Updated Feb. 19, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. with audio from "St. Louis on the Air" – Look for the St. Louis Symphony to leave the ground and fly high in its 2016-17 season — a season that could be described, in part at least, as music in flight.
This is the orchestra’s 137th season; the repertory for it was announced this morning by SLSO Music Director David Robertson and Symphony President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. There's another milestone: Robertson himself chalks up a dozen career years on Grand Boulevard as maestro of the St. Louis orchestra. That, in a peripatetic era, is a statistic that soars on its own, and one cheered not only by St. Louis audiences but audiences all over the country and abroad, as well.
First off the season’s artistic runway is a celebration of the 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic solo flight in 1927. The music is Kurt Weill’s “Der Lindberghflug” or “The Flight of Lindbergh.” This transcendent composition, which will employ the services of the orchestra’s distinguished chorus, conducted by Amy Kaiser, includes material Robertson said was produced in the heat of enthusiasm for Lindbergh and his achievement.
On the program with Lindbergh is Pierre Boulez’s “Dialogue de l'ombre double" or “The Dialogue of the Double Shadow.” Robertson says that like Lindbergh, a man alone with his machine, the Boulez piece is a solo clarinet alone with technology — technology that allows the musician to send his music out into the hall in an artistic flight that is made solo.
Including the "Dialogue” in the season constitutes a tribute to Maestro Pierre Boulez, who died in early January. He and Robertson were close friends and artistic colleagues. After Boulez’s death, Robertson said, "Pierre Boulez was creative in the deepest sense of the word. His genius touched and continues to inspire a huge number of people. His engagement with the world of music altered its course. He is a singularity. His legacy will resonate through time."
In its obituary, the Guardian newspaper described Mr. Boulez as “arguably the single dominant figure of the classical musical world through the second half of the 20th century and beyond.”
Following later, the orchestra will perform work by, and in celebration of, the 70th birthday of John Adams, one of contemporary music’s greatest and most popular composers.
Another important musical flight involves Beethoven. Robertson said he wanted to give our audiences here the opportunity to hear all five of the Beethoven piano concertos, each presented by a different distinguished conductor.
The season concludes with something enormous: Richard Wagner’s 1839 opera “Der fliegende Holländer,” based either on a bad ocean voyage of Wagner’s or on a novel by Heinrich Heine — probably both. More important is the place of the opera in Wagner’s portfolio. “Dutchman,” particularly in its use of telling motifs, which are set in the overture then developed fully later in the opera, prefigures later works by Wagner such as the monumental Ring Cycle, for example.
“We are looking at a number of different things” next season, Robertson said in our telephone interview. “The whole season has a colorful theme and we explore technology for good and for ill. It is a pertinent way to look at the world right now.”
But here are some highlights of the season ahead:
Forest Park Concert: 7 p.m., Wed., Sept. 14,
Opening weekend: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Sept. 16-17, with David Robertson conducting
- WEILL "The Flight of Lindbergh"
- BOULEZ "Dialogue de l’ombre double"
- DEBUSSY "La Mer"
Adams program: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Sept. 30-Oct. 1, with David Robertson conducting
- ADAMS Violin Concerto, with Leila Josefowicz on violin
- BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
All Mozart program: 10:30 a.m., Fri., Oct. 7 and 8 p.m., Sat., Oct. 8
- MOZART Symphony No. 31, K. 297, “Paris”
- MOZART Violin Concerto No. 1, K. 207
- MOZART Serenade No. 9, K. 320, “Posthorn”
Guest pianist Orli Shaham: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Oct. 21-22; 3 p.m., Sun., Oct. 23
- BALAKIREV "Islamey"
- BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4
- RACHMANINOFF "Symphonic Dances"
All Russian program: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Nov. 4
- GLINKA "Ruslan and Lyudmila" Overture
- PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1
- TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5
Leonard Slatkin guest conducts: 10:30 a.m., Fri., Nov. 11; 8 p.m., Sat., Nov. 12; and 3 p.m., Sun., Nov. 13
- SLATKIN "Kinah"
- BARBER Piano Concerto
- COPLAND "Billy the Kid" Suite
- GERSHWIN Selections for Orchestra from "Porgy and Bess"
Featuring the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and the St. Louis Children’s Choirs: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Nov. 18-19; and 3 p.m., Sun, Nov. 20, with David Robertson conducting
- IVES "The Unanswered Question"
- ADAMS "On the Transmigration of Souls"
- MOZART Requiem, K. 626
Return of the Russians: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Dec. 2-3; and 3 p.m., Sun., Dec. 4, featuring David Halen on violin
- BORODIN "Prince Igor" Overture
- TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Suite from "Sleeping Beauty" and "Swan Lake"
- TCHAIKOVSKY Act II from "The Nutcracker"
A Gospel Christmas, with the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus: 7 p.m., Thurs., Dec. 8
New Year's Eve celebration: 7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 31, with David Robertson conducting
Featuring Gil Shaham on violin: 8 p.m., Fri.-Sat., Jan. 13-14; and 3 p.m., Sun., Jan. 15, with David Robertson conducting
- ADAMS "The Chairman Dances"
- KORNGOLD Violin Concerto
- DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”
All Bach program: 10:30 a.m., Fri., March 3; 8 p.m., Sat., March 4; and 3 p.m., Sun., March 5, with Mark Sparks featured on flute
- BACH Orchestral Suite No. 1
- BACH Orchestral Suite No. 2
- BACH Orchestral Suite No. 3
- BACH Orchestral Suite No. 4
Adams program: 8 p.m., Fri., March 24; and 3 p.m., Sun., March 26, with David Robertson conducting
- ADAMS "The Gospel According to the Other Mary"
A little Gershwin: 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Fri., April 7; 8 p.m., Sat., April 8; and 3 p.m., Sun., April 9, with David Robertson conducting
- MILHAUD "La Création du monde (The Creation of the World)"
- GERSHWIN "Rhapsody in Blue" (Original Jazz Band Version)
- BERNSTEIN Three Dance Variations from "Fancy Free"
- GERSHWIN Concerto in F
Wagner program: 8 p.m., Thurs., May 4; and 8 p.m., Sat., May 6, with David Robertson conducting
- WAGNER "The Flying Dutchman"
Programs, dates and artists are subject to change.