We resume the St. Louis Symphony musicians’ Top Five Hot Picks countdown. More than half of the musicians participated in selecting their most anticipated programs for the upcoming 16/17 season.
Mozart Requiem (November 18-20) receives its high ranking not only because of the program’s centerpiece, which cellist Alvin McCall refers to as “this glorious, beautiful work,” but because of the 19th and 21st century masterworks that accompany it. Not surprisingly this is a David Robertson program–expect the marvelous.
With Ives’ The Unanswered Question and John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, musicians, chorus, children’s choir, and audiences, have a lot to get excited about. Principal Trumpet Karin Bliznik highlights the off-stage trumpet solos in both the Ives and the Adams. Second violinist Andrea Jarrett gets a chance to play a work she’s been drawn to since she was a teenager: “I studied On the Transmigration of Souls thoroughly in my AP Music Theory class back in my sophomore year of high school. I believe it is the first piece of Adams I had ever heard–I was so moved by his composition style and the message of the piece. I was able to hear a performance of it by the Detroit Symphony later that year, and I remember thinking ‘how cool would it be if I got to play this someday?’ I guess dreams do come true!”
Mozart’s ultimate musical statement touches many of the musicians personally through their own histories with the piece and through their associations with those they’ll be sharing the stage with. Principal Violist Beth Guterman Chu recalls, “In another lifetime I was a singer and soloed in the soprano part of this piece…. Also, Nick Phan, the tenor soloist, is one of my best friends and favorite people and I am so excited for him to come back to sing with our orchestra again.”
The full Requiem quartet: Caitlin Lynch, Michelle DeYoung, Nicholas Phan and Kevin Thompson, with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus led by Amy Kaiser. The St. Louis Children’s Choirs, led by Barbara Berner, join chorus and orchestra for On the Transmigration of Souls.
Good to be back. A few things to come in the weeks ahead: Postcard Thursday returns, with a few St. Louis Symphony musicians sending in a photo or two of where they are and a few words about what they’re up to during summer break; I’m going to spend some time on the word “classical,” a word that is used to describe a lot of music, inadequately; Top 5 musician picks–members of the orchestra have shared with me their most anticipated concerts throughout the upcoming 16/17 season. I’ll be sharing the hot picks soon. For example, here is what second violinist Andrea Jarrett had to say about Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, a work that features nearly every instrument:
“This is just one of those pieces that makes you feel like a total rock star, and also allows you to say ‘Look how good my colleagues are at their instruments!’ I can’t wait to hear this orchestra rock out.”
Second violinist Andrea Jarrett was a young girl with multi-talents and interests, and two of her major interests were ballet and violin. In this edition of Play Memory, created by our new videographer Nicola Muscroft, she talks about hearing the music of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the ballet program she was not yet old enough to dance. But on February 27-28, she gets to play the music of the ballet with the St. Louis Symphony. Not a bad trade off.
The orchestra left the bright skies of Palm Desert Friday morning for the clouds and rain of Berkeley in the afternoon. I reached second violinist Andrea Jarrett just after she and her fellow musicians had reached the hotel. “We can’t see anything past the hotel,” she told me. “Yesterday in Palm Desert we faced the mountains.”
Last night’s concert at the McCallum Theatre “was awesome,” she said. “The hall was kind of dry,” she reported, “but as challenging as that was I think it made us listen more closely and we played tighter. The concert was almost sold out so there was a lot of energy. I find we’re getting settled into the pieces. We don’t have to count so frantically in the John Adams’ [Saxophone Concerto] because we’re feeling more comfortable.”
Many of the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony are serious foodies. Andrea offered up a not-so-serious, yet delicious sounding culinary discovery: Dole Whip. “Yesterday my boyfriend and I were on the main drag of Palm Desert and discovered it. They take Dole pineapple juice and whip it into soft serve.”
Friday night it’s Adams and Mahler Symphony 5 again at UC-Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. Then a day off for the ensemble that remains to play Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars Sunday afternoon. Andrea is among those. “We’re hoping to do a lot of food/coffee exploring. Plus, I knit in my spare time and there’s a yarn shop really close to the hotel. There’s a particular brand of yarn I found on Instagram, and they have it there. Very hipster yarn.”
Tuesday night is the annual Forest Park concert, with the orchestra tucked within the band shell and David Robertson conducting boisterous music on a cool late-summer night. Then the fireworks.
Most of the music performed Tuesday night may be heard during the concert season at Powell Hall, including the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Feb. 27-28, Hans Graf conducting, part of the Symphony’s Shakespeare Festival). You may have gotten married hearing that theme. When the orchestra rehearsed it on Tuesday morning, I expected rice to be flung from somewhere, or is that Rocky Horror Picture Show?
But A Midsummer Night’s Dream evokes all kinds of memories–seeing a production of Shakespeare’s play sometime in your life, whether on stage or on screen. Or, for the Symphony’s new second violinist, Andrea Jarrett, it connects with the ballet, and, for her, a turning point.
She wrote this as part of her musician hot picks selections: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: I am looking forward to this because I did ballet for many years–I studied so seriously that I ended up choosing between dance and violin. No regrets, of course. The company I danced with put on a performance of Midsummer every couple of years, but I was never old enough to participate and SO envied the senior dancers. Now, I will get to play the entire ballet, which is even better!”