Founded in 2010, Seattle Modern Orchestra (SMO) is the only large ensemble in the Pacific Northwest solely dedicated to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Led by co-artistic directors Julia Tai and Jérémy Jolley, SMO commissions and premieres new works from an international lineup of composers, in addition to presenting important pieces from the contemporary repertoire that are rarely if ever heard by Seattle audiences. The ensemble “operates at that exciting cusp between old and new, between tradition and innovation” (Vanguard Seattle) curating new sounds and experiences for concert goers in the region.
SMO provides audiences with performances of the best in contemporary chamber and orchestral music, and develops radio talks, lectures, and other forms of outreach in an accessible and inviting format all designed to expand the listener’s appreciation and awareness of the music of today.
Julia Tai has established herself as one of the most capable young conductors on the international stage. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with professional and youth orchestras around the world, including the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Estonian National Youth Symphony, New Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Carlos Chávez. She was a conducting participant in the renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at the New England Conservatory, and a quarter finalist in the fourth Eduardo Mata Conducting Competition in Mexico. A champion of contemporary music, Ms. Tai is the founder and artistic director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra, and premiered many works with the Seattle Chamber Players, Seattle Experimental Opera, and the Affinity Ensemble of the Washington Composers Forum. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Ms. Tai began her violin studies at age four and piano at eight. She gave many recitals and performed concerts with choirs and orchestras, which toured extensively in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, United States, Japan, and Taiwan. Ms. Tai received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she was honored with the departmental award of “Outstanding Graduate of 2004.” She obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington, where she served as the principal conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble, the assistant conductor of the University Symphony, and conducted the UW Opera in their productions of Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and Kurt Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden.
French-American composer Jérémy Jolley was born in Lyon, France, and grew up in the French Alps where he played guitar in rock and fusion bands. He moved to Seattle in 1997 and pursued composition studies and received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees in Composition from the University of Washington. During these years, he studied composition primarily with Joël-François Durand, electronic music with Juan Pampin, and classical guitar with Steven Novacek. Jeremy has been the recipient of the Brechemin Scholarship in Music in 2006 and 2007, as well as the William Bergsma Endowment for Excellence in Music Composition in 2006. He was awarded a residency in the 2008 Jack Straw Artist Support Program for his work in the improvisation and experimental ensemble, Unused Lexical Variable. His music has been played by celebrated contemporary music performers such as the Dutch pianist and ensemble ASKO|SHOENBERG member René Eckhart, cellist Séverine Ballon, and violinist Graeme Jennings. He attended the master classes of Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin, Pierluigi Billone, and Mark André at the Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse. Since 2010, he is the co-Artistic Director of the new music ensemble, Seattle Modern Orchestra.