John Luther Adams

by Adam McKinney for OLY ARTS

Continuing its quest to bring classical music to the people, Emerald City Music has returned for a second season. Formed in 2015 by Andrew Goldstein and Kristin Lee, ECM aims to strip away the perceived pretentiousness and exclusivity of classical music that have historically kept casual audiences at arm’s length. To accomplish this, ECM crafts intimate concerts that value a relaxed, communal vibe.

“During our inaugural season, Emerald City Music built a reputation for being a destination for classical music discovery,” says Goldstein. “You can show up without any experience of classical music and enjoy these vogue, high-energy performances. Going into our season 2 now, we’ve collected 40 of the world’s top musicians and paired them together for performances unique to Olympia.”

In preparing ECM’s second season, Lee and Goldstein programmed shows to fall in line with a bold and compelling theme. “Season 2 explores the legacy of composer, pianist and conductor Leonard Bernstein, composer of West Side Story among others,” says Goldstein, “whose centennial birthday is being celebrated around the globe all season long. Of course, the music will feature much more than Bernstein and his close collaborators, from the leading American composers of today to the influence of blues and jazz to the new ways Bernstein helped us experience geniuses like Beethoven.”

ECM’s opening night of its new season shows how far the organization has come in such a short time, co-commissioning a new work from Pulitzer prize-winning composer John Luther Adams. “Upon hearing (Adams’) music,” says Goldstein, “Taylor Swift was so moved that she made a sizable donation to the Seattle Symphony. I’m certain the Olympia audience will be just as touched by this new commission, entitled there is no one, not even the wind. … After its world premiere on our stage, the new work will tour over the next two years to Lincoln Center as well as stages in Los Angeles and Portland.”

This stacked season includes performances from world-renowned percussionist Andy Akiho and the preternaturally lovely Miró Quartet. Never been a classical music aficionado? Here’s the perfect way to dive in.

What: Adams, Bernstein, Dvořák, Norman and Reich

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16

How much: $10-$43

Learn more: 206-250-5510 | Emerald City Music