Conductor Sarah Ioannides traveling to Abu Dhabi for CultureSummit 2017

Symphony Tacoma’s conductor is headed across the globe to engage with some of the greatest minds on the planet from the arts, media government and other sectors.

Music Director Sarah Ioannides was invited to attend the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi, taking place from Sunday, April 9th to Thursday, April 13th, 2017. CultureSummit 2017 is the world’s first event that convenes leaders from the worlds of the arts, media, public policy and technology to address the role that culture can play in solving some of the greatest challenges of our time. CultureSummit will also explore how new technologies are changing the very nature of culture and cultural interactions worldwide with major consequences for education, economies, politics, and virtually every other dimension of our lives. The event will take place at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi and at other locations in United Arab Emirates.

The invitation-only summit will bring together delegations, live and virtual, representing 64 countries from nearly every region in the world. This will include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will be the recipient of a Cultural Diplomat Award; residencies by composer Tan Dun and choreographer Liz Lerman; and presentations by artists such as cellist and multimedia artist Maya Beiser, and composer Sandeep Das of Silk Road Ensemble. Sarah Ioannides is the only invited music director of a professional American orchestra and the sole representative from a Washington state arts agency. Other representatives of U.S. cultural institutions will include Deborah Rutter, President of the Kennedy Center; Tom DeCaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission; and Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts.

The event will be hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi and presented in conjunction with The FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy Magazine, and TCP Ventures, LLC, a producer of artistic ventures and an advisory firm focused on issues associated with the arts and culture.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said: “This event underscores our commitment to culture and the arts as well as to exploring the next generation issues that are of importance to each of us in the UAE and to citizens of every country worldwide.”

The summit will address challenging issues like the preservation of cultural heritage, the disruptions associated with emerging technologies, the role of the arts in combatting extremism, and the development of public policies that promote creativity and social development. There will also be displays of the artwork of participating visual artists and performances and presentations by an extraordinary array of globally known musicians, singers, dancers, composers, and others.


Daily plenary sessions will be held on such topics as:

  • The Universals: What the Arts Can Tell Us About How We Can Come Together
  • Globalization and the Other: Lessons from Refugees and the Dislocated
  • The Why and the How of Cultural Preservation in the Coming Decades
  • Problem Solving Through the Arts: Case Studies in Social Solutions
  • The Arts and Fighting Climate Change
  • The Unintended Consequences of Technological Change
  • The Arts and Gender Equity

Following the event, on June 15, the University of Washington Tacoma and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation will co-host a follow-up symposium, during which Ioannides share her experiences from CultureSummit with community leaders representing the cultural, business, and government sectors. This will include opportunity for break out discussions that will enable participants to explore regional responses to the issues outlined at the Summit.

“Our lives are much richer for having Sarah leading Symphony Tacoma,” stated Greater Tacoma Community Foundation President & CEO Kathi Littmann. “Sarah’s vision, passion, and talents are worthy of international recognition. I know she will be a powerful ambassador for Tacoma’s arts community.”

“We are thrilled that Sarah was invited to participate,” said Clark D’Elia, President of Symphony Tacoma. “In working with her the past several seasons, we have come to recognize her thought leadership regarding the important role of music in our modern culture. Her participation in this event aligns well with the Symphony Tacoma Mission:  Building community through music.”

Thousands of Students Participating in Simply Symphonic

Students and orchestras will come together world-wide this April in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute Link Up program, and Symphony Tacoma joins over 70 other orchestras across the globe as a Link Up partner orchestra through its popular education program, Simply Symphonic.

More than 4,000 4th and 5th grade students have been utilizing Link Up curriculum since late January in the classroom. These students will all converge on the Pantages Theater for concerts held at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 18 and Thursday, April 20. Many will bring violins or recorders, others will sing, engaging actively in music making along with the Symphony. This year, Symphony Tacoma shifts to The Orchestra Moves, the second of Link Up’s three curriculum cycles—focused on all the different ways in which instruments, sound and even the audience “move” with the music.

“The strength of the Link Up program is that students are given the opportunity to be active participants in making music. Few other art forms provide the opportunity to participate collectively, which is a special magic of music,” says Music Director Sarah Ioannides.

