Watching Seattle Symphony’s brand new director, the 37-year-old French Ludovic Morlot conducting his current instrument, I feel right at home. In Umeå we are very familiar with this generation’s conductors who grew up on a mix of rock and classical music. Morlot’s upcoming concert with Beethoven’s Eroica and Zappa could as well been performed by the NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra.
I was born in the Umeå region on the 63th latitude and have been there most of my life, growing up at the coast of the Bothnian Bay. We call it “the sea”, but well, it isn’t that salty, this water that makes our eastern neighbor Finland feel foreign to us. Always when arriving in Seattle I take a deep breath filling my lungs with the moist scent of water and red cedar, the characteristics of this area.
It was 1993 when I first came here. A young family with two little boys suddenly dropped down on a completely unknown spot at the far end of a different continent. Our big and close knitted community in Umeå felt unreachable pre-email and 9 hours before us. Oh how lonely it was and oh how it was raining that first long spring of mine in the Pacific Northwest, it rained like in The Killing! I honestly didn’t think I would ever come back. But, there was this day in mid June, the sun and Mount Rainier was out and we had done the bay cruise and were walking the waterfront and I was thinking; this might be a nice place after all!