Announcing Sounds of the Season

DATE:  November 22, 2016
Contact: Andy Buelow,
(253) 272-7264



250 voices join Symphony Tacoma for a star-studded Sounds of the Season

Tacoma Youth Chorus and Symphony Voices perform with full orchestra in annual Holiday-themed concert

TACOMA, WA – More than 300 performers, including the Tacoma Youth Chorus, Symphony Tacoma Voices and the full Symphony Tacoma – will present Sounds of the Season at the spectacularly decorated Pantages Theater.  A beloved annual tradition in Tacoma, the pageant-style concert features stories, carols, hymns and songs-including Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmastime is Here;” Mannheim Steamroller’s unforgettable arrangement of “Silent Night;” a delightful setting by Fred Waring of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas;” and music by Mozart, Handel, and Vaughan Williams, among others.  Held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 4, the performance is conducted by Dr. Geoffrey Boers and Judith Herrington.  It is sponsored by Columbia Bank, Aetna, and Stadium Thriftway; The News Tribune is the media sponsor.  For tickets, starting at $12 for students and $19 for adults, visit or call 591-5894 or 800-291-7593.  Tickets may be purchased in person at the Broadway Center Box Office, 901 Broadway, Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Both Symphony Tacoma Voices and the Tacoma Youth Chorus have been featured on Sounds of the Season in prior years, but this is the first time in recent memory that both have been on the same program together. The concert will include such highlights as “Gesu Bambino,” the famous 1917 carol by Pietro Yon; the “Wassail Song,” a traditional English carol; Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” as arranged by Mozart; and such favorites as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and more.

“Tacoma Youth Chorus is looking forward to once again sharing our music with the Symphony Tacoma and its audience for the Sounds of the Season!,” Judy Herrington stated.  “Geoffrey Boers is a remarkable conductor, and I know our singers will be inspired by his artistry and technique. We are excited to share in this collaboration!” The choral arts program for boys and girls, kindergarten through high school, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season.

Symphony Tacoma Voices, formerly known as Tacoma Symphony Chorus, features 70 auditioned adult singers from throughout the community who perform as volunteers.  Its ranks include professional singers and gifted amateurs.  The Voices sings in concert frequently as the primary choral forces associated with Symphony Tacoma, and is featured on tour and in solo concerts as well.  On December 15 and 16, the Voices will join the chamber core of Symphony Tacoma for performances of Handel’s Messiah at Chapel Hill Presbyterian in Gig Harbor, and St. Charles Borromeo Church in Tacoma, respectively.


Acclaimed saxophonist Amy Dickson performs Northwest premiere of groundbreaking Philip Glass arrangement

Glass concerto is the centerpiece of a program of American music, the second of Symphony Tacoma’s new season

TACOMA – Grammy-nominated saxophonist Amy Dickson—2016 Young Australian of the Year—will perform the Northwest premiere of her arrangement of Philip Glass’s 1987 Violin Concerto with Symphony Tacoma.  Conducted by Sarah Ioannides, the program will also include Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, and Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town.  The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19 in the Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway.  Tickets, starting at $19, are available at or by calling 253-591-5894 or 1-800-291-7593.  The program is sponsored by Churchill Management Group and Pacific Northwest Eye Associates.

Gramophone has described Amy Dickson as “a player with a difference who has an individual and unusual tone, luscious, silky-smooth, sultry and voluptuous by turns.”  In 2013 she became both the first saxophonist and the first Australian to win a Classic Brit Award, as MasterCard Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Her arrangement of the Philip Glass Violin Concerto was done with the composer’s approval and cooperation.  For its performance, Dickson had to master the formidable technique of circular breathing:  inhaling through the nose while blowing through the lips.  This enables her to maintain the constant, unrelenting melodic line of the piece, written for a non-wind instrument.  The arrangement was premiered in 2008 and released on CD on the RCA Victor label the following year. AllMusic, in reviewing the disc, declared that “Dickson… makes the Glass concerto sound as though it was written for her instrument, rather than the violin.”

Philip Glass eschews the label of “minimalism,” or more properly “minimal music,” even though he is arguably the school’s most famous composer.  The Violin Concerto No. 1, among his most well-known pieces, was his first for full orchestra.   It was, for him, an uncharacteristically personal work, written for his late father Ben, an ardent classical music lover who particularly enjoyed the great repertoire concertos but “had no education in music whatsoever” (as Glass puts it).

