FOR RELEASE Tuesday, August 24, 2010


From Bright Sheng to Philip Glass, Composers Premiere New Works Throughout 2010–2011 Season

Seattle, WA – In honor of Music Director Gerard Schwarz’s Farewell Season and with the generous support of philanthropists Agnes Gund and Charles Simonyi, Seattle Symphony has commissioned 18 new works by leading American composers to be premiered throughout the 2010–2011 season. The Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions will be featured on programs led by Maestro Schwarz this season, beginning September 8 with the Beethoven & Wine Festival and concluding June 18 with Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony. Works by the following composers, all of whom have had long-standing relationships with Schwarz, have been commissioned: Augusta Read Thomas, Joseph Schwantner, Aaron Jay Kernis, Daron Hagen, Samuel Jones, David Stock, Bernard Rands, Gunther Schuller, Bright Sheng, Daniel Brewbaker, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Robert Beaser, Chen Yi, George Tsontakis, David Schiff, Richard Danielpour, Paul Schoenfield and Philip Glass.

“Throughout my tenure as Music Director,” Maestro Schwarz remarked, “I felt it was important to present a broad spectrum of classical music to our wonderful audiences. Introducing new works, particularly by American composers, has always been an integral part of that mission. I am humbled that all of these creative artists have agreed to participate in this project. I know it will make my final year as Music Director especially memorable for me.”

Gerard Schwarz is internationally recognized as a champion of American composers, past and present. The Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions further build upon Schwarz’s legacy of bringing new works to audiences around the world, both through performances and recordings. Several of the participating composers have served as Seattle Symphony Composers in Residence, including Richard Danielpour, Bright Sheng, David Stock, and currently, Samuel Jones. Others, such as Chen Yi and Aaron Jay Kernis, have been Seattle Symphony Music Alive Composers in Residence, a residency program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer. Additionally, Daniel Brewbaker, Chen Yi, David Stock, Samuel Jones and Bright Sheng presented world premieres in honor of Seattle Symphony’s Centennial Season in 2003–2004.

“It takes the sensitivity and commitment of many individuals to make a project like this come to fruition,” Schwarz continues, “and I am very grateful to my colleague, Seattle Symphony Interim Executive Director Mark McCampbell, for his unwavering support. I am especially grateful to Agnes Gund and Charles Simonyi, two remarkable people whose passion and commitment to fostering new works of art is inspiring. They have my and Seattle Symphony’s deepest gratitude.”

Agnes Gund is President Emerita of The Museum of Modern Art and Chairman of its International Council. She is also Chairman of MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center. Gund joined the MoMA Board in 1976 and served as its President from 1991 until 2002. She is the Founder and a Trustee of Studio in a School Association, a non-profit organization she established in 1977 in response to budget cuts that virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools. A philanthropist and collector of modern and contemporary art, Gund is Chairman of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission of New York City, and currently serves on the boards of Chess in the Schools, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, The Frick Collection, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and Socrates Sculpture Park, among others. She is an Honorary Trustee of the Independent Curators International and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. A civic leader and staunch supporter of education, women’s issues and environmental concerns, among other causes, Gund has served on the boards of such wide-ranging organizations as the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and the Fund for Public Schools. She earned a B.A. in History from Connecticut College and a M.A. in Art History from Harvard University. She has since received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, including honors from CUNY Graduate Center (2007) and Brown University (1996).

Charles Simonyi is a world-renowned software engineer and, as the architect of computer applications Word and Excel, he helped lead Microsoft to its international prominence in software design. Born and raised in Hungary, Simonyi came to America alone as a teenager and succeeded in achieving his American Dream, receiving a B.S. in engineering mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1972 and a doctorate in computer science from Stanford in 1977. He is a major donor to Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, Russian National Orchestra, and Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcasts through the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences which he founded in 2003.

Performance Dates of Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions
September 8–10: Beethoven & Wine Festival
World Premiere work by Augusta Read Thomas

September 23–26: Yefim Bronfman Plays Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2
World Premiere work by Joseph Schwantner

September 30, October 2–3: Dvorák’s Symphony No. 7
World Premiere work by Aaron Jay Kernis

October 14–16: Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 1
World Premiere work by Daron Hagen

October 23: An Organ Celebration
World Premiere work by Samuel Jones

November 4–6: Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with André Watts
World Premiere work by David Stock

December 7: Yo-Yo Ma
World Premiere work by Bernard Rands

December 29–31, January 2: Beethoven’s Ninth
World Premiere work by Gunther Schuller

January 6 & 8: Violinist Gil Shaham
World Premiere work by Bright Sheng

January 20–22: Mozart’s Requiem
World Premiere work by Daniel Brewbaker

February 3, 5 & 6: Violinist Vadim Repin Plays Symphonie espagnole
World Premiere work by Ellen Taafe Zwilich

February 17–19: Viola Spectacular with Pinchas Zukerman
World Premiere work by Robert Beaser

March 24: Hovhaness Festival with Cellist Lynn Harrell
World Premiere work by Chen Yi

March 26: Hovhaness Festival with Cellist Lynn Harrell
Featuring a new work by George Tsontakis

March 31: Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony
World Premiere work by David Schiff

April 2 & 3: Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony
World Premiere work by Richard Danielpour

June 2, 4 & 5: Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2
World Premiere work by Paul Schoenfield

June 16 & 18: Gerard Schwarz Conducts Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony
World Premiere work by Philip Glass

About Seattle Symphony
Seattle Symphony, presenting its 108th season, has been under the artistic leadership of Music Director Gerard Schwarz since 1985. Maestro Schwarz has led Seattle Symphony to international prominence, with more than 125 recordings, 12 Grammy nominations, 2 Emmys and numerous awards. Maestro Schwarz celebrates his Farewell Season as Music Director in 2010–2011, after which he will become Conductor Laureate. Newly named Music Director Designate Ludovic Morlot will begin his role as Music Director in the 2011–2012 season. The Orchestra performs in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. The Symphony is internationally recognized for its adventurous programming of contemporary works, its devotion to the classics, and its extensive recording history. From September through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people. For more information on Seattle Symphony, visit