By Eric Dundon
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s 2023/2024 season is all about connections—with the community, with venues, and, most importantly, with audiences.
New this season, a fresh collaboration with the SLSO’s Grand Center neighbor, The Sheldon, will give unprecedented access to the orchestra’s musicians in the form of a new series: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra: Live at The Sheldon.
Showcasing the talents of SLSO musicians in smaller ensembles, the Live at The Sheldon series presents a wide variety of chamber music at The Sheldon, which is known for its exceptional acoustics and intimate atmosphere. Curated and performed by SLSO musicians, concerts spotlight the musicians and the instruments they play with programming that spans chamber music repertoire. From beloved standards to the first performances of music by established and emerging composers of today, the series presents 14 pieces performed by the SLSO for the first time.
“Giving a voice to our musicians to explore chamber repertoire and elevate their superb artistry through this new collaboration is very exciting,” said Marie-Hélène Bernard, SLSO President and CEO. “This new series builds on our long partnerships with The Sheldon and the University of Missouri, in our shared mission to present engaging chamber experiences for our audiences while uplifting emerging musical voices.”
Concerts this season include recognizable works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Dvořák, Maurice Ravel, and Richard Strauss; paired alongside lesser-heard voices including Bohuslav Martinů, Florence Price, and Louis Spohr; and composers of today including Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, Christian Quiñones, and Shannon Wood (SLSO Principal Timpanist). Unique to these concerts, the series also includes the first SLSO performances of five chamber music pieces—four of which are world premieres—composed by emerging artists at the University of Missouri, continuing a long-standing and multi-faceted partnership with the Mizzou New Music Initiative that includes full orchestral performances of student compositions and mentoring opportunities.
Alison Harney, the SLSO’s Principal Second Violinist, said the opportunity to explore a variety of repertoire with her colleagues is a treasured experience.
“String quartet music is one of my deepest loves, and I am excited to perform these great works with some of my dearest and long-time colleagues,” she said.
The February 7 concert, which Harney co-curated with Concertmaster David Halen, includes string quartet music by Maurice Ravel and Florence Price, a quintet by Antonín Dvořák (with Principal Keyboardist Peter Henderson) and and the world premiere of a string quartet by University of Missouri student Robyne Sieh.
The inaugural concert takes place on October 25, featuring SLSO woodwind players and curated by Principal Clarinetist Scott Andrews and Principal Bassoonist Andrew Cuneo.
“It’s such a fantastic opportunity to share such a great, collaborative experience with my colleagues from the orchestra,” Andrews said. “Although we perform on the same stage all the time, we rarely get the chance to work so closely and intimately with each other exploring repertoire outside of our usual orchestral format.”
Additional concerts are curated by violinist Angie Smart and cellist Bjorn Ranheim (December 6); Principal Timpanist Shannon Wood (March 6, featuring percussion instruments); and Principal Horn Roger Kaza and Fourth Horn Julie Thayer (April 7, featuring the horn section).
Tickets start at $31 ($15 for students) and are on sale now. The series is sponsored by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.
In addition to this new series, the SLSO performs a full season of orchestral programs under the leadership of Music Director Stéphane Denève and renowned guest conductors alongside the world’s great visiting soloists. Programming includes orchestral performances featuring timeless masterpieces to exciting collaborations; the 20th anniversary season of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra: Live at the Pulitzer, which features chamber ensemble performances celebrating music of today; a variety of holiday concerts, film concerts, and concerts with popular artists; Family and Education concerts, part of a portfolio of education programming that and serves more than 330,000 teachers and students annually; and a variety of community concerts.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Director.