Music Series features four quartets: the Borromeo (10/15); the Moscow (11/17); the Emerson, in their eagerly awaited annual visit (4/16); and the Alexander (5/25); plus two trios: the vivacious Eroica (2/3) and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trio (3/11). On the President's Piano Series, a magnificent lineup: Richard Goode (10/28), Emanuel Ax (12/10), Awadagin Pratt (1/20), Anne-Marie McDermott (2/24), Garrick Ohlsson (4/14), and Misha Dichter (5/19). And don't forget the Throat Singers of Tuva, part of their World Music & Theater Series (2/20). 543-4880.
University of Washington School of Music—A steady stream of musical events, some of the best classical bargains around: most concerts are free or $6 at most. Watch for solo recitals by pianist David Viscoli (10/4), tenor Thomas Harper (10/12), and soprano Carmen Pelton (10/19). Chamber music events include a recital by wind-quintet-in-residence Soni Ventorum (10/27), the first of three recitals with Robert Davidovici and Craig Sheppard traversing all 10 Beethoven violin sonatas (11/1), and another convivial "Barry Lieberman and Friends" concert (11/29). For contemporary music, try a duo recital by flutist Rebecca Henderson and oboist Sheryl Cohen (11/10), a concert by the Contemporary Group (11/30), Soni Ventorum's all-American recital (12/6), or a concert by the Percussion Ensemble (12/7). And that's just this fall. 543-4880.
Camerata Chorale—First up, a Handel concert, with the Coronation Anthems and an oboe concerto (11/14-15); then a holiday program (12/4-5), Duruflé's popular Requiem (3/20-21), an evening of Gilbert and Sullivan (5/22), and an appearance from the Camerata Children's Choir (6/12). 526-1808.
Choral Arts Northwest—They'll open with an all-Russian program: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Schnittke's Choir Concerto (10/18). "Christmas in Scandinavia" comes up 12/20, followed by "A Rose in Winter" (2/19) and Arvo Pärt's Passio (3/19). 253-839-1228.
The Esoterics—Exquisite performances always from this a cappella group devoted to 20th-century repertory. Their opening concert, Antiphonia (11/6-8), will include works for double chorus by Lidholm, Martin, Poulenc, Walton, and Seattleite Donald Skirvin. For more Poulenc, stay tuned for his 100th birthday concert (1/8-10), the first of four this year: they're also celebrating the centennials of Randall Thompson (April), Carlos Chavez (June), and Lajos Bardos (October '99). 726-0922.
Northwest Chamber Chorus—Their Christmas concert will include Britten's Ceremony of Carols (12/6, 12-13); later comes music by Frank Martin (3/20-21) and Handel (6/5). 523-1196.
Northwest Girlchoir—300 voices strong, they're opening their season with Christmas concerts (12/5, 12/19), followed by three other performances 3/6, 3/20, and 5/22. 329-6225.
Opus 7—Chamber-chorus concerts this fall include one in Benaroya with music by Debussy, Hindemith, Ravel, Rheinberger, and Tippett (10/23), and a concert of Britten for Christmas (12/6). 782-2354.
Seattle Choral Company—First, a stirring program of Magnificats and Glorias (12/12-13); then their traditional New Year's Eve Carmina Burana (plus opera excerpts); then choral music from films, including the Seattle premiere of Glass' Itaipú (2/27); finally a spring a cappella recital (5/21-22). 363-1100.
Seattle Men's Chorus—Their 20th season opens with a bang with their Christmas show in Benaroya (12/9-20). Armistead Maupin reads from his Tales of the City, with musical interludes by the SMC, on 3/13-14, and Harvey Fierstein is the special guest for their salute to Broadway (6/24-26). 323-2992.
Seattle Pro Musica—"Inflame your passions!" cries their brochure. They'll sing sequences and hymns by Hildegard (surely you needn't ask which Hildegard) in their season opener (11/7-8). Their Christmas concert features music from the new world (12/12-13). Then they'll explore "the fire of divine inspiration and the flame of earthly passion" with some madrigals and 20th-century works (3/6-7), and finally cool down with Fauré, Mozart, and Purcell (5/15-16). 781-2766.
Tudor Choir—Doug Fullington leads four concerts at St. Mark's Cathedral: music from Renaissance Spain (10/10), German Christmas music (12/26), music of several centuries from King's College, Cambridge (3/27), and "Night Music" (5/15). 675-1805.