Copland’s most beloved work, Appalachian Spring, was premiered in 1944 by the Martha Graham Ballet Company.  The title, famously, was added not by the composer but by Graham herself after the music had been completed.  The work includes a gorgeous setting of the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.”  Barber’s Adagio for Strings is a moving, powerful piece that was performed at the funerals of both Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, and used to great effect in the movies Platoon and Elephant Man.


Symphony Tacoma’s 70th Anniversary Season opens with a new brand, a new name

Violinist Vadim Gluzman joins Sarah Ioannides to kick off her third season with Dvořák’s “New World,” Glazunov’s Violin Concerto, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances

The Symphony Tacoma will celebrate its 70th Anniversary Season with a new name, logo and brand.  Symphony officials are mum on the details, saying that they will be unveiled at the “New World Masquerade Gala” on Friday, October 21—but one thing won’t change: the organization’s dedication to inspiring audiences with live musical experiences that transcend tradition.

“Our goal is to welcome people in to join our active, vibrant musical community,” said Executive Director Andy Buelow.  “In this day of MP3s and IPods, we still believe music is best experienced live as a group activity.  We’re keeping musical performance alive in the heart of our region.”

The season opening is a case in point, with the great violinist Vadim Gluzman, whom Strings Magazine described as “fire walking while fiddling,” performing the Glazunov Violin Concerto on the very 1690 Auer Stradivarius on which the piece was premiered in 1905.  Gluzman provided audiences with a sneak peek this week via a “video post card” on the Symphony’s Facebook page.  He will also be performing Arvo Pärt’s haunting, mysterious Fratres (“brothers”), composed in 1977.  The program of many moods and contrasting sounds will open with Borodin’s rousing Polovtsian Dances, featuring the Symphony Tacoma Chorus, and conclude with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.”

Sponsored by Gordon Thomas Honeywell and the University of Puget Sound, the concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 22 in the Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway in downtown Tacoma.  For tickets, call 253-591-5894 or 800-291-7593 or visit

“We strive for programs that delight an ever-expanding audience, and that engage and transform both performers and listeners,” said Music Director Sarah Ioannides, who enters her third season.  “We invite the community to join us as we enter our 70th season.  We believe our community is stronger and more vibrant as we experience great music together.”

Since the advent of Ioannides two seasons ago, the Symphony has embarked on a remarkable transformation.  Attendance has climbed, with many concerts selling out and ticket revenue up nearly 50% over three seasons.  The orchestra’s caliber has soared, as the players stretch to tackle diverse music across the spectrum—from demanding works of the core repertoire to cutting-edge new music.  The presence of Ioannides has generated buzz regionally and nationally, attracting new players from throughout Washington and surrounding states.  This fall, the Symphony will introduce new Principal Cellist Jake Saunders of Boise; Assistant Principal Cellist Karen Schulz-Harmon of Portland; Principal Trumpet Charles Butler of Seattle; and bass trombonist Benn Hansson of Bellevue.

New subscription orders, starting at $76, are still being accepted. Subscribers save up to 25%—the equivalent of getting two concerts free.  Single tickets start at $19.  The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and two hours before the performance.



World-renowned trumpeter partners with local symphony for musical spectacular

TACOMA, WA—Symphony Tacoma and the Tacoma Dome announced today that the two organizations will collaborate on a performance with world-renowned trumpeter Chris Botti on Friday, March 17, 2017.  Botti and the Symphony Tacoma will perform together to create an unforgettable night of live music at the Tacoma Dome Theater Stage. Botti has sold more than three million albums, topped Billboard’s Jazz Album listings four times and has performed at numerous prestigious venues, including the White House. The GRAMMY Award winner is known for his collaboration with artists including Sting, John Mayer, Steven Tyler and Vince Gill.

“The first time I played at the Tacoma Dome was my very first show as part of Paul Simon’s band,” said Botti. “We opened the tour there in 1991 and after 25 years, I’m so very excited to be returning with my own band and the Symphony Tacoma in March.”  The Tacoma Dome Theater Stage transforms the iconic 110,000 square foot dome into an intimate theater setting with seating for 2,000-6,000 guests. This unique layout allows patrons to have an up-close experience with excellent views and acoustics.

Tickets ($26.50-$86.50) are on sale Friday, September 16 at 10 am at, the Tacoma Dome Box Office, or charge by phone 800.745.3000. Discounts available for groups of ten or more, call 253.573.2350. Tickets may be subject to agency convenience charges.   A limited number of VIP Meet & Greet packages are available, including premium seating, pre-show meet and greet photo opportunity with Chris Botti and one complimentary parking spot. For more information about VIP packages, visit

To learn more about Symphony Tacoma’s 70th Anniversary season, see our concerts page.