The Link Up curriculum builds upon the already successful Simply Symphonic program, introducing students to the joys of orchestral music. Students first learn to sing or play an instrument in their classrooms, depending on the teacher and school capabilities and preferences. Then, they bring these skills to the concert hall, performing with the orchestra from their seats while the music is projected on screens above the stage. Link Up reaches nearly 250,000 students nationwide and is expanding beyond the US, partnering with orchestras in Canada, Spain, and Japan.

As part of the partnership, participating schools receive up-to-date curriculum guides for each teacher (featuring lessons on singing, playing the soprano recorder or violin, reading and notating music, and composing and improvising music) with an accompanying CD and DVD, as well as workbooks for each student. Symphony Tacoma recruits local teachers and students for participation and provides a professional development workshop and direct support for participating local teachers, as it has during Simply Symphonic‘s two-decade tenure.

In the Tacoma area, over 4,000 students from over 80 schools are participating in Simply Symphonic during the 2016-2017 academic year. Culminating concerts last under an hour and are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday, April 18 and 20.  Held in Tacoma’s historic Pantages Theater, Symphony Tacoma musicians present the culminating interactive concerts, at the direction of new Music Director new Sarah Ioannides.

Simply Symphonic is open to 4th and 5th grade classrooms in the greater Pierce County area with scholarships available for schools with student populations in need. The Symphony commits to providing access to this award-winning program by keeping the participation fee low, at $3 per student. Since these fees cover only 15% of the program costs, the Symphony seeks sponsors to provide additional support. This year’s corporate partners are: Aetna, ArtsFund, Callisons, Lexus of Tacoma at Fife, Panagiotu Pension Advisors, Preferred Copier Systems, TOTE Maritime, Summit Financial Group, and U.S. Bank.

New Season Announced

Tacoma, Wash.  –  The first official observance of the highly anticipated Bernstein Centennial in the Pacific Northwest.  The first performance of Barry Cooper’s innovative realization of Beethoven’s “10th Symphony” in the South Sound.  The first U.S. performance of Swedish composer Marie Samuelsson’s 2016 The Eros Effect and Solidarity.  The Tacoma solo debuts of pianist Andrew Tyson, Seattle Symphony cellist Efe Baltacigil, Metropolitan Opera soprano Kelly Cae Hogan, and new Principal Trumpet Charles Butler.  Symphony Tacoma’s 2017-2018 Season, announced this week, abounds with firsts.

 “At Symphony Tacoma, we strive to put community first, to welcome our audience in, going beyond tradition to surprise and captivate,” said Music Director Sarah Ioannides.  “Every concert on the 2017-2018 Season was meticulously curated with this vision foremost in mind.”


The season opens with a full evening of music by Leonard Bernstein, featuring his legendary musical West Side Story.  The seven major roles of the musical will be filled by soloists from the community, selected by auditions to be held this spring.  Also heavily in the spotlight during the season opening concert will be the acclaimed Symphony Tacoma Voices, directed by
Dr. Geoffrey Boers.
2017-2018 closes with another Symphony Tacoma first: an evening of works by Richard Wagner, including the Overture to Die Meistersinger, Ride of the Valkyries, and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, featuring Kelly Cae Hogan.  The music of this greatest of all German Romantics is paired with French composer Francis Poulenc’s 1961 Gloria.
Other major orchestral works to be heard next season include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 (its first performance by Symphony Tacoma), and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.


