The St. Louis Symphony will focus on the intersection of literature and classical music for its 2015-2016 season. St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson said the story told through music can mimic that of a grand novel.
“What’s fun is when you make a concert program and you put several of these things together for the audience members in the concert, they actually hear a story that’s unique to them,” he said.
The symphony announced its program “Music Tells the Story,” which incorporates music based on canonical works of literature from Shakespeare to children’s stories, at a Town Hall meeting Tuesday night. The program developed in part through the symphony’s collaboration with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death.
“So much of music has come from William Shakespeare, either the story ideas, or the transformations into ballet, into opera, into various things, that we thought this is a great opportunity for us to explore stories in various different ways,” he said.
The season will start Sept. 18-20 with an homage to Eastern European literary folk heroes featuring a performance of Czech composer Leos Janacek’s "Taras Bulba" and Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly’s "Hary Janos." This season follows 2014-2015’s programmatic focus, “A Season of Anniversaries,” which highlighted the symphony and St. Louis’ many anniversaries.
In addition to the collaboration with Shakespeare Festival, the season features collaborations between the symphony and multiple organizations and individuals including the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and visual artist Deborah O’Grady.
Returning to Powell Hall will be celebrated violinist Joshua Bell, who performs opening weekend, St. Louis favorite soprano Christine Brewer in May, and saxophonist Timothy McAllister, who will perform John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto, which appears on the same recording as Adams’ and the St. Louis Symphony’s "City Noir."
The season will also feature world and U.S. premieres and annual programming such as the Symphony’s holiday concerts, The Whitaker Foundation Music You Know series and orchestral favorites.
The evening was punctuated by a performance by The Heart Quartet, a collaboration between the symphony and Dr. Dawn Hui, a cardiothoracic surgeon at SLU Hospital. Hui was a musician with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
This season ends Saturday May 9. The new season will begin in September.