Tabla & Sitar

Share Button

Early Wednesday morning the sounds of tabla and sitar came through the office speakers. Shalimar the Clown, Jack Perla’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel, is receiving its world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis this month. So with India as the setting for Rushdie’s story, the Red split (see previous blog post “Red & Green”) is joined by tabla player Javad and sitarist Arjun.

Javad and Arjun on the Powell Hall stage
Javad and Arjun on the Powell Hall stage

I think I can accurately report that the last time the St. Louis Symphony had tabla on stage was for George Benjamin’s Sudden Time, which also traveled to Carnegie in March 2007.

My guess for sitar: when Ravi Shankar played Powell. I didn’t know for certain that he did, but figured there was no way the most renowned sitar player of modern times would not have played here. Sure enough, November 1, 1970, for an event titled the “Sunday Festival of Music.” Leonard Slatkin conducted the orchestra in the first half of the program, which included Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tale of the Prince Kalendar” from Scheherazade. After intermission Shankar played a group of ragas with Alla Rakha on tabla and Kamala Chakravarty on tamboura.

A program page promoting Ravi Shankar at Powell Hall in 1970.
A program page promoting Ravi Shankar at Powell Hall in 1970.

At the Very Top

Share Button

St. Louis Symphony Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin, along with his Berlioz Romeo et Juliette duties last week, spent Saturday morning rehearsing the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, the organization he helped found in 1970.

Leonard Slatkin conducts the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Leonard Slatkin conducts the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

I was given the opportunity to ask him what the formation of the YO meant to him. Here is some of what he said: “When I look back, almost 50 years, and think of all the good things we were able to accomplish in this city, at the very top is the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.”

Berlioz Tambourines

Share Button

Leonard Slatkin conducts Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette at Powell Hall this weekend. In these performances, the St. Louis Symphony percussion is making use of four tambourines. I do not know if this was Slatkin’s directive, or Berlioz’s, or the percussion section’s. Two “star-cross’d lovers” = four tambourines. A Shakespearean equation. Plus two triangles.

Tambourines
Tambourines