Symphony Tacoma announces new program for March 2017 concert cycle

Mozart Requiem is out; Beethoven Piano Concerto is in

TACOMA, WA—The Symphony Tacoma has made a change of course for its concert program planned for March 2017, Executive Director Andy Buelow announced today.

Due to the confluence of several other parallel productions in the region, the Orchestra has decided not to proceed with its planned performances of Mozart’s Requiem.

In its place, Music Director Sarah Ioannides will present music by Fauré, Mahler, Mozart and Beethoven—including the latter composer’s Piano Concerto No. 2.  This will feature the South Sound concerto debut of the acclaimed 27-year-old pianist, Macau-born Kuok-Wai Lio, winner of the prestigious 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant.

The program will begin with Fauré’s Pavane, featuring the Symphony Tacoma Chorus, followed by the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.  The second half will open with Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, the most well-known of his early symphonies.  Concluding the evening will be Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

“Since we first learned of this repertoire overlap, Sarah Ioannides has been working hard to devise a new program plan that would provide just the right complement to the rest of the season,” Buelow stated.  “When we learned that pianist Kuok-Wai Lio would be in the region for performances in Eugene the prior week, it was the perfect solution.”

Ioannides subsequently reached out to Lio, a fellow graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, and invited him to make his South Sound debut with the Symphony Tacoma.  Lio has soloed at the Vancouver (BC) Recital Society, but this will mark his South Sound debut and his first concerto performance in the Pacific Northwest.

As an additional change, the Symphony has consolidated the weekend into a single performance at the Rialto Theater on Saturday, March 25, in place of the original schedule, which included a Saturday evening concert at Chapel Hill Presbyterian in Gig Harbor and a Sunday matinee at the Rialto.  The consolidated schedule was necessitated by the program change.

Patrons already holding tickets to that weekend’s program are being contacted by the Box Office.  Ticket holders for the originally scheduled Sunday performance in the Rialto will retain their seats for the Saturday night performance.  Patrons who purchased tickets for the Gig Harbor performance at Chapel Hill will be provided with comparable seating in the Rialto.

Praised by the Vancouver Sun as a “musician’s musician” and for his “sensitive playing” by The New York Times, Kuok-Wai Lio first came to national attention when, in January 2014, he replaced an indisposed Radu Lupu at the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts at New York’s Town Hall to rave reception.

Lio has appeared in recital at the Vancouver Recital Society, San Francisco Performances, Gilmore Rising Stars Series, and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.  As a concerto soloist, he has collaborated with the Macau Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Pan Asia Symphony, and the U.S. orchestras of Kansas City, Grand Rapids and Houston Symphony.  In addition to the Avery Fisher Career Grant, he was a prize winner  at the Sixth International Chopin Piano Competition of Asia (Tokyo), Fifth International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians (Japan), among many others.

Born in 1989, Lio began his piano lessons at the age of five with Lilik Juniwatie Sutiono.  He continued his musical studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music, under support from the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau.  His principal teachers have included Gabriel Kwok and Gary Graffman.  Kuok-Wai has been invited by Sir András Schiff to take part in his open master classes held in England, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.


More than $1 Million Goes to Fund Arts in National Parks

Includes $10,000 awarded to Symphony Tacoma

Tacoma, WA — This month, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service announced $1,067,500 in support of 50 grants in 27 states, including an award of $10,000 to Symphony Tacoma to support the commission of a new symphonic poem written in homage to Mount Rainier by Puyallup native Daniel Ott. Imagine Your Parks is a grant initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts created in partnership with the National Park Service to support projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places and landscapes of the National Park System. These awards are part of a larger National Endowment for the Arts announcement also made this month in which the agency will make 1,142 awards totaling $80.9 million to organizations in all 50 states and five jurisdictions.

“As part of the NEA’s 50th anniversary, this year we are celebrating the magnificence of America’s national cultural treasures through art,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The Imagine Your Parks grant program unites our mission with the National Park Service by connecting art projects with the natural, historic and cultural settings of the National Park System and will inspire a new generation to discover these special places and experience our great heritage.”

“The ‘Imagine Your Parks’ grants are really helping us celebrate the NPS Centennial and the NEA’s 50th Anniversary with some incredibly diverse and interesting projects that continue to inspire more Americans of all backgrounds to connect with their national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The grants already awarded are already demonstrating the success of the program through a variety of inspiring projects. A new generation of artists is connecting to national parks through their work, and motivating others to do the same.”

