The St. Louis Symphony has named Stéphane Denève as its next music director.
Denève, music director of the Brussels Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will serve as music director designate during the 2018-2019 season. His three-year term begins with the 2019-2020 season.
He will succeed David Robertson, whose 13-year tenure will end after the 2017-2018 season.
Denève has been a guest conductor with the Symphony seven times since 2003. St. Louis Symphony President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard said he will come to the job already having formed a bond with the musicians and the chorus.
“It’s a chemistry that’s really special, and it’s also an enthusiasm — working together — that has felt really natural," Bernard said. "He was just with us in March and gave us a super rendition of Strauss’ ‘Alpensinfonie.’"
Bernard said that Denève’s commitment to exploring innovative projects reflects his respect for Robertson’s legacy in St. Louis.
"Stephane inherits a group that is musically very much aligned," Bernard said. "It's a matter of continuing to deepen our repertoire and to continue sustaining and embracing our current audiences and involving new ones."
In a news release, Denève called the Symphony a "wondrous institution."
"The talent and refinement of its musicians, their true friendliness and open-mindedness, have always struck me as providing exceptional opportunities for profound music-making," Denève said. "Therefore, I am overjoyed to become Music Director of such an orchestra, and to be able to play my part in the St. Louis community by serving its audiences and developing the connection and feeling of pride between this great city and its musical jewel."
The symphony will open its 2017-18 season, which marks half a century in Powell Hall, with six Mozart piano concertos featuring Emanuel Ax. This is the symphony’s 138th season, making it the second oldest orchestra in the country behind the New York Philharmonic.
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