Hailed by BBC Radio 3 as “a poet of the piano,” Andrew Tyson makes his Symphony Tacoma debut on November 18 performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. In summer 2015, he was awarded First Prize at the Géza Anda Competition in Zürich, as well as the Mozart and Audience Prizes. He is a laureate of the Leeds International Piano Competition where he won the new Terence Judd-Hallé Orchestra Prize.
Turkish cellist Efe Baltacıgil, Principal Cello of the Seattle Symphony since 2011, will perform the Elgar Cello Concerto on February 24 and 25.  Baltacigil was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike in February 2005 when he and pianist Emanuel Ax provided an impromptu performance of Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No.1 at a Philadelphia Orchestra concert when a winter snowstorm prevented most of the Orchestra from reaching the concert hall. The Philadelphia Inquirercited his “gorgeous sound, strong personality, and expressive depth.”
2016 was a landmark season for Charles Butler, during which he landed dual appointments as Principal Trumpet with Symphony Tacoma and Portland Opera. On March 25, 2018 Butler will make his Tacoma solo debut in Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. The busy former Seattle Symphony member continues to perform with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theater, Bellingham Festival of Music and Issaquah’s Village Theater.
American soprano Kelly Cae Hogan, called “viscerally exciting” and “a revelation” by the Washington Times, will perform as soloist in works by Wagner and Poulenc during the Season Finale on May 12. Hogan recently made her London debut as Brünnhilde for Opera North at the Royal Festival Hall.  Other roles at the Met include Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, and Wagner’s Die Walküre.  The Guardian called her “bright and thrilling, incisive and sympathetic-magnificent throughout!”


Sarah Ioannides conducted the 2016 world premiere of Samuelsson’s Love Trilogy with the Nordic Chamber Orchestra.  The Eros Effect and Solidarity, the second part of the three-piece work, will open the program on February 24 and 25. “The Eros Effect” is a term coined by sociologist George N. Katsiaficas to describe the human capacity to respond in solidarity during social movements. The work includes a text (to be translated into English for this performance) which the orchestra chants behind the music.  “With Samuelsson’s music you enter a special sound world,” explains Ioannides.  “The Love Trilogy is a moving, spiritual work.”  The program will conclude with music by another Scandinavian, the Second Symphony of Jean Sibelius.


Since Sarah Ioannides’ arrival in 2014, Symphony Tacoma’s approach to orchestral pops has taken a turn toward the contemporary, with acts of artistic substance as well as entertainment value. Opus X, making its regional debut in April 2018, is a group cut from this cloth.  The “Charlie’s Angels of classical music,” this striking quartet consists of four virtuoso women soloists from the four corners of the world: Austrian violinist Lidia Baich, Danish pianist Tanja Zapolski, British clarinetist Lone Madsen, and Japanese-American cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper. From Handel to Led Zeppelin, their concerts bring a touch of glam rock to the classics!


Current season ticket holders are being mailed renewal materials.  New subscription orders are also being accepted; new subscribers will be seated after renewing subscribers and in advance of tickets going on sale to the general public.  Subscription offerings-starting at $111-include the Premier 8 (all concerts), and the Master 6 (all five Classics concerts and Spring Pops).  Subscribers save up to 25%-the equivalent of getting two concerts free.  To subscribe, call 253-272-7264 or email

Jens Lindemann, Stephanie Porter to take the Stage for Symphony Sweethearts

Tacoma, Wash.  – Celebrated trumpeter Jens Lindemann—a longtime member of the famed Canadian Brass— will be the featured soloist at Symphony Tacoma’s Symphony Sweethearts concert, taking place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22 at Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. Conducted by Sarah Ioannides, the performance will include favorites like “Themes from 007,” “My Funny Valentine,” “St. Louis Blues,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Stardust,” “Over the Rainbow,” a medley of Duke Ellington tunes and many others. Lindemann and Ioannides will be joined by Seattle jazz vocalist Stephanie Porter and the Pacific Lutheran University Jazz Ensemble, directed by David Deacon-Joyner.  The concert is sponsored by KeyBank, Marine Floats and Pacific Lutheran University.

Lindemann’s diverse career has seen him perform for audiences ranging from the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall to the NHL Stanley Cup and Queen Elizabeth. Winner of many of the most prestigious trumpet competitions in the world, Lindemann also serves on the faculty of UCLA.  He is a founding member of All Star Brass, with whom he has released four CDs.

Known for her ability to interpret and bring powerful emotional nuance to a wide range of songs from repertoires including jazz, pop and R&B, KPLU reporters describe Porter as “a favorite not only among jazz listeners, but among jazz artists as well.” The artist is beloved in the Northwest, where she regularly performs for sold out crowds at venues including the Triple Door.

Tickets, starting at $19, are available online or by calling 253-591-5894.

