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St. Louis Symphony

Preview: Symphony offers Purcell, Berio, Bruckner

May 13, 2018

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov 17, 2011 - This weekend's St. Louis Symphony concerts come to the audience at Powell Hall much in the way three teens arrive for their first day of school: One approaches with slow, luxurious, ever-graceful steps, sporting classic attire born of privilege; but her stained checks and deep sorrowful eyes betray her confidence and offer a window into a world wrought with passion, rebellion and angst.

omplishments with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra include a 2014 Grammy Award for a performance of John Adams' "City Noir."
St. Louis Symphony

This weekend, St. Louisans will say goodbye to a maestro known for honoring the magnificence of classical music while also making it approachable for the everyday person.

After 13 years as music director, David Robertson will conduct his final concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon.

This photo shows the St. Louis Symphony performing in Powell Hall in 1968.
St. Louis Symphony

In 1966, the St. Louis Symphony scrambled to find a venue for a publicized concert after plans fell through to play at the Kiel Opera House, now the Peabody Opera House. They ended up at the St. Louis Theater on Grand Boulevard.

For the musicians, the theater space just felt right, Maureen Byrne, according to director of diversity and community affairs.

“People just kind of went, ‘Whoa, this is pretty nice,’” Byrne said.

Leonard Slatkin spent 27 years with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, 17 of them as music director. When he left that post in 1996 the SLSO gave him the title Conductor Laureate. Since leaving St. Louis in 1996, he has been music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a post he will give up at the end of the current season.

SLSO Music Director David Robertson in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

The acoustics of Powell Hall. The musicians. The audience.

David Robertson acknowledges that embarking on his final season as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is “bittersweet.” Robertson, however, who’s been with the SLSO since 2005, isn’t looking back just yet. He’s focused on the orchestra’s upcoming season, its 138th.

Nine acts were invited by the St. Louis Blues to perform at a game this season.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Blues have invited nine acts to perform the national anthem at a game this upcoming season.

The invitations are the result of a partnership between the Blues and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, an audition process that took place on a recent Saturday at Powell Hall. The Blues and SLSO selected more than one winner after being impressed by the abundance of local talent.

Open to solo singers, groups and instrumentalists, more than 650 contestants sent in video applications. Thirty-four were invited to participate.

Stéphane Denève will be the St. Louis Symphony's next music director.
Photo by Drew Farrell | Courtesy of St. Louis Symphony

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.

David Robertson, the St. Louis Symphony's musical director, leads the orchestra in this file photo.
Scott Ferguson | Provided

The St. Louis Symphony will open its 2017-18 season with six Mozart piano concertos featuring Emanuel Ax.

Its season, which marks half a century in Powell Hall,  concludes with a performance of “Swing Symphony” in collaboration with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz from Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Music director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.
Provided by the St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony and its musicians have a five-year contract that will increase the minimum salary for musicians to $100,000 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The agreement, signed seven months before the current contract expires, aims to improve flexibility with scheduling, make rehearsals more efficient, and update tour conditions for musicians.

It comes after several strong financial performances and a significant 2016 annual campaign that helped boost the symphony's endowment to more than $200 million.  The contract will establish a stable working environment over the next five years – one that helps attract top talent in classical music, according to Vicky Smolik, Musicians Association of St. Louis representative.

Nathaniel Ayers may not yet be a household name in classical music, but you surely know who he is. The  prodigy’s story was depicted in the 2009 film “The Soloist” by actor Jamie Foxx. It was Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez who discovered Ayers in 2005 and originally wrote a book about him, by the same title.

David Robertson conducts a performance at Powell Hall in this file photo.
Dan Dreyfus

The St. Louis Symphony has extended the contract of Music Director David Robertson through the 2018-19 season. It will be his final season in St. Louis. Robertson began his tenure as music director in 2005.

“I want to express my profound gratitude and deep affection to the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony,” Robertson said. “I feel blessed for every note we have shared in our many years together and will share over the coming years.  Our collaboration is a continual joy for me.”

