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Seattle's Classical Music Scene

Seattle may be known for grunge music, but it also has a thriving classical music scene, with a wide range of orchestras (including the renowned Seattle Symphony), choirs, opera, early music, new music (quite a few nationally known composers live here) and more.   And there are some innovative efforts, which seem to be bearing fruit, to keep classical music alive by drawing in kids and younger adults.

The offerings while MLA is in town are a little slim, since it’s the holiday weekend, but there are still some options if you are interested!  There’s a good calendar here (which is best viewed when signed into Facebook), which will be worth taking a look at closer to May (since this post is being written in March, and there may be new entries between now and then).  Here are two ideas in the meantime!

  • Back to Bach” by Emerald City Music, focuses on not only Bach’s music, but how his unique style has reverberated through the ages. You’ll hear part of his Partita No. 1  for Solo Violin, and a Toccata for Vibraphone and Marimba, on the same concert program--mind-bending!  The venue is in the vibrant new techie neighborhood (home to Amazon), South Lake Union.  It’s located at Westlake and Republican Streets, and is easy to reach by the South Lake Union streetcar from Westlake Center (right near the convention center).

  • The two major cathedrals in town are St. James (Catholic) and St. Mark’s (Episcopalian).  Each has a small choir that does a Sunday afternoon/evening service with music which is more contemplative—lots of chant!  You don’t need to be an observer of either faith to attend, but do be aware that these are services and have a religious context.  The afternoon service takes place at St. James Cathedral (at 9th and Marion Sts., which is within walking distance of downtown), at 5:30 pm on Sunday the 28th.  It is sung by the Women of St. James Schola, a group of about 20 women, and includes chant and anthems.  The evening service takes place at St. Mark’s Cathedral, on Capitol Hill (this can be reached by the #49 bus from downtown—remember to look at the Sunday schedule!), at 9:30 pm on Sunday the 28th.  It is sung by the Compline Choir, a men’s group which has been singing the Compline service there since 1956.  It’s a very popular event and can have up to 300 people in the congregation—which often includes people from a wide range of ages, backgrounds, faiths, etc.   And if you don’t feel like the bus ride, you can hear this service on the King-FM radio station.

Stop by the hospitality desk if you have more questions!  And enjoy whatever music floats your boat, you're sure to find some in Seattle!

Contributed by Ann Glusker, MLA Local Assistance Committee

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