Last Looks

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Here are a few more pictures from the final St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert of the season, Friday, June 3.

loungeThe YO musicians made the St. Louis Symphony musicians’ lounge their own, relaxing, chatting, eating cake and taking selfies before the show.

locker roomYO musicians filled the locker room as well. You wouldn’t think they were about to play Beethoven’s Fifth in a few minutes.

playing cardsWhether it’s the Youth Orchestra or the STL Symphony, the eternal card game goes on.

signed photoThe musicians individually signed a YO portrait for their departing music director, Steven Jarvi.

stageA top row view of the YO on stage at Powell Hall.

postconcert lobbyThe lobby filled with family and friends to greet the musicians after the concert.

Stage Exits

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The scene outside of Powell Hall Friday night, the evening of the final St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert of the season, included sights of a diverse audience–young and old, dressy and casual, stylish and chill, a mashup of ethnicities and ages, north siders and south siders, folks from the county, city, country and from across the river. Add to this the excited roars of the crowd emanating from the Circus Flora tent.

Stage exit 1
Stage exit 1

I made my way around the backstage areas: in the musicians’ lounge the eternal card game was in progress, orchestra members lounged on sofas and leaned against one another to take selfies. A cake designed for outgoing Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi was in its last wreckage of consumption.

Stage exit 2
Stage exit 2

“I still can’t believe we get to play Beethoven 5!” I heard one musician exclaim. It seemed as if the near-capacity audience could hardly believe it as well. People sat rapt, leaning forward in their chairs intently. At the spaces in between movements you could not hear a sound. Once a baby let out a muted cry, but not for long. I’m sure that babies and Beethoven have been heard together many times over the centuries. In no way were such memorable solos by Curt Sellers, oboe, and Hannah Byrne, clarinet, diminshed.

Stage exit 3
Stage exit 3

At the end, the audience rose as if great stores of emotional energy had been released. A lot of musician tension was released as well. It was Beethoven’s Fifth they had just performed, after all. “That piece is so long,” one musician said at intermission, proud to have played it and relieved it was over.

Stage exit 4
Stage exit 4

Curt Sellers had written the program notes for the first after-intermission piece, Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture. He described the “sweet love song” the English horn plays in that piece, and then he played it beautifully.

Stage exit 5
Stage exit 5

The final piece for the season, Stravinsky’s devilishly difficult and delightful The Firebird Suite, came after the third standing ovation for YO Music Director Jarvi that night.

The music goes on, The Firebird will be played again, many of this group of YO musicians will return. But throughout the evening I thought of those leaving–for college, for the rest of their lives to proceed elsewhere. You could hear in the music the complex mixture of accomplishment and loss: in Emily Shaper’s bassoon solos, in the tricky and yet entirely musical flute and piccolo parts played by Leah Peipert and Lynell Cunningham, in Earl Kovacs’ confident clarinet, in Eric Cho’s songful cello, and in the horn solo that leads to the surging finale of The Firebird, played by Eli Pandolfi this night. Eli is the grandson of Roland Pandolfi, one of the great horn players of this era and a former St. Louis Symphony principal. You heard time beginning, time ending, and the continuum as the orchestra joined in full ecstatic harmony. The Firebird is a perfect ending to a YO season, with an ending so sublime because you don’t want it to end. And it never really does. With every exit there is a return. Another entrance made.

Stage exit 6
Stage exit 6

 

 

 

Wild Things

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Monday morning Wild Things came to the Powell Hall stage. Two onstage concerts were performed for pre-schoolers, teachers and parents from Grace Hill Head Start. The good folks from the PNC Grow Up Great program helps make this all happen.

The story was Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, with music by Ravel and Shostakovich. A string quartet made up of Jooyeon Kong, first violin; Eva Kozma, second violin; Chris Tantillo, viola; and Alvin McCall, cello made the sounds that made the children dance, and sway like trees, and bend like ocean waves, and growl like wild things.

Wild Things Selfie
Wild Things Selfie

Max was the superb actor Moses Weathers. He and I took a selfie together in the middle of the show.

Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi played the role of the conductor. Eva Kozma also served as music director.

We do it again next week for more Grace Hill Head Start kids. Thanks PNC Grow Up Great for helping the Symphony to fulfill its mission: to enrich people’s lives through the power of music.

Zoo Meets Orchestra

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The St. Louis Symphony completed its first series of Education Concerts of the 1415 season on Wednesday, with a great assist from the Saint Louis Zoo, as well as from Rimsky-Korsakov (Flight of the Bumblebee), Saint-Saens (Carnival of the Animals), Copland (Hoe Down) and Henry Mancini (Baby Elephant Walk). Here’s how it looked.

The Saint Louis Zoo's Rachel Killeen (left) and Kelly Kapsar get ready for the show.
The Saint Louis Zoo’s Rachel Killeen (left) and Kelly Kapsar get ready for the show.
The Saint Louis Zoo's Maggie McCoy, who served as guest host, and the Symphony's Director of Education Berakiah Boone in the Green Room
The Saint Louis Zoo’s Maggie McCoy, who served as guest host, and the Symphony’s Director of Education Berakiah Boone in the Green Room.
Maggie was prepared to catch bees and butterflies on stage.
Maggie was prepared to catch bees and butterflies on stage.
The Saint Louis Zoo provided very cool videos of animals to accompany the orchestra. Elephants!
The Saint Louis Zoo provided very cool videos of animals to accompany the orchestra. Elephants!
Rachel brought an elephant bone.
Rachel brought an elephant bone.
Principal Cello Daniel Lee plays "The Swan" while a swan glides across the screen.
Principal Cello Daniel Lee plays “The Swan” while a swan glides across the screen.
Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi expresses his fear of bees.
Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi expresses his fear of bees.

The St. Louis Symphony thanks its partner the Saint Louis Zoo, as well as presenting sponsor Booksource, for helping to make it all happen. And thank you to the schools, teachers, chaperones and schoolchildren. Come again!