Violinist Leila Josefowicz plays with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in this photo taken earlier this fall.
Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra can claim some of the glory in a Grammy Awards nomination announced today.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her performance on John Adams' Scheherazade.2,  in a February 2016 recording with the SLSO. Music Director David Robertson conducted the performance.

Mary Langenberg: Supported Art Museum, Symphony and more

Nov 30, 2016
Photo of Mary Langenberg
Provided by the family

Mary Langenberg didn’t have far to go to pay calls on some of the institutions she supported so generously in her long, productive life.

She was by all accounts a vivacious and beautiful woman, who loved entertaining her friends and cherished good, lively, yeasty conversations.

David Robertson, the St. Louis Symphony's musical director, leads the orchestra in this file photo.
Scott Ferguson | Provided

The St. Louis Symphony ended 2016 with the healthiest bottom line in many years.

The good news includes the first balanced cash operating budget this century for the institution, which has a budget of $28.1 million, up from $26.6 million last year. The symphony saw growth in philanthropic support, and increased attendance and ticket sales.

In a news release, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard praised the symphony's board and the generosity of the St. Louis area. She cited innovative experiences as factors in the orchestra’s achievements.

Bjorn Ranheim
St. Louis Symphony

Cellist Bjorn Ranheim’s busy schedule rarely allows time for rest. If he’s not rehearsing or performing with the St. Louis Symphony, then you may find him with his colleagues in The 442s or playing chamber music in any of several ensembles. But one of his favorite roles is that of father to two beautiful little girls.

In a conversation with St. Louis Symphony Vice President of External Affairs Adam Crane, Ranheim talks about this weekend’s concerts highlighted by performances of John Adams’ Violin Concerto featuring Leila Josefowicz.

David Robertson and Marie-Hélène Bernard of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Symphony’s 137th season opens this Friday, September 16. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from the orchestra’s music director, David Robertson, and president/CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard about the upcoming season. We also heard about what they’re looking forward to most and, yes, got the backstory on that Nelly collaboration.

You can also catch the symphony on St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday nights, starting at 8 p.m. You can find a schedule of the symphony broadcasts here.

St. Louis Symphony to perform for Spanish audiences this winter

Aug 30, 2016
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs in Lucerne, Switzerland, 2012
Provided by Dilip Vishwanat and the St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony will be launching its third tour in almost two decades in Europe this February.

The Symphony will perform Feb. 8-11 in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Oviedo and Valencia. The musicians will present works by composers John Adams, Antonin Dvorak, Aaron Copland, and others.

St. Louis residents will have a chance to hear those works in January before the group leaves for Spain.

New resident conductor named to St. Louis Symphony

Jun 3, 2016
Cropped photo by Roy Cox

The St. Louis Symphony has named Gemma New the incoming resident conductor.

New’s responsibilities will include conducting various concerts through the season and acting as music director for the St. Louis Symphony’s Youth Orchestra. The New Zealand-born conductor also will assist Music Director David Robertson and guest conductors during rehearsals.

PNC Bank, NEA give St. Louis arts groups thousands in grants

May 10, 2016
David Gonsier as an owl and Levi Hernandez as Papageno in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014 production of The Magic Flute.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Today was a good day for St. Louis arts organizations. PNC Bank’s Arts Alive funding initiative announced it will distribute $250,000 to nine local groups.  The National Endowment for the Arts also announced it would split $120,000 among three other groups.

The PNC funding will support innovative programming and improved accessibility to the arts. One recipient, the St. Louis Symphony, will use its $40,000 to create an app that teaches kids about classical instruments.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A musical collaboration between the International Institute of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony will have the sounds of Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Bosnia, Congo and Cuba streaming from the gym at the institute come May 3.

The purpose of Music Without Boundaries is to make immigrants new to the area feel welcomed by connecting them to the sounds of their homeland.

For Maureen Byrne, the director of community programs at the St. Louis Symphony, the collaboration was a logical fit.

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