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St. Louis Symphony Orchestra To Feature Women, 2 World Premieres In 2020-21 Season

SLSO music director Stephane Deneve conducts Gershwin's "An American in Paris."
Dilip Vishwanat

Stéphane Denève will lift the baton on his second full season as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 16 with a free concert in Forest Park. The 2020-21 classical season will get underway Sept. 19-20 and marks the first of many concerts throughout the season that will feature women performers, composers and conductors — or music about women.

The Sept. 19-20 concert will feature prominent violinist Hilary Hahn performing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. It also will include former SLSO composer-in-residence Joan Tower’s "Fanfare for The Uncommon Woman No. 1." The organization is billing Tower’s work as “a musical homage to a season honoring risk-taking and influential women throughout history and in today’s world.”

Four women will conduct the SLSO this season — Jane Glover, Elim Chan, Karina Canellakis and Gemma New. A two-week festival in November — History. Her Story. Our Future. — will explore influential historical female figures. One such concert Nov. 20-21 will feature Arthur Honegger’s "Joan of Arc at the Stake," the SLSO’s first performance of the oratorio. 

The 2020-21 season also will feature two world premieres as well as 18 St. Louis premieres of works by composers of today. One of the world premieres Sept. 25-27 is Stacy Garrop’s work titled "Goddess Triptych." The second, April 30-May 1, is a yet-to-be-announced work involving the orchestra’s IN UNISON Chorus.

Other highlights include:

  • Well-known classical works in the 2020-21 season include: Stravinsky’s "The Firebird Suite," Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Prokofiev’s "Romeo and Juliet Suite," Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Scheherazade," Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, and a concert version of Puccini’s masterpiece, "Turandot."
  • Grammy-winning Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti will be the season's artist-in-residence.
  • The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus will perform on a classical program for the first time in 10 years.
  • Choral director Amy Kaiser will retire at the end of the season after 26 years with the SLSO.
  • SLSO conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin will lead the orchestra in the traditional New Year’s Eve concert to ring in 2021.
SLSO 2020-21 Classical Season Calendar

Opening Weekend: "Uncommon Women"
Saturday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 20, 3 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin

  • Joan Tower — "Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1"
  • Sibelius —  Violin Concerto
  • Jessie Montgomery — "Starburst" (First SLSO performances, SLSO commission of full-orchestral version, co-arranged with Jannina Norpoth)
  • Tchaikovsky —  "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy
  • Wagner —  "Ride of the Valkyries" from "Die Walküre"

Stéphane Conducts "The Firebird"
Friday, Sept. 25, 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 27, 3 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Beatrice Rana, piano (SLSO debut)

  • Stacy Garrop — "Goddess Triptych" (World Premiere, SLSO commission)
  • Prokofiev — Piano Concerto No. 3
  • Dukas — "La Péri"
  • Stravinsky — "The Firebird Suite"

Bendetti Plays Marsalis
Friday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m.

James Gaffigan, conductor
Nicola Benedetti, violin (SLSO debut)

  • Debussy — "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"
  • Wynton Marsalis — Violin Concerto (First SLSO performances)
  • Prokofiev — Symphony No. 7

Haydn, Adès, and Brahms
Saturday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 11, 3 p.m.

John Storgårds, conductor
Kirill Gerstein, piano

  • Haydn — Symphony No. 64, “Tempora mutantur” (First SLSO performances)
  • Thomas Adès — Piano Concerto (First SLSO performances)
  • Brahms — Symphony No. 1

Denève Conducts Mahler
Friday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano
Women of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director
St. Louis Children’s Choirs | Barbara Berner, artistic director

  • Mahler — Symphony No. 3

Musical Rebels: Leila and Ludwig
Friday, Oct. 30, 10:30 a.m.; Sunday, Nov. 1, 3 p.m.

Jun Märkl, conductor
Leila Josefowicz, violin

  • Mendelssohn — "The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)"
  • Helen Grime — Violin Concerto (U.S. premiere)
  • Beethoven — Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Presented by the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation
Jane Glover’s "Mozart"

Friday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 8, 3 p.m.

Jane Glover, conductor
Xiaoxiao Qiang, violin
Shannon Williams, viola

  • Mozart — Symphony No. 36, K. 425, “Linz”
  • Mozart — Sinfonia concertante, K. 364
  • Mozart — Symphony No. 38, K. 504, “Prague”

Festival: History. Her Story. Our Future.
Hear Their Stories

Friday, Nov. 13, 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Gaëlle Arquez, mezzo-soprano (SLSO debut)

  • John Adams — “Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance” from "Girls of the Golden West" (First SLSO performances)
  • Berlioz — "The Death of Cleopatra"
  • Saint-Saëns — "Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah"
  • Bizet — "Selections from Carmen"
  • Strauss — “Dance of the Seven Veils” from "Salome"
  • Schmitt — "The Tragedy of Salome" Suite

Festival: History. Her Story. Our Future.
Joan of Arc at the Stake

Friday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director
St. Louis Children’s Choirs | Barbara Berner, artistic director
James Robinson, stage director

  • Honegger — "Joan of Arc at the Stake" (First SLSO performances)

"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"
Friday, Nov. 27, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 29, 3 p.m.

