“The Seattle Collaborative Orchestra under Dr. Anna Edwards excellent musicianship, inspired vision and creative leadership, is doing everything a modern orchestra should be doing to insure the future of the art of symphonic music. The spirit of collaboration among these professional, gifted amateur and excellent student musicians fosters innovation, diversity and new possibilities in the life of the 21st century symphony orchestra. SCO is showing the way forward like no other orchestra in our region. “ - Dave Beck, Midday Host, Classical KING FM 98.1, Seattle
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The Seattle Collaborative Orchestra (SCO) is a diverse, multigenerational performing arts organization dedicated to diversity in symphonic classical music.
SCO includes approximately 80 professional, gifted community and talented student musicians who work together to create a unique and collaborative musical experience that includes a creative mix of traditional orchestral music, works by female composers and composers of color.
The Story of SCO
Seattle Collaborative Orchestra (SCO) started as a grassroots ensemble in the fall of 2012. Dr. Anna Edwards founded the orchestra in response to her research concerning gender, leadership, and the clear under-representation of women conductors and composers in professional symphonies. Dr. Edwards wanted to offer a positive mentoring experience featuring the works of female composers that offered similar educational benefits to the Seattle Symphony’s “Side by Side” program while increasing diversity in the field.
Important components of SCO’s initial mission directly addressed the lack of female leadership in professional symphonies and lack of diversity in professional symphonic repertoire. Research that has helped propel this mission includes, Ricky O’Bannon’s article, “The 2014-15 Orchestra Season by the Numbers,” and Sarah Baer’s more recent article, “Works by Women in the 2016 Season.” While O’Bannon states that only 1.8 percent of total pieces performed by the top twenty-one major American orchestras in 2014-2015 were by women composers, Baer states more troublingly that fourteen of our country’s top twenty-one symphony orchestras did not program a single work by a female composer in 2016. Though these statistic are troubling, statistics for musicians of color are far lower. It has become clear over SCO’s past six seasons that musicians and audience members alike are excited and committed in their support for concert programming that supports both gender and racial equality in classical music.
The lack of diversity in the classical music field must be solved at an educational level. It is vital to support diverse student populations so that these young people can become influential and meaningful artists, composers, musicians, educators, and audience members. It is for this reason that SCO is dedicated to creating meaningful pathways to encourage diversity at the pre-college level.
SCO has outlined three organizational goals.
Our first goal is to create an engaging, educational, and collaborative music experience by coupling committed student and community members with experienced professionals representing premier Seattle-area ensembles.
Our second goal is to expand into communities typically underserved by music educational opportunities.
Our third goal is to perform diverse symphonic programs through the music we perform and the musicians who play. SCO features music by female composers and composers of color in each performance.
Commitment to Racial and Gender Equity
In alignment with the Seattle Collaborative Orchestra's stated goals, the SCO is committed to narrow the gap of ethnic and gender diversity in the Seattle metropolitan area through acknowledging and promoting creativity and leadership in music. We will continue to break barriers and provide musical resources that challenge the status quo and push us toward the inclusive musical community that benefits us all.
If you have any questions about our commitment, or would like to know more about the work we are doing, please contact us at: