composer, musician, artist

Wayne Horvitz

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Composer, musician and artist Wayne Horvitz is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through his artistic lens.

Q&A with Wayne Horvitz

How and when did you land in Seattle?

I came here from New York in 1989, and I still feel like I just got here. I lived there and in D.C. for years, but I’d always had my eye on the Pacific Northwest. I had backpacked and hitchhiked through years before, to Mount Rainier and the Olympics, so I thought of it more as an outdoorsy place. But as soon as I got here I fell in love with the music and the musicians I met through Cornish CollegeReggie Watts, Eyvind Kang, Tim Young. I was the “old guy” at age 32. Bill Frisell, who I knew from New York, visited me, then moved here a year after I did.

Besides your own venue, The Royal Room, where do you like to hear music?

My favorite Seattle music venue is the Tractor Tavern—it’s just the right amount of together and loose. At The Royal Room, I’ve tried to create a version of that, but one where you can sit down while you listen. Café Racer is known for “out” music and experimental jazz improvisation, with its Sunday Racer sessions. The Seamonster is also a really important place, particularly for jam sessions. I’ve recently played Nectar Lounge, which I think is comfortable and not too slick. And the Sunset Tavern is also great for rock and indie bands.

What do you like about your neighborhood, Columbia City?

I don’t stray from The Royal Room much because I can eat and drink here for free! But the movie theater here, Ark Lodge Cinemas, is awesome. And even though it’s a pizza place, I think Tutta Bella has the best coffee in Seattle. We’re all excited about the new music venue, The Black and Tan. You’d think we might not be happy about the competition, but there’s a strong community feeling here. There are so many great places in a just a few blocks, and it’s all less than a 5-minute walk from the Light Rail station. I love it here.


Interview by Brangien Davis. Photo taken outside The Royal Room. 


Composer, pianist and bandleader Wayne Horvitz’ original score to the 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, performed to a screening of the film live at The Royal Room in Seattle’s Columbia City on Halloween.



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