Shoreline classical music promoter Mary Ransdell bringing local, international talent together in ‘Seattle Series’

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Efe Baltacigil and Anna Polonsky, the featured artists of the February 18, 2022 performance of The Seattle Series. (Courtesy of Mary Ransdell)

By Joshua Lee

Some of the world's best classical musicians reside in Seattle, but Shoreline resident Mary Ransdell fears too few locals are aware of that.

In an effort to find unique, one-night-only combinations of performers while capturing the magic of live music, Ransdell organized The Seattle Series, a collaborative classical music event held at the Women’s University Club in Seattle featuring both local musicians and guests of their choosing from across the world.

“The Seattle area is just blessed with really high-level classical musicians and most of the population doesn't know it,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell, who moved to Shoreline in 2016, is a prominent figure of Seattle’s classical music scene, starting with her experience promoting the long-running Highlands Concert Series in The Highlands neighborhood of Shoreline. Held in the Florence Henry Memorial Chapel, the Highlands Concert Series also focuses on classical chamber music, offering everything from soloists to quintet ensembles.

“The Seattle Series is a direct outgrowth of that programming experience,” Ransdell said in an email.

It was there where Ransdell met many of the musical guests featured in The Seattle Series.

“Before joining the Highlands series, I had taken a professional detour from music into the world of theoretical economics, followed some years later by architecture,” Ransdell said in an email. 
“After having studied music seriously for many years, I ran headlong into two obstacles — musical perfectionism coupled with outside intellectual interests … The battle between artistry and intellectual pursuits raged on, finally back to my first love: classical music.”

The first show, taking place February 18, 2022 features Efe Baltacigil, the Seattle City Orchestra’s award-winning principal cellist, and Anna Polonsky, an acclaimed New York solo and chamber pianist.

“[Ransdell and I have] known each other for close to eight years or so,” Baltacigil said. “I played in her previous series, the Highlands … So that's how we met first, and she's been a big supporter of the orchestra. She’s a wonderful, supportive figure, and every musician dreams to have a friend like that.”

Following the February show, there are two more performances: 

March 10  will feature Noah Geller, Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Meeka Quan DiLorenzo, Associate Principal Cello, Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Amy Yang, Philadelphia-based pianist. 

May 6 will be the final performance of the season, featuring Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and an as-of-yet unannounced collaborator.

All three shows will take place at the Grand Ballroom of the Women’s University Club in downtown Seattle.

“​​There are so many reasons to come and see live music — especially now,” DiLorenzo said in an email. 
“I think we are all particularly starved for the community and transcendence that only live music can offer. Returning from COVID has given me newfound humility and gratitude for a live audience and the exchange of humanity offered in a musical performance.”

In light of the continuing pandemic, masks will be required for both musicians and attendees in the performance space, with N-95 masks being provided. Additionally, separate areas for eating and drinking will be provided during the post-show reception.

“Full vaccination or when vaccination is not possible, a negative PCR test within the last 48 hours or antigen test within the last 24 hours, will be required for admittance,” Ransdell said in an email.

Ransdell is already in talks with Seattle Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Noah Geller for next season.

“I just think Mary is a terrific person, an exemplary arts lover,” Geller said. “I see her in the audience every week without fail at the Seattle Symphony. And nothing to me shows a person's love of music and support of us as artists and individuals like coming to our concerts.”

Tickets for The Seattle Series are available here. Tickets start at $40, but season subscriptions are available as well.

“For those who don't attend [concerts] and are not familiar with the genre, what I would say is … the beauty, the energy, the passion, it can surprise you,” Ransdell said. 
“What we're attempting to do, and I think we will successfully do, is create an intimate atmosphere … A way to experience [music] that isn't simply just ‘go in, hear it and leave.’”

Update: Performers for the March show have been changed.


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