By Eric Dundon
The new school year is almost here, the Cardinals are entering the final stretch of their season, and Blues hockey is right around the corner. That means the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s 2022/2023 season is fast approaching, as is one of the institution’s hallmark events of the year: the free community concert in Forest Park.
Led by Music Director Stéphane Denève, the SLSO returns to Art Hill at 7:00pm CDT, Wednesday, September 14. Since its inaugural Forest Park concert more than 50 years ago, the SLSO has performed this annual concert for more than 15,000 people as a community celebration of music and the kick-off of the SLSO’s season.
Stéphane is excited to lead this celebratory opening of the 22/23 season, the orchestra’s 143rd and his fourth as Music Director—noting it’s one of his personal favorite concerts of the year.
The Forest Park concert will take the audience on an adventure through music to places including Scandinavia, Italy, Ukraine, Spain, South America, even outer space. The concert includes orchestral and vocal selections from operas including Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, and Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt. Soprano Raquel González, a former Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, will make her SLSO debut singing the aria “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca. Dance will be celebrated through Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango” and Arturo Márquez’s Conga del Fuego Nuevo, alongside music by celebrated film composer John Williams, including the Star Wars Main Theme and The Mission Theme.
The festivities end with a show-stopping fireworks display following John Philip Sousa’s patriotic anthem The Stars and Stripes Forever.
Performed in memory of longtime SLSO supporter Mary Ann Lee, this concert marks the 54th anniversary since the first Forest Park concert in 1968. Attendees are encouraged to come early, bring chairs and blankets, and enjoy food trucks on site. Local vendors at the concert will include Angie’s Burgers, Balkan Treat Box, Blues Fired Pizza, Cha Cha Chow, Fire and Ice Cream Truck, Go Gyro Go, Grace Meat + Three, Holy Crepe, Mission Taco, Picture Perfect Panini, The Popcorn Bar, STL Barkeep, Urban Chestnut, and Waynos International. Food and drink vendors will be available starting at 5:00pm.
Following the concert in Forest Park, Denève leads the orchestra in its first classical concerts of the season, September 17-18, featuring the first SLSO performances of Nathalie Joachim’s Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti), performed with the composer as the vocal soloist. The opening weekend concerts begin with Jacques Ibert’s Escales (Ports of Call), music reflecting the culture of Mediterranean Sea regions, including Italy, Tunisia, and Spain. Opening weekend concludes with a trip to Bohemia through Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.
Tickets for all 22/23 season concerts are on sale now and can be purchased at slso.org or by calling the SLSO Box Office at 314-534-1700.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Manager.