A Show Before the Show

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David Robertson, photographer Deborah O’Grady, and the St. Louis Symphony give a 20 minute introduction–followed by an intermission–prior to the performance of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles… (From the Canyons to the Stars…) this Saturday. For the 7 o’clock Pre-Concert Conversation, you may hear more music by this singular 20th century composer.

Cedar Breaks. Photo by Deborah O'Grady.
Cedar Breaks. Photo by Deborah O’Grady.

St. Louis Symphony violinist Helen Kim and pianist Nina Ferrigno will perform Messiaen’s Thème et Variations, an early work from the 1930s. Symphony flutist Jennifer Nitchman and Ferrigno will perform Messiaen’s Le Merle noir, one of the composer’s middle period and birdsong-related works. Robertson will use these examples of Messiaen’s earlier work to discuss the composer’s musical evolution, the journey that led to rapturous From the Canyons to the Stars….

Tiger Lair

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Where are the musicians of the St. Louis Symphony? They show up everywhere, in St. Louis, in the county and across the river in Illinois. Tuesday, University of Missouri (Mizzou) students received a master class from Principal Percussion Will James, Principal Timpani Shannon Wood, and pianists Nina Ferrigno and Peter Henderson, both of whom often appear with the orchestra.

Will James demonstrates snare drum technique, Shannon Wood in background
Will James demonstrates snare drum technique, Shannon Wood in background

In the evening the quartet performs Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion at the Whitmore Recital Hall on campus. Will James braved the Tiger lair in his Duke polo during master class. Not for performance, I’m told.