Thursday will be my last day of employment at the St. Louis Symphony. I’m moving on to a new job at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
I’ve been with the Symphony for 13 years, blogging for 12, somewhere in there a video blog got started with a pocket-size flip cam.
When I started at the orchestra after Labor Day weekend 2003, I told my colleagues “I love being here and I love you for having me.” I still feel that. I’ve worked with some of the brightest, most talented, most passionate people I’ve ever met. Working alongside such folk, whether their business is on the stage or behind the scenes, has been a true gift for which I am most grateful.
And I’ve enjoyed connecting with the blog audience over this time. I’ve had fun doing it and I hope you’ve had some fun following along.
I have other wishes, other dreams, other passions to fulfill. The St. Louis Symphony will be a part of me always.
The blessings of the office speakers: Scott Andrews rehearsed Pierre Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double (Dialogue of the Double Shadow), a piece for clarinet and live electronics, on the Powell Hall stage Friday afternoon. It’s a composition of sonic wonder. Andrews plays live along with recordings of himself. The recordings were made a few years ago, and are constant, but Andrews’ live musicianship is always changing. He told me it had the feeling of performing with past selves. His description made me think of Arthur Rimbaud’s famous phrase Je est un autre: “I is someone else.”
But for all that Dialogue of the Double Shadow may make you and I think, or marvel at the technosound strategies, it is the magic and mystery it leaves behind when it is done that is most compelling. A haunting. These sounds you’ve heard–you will never hear them again.
St. Louis Symphony eyes have stayed on the sky and on the radar, and a few people with barometers for knees have been consulted, and as of mid-afternoon Wednesday systems are go for the Forest Park concert. If the skies change, check the news, check our website, check our social media. For now, it looks like a great night to listen to the Symphony under the stars–and then fireworks!
The Flight of Lindbergh was originally conceived for radio. Composer Kurt Weill and librettist Bertolt Brecht wanted to reach the masses with their Lindbergh tale, so they wrote for the most popular, and intimate, mass medium of the 1920s. Singers, an orchestra, right in your home.
To provide the feel of a live broadcast from a previous age of technological wonders, David Robertson has plotted some unique stage directions. KMOX radio’s Charlie Brennan will serve as narrator, and he’ll be situated near center stage at an old desk and at much older vintage microphone.
The St. Louis Symphony performed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to packed houses this past weekend.
But the musicians give their all to SRO audiences or in the most intimate settings. Last Wednesday, prior to the concert in Rolla, Missouri, members of the orchestra taught master classes to soldiers from the 399th Army Band, who drove over from Ft. Leonard Wood.
Gemma New, fresh from her debut with the STL Symphony in Rolla, was in the music room at Clayton High for the first St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra rehearsal of the season on Saturday.
On Wednesday night there will be more than 10,000 on Art Hill in Forest Park listening to the St. Louis Symphony, led by David Robertson. The atmosphere will be as intense as in a small studio in Rolla, or a music room in Clayton, or a capacity Powell Hall.
The word from Rolla is that they heard a terrific St. Louis Symphony concert Wednesday night, with an exciting debut for Resident Conductor Gemma New. Thursday afternoon the orchestra is back on the Powell Hall stage rehearsing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From Schumann to John Williams, these musicians can turn on a dime.
While the orchestra was out of town, the stage crew prepared the big screen for Harry Potter. A layer of Visqueen had torn, and here it gets taped back together on the backside of the screen so light won’t bleed through and all the images remain clear, colorful and Harry Potterfull for the full-houses at Powell.
The St. Louis Symphony was on the Powell Hall stage rehearsing a program that features Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish,” with new Resident Conductor Gemma New, the day-after Labor Day. The Symphony hits the road to Rolla, Missouri to perform “Rhenish,” Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll Thursday for the Leach Theatre’s 25th-anniversary gala. If you want to witness New’s premiere with the orchestra, this might be the road trip for you.
After the rehearsal, horn players Chris Dwyer and Roger Kaza looked as excited as two kids back to the first day of school. I asked them to say, “Horn.”
Bass clarinetist Tzuying Huang concludes Postcard Thursday, Summer of ’16, with a round-half-the-world voyage.
“I traveled half of the earth to visit my friends and family this summer. Let’s let the pictures tell you my summer stories.
“I was in Chicago for a friend’s wedding In early July. I’m so glad to see her find her love and it’s always great to visit Chicago during summertime.
“At the end of July, I visited Toronto and finally got to see Niagara Falls.
“Before flying back to Taiwan, I stopped by Los Angeles to visit my family and friends. Finally we don’t have to FaceTime. I always want to spend more time with them by the beach.
“Taiwan was extremely hot this summer. It was always more than 95 degrees so I spent most of my time indoors. I got to hang out with my lovely nephews a lot. Seeing them laugh is one of the best feelings in the world.
“Okinawa is one of Japan’s islands to the south. The color of the sea is very beautiful there. We took a cruise to Okinawa from Taiwan and although it was hot it was definitely worth it.
There are 3,971 light bulbs in Powell Hall. The stagehands are changing many of them this week. Facilities Director Cynthia Schon informed me that not all the bulbs get changed each year, “Some things are multi-year LED now and some are every second summer (like the chandeliers.) ”
Feel free to count as many as you can in this photo. And then when you’re done, you can come up with an answer to “How many stagehands does it take to change 3,971 light bulbs?”