Mini Maestros Series Continues Fifth Season With Jungle Jams

Tacoma, Wash.  – The fifth annual Mini Maestros series for children ages 2-8 and their families continues with a mesmerizing performance titled Jungle Jams.  The program, featuring the Symphony Tacoma Brass Quintet, is hosted by the University of Puget Sound and held at Schneebeck Hall on Sunday, Mar. 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Families are invited to attend dressed in safari gear to get into the spirit of the performance as the brass quintet ushers children on an imaginary visit to the deep, dark jungle. Children will learn how the instruments can sound like animals, and about high and low sounds—the bigger the instrument, the lower the sound. Attendees will enjoy familiar kid-friendly tunes like Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Mancini’s Pink Panther, and Hakuna Matata from Disney’s Lion King, and parents will watch their little explorers participate in singing, dancing and a march around the globe as they follow host Shay Ryan of Kiddos and Kin up onto the stage to witness the magic up close.

Jungle Jams will be followed by two additional performances: Wacky, Wild World of Percussion on April 30, and Peter and the Wolf on May 21. All take place at 2:30 p.m. on those dates at Schneebeck Hall. A musical instrument “petting zoo” will be held one hour before each concert, with the exception of Peter and the Wolf, allowing children the opportunity to touch and try out instruments.

Ted Brown Music is the series sponsor of Mini Maestros, which is also supported by the Bamford Foundation. Tickets are $7 for children and $10 for adults, plus box office fees. Click here to purchase tickets.

Mountain and Sea: Tacoma Arts Organizations Unite For Climate Awareness

Tacoma, Wash. — Symphony Tacoma, the Museum of Glass and Hilltop Artists are collaborating with Mount Rainier National Park in a multi-event project culminating with the Symphony’s 2016-2017 Season Finale in May. In commemoration of the Centennial of the National Parks System, the multi-layered project will engage area residents in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate.

The first event takes place Thursday, March 16 from 5-8 pm at the Museum of Glass, in conjunction with the museum’s free Third Thursdays.  The Hilltop Artist Association’s team of student artists will collaborate with Symphony Tacoma musicians to engage the public in an experiential relationship with the artistic process, utilizing ice and molten glass. The musicians will perform both composed and improvised music, giving to and receiving from the glass-blowers inspiration as they create performance art interpreting the Mountain and Sea concept and highlighting the contrast between fire and ice.  The event is supported in part by a grant from The Russell Family Foundation.

The molten glass is a metaphor for the flowing magma within the mountain, and the ice reflects the changes to its exterior. Video footage from the event will be incorporated, together with images of Mount Rainier, for a video art piece to accompany the May 13 world premiere of Puyallup native Daniel Ott’s symphony Fire Mountain. The visual depictions of the molten glass and snow-capped peak, together with the chorus vocals, will poignantly illustrate global warming and the resulting glacial melt.  The intention is to create a powerful piece of video art, developed integrally with the music, rather than a documentary. Thus the end result will be a true gesamtkunstwerk:  a multimedia artistic statement utilizing music, glass and video.

A musical portrait of these natural wonders, Fire Mountain will utilize 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma orchestra and 70-piece Symphony Tacoma Voices.  As an area native, Dan Ott brings a personal connection to the subject, which will no doubt infuse the music with a range of emotions about this wounded and vulnerable national treasure.

Also performed during the Pantages Theater concert will be Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and Debussy’s Impressionist masterpiece, La Mer.  The program is characteristic of Music Director Sarah Ioannides’s curatorial approach to programming: gem-setting a new artistic creation with colorful, complementary music from the core repertoire and visual elements. The result is a multi-media experience that is challenging yet accessible to audiences.

“Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region,” stated Sarah Ioannides. “Through working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, leaving participants sobered by the gravity of the ecological situation, but hopeful and empowered to undertake an active role in protecting our region.”

Chris Botti to perform with Symphony Tacoma on March 17

Tacoma, Wash.  – Chris Botti and the Symphony Tacoma will perform together to create an unforgettable night of live music at the Tacoma Dome Theater Stage at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 17. Tickets start at $26 and are available at

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.

A GRAMMY Award winner, Botti is known for his collaboration with artists including Sting, John Mayer, Steven Tyler and Vince Gill. 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 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 Symphony Tacoma in March.”

