THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY is well settled now in Benaroya Hall, and everyone seems to agree that the hall is a smashing success. (They're going to have to stop calling it "the last concert hall built this millennium," though: Sao Paulo opened one in July.) And it looks as though the "Day of Music"—the open house the Seattle Symphony Orchestra threw for the city last fall—is going to be an annual event. Call it "Benarumbashoot": a free, all-day (this Sunday), four-venue affair with a programming variety nearly as wide as that Seattle Center hoo-hah.
Day of Music
Benaroya Hall, Sunday, September 19
My best advice for attendees: Get there early and stay until you're done. Assuming the crowd management policies are the same as last year, if you leave the building you have to get in line to reenter—a line which, at the peak of the afternoon last year, stretched 360 degrees around the block. The doors open at 10, opening ceremonies are 10:30, performances start at 11. Eats are available inside, in the Third Ave concourse.
There will be four performance areas: the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium ("the Big Hall"), the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall ("the Small Hall"), the Samuel and Althea Stroum Grand Lobby, and the Garden of Remembrance outside on Second and University. (If you venture out there, remember, you have to endure the reentry line if you want back in.) The Big Hall gets orchestras and choruses, starting with Philharmonia Northwest playing some early romantics (11:00), the Tacoma Youth Symphony playing Berlioz and Franck (12:00), and the Garfield High Jazz Ensemble (1:00). The Seattle Symphony plays two sets, at 2 and 3:15. They'll very likely clear the hall in between and let a new crowd in—no double-dipping. It's the same program on both sets anyway: Samuel Jones' Overture for a City, Bizet's Carmen Suite, Dvorak's Symphony no. 5. Then there's the Seattle Symphony Chorale, with bits from Messiah (4:15), and the Seattle Men's Chorus doing an arcane and adventurous repertory men's choruses don't usually tackle: show tunes (5:15).
Highlights in the Small Hall, in addition to woodwind, Celtic, gospel, and vocal groups, include the Northwest Chamber Orchestra with its season-opening program of Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart from last weekend (11:00); members of the Seattle Children's Theatre with a little song, a little dance, and a little Shakespeare (1:15); an ensemble from N.O.I.S.E. (Northwest Opera in Schools Etc.) doing scenes from Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann (2:45); a contingent of six guys from the Washington Composers Forum playing their own new works (4:15); and jazz vocalist Greta Matassa (5:00).
It'll be mostly dance in the Grand Lobby: folk dancing from Sweden and Ireland; tango, swing, and jazz; plus singer/guitarists Chris Stephens (4:15) and Ghanaian Koo Nimo (5:00). In the Garden, more world music: klezmer, African marimba, Japanese Taiko drumming, Highland bagpipes, Latin, and Balkan. The grand finale's at 5:00 with the Caribbean Super Stars Steel Band playing the world's happiest music. And while you're outdoors, check out the official Day of Music poster hanging from Benaroya's west wall: that big candy-colored cartoon of perky music-lovers milling about Second and University featuring, front and center, a gay couple. (Oh, please, it has to be.) Is this a cool city or what?