ST. LOUIS Today, the St. Louis Symphony announced its 136th season since its founding in 1880, making it the second oldest orchestra in the United States. The 2015-2016 classical subscription series is sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors and runs from Friday, September 18, 2015 through Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Throughout the 2015-2016 season, links between orchestral music and the written word will be explored.  Many of the season’s selected compositions feature direct ties to great works of literature as Music Tells the Story.  In honor of the 400th anniversary of his death, the St. Louis Symphony will pay homage to William Shakespeare with a month-long festival of music depicting many of his works, including Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict Overture, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sibelius’s The Tempest, plus Prokofiev and Berlioz’s contrasting versions of Romeo and Juliet

“I love the way that music can tell a story, either in partnership with real words or dispensing entirely with the words and partnering with our emotions,” said Music Director David Robertson.  “It can create atmospheres that allow our imaginations to go to places that without the music wouldn’t exist.  The works that we’ve assembled make each concert like a special collection of stories.  We make the programs unique, so that whether you’re experiencing Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony as a familiar work or as your very first time hearing it played live, your sense of the wonder that this music contains is amplified beyond what you expected when you came in.”

The St. Louis Symphony continues its tradition of welcoming world-renowned soloists to Powell Hall.  This season will include a special Opening Weekend performance from Joshua Bell, as well as the return of vocalists Karita Mattila, Eric Owens, Kelley O’Connor, Christine Brewer and Christine Goerke.  Other featured soloists include Orli Shaham, Ingrid Fliter, Lars Vogt, Louis Lortie and Leila Josefowicz.  Several St. Louis Symphony musicians will also be featured as soloists, including Concertmaster David Halen, Principal Cello Daniel Lee, Principal Double Bass Erik Harris, Principal Timpani Shannon Wood, Associate Principal Viola Kathleen Mattis, Principal Percussion William James and Second Associate Concertmaster Celeste Golden Boyer.  

During 2015-2016, the Symphony also returns to California.  Led by Music Director David Robertson, the Symphony will make several stops in California. (Venues & tour dates to be announced later.) The Symphony will take two programs to the West Coast: one includes John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto (featuring soloist Timothy McAllister) from the Grammy Award nominated recording City Noir, the other features Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles with a world premiere video component from artist Deborah O’Grady.

Other 2015-2016 season highlights include:


 Opening Weekend at the St. Louis Symphony is always a special event, and the beginning of the 2015-2016 season is no exception. Celebrated violinist Joshua Bell returns to Powell Hall to perform Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole September 18-20, 2015.  Music Director David Robertson will lead the Symphony in the program that also includes works from Janáček (Taras Bulba) and Kodály (Háry János Suite).  Both compositions are based on and depict folk heroes found in Eastern European literature, in keeping with the season’s theme of focusing on ties between the written word and music. On Saturday, September 19, a special Opening Weekend Celebration will be held, which will include an off-site gala dinner, the performance at Powell Hall and post-concert party. 


In a season examining the links and ties between music and the written word, the St. Louis Symphony will honor one of history’s greatest writers with a month-long festival February 19 through March 12, 2016.  To honor William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death, four subscription weeks in February and March will feature orchestral music based on many of his plays.  Compositions will include:

Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict Overture and Sibelius’s Selections from The Tempest conducted by David Robertson (February 19-20, 2016),

  • Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and conducted by Hans Graf, with scenes acted by Maureen Thomas from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis  (February 27-28, 2016)
  • Prokofiev’s Selections from Romeo and Juliet, conducted by Gilbert Varga (March 5-6, 2016)
  • Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, led by Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin (March 11-12, 2016)

The Symphony will be partnering with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and other organizations throughout the season to further illustrate the relevance of Shakespeare in the modern world.


Also in keeping with the music-literature season theme, the St. Louis Symphony will perform several classical works based on beloved children’s stories:

  • Selections from Cinderella by Prokofiev (October 2-3, 2015)
  • Tchaikovsky’s Peter and the Wolf (November 27-29, 2015)
  • Suite from The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov (November 27-29, 2015)
  • Mother Goose Suite by Ravel (April 2-3, 2016)
  • Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Prelude (April 29, 2016)
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas (April 29, 2016)


Music Director David Robertson has invited four of the world’s leading female opera stars back to Powell Hall to perform with the St. Louis Symphony during the 2015-2016 season.  St. Louis favorite Christine Brewer returns.  Also performing with the orchestra:  Karita Mattila, Christine Goerke and Susanna Phillips.  They will perform works by Strauss, Mahler and Berg.  Internationally renowned bass-baritone Eric Owens comes back to the St. Louis Symphony in October 2015 to perform selections from Wagner’s Parsifal.  Owens has been lauded for his interpretations of classical works, as well as championing contemporary repertoire.