Tickets ($26.50-$86.50) are on sale now at, the Tacoma Dome Box Office, or by phone at 800-745-3000. Discounts available for groups of ten or more by calling 253-573-2350. Tickets may be subject to agency convenience charges.

Avery Fisher award-winning violinist Kristin Lee debuts with Sarah Ioannides and Symphony Tacoma

Korean-American violinist Kristin Lee—cited for her “mastery of tone” by The Strad—will make her debut with Symphony Tacoma, conducted by Sarah Ioannides, in Tchaikovsky’s formidable but beloved Violin Concerto.  The concerts will also feature Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, subtitled “Winter Daydreams.”  Sponsored by MultiCare and Retina Macula Specialists, the performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 25 at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, February 26 in the Rialto Theater.  Tickets, starting at $19, are available at or by calling 253-591-5894 or 1-800-291-7593.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Kristin Lee’s technique as “flawless,” noting that “she has a sense of melodic shaping that reflects an artistic maturity.”  She and Sarah Ioannides are frequent collaborators; they performed together last October in concerts with the Nordic Chamber Orchestra of Sweden, and have previously concertized in the Dominican Republic and at Ioannides’s other orchestra, the Spartanburg Philharmonic of South Carolina.  No stranger to the Pacific Northwest, just this season Kristin Lee launched the new Emerald City Music series in Seattle and Olympia with a vision to “freshen the chamber music experience, while still holding true to a high level of artistic excellence.”  Winner of a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Ms. Lee’s recent engagements include her debut with the Milwaukee Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, recitals in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall and Florida’s Kravis Center, and appearances with the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra of China.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was considered artistically challenging when it was unveiled in 1878, and it is still among the most formidable works in the violin repertoire.  His Symphony No. 1, written 10 years earlier when he was a 28-year-old graduate fresh from the Moscow Conservatory, caused the sensitive young composer great anxiety and struggle.  Despite this, he came to regard the piece with fondness, calling it “a sin of my sweet youth.”  Although the work lacks a defined narrative or “program,” the subtitle “Winter Daydreams” was given by the composer himself, and he further characterized its movements with such titles as “Dreams of a Winter Journey,” “Land of Gloom, Land of Mists,” and “The Garden Blooms”—presumably tracing a journey from winter to spring.

Sarah Ioannides has deliberately chosen to pair Tchaikovsky with Mozart in acknowledgement of the Romantic composer’s deep admiration for his fantastically gifted predecessor.  Tchaikovsky adored Mozart, calling his Don Giovanni “the best opera ever written.”  In a letter to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, the composer revealed that this work “served as a spur to my musical feeling and opened up before me a whole hitherto unknown horizon of the highest musical beauty.  Mozart captivates me, gives me joy and warmth. The longer I live, the closer I get to know him, the more I love him.”

Pianist David Fung Replaces Kuok-Wai Lio

Award-winning pianist David Fung will replace Kuok-Wai Lio as the guest artist at Symphony Tacoma’s Beethoven and Mozart concert, taking place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25 in the Rialto Theater.  Praised for his “superstar qualities” (Le Libre), Mr. Fung has performed with major orchestras in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia and is described by the New York Times as “stylish and articulate.” Widely recognized for his elegant and poetic approach, Fung has also been called uncommonly expressive and intensely poetic by music reviewers.  He will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, the same piece Mr. Lio was slated to present.

Mr. Lio recently canceled his upcoming U.S. appearances, citing personal reasons, according to his management agency, Opus 3 Artists.

“We’re pleased to welcome David Fung, and we appreciate his stepping in on relatively short notice as our guest artist for this upcoming concert,” says Executive Director Andy Buelow. “We wish Kuok-Wai Lio all the best going forward.”

Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane, op. 50 offers a sweetly haunting exchange between melodic and harmonic themes. Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, written when he was just 18 years of age, is the most popular of the composer’s early symphonies.  Mahler’s Adagietto from Symphony No. 5, considered one of the last great Romantic classical pieces, refreshes with meditative introspection. Finally, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, also written when the composer was 18 years old, strikes up a dramatic contrast between playfulness and moodiness with delicious and thoroughly enjoyable tension.

The program is sponsored by Leavitt Group, with support from the Tacoma Philharmonic Endowment.