What's In a Name

In June 2015, Kristin Lee and Andrew Goldstein – co-founders of Emerald City Music – set out on a mission to build a new audience of classical music lovers in the Puget Sound region. The following is Andrew's blog recounting how they came up with the name Emerald City Music. 


There is a lot you can tell from someone’s name: where they are from; where they are going; what they value, etc. And the name of a nonprofit is truly no different. I thought it prudent to tell the naming story of Emerald City Music, and to share the finest details of what’s in our name: where we’re from; where we’re going; what we value…

When we first set out to establish a chamber music series in the Pacific Northwest, Kristin Lee and I were chasing two key values: (1) a fresh approach to (2) the highest caliber of classical music. We wanted a name that could really reflect those two values.

Our first list of name ideas looked something like this:
– Western Washington Chamber Music Society
– Friends of Chamber Music, Seattle
– Chamber Music of the Olympics
– Cascade Music Society

Those names were comfortable, and that style of name is common throughout the classical music industry. But we felt they didn’t encompass our dream of a fresh approach. How were we to build a new audience of classical music listeners if we were using the same old names?

So we went back to the drawing board, and thought, “Hey, something related to Seattle or the music would be nice, but let’s keep it casual.” 

Round two came out like this:
– The Puget Sounds
– Northwest Collective
– Brews and Brahms
– The Sound Chamber
– Counterpoint Collective

But again, we looked at this list and said, “Huh, a lot of these require that you already know something about music to really ‘get it’.” Since we were trying to reach new listeners, we didn’t want a name that only insiders would understand.

On January 1, 2015, Kristin Lee and I had a back and forth email conversation with this more refined list:
- Pacific Music Series
- Emerald Music Club
- Emerald City Music
- Northwest Music Club

After much discussion, we landed on the name, Emerald City Music

For one, this name was so unique; there is nothing else like it in the Northwest or in the classical music world. It didn’t have stuffy words like “society” or “club”, and was widely appealing to people with no background in classical music (i.e. you didn’t have to know music to “get it”.)

More importantly, the name Emerald City Music really told our story. We wanted to create a place for all music lovers to discover music together. We intentionally didn’t call it “Emerald City Chamber Music” for that very reason — we wanted to be a place where rockabillys and classical lovers can experience the same awesome music together.

Community is at the center of everything we do — without the generous and excited support of the diverse communities in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, we wouldn’t be here. So we felt it was critical to have the community reflected in our name. The words, “Emerald City” — though historically closely associated with Seattle — are a tribute to every passionate music lover in the Puget Sound region. 

You can’t say our name without honoring our core values: awesome music for everyone, fresh, right here in the Puget Sound region. 

As we approach the debut concert of our inaugural season, I’m continually reminded of the things that make Emerald City Music so special. And as more people gain excitement for this project, I’m thrilled that they get to know us by the strong values present in our name. 


Posted by Andrew Goldstein, Executive Director
Twitter: @DailyClassical