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Photos: SLSO Shares Music For and With St. Peters Community

By Eric Dundon


A joyous mood filled the air at the 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters on June 7, 2024, as members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra presented a free evening of music in St. Charles County for the second time in three years. The mood was festive and the crowd large and engaged—the City of St. Peters reported a crowd size of approximately 3,000 people. It was the first time in the city's history that the park reached capacity.


With food trucks near and perfect weather, the SLSO built an orchestra throughout the program, introducing the large crowd to sections of the orchestra. Matthew Roitstein, SLSO Principal Flutist, served as the emcee for the evening, explaining the different sections of the orchestra before each new piece. He opened the concert with Syrinx for solo flute by Claude Debussy, a piece he said "every flutist plays at some point."


He then introduced the string section, which gave an American flair to the evening with a performance of the first movement of Antonín Dvořák's "American" Quartet, featuring violinists Lisa Chong and Janet Carpenter, violist Xi Zhang, and cellist Henry Myers. Then, double bassist Sarah Hogan Kaiser impressed the audience with Scherzando by David Anderson before joining the string quartet for the first movement of W.A. Mozart's instantly-recognizable Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music). Roitstein joined his strings colleagues for music by Luigi Boccherini.


Then, it was time for the brass to shine. Trumpet players Dawn Weber and Jason Harris, horn player Julie Thayer, and trombonists Amanda Stewart and Chris Bassett played a variety of music, ending in a suite from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story.


With the building of the orchestra complete, the St. Peters community was invited to participate in the evening's finale, Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode to Joy. The SLSO made instrument parts available online prior to the concert and encouraged people to bring their instruments to play alongside the SLSO. For those with no instrumental background, specially written lyrics for this event were passed out to sing along. Dozens of community members brought a variety of instruments—violins, cellos, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, horns, trombones. Even some uncommon orchestral instruments made an appearance, including guitars, a harmonica, and even a sousaphone (a marching tuba). In a continuation of the SLSO's Education programs, local band and orchestra teachers conducted throughout the crowd to keep everyone together.


The successful evening was presented in collaboration with the City of St. Peters and the St. Charles City-County Library.


Photos by Eric Dundon



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Violist Xi Zhang, left, and double bassist Sarah Hogan Kaiser perform Mozart's Ein kleine Nachtmusik.

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The 370 Lakeside Park reached capacity for the first time at this concert.

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Matthew Roitstein, Principal Flutist and program emcee, introduced local band teacher Kathy Fenske, who conducted the orchestra in Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

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Members of the crowd sing along to Beethoven's Ode to Joy with special lyrics written specifically for this performance.

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From left, Chris Bassett, Amanda Stewart, and Dawn Weber play "Maria" from West Side Story.

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This was the second time in three years the SLSO has played a free concert at the 370 Lakeside Park.

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Many community members brought their instruments for a community-wide play along.

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The large crowd enjoyed food trucks and beautiful weather.

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Horn player Julie Thayer served as the emcee for the brass ensemble portion of the concert.

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Many people, from students learning their instruments to seniors who hadn't played in years, contributed to the play along.



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Sheet music was provided in advance and included beginner and advanced parts to be inclusive of many ability levels.

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The special lyrics for Ode to Joy included the words "Music brings us all together, sharing a song of unity."

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Family members and friends united in the playing of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

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Even some instruments not usually in the orchestra, like the tenor saxophone, were part of the play along.

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From left, violist Xi Zhang and violinists Janet Carpenter and Lisa Chong perform Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

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The large crowd cheered on the SLSO with a prolonged ovation at the conclusion of the concert.

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