The St. Louis Symphony is pleased to welcome acclaimed guest soloists from around the world, as well as featuring several from the orchestra again this season.  Violin virtuosos Joshua Bell and Leila Josefowicz return to Powell Hall, as do pianists Orli Shaham and Ingrid Fliter.  Saxophonist Timothy McAllister performs again with the St. Louis Symphony on John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, featured on the Grammy Award-nominated recording City Noir.  Several St. Louis Symphony musicians will also solo, including Concertmaster David Halen, Principal Cello Daniel Lee, Principal Double Bass Erik Harris, Principal Timpani Shannon Wood, Associate Principal Viola Kathleen Mattis, Principal Percussion William James and Second Associate Concertmaster Celeste Golden Boyer. 


Many orchestral favorites will also be performed during the 2015-2016 subscription season, including:

  • Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (October 9-11, 2015)
  • Gershwin An American in Paris (October 18-20, 2015)
  • Beethoven Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” (November 13-15, 2015)
  • Brahms Symphony No. 1 (November 21-22, 2015)
  • Mahler Symphony No. 5 (January 22-23, 2016)
  • Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (February 5-6, 2016)
  • Beethoven Violin Concerto (March 18-20, 2016)
  • Mahler Symphony No. 4 (April 2-3, 2016)
  • Schubert Symphony No. 9, “The Great” (April 30 and May 1, 2016)
  • Holst’s The Planets (May 6-9, 2016) 


The St. Louis Symphony presents the world premiere of artist Deborah O’Grady’s video installation accompanying Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles…, which will be performed at Powell Hall  (January 16, 2016) as well as on the California tour.   

Principal Double Bass Erik Harris performs the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s Wolf Totem (November 27-29, 2015)

The St. Louis Symphony is also proud to perform the works of seven additional living composers during the 2015-2016 season: 

  • Samuel Adams’s Radial Play (November 20, 2015)
  • Brett Dean’s The Lost Art of Letter Writing (November 21-22, 2015)
  • John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto (January 22-23, 2016), Scheherazade.2 (February 19-20, 2016)
  • Bob Becker’s Girlfriends Medley for Xylophone and Strings (January 22, 2016)
  • Peteris Vasks’s Distant Light (February 5-6, 2016)
  • Stefan Freund’s Cyrillic Dreams (April 29, 2016)
  • William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter” (April 30 and May 1, 2016)


After its much-lauded and critically-acclaimed California Tours in 2010 and 2013, David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony return to the Golden State in January 2016.  The tour will feature two programs:  John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, featuring soloist Tim McAllister (the concerto is included in the Grammy Award-nominated CD City Noir, recorded with McAllister and the St. Louis Symphony) paired with Mahler Symphony No. 5, and Messaien’s Des canyons aux étoiles… with a video installation by artist Deborah O’Grady.  Tour dates and venues to be announced later.

RETURN OF Whitaker Foundation Music You Know

Back due to overwhelming demand, The Whitaker Foundation Music You Know concerts return in 2015-2016.  Featured last season on The Nine Network’s A Night at the Symphony broadcasts, Music You Know concerts focus on well-known classical repertoire and include commentary throughout by Music Director David Robertson.  Compositions featured in popular culture will be explained, explored and celebrated in a beginner-friendly format.  It’s the perfect introduction to the St. Louis Symphony, or a great way to rediscover popular classical favorites.  The Music You Know concerts are scheduled for Friday, November 20, 2015, Friday, January 22, 2016 and Friday, April 29, 2016.  The Music You Know series is presented by the Whitaker Foundation.  Series packages go on sale at a later date. 


Powell Hall once again becomes a family-favorite destination in December 2015, with a wide array of holiday performances and concerts guaranteed to delight music lovers of all ages.  The spirit of the season begins with the Symphony and Chorus performing Handel’s Messiah with guest conductor Bernard Labadie (December 3-6, 2015).

Led by Director Kevin McBeth, the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus celebrates A Gospel Christmas with an evening of soulful hymns of the season (December 17, 2015).  St. Louis families will return to a decked-out Powell Hall for the Macy’s Holiday Celebration concerts, featuring classic carols, familiar favorites and a visit from Santa (December 18-20, 2015), and then Music Director David Robertson returns to the podium for the annual New Year’s Eve Concert (December 31, 2015). Come see for yourself why thousands of St. Louisans make Powell Hall part of their family’s holiday tradition. 


The St. Louis Symphony welcomes the following musicians for their Powell Hall debuts during the 2015-2016 season:


  • Jakob Hrůŝa (April 22-24, 2016)


  • Inon Barnatan (October 16-18, 2015)
  • Denis Kozhukhin (March 5-6, 2016)


  • Allyson McHardy (December 3-6, 2015)
  • Lydia Teuscher (December 3-6, 2015)
  • Jeremy Ovenden (December 3-6, 2015)
  • Philippe Sly (December 3-6, 2015)
  • Frédéric Caton (March 11-12, 2016)
  • Sean Panikkar (March 11-12, 2016)


  • Kristian Winther (November 21-22, 2015)  


