For his second year as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Stéphane Denève crafted a season that includes a wide range of orchestral and operatic repertoire that highlights the remarkable musical versatility of the SLSO. Subscriptions for the 2020/2021 Classical season, which runs from September 2020 through May 2021, are on sale now.
Stéphane and the SLSO open the 20/21 season with Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1 by former SLSO Composer-in-Residence Joan Tower, sparking a season-long dialogue around some of the most pivotal ideas of today. Throughout the season, Stéphane and the SLSO develop a narrative thread through music inspired by and written by women, elevating the stories of people who have, and are today, paving the path towards greater equality.
Here are eight reasons to subscribe to the momentous 20/21 today:
In his first season as Music Director, Stéphane established he’s far more than a French repertoire specialist. His second season leading the SLSO features classical masterpieces across genre and time: Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite, Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and much more. He has selected repertoire that he cares for deeply and knows you love or will come to love.
Some of the world’s great artists will collaborate with the SLSO in the 20/21 season, including pianists Emanuel Ax (performing John Adams’ Century Rolls), Leif Ove Andsnes (performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto), and Hélène Grimaud (performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20). Violinists Hilary Hahn (performing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto) and Leila Josefowicz (performing the U.S. premiere of Helen Grime’s Violin Concerto) return. And St. Louisans will get to know incredible artists for the first time: pianist Lise de la Salle (performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9), violinist Simone Porter (performing Barber’s Violin Concerto), and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton (performing Chausson’s Poem of Love and the Sea). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Each week brings dazzling artists, including five soloists from within the SLSO.
Voices of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus will be celebrated in the 20/21 on five programs, performing some of the classical canon’s most important works. The chorus will give the first St. Louis performances of two riveting works by Poulenc and the first performances of a massive and moving oratorio by Arthur Honegger that recounts memories of the French Renaissance heroine Joan of Arc. An operatic highlight not performed by the SLSO in more than 35 years, Puccini’s tale of a princess and her suitor, Turandot, conclude the classical season. Masterworks by Mahler and Brahms round out choral performances.
This year, the SLSO celebrates Amy Kaiser, who has directed the chorus for 26 seasons and is retiring at the conclusion of this powerful season of choral masterworks.
IN UNISON Chorus in the spotlight
The SLSO is one of the few symphony orchestras in the world with two resident choruses: the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and the IN UNISON Chorus—a chorus that specializes in the performance and preservation of music from African and African-American cultures. For the first time in more than ten years, the IN UNISON Chorus will take the stage on a classical concert, joining Stéphane and the SLSO in the world premiere of a work commissioned especially for it. This not-to-miss program also features the St. Louis premiere of Symphony No. 3 by Florence Price— the first recognized African-American woman symphonic composer.
A two-week festival in November—History. Her Story. Our Future.—led by Stéphane will explore works by women and about women who challenged and ultimately helped shape society. The programs include John Adams’ “Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance” from Golden Girls of the West, Berlioz’s The Death of Cleopatra, Saint-Saëns’ Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, selections from Bizet’s opera Carmen, “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Strauss’ opera Salome, Schmitt’s The Tragedy of Salome Suite, and the SLSO’s first performances of Arthur Honegger’s monumental oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake. Beyond the classical concerts, the festival includes a Live at the Pulitzer concert, a Youth Orchestra concert, speakers, and other special events.
A new artist-in-residence
Audiences got know superstar pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet during the 19/20 season as the SLSO’s first Artist-in-Residence under Stéphane. In the 20/21 season, Stéphane has selected acclaimed violinist Nicola Benedetti the SLSO’s Artist-in-Residence. She brings to St. Louis her golden tone, unique repertoire selections, a passion for music of today, and staunch advocacy for music education. She will perform the SLSO premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto—a work that earned her the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo. She will also bring the rarely-performed Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 2 to St. Louis during her residency. She will also host an educational music workshop, the first “Benedetti Session” in the U.S.—an event that addresses the needs of young strings players and their teachers.
SLSO Crafted returns, and it’s bigger than ever
In the 19/20 season, the SLSO introduced SLSO Crafted—a unique concert experience that was part concert, part food and drink tasting, part party, and all fun. In the 20/21 season, the SLSO brings this new concert format back and expands it to three concerts. Stéphane Denève will lead all three concerts, sharing his insights on the music of Saint-Saëns, Schmitt, Sibelius, Strauss, and others.
Memorable new music
Sixteen of the SLSO’s 24 classical concert programs feature works by living composers, carefully selected by Stéphane. He believes in the beauty and power of music by composers of today and strives to select new works that he genuinely loves. From opera heavyweights like Jake Heggie to established living composers like John Adams and Joan Tower and up-and-coming young composers including Jessie Montgomery and Caroline Shaw, the 20/21 season is an opportunity to hear works that could one day become as recognizable as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
Subscriptions are on sale now. The SLSO offers curated packages and create-your-own series, perfect for tailoring your SLSO experience to your musical tastes. Visit slso.org or call the Box Office at 314-534-1700.