2021: The State of the Orchestra

SLSO President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard reflects on the SLSO's 2020/2021 season and the year ahead.


Thank you for your generous support of and trust in your St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The power of music to inspire and connect our community and the world is made possible by your steadfast commitment to the SLSO. You are vital to our mission and we are grateful for your partnership.


We have come full circle through a year of crisis. Since pausing all of our regularly scheduled live concerts in March 2020, you have remained by our side as we adapted to sharing music differently, uniting our local and global communities through music. We stretched our creativity and unwavering passion for music to offer new and more accessible experiences, making teachers and young learners our priority. You guided us with extraordinary generosity, trusting our work and promising to return when the pandemic subsides. I hope you believe that the SLSO is succeeding in our efforts to stay connected with you.

I came to St. Louis six years ago with a commitment to make music accessible to all and to ensure that every connection our community has with the SLSO is one that offers a true sense of welcome and belonging. Our work to shape a stronger SLSO around equity, diversity, inclusion, and access continues. Music Director Stéphane Denève—an extraordinary interpreter and communicator—along with our world-class musicians and the entire SLSO family embrace the urgency to create and share musical experiences for everyone, debunking long-held perceptions that ours can be seen as an inaccessible artform.


We promise to create an even more vibrant and connected SLSO, one that enhances storytelling and prioritizes education and learning. We are eager to offer varied repertoire to create meaningful experiences, connecting beloved favorites alongside voices of today. Our team strives to be engaged listeners and humble learners, and to contribute to the fabric of St. Louis’ inspiring and diverse artistic ecosystem. We aim to maintain a distinct national profile while embodying what speaks authentically to and of St. Louis. Our incredible—warm, friendly, inventive, nimble—orchestral and choral ensembles will continue to serve as thoughtful partners to local artists, demonstrating how music is woven into life, relationships, and other artforms.


We learned much over the last year—about ourselves and about our remarkable local and global community of musicians, teachers, music lovers, and friends. Our special thanks go to all of you and to the Steward Family Foundation for their sponsorship of our 2020/2021 season. We are inspired by and deeply grateful for the strong philanthropic support from the community we call home.



Please stay tuned for details of our 2021/2022 season, which we plan to share in June. In the meantime, we cannot wait to welcome you back to live performances this month!


Warmly,






Marie-Helene Bernard

President and CEO

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