Seattle Symphony’s ‘[untitled]’: Trains, automobiles and Tennessee Williams

Seattle Times
10/9/2017

 Seattle Symphony’s “[untitled]” concert series returns Oct. 13 with a program featuring works by John Adams, Thomas Ads and Steve Reich. ( Seattle Symphony)

Seattle Symphony’s “[untitled]” concert series returns Oct. 13 with a program featuring works by John Adams, Thomas Ads and Steve Reich. ( Seattle Symphony)

Is there a short work of chamber music about air travel? If so, and if the musicians performing in Seattle Symphony’s first “[untitled]” program of the season had elected to play it, they could have called the Oct. 13 concert “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

As it is, the informal, inexpensive and late-night “[untitled]” showcase for contemporary-classical music, set in the lobby of Benaroya Hall, will be bookended by compositions inspired by locomotives and cars. Up first is John Adams’ 1995 “Road Movies,” a minimalist, three-part piece for violin and piano. The concert closes with Steve Reich’s 1988 “Different Trains” for string quartet and recorded sounds and voices.

Between the two is something different: Thomas Adès’ 1993 song “Life Story” for soprano and trio, with text derived from Tennessee Williams’ dark 1937 poem of the same title.

“[untitled]” is the innovative series created five years ago by the symphony’s music director, Ludovic Morlot, and vice president of artistic planning, Elena Dubinets. It’s a radical departure from the more typical early-evening standard classical experience played by the full Seattle Symphony Orchestra inside Benaroya’s S. Mark Taper auditorium.