Stephane Deneve | St. Louis Public Radio

Stephane Deneve

Stéphane Denève works with orchestra members during a rehearsal at Powell Hall. [9/26/19]
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

When Stéphane Denève was a 10-year-old child growing up in a small town in the north of France, he heard something he liked.

A nun liked to play the pipe organ in the chapel at his Catholic school, and Deneve would hide there to listen.

“I thought the sound of the organ was extraordinary,” he said in an interview at his office in Powell Hall. “I was enchanted.” 

Fortunately for classical music lovers in St. Louis, the nun found little Denève hiding there and suggested he take piano lessons. 

Incoming music director Stéphane Denève will begin his first season at the helm of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 2/5/19
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

In a cramped hallway outside Stéphane Denève’s new office at Powell Hall, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra chief executive Marie-Hélène Bernard had a warning for the orchestra’s new music director. 

There’ll be a lot of microphone reverb when he talks to the audience at the orchestra’s Forest Park concert the next night, she said.

“Like Woodstock!” he exclaimed, and pantomimed playing guitar to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

A crowd of 20,000 at Forest Park is not quite Woodstock, but it’s also a world away from Denève’s humble origins. This weekend, he leads his first concerts as the orchestra’s artistic leader.

Marie-Helene Bernard and Stephane Deneve joined host Sarah Fenske in advance of the SLSO's 140th season.
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

As the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opens its 140th season this Saturday, its new music director, Stéphane Denève, is calling the season a gift to St. Louis.

“We will try to build an arch of the Franco-American friendship,” said Denève, a native of France. Selections from French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are featured as part of the first concert, as is George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

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

When the St. Louis Symphony begins its 2019-20 season in September, concert-goers will notice changes orchestra managers hope will broaden its appeal. 

With a reduced base ticket price of $15 for classical shows, a change that will allow patrons to bring drinks into the concert hall and diverse musical offerings, the SLSO's new season aims to better attract younger listeners, people of color and first-time attendees.

In making the changes, the symphony is joining orchestras across the nation that are experimenting with ways to grow their audiences and expand interest in classical music.

(May 7, 2019) SLSO's music director designate Stéphane Denève and CEO  Marie-Hélène Bernard talk about wrapping up the 2018-2019 season and what's ahead for the symphony orchestra on Tuesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s music director designate, Stéphane Denève, is set to close the season this weekend with Hector Berlioz’s “most celebrated work and an orchestral tour-de-force,” the“Symphonie fantastique.

Ahead of those concerts, Denève and SLSO CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard sat down with St. Louis on the Air guest host Jim Kirchherr to recap Denève’s first season at Powell Hall as music director designate and what’s in store for next season.

Incoming music director Stéphane Denève will begin his first season at the helm of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. 2/5/19
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

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.

Gemma New was the first woman and the first resident conductor to lead St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's opening night concert. 10/11/18
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.

Stéphane Denève will be the St. Louis Symphony's next music director.
Photo by Drew Farrell | Courtesy of St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony has named Stéphane Denève as its next music director.

Denève, music director of the Brussels Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will serve as music director designate during the 2018-2019 season. His three-year term begins with the 2019-2020 season.

(Le Sage: Solea Artist Management, Denève: J Henry Fair)

Stephane Deneve conducted the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus in concerts Nov. 4 and 5 in Powell Hall in a program including Excerpts from Schumann’s Carnaval as orchestrated by Ravel, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 with Eric Le Sage as soloist and Ravel’s Complete Ballet Daphnis and Chloe.

We have even more for you from those performances to quench your classical thirst before our next broadcast this Sat.

On Wed., Nov. 2 following a rehearsal, the St. Louis Symphony’s Eddie Silva spoke with Maestro Stéphane Denève. Here's their conversation: