By Eric Dundon
Music Director Stéphane Denève and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra believe St. Louis is unique: its people are warm and proud and possess an engaging spirit towards all kinds of art and music.
That’s why the orchestra’s 2023/2024 season is anchored in community connections and collaborations. While the SLSO continues the expansion and renovation of its historic home at Powell Hall, the orchestra will expand its presence throughout the St. Louis region, with programming that showcases the magical sound of the SLSO and its two choruses, as well as the vitality of St. Louis’ artists and cultural institutions.
“From classical to jazz, film scores and music of our time, our orchestra will demonstrate its incredible versatility throughout the season,” Denève said.
As Powell Hall undergoes a transformative expansion and renovation to better serve audiences and increase access to music for all in the community, the SLSO will welcome audiences at venues throughout the St. Louis region. Concerts will take place at two primary venues:
The Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri—St. Louis is designated as the Presenting Partner for the SLSO’s 23/24 Season and will serve as a venue for classical programming. This modern version of a classic opera house has been a landmark performance venue in St. Louis since 2003.
Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis will host a combination of classical, film, holiday, and special concerts. Classical performances at the 3,100-seat venue will serve as a reunion between the two organizations, as the SLSO called the theatre home from 1934-1968, until its move to Powell Hall.
Curated and Compose Your Own Subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale in May 2023. Visit slso.org/season or call the Box Office at 314-534-1700.
Denève leads 10 classical programs, with repertoire spanning genre and time. He opens the season with the much-anticipated return of violinist Hilary Hahn in her first SLSO collaboration in more than 20 years, then closes the season with a one-night-only concert with one of the world’s most recognized artistic and cultural ambassadors: cellist, educator, and philanthropist, Yo-Yo Ma.
Denève extends his meaningful tradition of artistic partnerships, collaborating with internationally renowned artists including Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich; pianists Jonathan Biss, Tom Borrow, and Paul Lewis, all part of a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle, which is complete with pianists Ingrid Fliter and Marie-Ange Nguci and conductors Elim Chan and John Storgårds.
In a ballet-themed program, Denève collaborates with Kirven Douthit-Boyd—choreographer and Artistic Director of The Big Muddy Dance Company—in the fully-orchestrated world premiere of a new work by Adam Schoenberg with choreography.
Conductor Christian Reif, violinists Randall Goosby and Benjamin Beilman, and clarinetist Victor Goines, a longtime member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the newly appointed President and CEO of Jazz St. Louis, all make their SLSO debuts.
The SLSO will continue relationships with many of the world’s leading artists, including conductors Elim Chan, David Danzmayr, James Gaffigan, Cristian Măcelaru, and John Storgårds.
A trio of SLSO musicians will take the spotlight as soloists: Principal Oboist Jelena Dirks will solo on the first SLSO performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto; Assistant Concertmaster Erin Schreiber will perform Georges Bizet/Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy;and Associate Principal Cellist Melissa Brooks performs Vincenzo Bellini’s “Casta Diva” from Norma.
Throughout the season, Denève leads the SLSO in some of classical music’s most beloved works including Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite and Peter and the Wolf, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, and Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, alongside the first SLSO performances of many works, including Lera Auerbach’s Icarus, Unsuk Chin’s subito con forza, Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3, and Albert Roussel’s The Spider’s Feast.
The St. Louis Symphony Chorus performs a concert version of Pietro Mascagni’s complete Cavalleria rusticana—the first presentation of the opera by the SLSO since 2004 when it performed the music as the resident orchestra with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Commitment to today’s artists
Denève continues his steadfast commitment to music by today’s artists, programming new works that he believes will stand the test of time and become part of the orchestral repertoire. Throughout the 23/24 season, more than 18 pieces will enter the SLSO’s repertoire, including nine works by composers of today. Jeff Beal’s new Violin Concerto will receive its world premiere with the SLSO, Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin, and violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins as part of a three-concert jazz festival in January 2024. Adam Schoenberg’s new work is a response to the classic American ballet, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland. The SLSO has co-commissioned Julia Wolfe’s Pretty with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony.
In addition to these new works and a U.S. premiere by Hannah Eisendle, the SLSO performs works by living composers including Lera Auerbach, Unsuk Chin, Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, Per Nørgård, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Arvo Pärt in classical programs.
SLSO jazz festival
In January 2024, the SLSO and Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin embark on a three-concert exploration of the many ways jazz music has enriched the orchestral world.
Programs include jazz milestones, jazz’s influence in Europe, and lesser-heard American voices, with each program culminating in a major orchestral work by George Gershwin. Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, known for playing the Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, makes her SLSO debut in the world premiere of a jazz-inflected Violin Concerto by Jeff Beal. Pianist Aaron Diehl and the Aaron Diehl Trio join the SLSO in the final concert for selections from Mary Lou Williams’ rarely heard Zodiac Suite—music originally composed for piano inspired by each of the 12 astrological signs.
Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle
The SLSO, three conductors, and five acclaimed pianists will traverse Ludwig van Beethoven’s monumental series of piano concertos throughout the 23/24 season. Denève will lead three of the concertos: the First with notable Beethoven expert Jonathan Biss in his first SLSO appearance since 2007; the Fourth with Paul Lewis, regarded as another leading Beethoven interpreter, in his SLSO debut; and the Fifth with Israeli pianist Tom Borrow, called “the very definition of ‘one to watch’” (International Piano), also in his SLSO debut. Conductor Elim Chan, lauded in her SLSO debut in 2021, returns with Ingrid Fliter in her sixth SLSO appearance for the Third Concerto, and frequent SLSO collaborator John Storgårds teams up with Marie-Ange Nguci for the Second Concerto.
St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer
Sustaining its commitment to today’s musical voices, the SLSO continues its collaboration with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation for a three-concert series presenting bold and adventurous chamber music—an enduring partnership begun in 2004.
The 23/24 Live at the Pulitzer series will be curated for the first time by St. Louis-based composer Christopher Stark, recipient of the 2022 Rome Prize. Stark has a deep affiliation with the SLSO and St. Louis, serving as an Associate Professor of Composition and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Program details will be announced later. For more information, visit slso.org/pulitzer.
Community, film, and holiday programming
The SLSO’s 23/24 season also features concerts with a variety of music from popular artists, films, tributes to crowd-favorite musicians and special programs to celebrate the people of St. Louis.
Denève and the SLSO open the season with the much-anticipated concert in Forest Park for a free night of music on Art Hill. The 2022 concert saw potentially record-breaking crowds of an estimated 20,000.
Film presentations with the SLSO playing the score live include Home Alone. Additional films will be announced at a later date. All film presentations will take place at Stifel Theatre.
Holiday concerts resume with the popular Gospel Christmas concert, which features the IN UNISON Chorus led by Kevin McBeth. The Mercy Holiday Celebration presents five concerts of beloved holiday music with conductor Stuart Malina—three at Stifel Theatre and two at the J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts at Lindenwood University in St. Charles. Norman Huynh, a frequent guest of the SLSO, leads the surprise-filled New Year’s Eve Celebration Concert at Stifel Theatre. The SLSO also performs its annual Lift Every Voice: Celebrating Black History Month concert with the IN UNISON Chorus. Huynh returns to lead the SLSO in a concert celebrating Lunar New Year at Lindenwood University.
In May 2023, the SLSO will announce plans for additional programming, including Family Concerts and one-night-only special concerts.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Director.