Ode to a Joyful Night

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Eric Owens voice envelops the Powell Hall nightscape and horn player Julie Thayer offers her theories and appreciations of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in this week’s video blog.

Roaming Chorus

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The photo I posted yesterday of the brass and percussion ensemble in the foyer is now only relevant as historical record. The ensemble will be in another position for the selections from Wagner’s Parsifal this weekend, but I’m not going to say where because I might end up being wrong again. It takes time and experimentation to get the sound just right.

Meanwhile, during rehearsal Wednesday evening a chorus member told me, “I’ve sung all over Powell Hall tonight, except the stage.” Wagner writes for an off-stage chorus to create an effect of celestial voices, and so the chorus headed toward the upper realms of Powell. This is nothing new for the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. In fact, one of their celestial spots is called “Neptune’s Balcony,” because it is the go-to position for The Planets.

And when they finally got on stage for Beethoven’s Ninth, they sounded heavenly.

Play Memory – Beethoven 9

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Cinematographer Joshua Dobkins and I took a road trip to Missouri’s Rhineland, where bassoonist Felicia Foland and her spouse Kati Guerra live in their 19th-century home. We figured it was a good spot to talk about Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, since so many of the immigrants who settled along that stretch of the Missouri River Valley came from Germany, many with Beethoven tunes in their head, for sure. And considering the Play Memory theme, we knew this combination of landscape, history, and Foland’s own thoughts and recollections about a work she has performed many times would be well-worth the long drive. We never expected we’d get such a good lunch though. Thanks, Kati!

Gotta Sing!

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I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with a few chorus members over the years. Members of the chorus always seem to be wickedly fun. They also combine passion, dedication and awesome talent to every concert.

The St. Louis Symphony Chorus is holding auditions Wednesday, August 26 from 5-9pm, for the 2015-16 season. The auditions are open to all voice types. The repertoire this season includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette, Holst’s The Planets, and the Music of John Williams in December.

Amy Kaiser heads into season 21 leading the St. Louis Symphony Chorus in 1516. Photo credit: Gerry Love
Amy Kaiser heads into her 21st season leading the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. Photo credit: Gerry Love

Chorus Director Amy Kaiser offered the following rhetorical question, “What could be better than Beethoven, Berlioz and John Williams?” If you cannot come up with a good answer to that, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus may be for you.

Gotta sing? Give it a try. Click for info. Contact Chorus Manager Susan Patterson to schedule an audition appointment: susanp@stlsymphony.org.