Symphony Tacoma’s project funded by the NEA is a highlight of the 16-17: the World Premiere of a new symphonic poem written in homage to Mount Rainier by Puyallup native Daniel Ott.  A rising name in classical music, Ott grew up in Puyallup and now teaches at Fordham University and The Juilliard School.  The work for chorus and orchestra is being commissioned by the Symphony as part of the National Park Service centennial and is part of the season’s culminating concert on May 13, 2017.  Paired with Debussy’s great impressionist opus La Mer, the project celebrates the region’s richness and sense of place, from mountain to sound and is intended to raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an increasing and alarming rate.  Suite No. 1 from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, including the mysterious and fantastic “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” opens the program.  The Museum of Glass (MOG) will create a piece of art inspired by mountain and glacier imagery. The glassblowing process will be captured on a video that will accompany the performance, juxtaposed with photography of the mountain.

“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for its support of next season’s commissioning project in commemoration of Mount Rainier National Park.  Our hope for the ‘Mountain and Sea’ concert is to engage the community as a whole in music, art and environmental awareness simultaneously.  The NEA’s support will help to involve regional audiences young and old as participants, not just recipients.”

Andy Buelow, Executive Director

About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. To learn more about the National Park Service, visit

About the NEA

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary calendar.

Stay Connected

Follow “Imagine Your Parks” on Twitter @NEAarts and @NatlParkService, #ImagineYourParks #NEASpring16.  Follow Symphony Tacoma @TacomaSymphony and #SymphonyTacoma.

How to get tickets for this Symphony Tacoma performance

Subscription orders are being accepted in advance of single tickets going on sale later this Summer.  Subscription offerings—starting at $108—include the Premier 8 (all concerts), and the Master 6 (all five Classics concerts and choice of Sounds of the Season or Spring Pops).  Subscribers save up to 25%—the equivalent of getting two concerts free.  To subscribe, call 253-591-5894 or visit


Symphony Tacoma plays Stravinsky’s famous ‘Rite of Spring’ for the first time, by the News Tribune

Final season concert also includes Rodrigo guitar concerto, de Falla

Pepe Romero is soloist for ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’

Director Sarah Ioannides in town for three weeks


There were no riots in the Broadway Center’s rehearsal studio Monday night, but there was definitely a lot of intense concentration.

As music director Sarah Ioannides walked into the first rehearsal for Saturday night’s Symphony Tacoma concert, she had just four rehearsals ahead of her to prepare the orchestra for a piece that’s still as shocking as it was when it premiered in 1913, but which the symphony as a group has never, apparently, played: Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

Part of a Pantages concert that includes legendary guitarist Pepe Romero playing Rodrigo’s ever-popular “Concierto de Aranjuez” and Suite No. 1 from De Falla’s “The Three-Cornered Hat,” the Stravinsky represents the kind of challenge that Ioannides has brought in her first two years with the ensemble.

“It can be that some musicians will have played the piece and some won’t have played the piece,” explained Ioannides, “so (we try) to use those rehearsals to bring everyone up to speed as quickly as we can so that we can start to make music.”

Ioannides is in town for over three weeks, much longer than her usual visit due to an upcoming children’s concert and a new chamber series for the orchestra. She’s even brought her family with her, with her three children attending school, choir and dance classes. But she is having to prepare well for “The Rite of Spring” — an extraordinarily difficult piece even today, thanks to cross-rhythms, multiple and unexpected meters, and a massive orchestra that calls for unusual instruments and extremes of register, like the famous opening bassoon solo.

In her private study time on Monday, Ioannides worked her way through a tricky bit, half conducting, singing under her breath and counting aloud as she read the score. To begin with a steady beat, she counted herself in with 11 beats — using the 11-syllable mnemonic “I-gor Stra-vin-sky is a son-of-a-(expletive).”

“It’s hard,” said executive director Andy Buelow. “To my knowledge the orchestra has never played this piece.”

Yet, while the Paris premiere caused ballerina drama and an audience riot, “The Rite of Spring” is now part of the standard repertoire for good reason. Driving, passionate and earthy, it encapsulates a musical time period when all the rules were being broken and that connection to our primal selves that’s just below the surface of civilization.

Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” on the other hand, is possibly the best-known guitar concerto ever, used for countless films and commercials, and sways between lyrical Spanish melodies and dramatic orchestral moments.

Romero, honored by kings, heads of state and major institutions, is part of the world’s leading guitar-playing family, and has more than 60 recordings to his credit.

Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s “Three-Cornered Hat” suite is equally atmospheric and was, like “The Rite of Spring,” commissioned by Ballet Russe director Sergei Diaghilev. It premiered in 1919.

For the Symphony Tacoma, though, most of this week’s rehearsal time will focus on the Stravinsky, with careful management by Ioannides.

“When you only have four rehearsals and a difficult program, you’re having to make choices very, very fast on the spot as to what will fix itself and what (you) need to immediately stop for and redo, and that comes with experience,” she said.

Symphony Tacoma to perform Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf as Finale for Mini Maestros Family Series

Tacoma, WA – Puget Sound area families have gotten their little ones moving to the music since January with the Symphony Tacoma’s fourth annual Mini Maestros.  The series culminates on May 22nd when Sarah Ioannides conducts the full Symphony Tacoma in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.  The series for children ages 2-8 and their families is held at Schneebeck Hall on the campus of the University of Puget Sound and this final performance will be held on Sunday, May 22 at 2:30 p.m.

The performance will feature the famous piece by Sergei Prokofiev that has introduced generations of children to symphonic musicPeter and the Wolf tells the story of a young boy living with his grandfather in a forest clearing, and the adventure he and his animal friends have with a wolf that comes in from the meadow.  Each character in the story is represented by a musical instrument, or groups of instruments, in the orchestra.  Peter and the Wolf will be narrated by David Fisher.

For tickets, $7 for children and $10 for adults, plus box office fees, call 253-591-5894 or 800-291-8573 or visit

The Mini Maestros family concert series, debuted in 2013, is a joint project of Symphony Tacoma, Ted Brown Music, and the University of Puget Sound Community Music Program.  The series is designed for young children and their families, and each program introduces one of the ‘families’ of instruments that makes up the symphony orchestra: woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion.  The series gains momentum with each passing year.  Attendance is currently up 35% over the previous season.

The series presenting sponsor is Ted Brown Music. Additional support is provided by: the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, Bamford Foundation, Kelly Foundation, TAPCO Credit Union, and Annie Wright School.  Media sponsor is Parent Map.  Peter and the Wolf is sponsored by The Lobster Shop.

Tickets and information available at


Revered Guitarist Pepe Romero to join Symphony Tacoma for Season Finale

Featuring Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring


TACOMA, WA – Music Director Sarah Ioannides leads the Symphony Tacoma in its final concert of the season with the internationally renowned guitarist Pepe Romero. On Saturday, May 7th at 7:30 pm at the Pantages Theater, Symphony Tacoma performs Rodrigo’s beloved Concierto de Aranjuez and Stravinsky’s monumental Rite of Spring.  The concert opens with Falla’s Suite No. 1 from The Three-Cornered Hat. 

The second son of “The Royal Family of Guitar,” Pepe Romero has been honored by kings, heads of state, and major institutions. However, to Mr. Romero, his most important contribution has been reaching the common man. He has communicated the richness and beauty of the classical guitar to millions of people throughout the world, becoming an ambassador of classical music, and, correspondingly, of the classical guitar. Mr. Romero has worked with almost every major conductor alive, and has to his credit more than 60 recordings.

Joaquín Rodrigo would, without resentment, state that his blindness, which arose from a case of diphtheria at age three, turned his life towards music. Concierto de Aranjuez, the first composition for solo guitar and orchestra became so popular that Rodrigo later complained that it was like a great tree that cast a shadow on his other music. It has been interpreted by musicians as diverse as Miles Davis, Chick Corea and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Listeners might recognize the gentle second movement; it’s one of those pieces that many people have heard in commercials, movies and television shows, but would be hard pressed to identify by name or composer.

Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring shook the artistic world to its very core at its premiere in 1913. It was the final of three celebrated productions—including The Firebird (1910) and Petrouchka (1911)—commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe in Paris.  The ballet itself was far outshone by the score: the most groundbreaking and influential piece of music of the 20th Century. The 1913 premiere, which resulted in a near-riot, is now legendary.  As writer Amar Toor puts it, “It began with a bassoon and ended in a brawl.”

This concert is sponsored by University of Puget Sound, Seneschal Advisors, and Pacific Northwest Eye.  Media sponsor is Showcase Magazine. Series support provided by ArtsFund and Boeing.

Single tickets are still available; prices start at $12 for students and range from $19 to $80 for adults.

For information, visit  Single ticket and subscription orders may be placed via phone at 800-291-7593, mail or in person at the Symphony Tacoma – BCPA Box Office, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.