By Eric Dundon
Stéphane Denève, in his fourth season as St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director, and the SLSO will take audiences on a musical adventure, journeying to places near and far, real and imaginary, physical and spiritual in their 2022/2023 season, announced on March 30.
The concept for the season stems from the French word ailleurs, which has no direct translation to English, but as described by Denève means a sense of “elsewhere” or “another place.”
“I love the idea that music allows us to connect people with other places—another physical place, into other cultures, or into the imagination,” Denève said.
Using ailleurs as the foundation for the season, Denève designed concert programs to transport audiences elsewhere and break down musical boundaries. The season’s programs draw inspiration from and represent places on Earth, as well as in the solar system, imagined galaxies far away, and places accessed through faith or imagination. Throughout the season, the SLSO collaborates with many friends, artists both new and familiar to St. Louis, and showcases the family of SLSO musicians.
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Denève believes music can break down boundaries between people and cultures, building bridges in communities and spanning physical boundaries like oceans. The 22/23 season’s programs act as a passport to places around the world.
Denève starts the season with Jacques Ibert’s Escales (Ports of Call), immediately taking audiences on a journey from the Italian coast to Tunis and Nefta in northern Africa, to Valencia, Spain. The journey begun at the season’s outset continues, with concerts acting as another stamp in the passport. Places evoked by music programmed this season include:
Haiti (Nathalie Joachim’s Fanm d’Ayiti)
Rome (Ottorino Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome)
Algeria (Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to L’Italiana in Algeri)
Northern Germany (Detlev Glanert’s Weites Land)
Spain and Portugal (Claude Debussy’s Ibéria and Emmanuel Chabrier’s España)
Vienna, Austria (Maurice Ravel’s La Valse)
Scotland (Claude Debussy’s Scottish March on a Popular Theme)
Vietnam (Oswald Huỳnh’s Gia Đình)
Russia (Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring)
Peru (Gabriela Lena Frank’s Apu)
Cahokia, Illinois (James Lee III’s Visions of Cahokia, an SLSO commission and world premiere)
Across the United States (Gabriel Kahane’s Book of Travelers)
Programs also access places beyond Earth, from space and imagined galaxies far away, to places accessed through faith or imagination, including:
The Solar System (Gustav Holst’s The Planets)
Deep Space (James Lee III’s Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula and Guillaume Connesson’s Astéria)
The afterlife (Hector Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust)
Places populated by mythological creatures (Mason Bates’ Anthology of Fantastic Zoology)
Into fairy tales (Anatoly Liadov’s The Enchanted Lake)
For the 22/23 season, Denève programmed works from voices of our time that fuel curiosity and create a sense of adventure, continuing the SLSO’s longstanding tradition of championing music by composers of today.
Denève leads the world premieres of three works, including Guillaume Connesson’s Astéria, which shares its name and draws inspiration from the Greek goddess of the stars (November 18-20, 2022). He also leads Kevin Puts’ Concerto for Orchestra, an SLSO commission and the third SLSO premiere of a Kevin Puts work since the start of Denève’s tenure. Denève leads James Lee III’s Visions of Cahokia, an SLSO commission that depicts the largest community of the native Mississippian civilization that inhabited the St. Louis region from the 9th to the 14th centuries. Additionally, guest conductor and frequent SLSO collaborator John Storgårds leads the U.S. premiere of Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto with Leila Josefowicz, a close friend of the SLSO.
More than 26 pieces will enter the SLSO’s repertoire next season, including 18 works by 16 composers of today, with more than 25 percent of the works on classical concerts by composers of our time.
The SLSO will announce, at a later date, programming for the 22/23 St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer series that features music of the 20th and 21st centuries. This 17-year collaboration between the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the SLSO presents sold-out chamber music concerts at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
Alongside his deep commitment to identifying and presenting moving music of today, Denève programmed familiar and beloved pieces that span genre and time.
Denève leads the SLSO in works including Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
To close the season, Denève, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, the St. Louis Children’s Choirs, and an all-star cast of vocalists perform Hector Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, with mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in her role debut as Marguerite, tenor Michael Spyres as Faust, and bass John Relyea as Méphistophélès (May 5-6, 2023). The performance of The Damnation of Faust is rescheduled from Denève’s inaugural season as Music Director.
