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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
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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)

"Turandot"
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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