The Amazing Pianists You Need to See in the SLSO’s 2020/2021 Season


Pianists collaborating with the SLSO in the 2020/2021 season are (clockwise from top left): Alice Sara Ott, Beatrice Rana, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Lise de la Salle, Hélène Grimaud, Kirill Gerstein, and Stephen Hough.

For his second year as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director, Stéphane Denève invited some of his friends and collaborators—some of the world’s greatest artists—to come to St. Louis to work with the SLSO. As a result, the 2020/2021 season is packed with the world’s most sought-after musical talent. Subscriptions to your SLSO guarantee thrilling musical experiences at each performance, anchored by the SLSO and the fantastic guest artist line-up.

Here are eight of the world’s best pianists, all performing with the SLSO in the 20/21 season:

Emanuel Ax

St. Louis audiences need no introduction to the great pianist Emanuel Ax. A 26-time performer with the SLSO—including two multi-week engagements in a single season—Ax has established himself as a versatile virtuoso capable of playing anything, from romantics like Brahms and Chopin to contemporary works by Joseph Schwantner and Bill Bolcom. Ax will team up with another SLSO favorite—Conductor Gemma New—in April 2021 for a program inspired by Americana. In this appearance, Ax will give the first SLSO performance in more than 15 years of John Adams’ piano concerto, Century Rolls—a piece inspired by the sounds of a 1920s-era player-piano that was commissioned by Ax himself.

Hélène Grimaud

A living legend, pianist Hélène Grimaud made her one and only performance with the SLSO in 2003. In the 20/21 season, she’s back and will collaborate with conductor Thomas Søndergård on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20. She is a prolific recorder of much of the piano concerto repertoire: works by Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Schumann, and Gershwin. But these aren’t your typical recordings or performances. Grimaud is noted for her unique interpretations and adventurous phrasings that make a familiar work seem brand new. Mark your calendar to hear her January 23-24, 2021.

Lise de la Salle

Pianist Lise de la Salle makes her SLSO debut with a concerto by Mozart—No. 9, “Jenamy”—which, she says, contains all human emotions: joy, sadness, laughter. A native of France, de la Salle first came to international attention in 2005, at the age of 16, with a Bach/Liszt recording that Gramophone Magazine selected as “Recording of the Month.” Since then, she’s been unstoppable: performing with the greatest orchestras in the world under the most accomplished conductors. Join us March 19-20, 2021, to experience her performing Mozart with your SLSO.

Kirill Gerstein

In person, pianist Kirill Gerstein might come off as quiet and shy but at the keyboard, his presence cannot be ignored. The SLSO has a special relationship with the Russian-born pianist, collaborating on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Piano Concerto in F on The Gershwin Moment, a 2018 album released by Myrios Classics to critical acclaim. Appearing as recently as February 2019 performing the Scriabin Piano Concerto, Gerstein returns in October 2020 with conductor John Storgårds for the SLSO premiere of Thomas Adès’ Piano Concerto.

Beatrice Rana

In 2015 at the age of 22, Italian pianist Beatrice Rana released her first album, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 to critical acclaim and was named Gramophone’s “Editor’s Choice.” The young phenom will make her SLSO debut in September 2020 with Stéphane Denève performing another Prokofiev piano concerto, this time the Third. Electrifying and thrilling at the keyboard, Rana has already worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras. She plays on a program that ends with Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough is another well-known artist to St. Louisans. Making his SLSO debut in 1994, Hough has maintained regular appearances with the orchestra since. He has brought his interpretations of Rachmaninoff’s piano repertoire to St. Louis often, performing each of the composer’s first three piano concerti on two separate visits to the SLSO. On November 27-29, Hough—whose technique is described as “invincible”—will bring a different Rachmaninoff work to St. Louis during the 20/21 season: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The work celebrates the virtuosity and playfulness of Italian composer Niccolò Paganini, led by rising conductor Elim Chan.

Alice Sara Ott

German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott continues her ascent as one of the most in-demand young artists of today. She is a constant presence in the concert halls of Europe and recently made her Berlin Philharmonic debut performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Ott, making her SLSO debut in the 20/21 season, finds the full range of life’s perspectives in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto: “the melancholy and the bright and lyrical and soaring.” She performs with the SLSO and conductor Hannu Lintu on April 23-25, 2021.

Leif Ove Andsnes

He’s been called one of the most gifted musicians of this generation. Leif Ove Andsnes returns to the SLSO for the first time in nearly 15 years to give a rare solo performance with Stéphane and the SLSO. The Norwegian is especially known for his interpretations of music by his compatriot Edvard Grieg, with The New York Times naming his 2004 recording of Grieg’s Piano Concerto a “Best CD of the Year.” St. Louis audiences will hear Andsnes’ interpretation of Grieg’s masterpiece on March 6-7, 2021.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other notable artists performing with the SLSO throughout the 20/21 season include new Artist-in-Residence Nicola Benedetti playing the SLSO premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto (written for her). Simone Porter, Leila Josefowicz, Hilary Hahn perform violin concertos by Barber, Helen Grime, and Sibelius. Christine Goerke, Tamara Mumford, Janai Brugger, Gaëlle Arquez, Jennifer Johnson Cano, and Siobhan Stagg all lend their staggering voices to performances of choral masterworks. And some favorite conductors return on the podium: Nicholas McGegan, Cristian Măcelaru, and Karina Canellakis, plus the SLSO’s own Leonard Slatkin and Gemma New.


Subscriptions are on sale now. The SLSO offers curated packages and create-your-own series, perfect for tailoring your SLSO experience to your musical tastes—so you could build a package to hear all these remarkable guests. Visit slso.org or call the Box Office at 314-534-1700.

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