The guy who made people want to go to the symphony again is leaving in two years.
"The decision to step down as Music Director when my contract comes to an end in 2019 is not one I have taken lightly," Morlot said in a statement. "We are in the midst of a wonderful, stimulating and exciting artistic journey and I look forward to continuing this in the next two seasons. However, I feel that by 2019 the time will be right for me to explore new musical opportunities and for the Symphony to have the inspiration of new artistic leadership.”
After former Seattle Symphony music director Gerard Schwarz's "800 year" tenure, Morlot came on board in 2011 and introduced a bunch of new, exciting programs like [untitled], a late-night concert series held in the lobby of Benaroya Hall. As a curator, he often meaningfully paired old-school classical stuff with weirder but thematically related contemporary stuff, which increased the intellectual pleasures of the performances.
Sure, Morlot made Seattle sit through a lot of challenging, colorful, impressionistic Frenchy music, but some of that was really good! And he showed intense and genuine interest in the Symphony's educational / community outreach programs, even as he raised the orchestra's national profile by scooping up three Grammys. He will be missed. In two years.
Press materials from the symphony claim that "Morlot will continue to conduct the orchestra regularly beyond summer 2019," so we'll still get to see him around every now and then.
If you've never seen him conduct the orchestra before, you should check him out. He's got a great, bottled-fury style. It's as if the orchestra is some bratty clerk who won't honor his coupon, and he's the stubborn customer who's not going anywhere until they do.