Elim Chan, conductor (SLSO debut)
Stephen Hough, piano

  • Andrea Tarrodi — "Liguria" (First SLSO performances)
  • Rachminoff — "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"
  • Tchaikosky — Symphony No. 2, “Little Russian”

"Rapture and Loss"
Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 6, 3 p.m.

Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano (SLSO debut)
Elizabeth Chung, cello

  • Caroline Shaw — "Entr’acte" (First SLSO performances)
  • Chausson — "Poem of Love and the Sea" (First SLSO performances)
  • Jake Heggie — "The Work at Hand" (First SLSO performances)
  • Schubert — Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”

"Made in America"
Friday, Jan. 15, 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, Jan. 16, 8 p.m.

Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Simone Porter, violin (SLSO debut)

  • Joan Tower — "Made in America" (First SLSO performances)
  • Barber — Violin Concerto
  • Bartók — Concerto for Orchestra

Hélène Grimaud Plays Mozart
Saturday, Jan. 23, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 24, 3 p.m.

Thomas Søndergård, conductor (SLSO debut)
Hélène Grimaud, piano

  • Bent Sørensen — "Evening Land" (First SLSO performance)
  • Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466
  • Rachminoff — Symphony No. 1

Juliet and Romeo
Friday, Feb. 5, 10:30 a.m., 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Nicola Benedetti, violin

  • Ravel — "Mother Goose" Suite
  • Szymanowski — Violin Concerto No. 2
  • Prokofiev — "Romeo and Juliet" Suite

Brahms, Canellakis, and Cano
Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 14, 3 p.m.

Karina Canellakis, conductor
Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano
St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director

  • Brahms — "Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny)"
  • Brahms — "Nänie"
  • Brahms — "Alto Rhapsody"
  • Lutosławski — Concerto for Orchestra

"Secret Songs"
Friday, Feb. 26, 10:30 a.m., 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Allegra Lilly, harp

  • Tan Dun Nu Shu — "The Secret Songs of Women" (First SLSO performances)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov —  "Scheherazade"

Sibelius with Stéphane
Saturday, March 6, 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 7, 3 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano

  • James MacMillan — "The Death of Oscar" (First SLSO performances)
  • Grieg — Piano Concerto
  • Sibelius — Symphony No. 2

MacMillan Conducts MacMillan
Saturday, March 13, 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 14, 3 p.m.

James MacMillan, conductor (SLSO debut)
Cally Banham, English horn

  • Rimsky-Korsakov — Russian Easter Overture
  • James MacMillan — "The World’s Ransoming" (First SLSO performances)
  • James MacMillan — "Larghetto for Orchestra" (First SLSO performances)
  • Tchaikovsky — "Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy After Dante"

Felix and Fanny
Friday, March 19, 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, March 20, 8 p.m.

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Lise de la Salle, piano (SLSO debut)

  • Haydn — Symphony No. 85, “The Queen”
  • Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 9, K. 271, “Jenamy”
  • Mendelssohn Hensel — Overture in C Major (First SLSO performances)
  • Mendelssohn — Symphony No. 4, “Italian”

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
Friday, March 26, 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 27, 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 28, 3 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Siobhan Stagg, soprano
St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director

  • Beethoven — Symphony No. 5
  • Poulenc — "Stabat Mater" (First SLSO performances)
  • Poulenc — Final Scene from "Dialogues of the Carmelites" (First SLSO performances)

An American Century with Gemma and Manny
Friday, April 9, 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 10, 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 11, 3 p.m.

Gemma New, conductor
Emanuel Ax, piano

  • Copland — Appalachian Spring Suite
  • John Adams — Century Rolls
  • Jessie Montgomery — New work (First SLSO performances, SLSO co-commission)
  • Gershawin (arr. Bennett) — "Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture"

Tchaikovsky with Alice Sara Ott
Friday, April 23, 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, April 24, 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 25, 3 p.m.

Hannu Lintu, conductor
Alice Sara Ott, piano (SLSO debut)

  • Sebastian Fagerlund — Drifts (First SLSO performances)
  • Tchaikovsky — Piano Concerto No. 1
  • Nielsen — Symphony No. 5

In Unison: Dvořák and Price
Friday, April 30, 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 1, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus | Kevin McBeth, director

  • Dvorák — Symphony No. 8
  • TBD New work — (World Premiere, SLSO commission)
  • Florence Price — Symphony No. 3 (First SLSO performances)

Thursday, May 6, 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 8, 8 p.m.

Stéphane Denève, conductor
Christine Goerke, soprano (Turandot)
Jonathan Burton, tenor (Calaf) (SLSO debut)
Janai Brugger, soprano (Liù) (SLSO debut)
David Leigh, bass (Timur) (SLSO debut)
St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director
St. Louis Children’s Choirs | Barbara Berner, artistic director

  • Puccin — "Turandot: Opera in Concert"

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