St. Louis Symphony Hopes To Build 'Franco-American Arch' In Denève's First Season As Director | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Symphony Hopes To Build 'Franco-American Arch' In Denève's First Season As Director

Feb 5, 2019

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s first season under the artistic leadership of incoming music director Stéphane Denève will include two world premieres, a selection of French composers and artists, and a world-renowned artist-in-residence.

The orchestra announced its 2019-2020 season Tuesday. Denève was announced in 2017 as the orchestra’s next music director, following the departure of David Robertson at the end of last season.

Denève has been a familiar presence at the orchestra as a guest conductor, having led nine concert programs, with three more to come later this season. Yet his first as the artistic leader of the organization marks a milestone, said Erik Finley, the orchestra’s vice president for artistic and operations.

“It really offers the first opportunity for Stéphane to begin to shape the orchestra artistically. So really the relationship begins to take form,” Finley said.

The orchestra describes the upcoming season as forming a “Franco-American arch.” The mix of French and American influences will be evident in the season-opening program, titled “Bienvenue Stéphane.” 

World-renowned pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's first artist-in-residence.

It includes a short piece commissioned for the occasion from American composer Kevin Puts, works by iconic French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, and, most playfully, George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris." Denève recruited his countryman Jean-Yves Thibaudet to be SLSO’s first artist-in-residence. (In addition to his status as a world-renowned pianist, Thibaudet was also the best man at Denève’s wedding.)

Thibaudet will appear in several programs, including one featuring selections from a “symphonic play” featuring the work of Ravel.

The addition of an artist-in-residence will offer an “immersive experience” for the audience, Wemple said. “He’s really, I think, one of the most versatile musicians on the planet right now. It takes an artist of that type of breadth and broad relationship with both the repertoire and different genres to have an immersive, large-scale residency like this.”

The season will also include a tribute to former SLSO music director Leonard Slatkin on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

Jeremy can be found on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin.

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