After ten successful concert seasons, Byron Schenkman & Friends is excited to announce a new name Sound Salon.
The name Sound Salon expresses the music organization’s surroundings, its purpose, and its community. Byron Schenkman, who continues as Artistic Director, explains: “Whether we’re thinking about the salons of 18th and 19th century Europe or neighborhood hair salons in our own time, a salon is an intimate gathering space. Sound Salon is about creating a shared experience by bringing people together from different parts of the community.”
Sound Salon will continue Byron Schenkman & Friends’ commitment to adapting the concert experience to the needs of its community. According to Schenkman: “We saw with the pandemic, and everything going on in the world, that people have needed something really different, so we expanded our performance season to include online performances for everyone.” All concerts are followed by Q&A sessions with the artists. For the foreseeable future the Sound Salon YouTube channel will continue to offer original concerts and musical excerpts free and available to all with internet access.
Each Sound Salon concert revolves around a particular theme, often exploring relationships of composers to each other, to their societies, and to our own time. Familiar composers and works are juxtaposed with more surprising discoveries, including music by women and People of the Global Majority. “I love that Byron isn’t afraid to pair traditional favorite composers and pieces alongside works from less well-known cultures and composers, or even newly commissioned music,” says Board vice-president Fox Spears (he/him). “They are always looking for interesting connections to explore in their concert programming, which offers a wide array of experiences, and helps our audiences understand that classical music isn’t just a relic of the past—it is still relevant and evolving.”
For instance, in October 2022, Byron Schenkman & Friends performed “Vivaldi and the (Forty) Four Seasons,” a program interspersing the movements of the well-known Four Seasons with seasonal stories from the Yakama tradition performed by master storyteller, Dr. Michelle Jacob. At “J.S.Bach Meets Caroline Shaw” in March 2023, BS&F performed the world premiere of acclaimed composer Caroline Shaw’s Concerto for harpsichord and strings, a new work inspired by J.S. Bach’s harpsichord concertos.
Sound Salon aims to reach Seattle-area communities unfamiliar with classical or early music performance. Schenkman offers: “I was trained that music performance was a means of preserving ‘great culture,’ but there’s an arrogance to that. That’s not my approach – and that won’t be Sound Salon’s.” Board vice-president Fox Spears agrees: “I am very proud of our organization’s dedication to providing as inclusive and welcoming an environment as possible, both for our guests in the concert hall as well as our performers.”
Over its decade of operation, Byron Schenkman & Friends has grown more inclusive both on the stage and in its daily operations. In its current season, 42% of the works performed were composed by women–compared to 5% at the world’s top orchestras. People of the Global Majority (non-white backgrounds) made up 59% of performers and artists.
Schenkman is excited for the future of Sound Salon: “I’ve always been interested in putting familiar works in surprising contexts. Whether it’s juxtaposing them with music that came before them, or music that is being written now, it’s about reframing music so that people can hear it in fresh and new ways.”
Sound Salon’s inaugural 2023-24 concert season will consist of four performances at Benaroya Hall:
|October 1||Baroque Meets Karuk: 17th-century sonatas and Karuk songs for strings and harpsichord|
|December 28||Splendor of the Baroque: Festive music for flute, violin, viol, theorbo, and harpsichord|
|February 11||Sweeter than Roses: English Baroque love songs for voice, oboe, viol, and harpsichord|
|April 14||Mozart and Friends: Beloved classics for violin, cello, and four-hand piano|
Season subscriptions and individual tickets to these concerts will go on sale at the Seattle Symphony box office on June 14, 2023.
Sound Salon’s virtual concert series and YouTube channel are expressions of its commitment to performing music by underrepresented composers and advocating for more equitable representation in the repertory and on stage. Online Concert Premieres for 2023-2024:
|October 29||A French Harpsichord Salon: Byron Schenkman’s favorite 18th century works for keyboard|
|December 10||Klezmer Classics: 20th century compositions combining classical music with Eastern European Klezmer traditions.|
|March 10||Inspired by Bach: New Music for Harpsichord and Strings inspired by the J.S. Bach harpsichord concertos.|
Sound Salon is a 501c3 non-profit supported by donors. Grantors include the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, ArtsFund, and Arts WA.