St. Louis Symphony Principal Cello Daniel Lee connects a 400-year-old novel, a 300-year-old piece of wood, a 100+-year-old tone poem, and a symphony orchestra made up of nearly 100 talented people in this week’s video blog.
With single tickets on sale as of Monday for the 2015-2016 St. Louis Symphony season, it’s a good time to unveil the musicians’ Top Five Hot Picks. You’ll see more about the Top Five and the musicians picks through various marketing initiatives over the days and weeks to come, but let’s get the party started. More than 50 musicians responded this summer to my call for hot picks, which is not only a record, but it reflects the good vibes they have for the upcoming season.
1) Mahler 5. January 22-23. David Robertson conductor; Timothy McAllister, saxophone. JOHN ADAMS Saxophone Concerto & MAHLER Symphony No. 5.
3) All-Strauss. September 25-26. David Robertson, conductor; Karita Mattila, soprano; Daniel Lee, cello; Beth Guterman Chu, viola. RICHARD STRAUSS Don Quixote, Macbeth & Final Scene from Capriccio.
4) Beethoven 6. November 13-15. David Robertson, conductor; Christine Goerke, soprano. BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral,” WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6, & RICHARD STRAUSS Four Last Songs.
5) Beethoven 9. October 9-11. Markus Stenz, conductor; Heidi Melton, soprano; Thomas Cooley, tenor; Eric Owens, bass-baritone; St. Louis Symphony Chorus; Amy Kaiser, director. WAGNER Selections from Parsifal & BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9.
It’s not hard to find the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony throughout the summer months. Visit any major music festival in the country–Aspen, Boulder, Sun Valley, Chautauqua, Boonville, MO (David Halen runs that one)–and you may find a few St. Louis Symphony musicians in the orchestra. Offer to buy them a beer or a chardonnay after the show.
David Robertson would probably appreciate a beer as well. He’s back in the U.S. from Sydney, Australia, where he is music director of the orchestra there, and has already traveled from the Aspen Music Festival and School to Santa Fe, where he is conducting a production of Richard Strauss’ Salome with Santa Fe Opera. Opening night is Wednesday, July 22.
The St. Louis Symphony isn’t performing Salome this season–although it did memorably with Deborah Voigt a few seasons back–but there is plenty of Strauss to go around in 1516. Robertson conducts an all-Strauss program September 25-26, with Principal Cello Daniel Lee and Principal Viola Beth Guterman Chu playing Don Quixote, and Karita Mattila singing the Final Scene from Capriccio. The all-Strauss concerts are among the musicians’ hot picks for next season.
The Oscar Wilde references aside, Robertson gives a good primer to the music of Strauss in this clip from Santa Fe Opera, especially the West Coast surfer analogies.
Somewhere I read recently that the phrase “bittersweet” is first attributed to Sappho. She knew how to turn a melancholy metaphor. St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra cellist Grant Riew uses the phrase to describe what it feels like to leave his fellow musicians for Harvard in the fall. You can read the complete YO III concert program notes, written by the musicians themselves, here: click. And here are Grant’s reflections:
“I’ve been in the YO for five years. It’s a little bittersweet to say goodbye. I’ve looked forward to every Saturday rehearsal with the YO. I remember my first time on stage—the stage where Yo-Yo Ma, Daniel Lee, David Robertson, and other great musicians have stood. I still get that feeling.
“My strongest friendships have been in YO. I think of all the connections I’ve made—with David Robertson, with Yo-Yo Ma, with members of the orchestra. Through the Beyond Rehearsal activities, the YO has really evolved.”
The final St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert of the season is Saturday, May 30 at 8pm. Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto performed by YO Concerto Competition Winner Aleksis Martin, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Steven Jarvi conducts.