On The Road With NPR Music: Sean MacLean At KING, Seattle, Washington

Beyond travel, we’re also big music fans here at Gadling; largely because music is a great way to get to know a place. This month happens to be Public Radio Music Month and we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.

You might know Seattle for its grunge, alternative and indie scenes – this is after all the home of the Experience Music Project – but as Sean MacLean tells us, if you haven’t been paying attention to the classical music of the region, you’re missing out.

Name: Sean MacLean

Member station: Classical King FM 98.1

Regular Show/Contribution Beat: Northwest Focus, weeknights 8-10 p.m., with live musicians Friday nights at 8. Afternoon/evening host Monday – Friday 4-10 p.m.

1. When people think of music in Seattle, what do they think of?

Options! The Early Music, jazz, rock, and film scoring cutting edge, but also Benaroya Hall, home of Seattle Symphony, where you can sip outstanding Washington State Syrahs while enjoying the view from the giant windows that give out onto beautiful Elliott Bay, then go into the splendid acoustics of the floating hall and have your heart blown wide by timeless music.

2. How do you help curate that musical scene?

Through “Northwest Focus“: since living in Seattle means figuring out what NOT to see that night, we pick the most engaging events to link at our website, and give our listeners a chance to meet local classical musicians on “Northwest Focus LIVE” on Friday nights at 8. The shows are archived and YouTube videos are shared. The groups get exposure, and our audience is enriched. We get a lot of feedback about the quality of the music scene here.

3. How has that scene evolved over the last few decades?

Early Music Mecca! Increase in choral groups! More performances of classical music in crossover venues.

4. What would you say is the most unique thing about the Seattle music scene?

People move here for the healthy lifestyle and surrounding natural beauty. I think you can hear the “health” in their playing. Neither sincerity of interpretation, nor cooperation between musical presenters is not considered naïve. Ironic detachment is not cool here, as it is in many cities. Generosity of spirit is the vibe.

5. What are three new up and coming bands on your local scene right now and what makes them distinct?

In the early music scene, Stephen Stubbs is doing amazing productions with Pacific Musicworks. Then there is Whim Whim who dance to choral music. Amazing. Which brings up The Esoterics, led by Eric Banks, who wrote the music. I don’t know how he ever gets any sleep, with the composing, research, and performance.

6. For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?

“Assez Vif” – Seattle Marimba Quartet
“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (arr. J. Sandstrom)” – Dale Warland Singers
“F. Couperin: Les baricades Mystérieuses” – Les baricades Mystérieuses – arranged by Göran Söllscher
“Gloria: IX. Cum Sancto Spiritu” – Couperin, Francois, Göran Söllscher
“Jardim Abandonado” – Sergio and Odair Assad
“The Great “O” Antiphons – O Radix Jesse (“O Root of Jesse”)” – Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble
“Toward the Sea: III. Cape Cod” – Paul Taub, alto Flute; Michael Partington, guitar

Listen to the complete playlist on Spotify.