By Eric Dundon
Whether you like big Russian symphonies, ballet music, new music, music that intersects with other media, jazz-infused music, film scores, choral music, or even if you’ve never experienced a symphony orchestra performance and want to—your St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has it all in March.
Over the course of the month, the SLSO and its family of ensembles has 15 performances spanning five venues in four states with three conductors and including two world premieres.
In addition to the SLSO, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra return to the Emerson Concert Stage at Powell Hall, and the 17-year collaboration with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation continues. Near the end of the month, the SLSO hits the road for a three-city tour of Midwestern Universities, including performances at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University-Bloomington, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Tickets start at $15 for classical concerts, $30 for SLSO Crafted, and $45 for the Music of John Williams, and are on sale now. A full concert calendar is available at slso.org or on the SLSO’s mobile app available for iOS or Android.
Here are all the details of this jam-packed month:
March 4-6: Mozart’s Requiem
After a two-year absence, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus returns to the Emerson Concert stage for performances of W.A. Mozart’s Requiem on March 4-6. The chorus is under the direction of Amy Kaiser in her 27th and final season at the helm of the ensemble. While the Requiem is the biggest Mozart piece on the program, it isn't the only Mozart piece. In fact, the entire first half is made up of Mozart pieces, including selections from Mozart's opera, La Clemenza di Tito: the Overture and aria "Non più di Fiori," sung by mezzo-soprano (and St. Louis native) Jennifer Johnson Cano. Principal Horn Roger Kaza is also featured on this program in Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2. This program is led by conductor Patrick Summers in his SLSO debut.
Summers replaces Dmitry Sinkovsky, who was scheduled to conduct, perform on violin, and sing with the SLSO. Sinkovsky was unable to travel to St. Louis for these concerts.
March 8-9: Live at the Pulitzer with works by Haber, Heredia, White, and world premiere by Stark
On March 8-9, SLSO musicians give the third of four St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer programs of the 2021/2022 season. The celebrated series, now in its 17th season, presents chamber music of the 20th and 21st centuries, performed by SLSO musicians at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis). This concert—featuring works by composers of today programmed by the SLSO for the first time—includes the world premiere of Christopher Stark’s 2nd Nature, which uses violin, electronics, and video to venture deep into the natural world. Two string quartets by Yotam Haber offer musical responses: to an ancient Jewish melody in From the Book, and to South Africa's rap-rave scene in break_break_break. LJ White weaves a gentle tapestry from violin and electronics in fly, into the light…, while Carolina Heredia explores conflicted feelings about home in Añoranzas. This season, the Live at the Pulitzer series marks the first SLSO performances of 11 works.
March 11: SLSO Crafted
Denève leads a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite, ballet music that changed the trajectory of orchestral music in the 20th century, at the March 11 SLSO Crafted concert. Preceding The Firebird Suite, Denève will also lead performances of Paul Dukas’ music for the ballet La Péri. These popular concerts—introduced by Denève in his inaugural season as Music Director to engage with audiences more deeply—include commentary from Denève on stage, designed to give better insight into the music and the music creating process. Doors for this happy-hour concert open at 5:30pm, with the concert beginning at 6:30pm. Arrive early to mingle with SLSO musicians in the Wightman Grand Foyer and enjoy food and drink samples and specials.
March 12-13: Denève Conducts Dukas, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, and world premiere by Garrop
At concerts March 12-13, Denève leads a concert inspired by spirituality, myths, and legends. The concert opens with the world premiere of Stacy Garrop’s Goddess Triptych, commissioned by the League of American Orchestras with the support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The new work, one of five world premieres given by the SLSO this season, is inspired by a trio of Hindu goddesses. Camille Saint-Saëns’ Fifth Piano Concerto, nicknamed the “Egyptian,” was named after the composer’s travels to Luxor, Egypt, where he heard distinct musical styles that influenced the concerto. Jean-Yves Thibaudet, whom Denève named the SLSO’s Artist-in-Residence during the 2019/2020 season, returns for performances of this concerto. The second half of the concert includes Dukas’ La Péri and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.
March 18-19: Denève conducts James Lee III, Gershwin with Thibaudet, and Rachmaninoff
Denève designed the March 18-19 concerts with music connected to America. Concerts begin with the first SLSO performances of James Lee III’s Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan, a piece inspired by the life of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman and freedom from slavery. This will be the second time this season Denève has led a work by Lee; he conducted the first SLSO performances of Lee’s Emotive Transformations in November 2021. Thibaudet returns for performances of George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, a jazzy concerto that Gershwin originally composed for the New York Philharmonic. The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3, a piece composed for America and premiered in America.
March 20: The Music of John Williams
On March 20, the SLSO and Denève celebrate the music of John Williams, the award-winning composer whose work has profoundly shaped the genre of movie music. Denève, who was chosen by Williams himself to conduct a 90th birthday celebration concert at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. this June, will lead selections from some of Williams’ most-beloved scores, including E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and more.
March 22-26: Midwestern University tour to Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois
From March 22-March 26, the SLSO and Denève travel to three Midwestern universities, continuing a long-held tradition of artistic partnerships with higher education institutions. The SLSO will participate in residency activities at each university, including masterclasses, seminars, and school visits. Each visit culminates in a performance of the Lee, Gershwin, and Rachmaninoff program performed the weekend before at Powell Hall with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
On March 22, the SLSO travels to the Lied Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for the second time since Denève started his tenure as Music Director. The SLSO has performed in Lincoln at least six times since 1991, including sold-out performances of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird with the American Ballet Theater and principal dancer Misty Copeland.
The SLSO travels to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, on March 23-25 for a residency that includes, in addition to the SLSO’s concert and other residency activities, a side-by-side rehearsal with students at IU’s Jacobs School of Music.
On March 26, the SLSO and Denève return to the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The orchestra last appeared there in November 2019, performing works by Béla Bartók, Johannes Brahms, and Aaron Jay Kernis with violinist Gil Shaham.
March 27: Youth Orchestra performs Sibelius
In its second concert of its 52nd season, the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Stephanie Childress, performs one of Jean Sibelius’ most popular works, his Symphony No. 2. Continuing a years-long tradition, a YO musician takes the spotlight in a concerto. Clarinetist Katie Lee, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, will performed the rarely heard Second Clarinet Concerto by Bernhard Crusell. The concert opens with Kaija Saariaho’s Lumière et Pesanteur. Tickets for this concert are free on the floor (ticket reservations required), and $10 in balcony.
Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required for all audience members 5 and older at every Powell Hall event. All patrons are required to wear masks while inside Powell Hall. Visit slso.org/protocols for more information.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Manager.