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Seattle, Washington

Seattle: Classical Music

Music has been an important part of Seattle since its founding, but over the last twenty years this city has grown into one of America’s most vibrant musical scenes – and not just because of grunge rock! Seattle has supported Classical music throughout its history, and had a professional orchestra since 1903. However, since the end of World War Two, the city’s growth has been paced by the growth of Classical music in all its forms.

We have, of course, the Seattle Symphony, and one of the nation’s few financially viable full-time professional opera companies, as well as a professional ballet. But, amazingly, the Greater Seattle area is also home to more than twenty community orchestras and symphonic bands, a professional Baroque orchestra, an enormously popular Early Music performance organization, a number of world-class vocal ensembles, and one of Earth’s great chamber music festivals.

Every week throughout the year you have a choice of fine Classical performances – orchestral, chamber, solo recitals, many of them by artists with international reputations. And during the summer it gets even busier – the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Olympic Music Festival, the Orcas Island Festival, the Northwest Mahler Festival… the list goes on.

The economic landscape may be bumpy these days, but Seattle manages to remain a happy home for Classical music.

Seattle Classical Music: Classical Music Around Seattle

Below are our Seattle Classical Music recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, ensemble/venue history and other points of interest in Seattle Art.

Early Music Guild

The Early Music Guild (EMG) is an incredibly appropriate name for this Seattle-based collective.  As of July 2010, EMG welcomed the Seattle Baroque Orchestra into its fold as part of a merger that builds upon its shared history as affiliated programs and its shared venue, Town Hall Seattle.

EMG continues to present music from the Middle Ages through the 18th century …more…

Northwest Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1987, this orchestra’s focus is twofold:  to advance the cause of contemporary composers in the northwest as well as to perform historical classics.  The ensemble also known as the NWSO has now performed more than 100 works by the aforementioned composers, a highly impressive feat for an organization less than 25 years old.  This indefatigable effort has garnered the …more…

Olympic Music Festival (Quilcene, WA)

The Olympic Music Festival, which had its first season in 1984, runs from June to early September and provides the Washington artistic community with chamber-music performances. The venue is outdoors and suitable for bringing a picnic lunch and enjoying an afternoon outside. The performances are broadcast locally on KING-FM and nationally on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.”

Olympic Music Festival Information

Public Transportation: Poor. From Seattle or Tacoma, the …more…

Opus 7

This St. James Cathedral Resident Ensemble performs music from the 1800s to the present.  Founded in 1992, the Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble has the distinction of winning the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming three consecutive times.  The group is gives particular attention to the works of under-represented composers like John Muehleisn, Gerald Finzi, Karol Szymanowski, and many more.  …more…

Seattle Baroque Orchestra

In existence since 1994, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra has utilized its 40-person ensemble of early music specialists to demonstrate the inherent vitality of 17th and 18th century music and the dazzling virtuosity required to execute it. The orchestra interjects programs populated by the works of Purcell, Corelli, Scarlatti, Lully and others with works by contemporary composers and collaborations across artistic disciplines.

Single tickets for …more…

Seattle Chamber Music Society

For over 20 years, the Seattle Music Society has presided over a varied array of works by Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, and many, many others. The Society now presents two festivals annually: a weekend Winter Festival in February and a six-week summer festival in July and August. Most concerts include a pre-concert recital. ...more...

Seattle Men’s Chorus

One of America’s premier all-male gay choruses, the Seattle Men’s Chorus was founded in 1979 and has grown to include over 300 singers. The Chorus, which is under the musical directorship of Dennis Coleman, has performed many commissioned works, as well as concerts featuring many celebrities and noted musicians. The group has also launched the very successful …more…

Seattle Modern Orchestra

While the Seattle Modern Orchestra is a relatively new ensemble about which not much is known, this much is clear—if it’s “modern,” “contemporary” or simply put, underperformed and misconstrued, this ensemble is out to set the record straight.  The orchestra—which is a bit of a revolving door of college faculty, Seattle Symphony players, and freelancers—performs the works of 20th century …more…

Seattle Pro Musica

Now an ensemble of 70 singers, Seattle Pro Musica began in 1972 as a chamber choir.  The larger ensemble has two sister ensembles—the chamber ensemble Madrigalia and the women’s group Schola.  A Resident Ensemble of St. James Cathedral, American Record Guide has named the group “among America’s very best choirs.”  Seattle Pro Musica counts among its repertoire music by Bach, …more…

Seattle Symphony Orchestra

The Seattle Symphony, under the direction of Gerard Schwarz since 1983, has experienced great artistic growth, developing a reputation for innovative and adventurous programming. In 1998, the Symphony moved to its new home, Benaroya Hall, and three years later, Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center was opened. Soundbridge is a place where all ages come to explore symphonic music through exhibits, …more…

The Esoterics

What began as Director Eric Banks’s one-off ensemble assembled for his Master’s and Doctoral recitals in 1992 has developed into The Esoterics, an a cappella chorus specializing in the commissioning and performance of contemporary classical music inspired by philosophical, spiritual, and poetry texts. A four-time winner of the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for “Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music,” The Esoterics …more…