Guest conductors, including returning favorites Cristian Macelaru, Hannu Lintu, John Storgårds, Nicholas McGegan, Mozart specialist Jane Glover, and new friends Jonathon Heyward, Xian Zhang, Laurence Cummings, Thomas Søndergård, and composer/conductor James MacMillan, lead your SLSO in beloved favorites including Respighi’s Pines of Rome, G.F. Handel’s Messiah, Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 7, W.A. Mozart’s Symphony Nos. 36, “Linz,” and 38, “Prague,” Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Egmont and Symphony No. 4, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1.
Assistant Conductor Stephanie Childress leads Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish” and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin leads Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote.
The Silver Screen
The SLSO takes watching a film to new heights with Live at Powell Hall concerts that present movies while the orchestra performs the score live. Perfect for families, the SLSO presents five films during the 22/23 season, including:
· Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
· Jurassic Park
· Home Alone
· Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The SLSO remains a destination for some of the world’s great artists. The SLSO welcomes many artists in the 22/23 season in an extension of established collaborations.
Pianist Kirill Gerstein, whose recording of Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the SLSO received critical acclaim, returns for performances of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Another SLSO recording partner, violinist Leila Josefowicz, returns for the U.S. premiere of Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto. Other pianists returning for performances with the SLSO are: Stephen Hough on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1; Hélène Grimaud on Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1; Víkingur Ólafsson on W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24; and Piotr Anderszewski on Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
Pianists making their debut with the SLSO include pianists Marie-Ange Nguci on Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Alice Sara Ott on Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, and Lise de la Salle on Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti joins the SLSO for a two-week artist residency in February 2023, continuing Denève’s commitment to multi-week immersions with artists. She gives the first SLSO performances of James MacMillan’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the composer leading the work. She then joins Denève and the SLSO for the orchestra’s first performances of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto, the piece for which she won the 2020 GRAMMY® Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. Violinist James Ehnes performs Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade.
Four SLSO musicians step forward as soloists throughout the season: Concertmaster David Halen on W.A. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, Principal Violist Beth Guterman Chu on Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote, English horn player Cally Banham on James MacMillan’s The World’s Ransoming, and violinist Hannah Ji on Joseph Bologne’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
The St. Louis Symphony Chorus, which has performed repertoire from the entire choral-orchestral canon since its formation in the 1976/1977 season, performs Francis Poulenc’s Stabat Mater and the Final Scene from Dialogues of the Carmelites, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, Felix Mendelssohn’s The First Walpurgis Night, and concludes the season with Hector Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. The women of the chorus join the SLSO for performances of Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus, directed by Kevin McBeth in his 12th season, returns for its annual performance in A Gospel Christmas. The chorus performs its annual Lift Every Voice: Celebrating Black History Month concert, also under McBeth’s direction. The chorus collaborates with Denève and McBeth for a community concert honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., part of an annual commitment by the SLSO to support this important day of service by tapping into the power of music as a vehicle to build community. The IN UNISON Chorus, which specializes in the performance and preservation of music from African American and African traditions, has been supported by Bayer Fund since its formation in 1994.
Throughout the 22/23 season, the SLSO collaborates with a variety of St. Louis artists and institutions, highlighting the people and places that make the region exceptional, and creating access to music through community concerts.
Denève starts the season by leading the much-anticipated SLSO concert in Forest Park for a free night of music on Art Hill. Over the past 50 years, the SLSO has performed 34 free community concerts in Forest Park, entertaining hundreds of thousands of St. Louisans.
The SLSO joins the community, across the nation, and world, in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For the first time, the SLSO will offer a free community concert at Powell Hall to celebrate King’s legacy. The concert will be led by Denève and IN UNISON Chorus Director Kevin McBeth and feature members from the IN UNISON Chorus.
The SLSO collaborates with long-time partner The Muny for a concert at Powell Hall celebrating the life and musical legacy of Stephen Sondheim.
The SLSO’s popular Crafted series, hourlong happy hour concert experiences, continues with three concerts. These concerts, introduced by Denève in his inaugural season as Music Director, include food and beverage tastings from local businesses paired with an engaging concert experience and insights from the conductor. Conductor Norman Huynh and celebrated pianist, composer, and singer/songwriter Gabriel Kahane join the orchestra for performances of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring alongside Kahane’s own Book of Travelers, an ode to connecting with the natural beauty of America. In other Crafted concerts, Denève takes audiences on a short tour of Europe with Claude Debussy’s Ibéria and Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, and Assistant Conductor Stephanie Childress leads a concert featuring Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Manager.