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St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Gemma New is the first woman ever to lead St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's opening night concert. 10/4/18
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Opening night at the symphony has a special buzz and a once-a-year chance for the orchestra's artistic leader to welcome back the musicians and the audience. If an orchestra happens to be between leaders, the occasion also offers a plum spot on the calendar to invite a guest-star conductor with a pedigree.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra took a different route this year. With the seat of music director technically unfilled — French conductor Stéphane Denève takes over that job next season — the orchestra’s leadership turned to the rising star in its ranks.

Gemma New, 31, led the orchestra’s annual kickoff concert in Forest Park and then held onto the baton for opening night at Powell Hall. She made history on two fronts: as the first woman to lead SLSO’s opening night concert, and as the first resident conductor to do so.

From left, Marie-Hélène Bernard and Erik Finley look forward to the season opener of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra this weekend.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra begins its 2018-19 season this weekend.

“It’s an exciting time,” Marie-Hélène Bernard said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air in advance of the SLSO’s 139th season that features music director designate Stéphane Denève.

While Devène does not officially start as music director until the 2019-20 season, he will conduct four concerts, and Bernard explained his role this year with an analogy.

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.

St. Louis Symphony music director David Robertson spoke about the 2015-16 season with "Cityscape" host Steve Potter.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

On May 6, David Robertson will raise his baton for the final time as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Coming to a close is Robertson’s 13-year tenure, highlighted by Grammy Award-winning recordings, national and international tours, and hundreds of concerts at Powell Hall.

The St. Louis Symphony performs at Powell Hall in a 2016 concert.
File | St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony has announced its 2018-2019 schedule, which includes a mixture of classics and new works.

The method of selecting the lineup was also new. For its 139th season, the orchestra asked its musicians to weigh in.

It just made sense to include them, according to Marie-Hélène Bernard, symphony president and CEO .

Conductor Stéphane Denève talked about his career and upcoming role at  the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Conductor Stéphane Denève is the music director designate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO), succeeding David Robertson as the orchestra's 13th music director in the 2019-20 season. Denève is currently the music director and chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and the principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Denève about his career and his upcoming role in St. Louis. 

Jeff Strong, a trumpeter with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, previously played in the U.S. Marine Band.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Staff Sgt. Jeff Strong enlisted in the Marines specifically to join the “President's Own” United States Marine Band. After completing his service, he now plays in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Strong about his time in the Marine Band.

The Marine Band, founded in 1798 by an act of Congress, is the oldest continually-active professional music organization in the country. Its primary purpose is to provide music for the president of the United States and commandant of the Marine Corps.

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.