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Photos: Jazz concerts with Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin

By Eric Dundon


January 2024 kicked off with three concerts devoted to the exploration of jazz, blues, ragtime, and other pop culture music genres in the concert hall. Leonard Slatkin, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Conductor Laureate, led these concerts at the Touhill Performing Arts Center and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The concerts were tied together by music of George Gershwin, which holds a special place in Slatkin's repertoire.


He and the SLSO recorded many of Gershwin's orchestral works for the Vox label in the 1970s. These concerts marked the 50th anniversary of the release of those albums.


The first concert featured Gershwin's An American in Paris, alongside the world premiere of Jeff Beal's Body in Motion, a violin concerto performed by Kelly Hall-Tompkins. In the second installment, Slatkin explored jazz-map Europe with music by Igor Stravinsky, Kurt Weill, and Darius Milhaud. The conclusion of this set of concerts returned to a distinctly American style of music, with Paul Turok's homage to Scott Joplin, John Alden Carpenter's music for cartoons, and Mary Lou Williams' iconic Zodiac Suite, a set of tunes based on astrological signs and featuring the Aaron Diehl Trio. The two weekends of concerts concluded with a moving interpretation of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Jeffrey Siegel, the same pianist who recorded the work with the SLSO in the 1970s.


Photos by Virginia Harold.



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SLSO trumpets

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Jeffrey Siegel acknowledges the audience after his moving performance of Rhapsody in Blue.

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Slatkin cues Siegel during Rhapsody in Blue, performed for a sold-old crowd.

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Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins greets an audience member during intermission.

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Slatkin cues the Aaron Diehl Trio during a rare performance of Mary Lou Williams' Zodiac Suite.

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Kelly Hall-Tompkins performs Jeff Beal's Body in Motion.

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The three concerts enjoyed full houses at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL.

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Slatkin conceived these concerts to explore a distinctly American sound.

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SLSO violinist perform George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.




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Concertmaster David Halen

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Kelly Hall-Tompkins enters the stage for her SLSO debut.

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Concertmaster David Halen shares a laugh before tuning the orchestra.

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Slatkin cues the orchestra during Duke Ellington's The Three Black Kings.

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Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin.

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Associate Principal Flutist Andrea Kaplan and Associate Principal Oboist Phil Ross.

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The Aaron Diehl Trio with the orchestra.

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