  • Vassily Sinaisky (October 2-3, 2015)
  • Markus Stenz (October 9-11, 2015)
  • John Storgårds (October 23-24, 2015)
  • Nicholas McGegan (November 6-7, 2015)
  • Bernard Labadie (December 3-6, 2015)
  • Anthony Marwood (February 5-6, 2016)
  • Hans Graf (February 27-28, 2016)
  • Gilbert Varga (March 5-6, 2016)
  • Leonard Slatkin (March 11-12, 2016)
  • Jun Märkl (March 18-20, 2016)
  • Yan Pascal Tortelier (April 15-16, 2016) 



  • Ingrid Fliter (October 2-3, 2015)
  • Lars Vogt (October 23-24, 2015)
  • Orli Shaham (November 6-7, 2015)
  • Louis Lortie (April 15-16, 2016)


  • Joshua Bell (September 18-20, 2015)
  • Leila Josefowicz (February 19-20, 2016)
  • Karen Gomyo (April 22-24, 2016)


  • Karita Mattila (September 25-26, 2015)
  • Eric Owens (October 9-11, 2015)
  • Jeffrey Heyl (October 23-24, 2015)
  • Kate Reimann (October 23-24, 2015)
  • Christine Goerke (November 13-15, 2015)
  • Kelley O’Connor (March 11-12, 2016)
  • Susanna Phillips (April 2-3, 2016)
  • Christine Brewer (May 6-8, 2016) 


The relationship between modern art and modern music will again be explored during the 2015-2016 season as the St. Louis Symphony provides a series of chamber concerts at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.  The space, a 21st century architectural masterpiece by Tadao Ando, is the ideal venue for these perfectly paired works, which are designed to initiate conversation with the Foundation’s featured exhibit.  Programs and dates to be announced at a later date. 


The 2015-2016 season marks the sixth year of partnerships with two leading public media outlets - The Nine Network of Public Media and St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7-KWMU.  Last season, The Nine Network debuted Night at the Symphony, an hour-long monthly series featuring some of the St. Louis Symphony’s best performances at Powell Hall.  The series continues this season, bringing at-home audiences the music of the orchestra.  Additionally, St. Louis Public Radio broadcasts and live streams of the entire St. Louis Symphony Saturday night subscription series will resume in September 2015. 


A full schedule of 2015-2016 Live at Powell Hall concerts, featuring popular music programming, light classical favorites and much more, will be announced in May. 


The St. Louis Symphony will present four innovative and interactive Family Concerts throughout the 2015-2016 season, each designed to capture imaginations of younger listeners. Program dates & details will be announced at a later time. 


The St. Louis Symphony’s External Affairs Department coordinates the Symphony’s Education, Community Partnership and Youth Orchestra programs. Its mission: To enrich people’s lives through the power of music by providing many free, live events in intimate community settings. Each year, the St. Louis Symphony shares its talents with thousands of people in our area. This is accomplished in several ways: 

Education programs:

  • Symphony in Your School, an intense residency program that includes a school resident musician group and additional visits and lessons from St. Louis Symphony musicians and staff featuring cross-curricular lesson plans.
  • Education and Family Concerts, held four times each season. More than 40,000 children attend these performances at Powell Hall each year.
  • PNC Grow Up Great Early Childhood program, introducing pre-school children to classical music and concepts.  Grow Up Great also includes Tiny Tunes concerts on stage at Powell Hall.  These performances are designed especially for pre-schoolers, their educators and parents, and reinforce basic music concepts.

Community Partnerships

  • Symphony in Your City, free performances held at venues throughout the city of St. Louis, including Powell Hall.
  • Symphony in Your Neighborhood, free performances at special community venues.
  • Symphony in Your College, providing performances and master classes at colleges and universities in both Missouri and Illinois.
  • SymphonyCares, bringing the power of music to patients in hospitals, retirement communities and assisted-living facilities.
  • Symphony Where You Worship, including the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON church program.  The IN UNISON program provides performances at more than 40 African-American churches throughout the St. Louis area each year. Other Symphony Where You Worship performances are held at synagogues, diverse places of worship and interfaith events.

St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra:

  • Now in its 45th season and led by St. Louis Symphony Resident Conductor/Youth Orchestra Music Director Steven Jarvi, this program trains talented musicians from more than three dozen schools across the St. Louis area.
  • Offers student musicians an expanded curriculum through Beyond Rehearsal, a series of workshops, talks and exercises designed to help cultivate “the whole musician,” including one-on-one interactions with STL Symphony musicians and staff.
  • The orchestra’s three performances at Powell Hall during the 2015-2016 season are free with a $1 processing fee per ticket.

To learn more about the Education and Community Partnership programs of the St. Louis Symphony, visit

Founded in 1880 and now approaching its 136th season, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and widely considered one of the world’s finest. In September 2005, internationally acclaimed conductor David Robertson became the 12th Music Director, the second American-born conductor to hold that post in the Orchestra’s history.  The St. Louis Symphony strives for artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility and community connection while meeting its mission statement:  enriching people’s live through the power of music. The Symphony presents a full season of classical programs and Live at Powell Hall concerts and hundreds of free education and community programs each year.  Media partners include St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 –KWMU, which broadcasts the Symphony’s Saturday night subscription concerts live, and The Nine Network, which regularly features STL Symphony performances on its Night at the Symphony program.