Sibelius helps Seattle Symphony concert series to sparkle

Benaroya Hall (courtesy kmaschke on Flickr)

Last week, Seattle Weekly’s Arts section ran a story by Gavin Borchert about the concert series currently being performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. As present musical director Gerard Schwarz prepares to leave his post at the end of the season, the SSO’s Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions series will see them take on no fewer than 18 world premieres before next June.

With so many new pieces to be prepared, rehearsed and performed this season, it’s no surprise that the SSO’s staff are using Sibelius to help get things ready. As Borchert says:

Copyist Rob Olivia, SSO associate music librarian, is also working harder than usual this season. On his desk is a list of the 18 commissioned works; next to some is the notation “everything,” meaning that for these pieces it’s Olivia’s responsibility to prepare the score and parts. Some composers have provided these materials themselves. Others, due to the looming deadline (the composer lineup was just finalized this summer), have given the SSO only a pencil manuscript.

Right now Olivia is using Sibelius 6, state-of-the-art music-notation software, to work on David Stock’s Blast. The first performance is November 4, and the players are (contractually) entitled to get their parts two weeks before the first rehearsal. Olivia received Stock’s score on September 20, but the quick turnaround doesn’t faze him after years spent working in Hollywood, where he sometimes had less than a day to extract parts from a film composer’s manuscript. With a career based on new music (he’s also Schwarz’s preferred copyist for his own compositions), Olivia is brightly enthusiastic about this project—and moved, too: “These are gifts,” he says of the commissions, “outpourings of gratitude for [Schwarz], who’s done so much for American composers.”

If you’d like to find out more about the Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions, see the SSO’s web site or their Facebook page.


  1. Peter Roos, San Francisco

    Very cool. The Seattle symphony hall is where one of the world’s most famous virtual instruments was recorded live (can’t mention any names but that is a public secret). I would love to hear more about this project.

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