ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY RETURNS TO CALIFORNIA ON TOUR WITH MUSIC DIRECTOR DAVID ROBERTSON

January 2016 Tour Programs Feature Grammy® Award-Winning Composer John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto, Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles

(ST. LOUIS) - Music Director David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony return to California on tour in January 2016, marking their third trip to the West Coast in the last five years. The one-week tour, which takes place January 27 through February 2, 2016, includes five performances in four California cities: Aliso Viejo, at the Soka Performing Arts Center; Palm Desert at the McCallum Theatre; Berkeley, with two debut performances at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall presented by Cal Performances; and Los Angeles, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, as part of the Green Umbrella series.

Saxophonist Timothy McAllister joins the orchestra as soloist in John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto on the first three concerts of the tour, in Aliso Viejo, Palm Desert and Berkeley. A familiar work to both McAllister and the Symphony, Adam’s concerto was included on the St. Louis Symphony’s 2014 Grammy® award-winning album, City Noir, conducted by Robertson. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony completes these programs.

On the final two tour performances, in Berkeley and Los Angeles, Robertson leads the St. Louis Symphony in Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles …, a 12-movement, large-scale orchestral work which features a new video installation by photographer Deborah O’Grady to accompany the piece. Commissioned in 1971 by Alice Tully and premiered in 1974, Des canyons aux étoiles … is scored for piano, horn and two percussion soloists with a small group of strings and woodwinds and a large complement of percussion. Messiaen was inspired by the landscapes he saw during a trip through Utah and Arizona in 1972, particularly Bryce Canyon, and the work took shape after his visits to these parks. It was premiered in 1974.

The St. Louis Symphony co-commissioned—along with Cal Performances, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Washington Performing Arts and Sydney Symphony—photographer Deborah O’Grady to create visuals to accompany the musical experience of Des canyons aux étoiles… by showing the specific places that inspired the music. O’Grady describes the challenge as “recognizing both the spiritual aims of Messiaen's score and my own concerns for the pressures our culture places on the land.” The resulting ‘visual choreography’ incorporates still images, time lapse images (compressed, accelerated time), natural time video, and slow motion video of the parks as they looked in 1972 when Messiaen visited, using the texts the composer provided as a guide. O’Grady describes her work as informed by Messiaen’s own words: “at once geological, ornithological, astronomical, and theological.” Dramatic lighting complements the visual images to further enhance the production.

In addition to its debut performances at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, the Symphony also participates in a residency there as part of the Cal Performances series at the University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley RADICAL (Research And Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts and Learning). The residency is part of the focus this season on The Natural World, anchored by the collaboration between the Symphony and photographer Deborah O’Grady.

Residency activities include:

  • a master class with David Robertson as he coaches the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra;
  • a symposium on Artists, Aesthetics and the Natural World, with David Robertson and Deborah O’Grady, moderated by Cal Performances Director Matías Tarnopolsky;
  • a discussion of art and the natural word, with Sabrina Klein, Cal Performances' Director of Artistic Literacy; Margaretta Lovell, History of Art, UC Berkeley; Kathryn Barush, Art History, Graduate School of Theology of Santa Clara University; and choreographer Anna Halprin;
  • a conversation on the personal and cultural values of arts and parks and the importance of access to nature, with environmentalist Ken Brower; Will Rogers, Director, Trust for Public Land; Caryl Hart, Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks; Johnathan Logan Jr., General Manager, Marin County Community Service District; and Rob Bailis, Associate Director, Cal Performances
  • a SchoolTime performance featuring excerpts from Messaien’s Des canyons aux étoiles… for grades K-12
  • an invitation-only open rehearsal with the St. Louis Symphony, for Cal Performances donors

Performances in Berkeley and Los Angeles are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Complete tour schedule and programs:

Soka Performing Arts Center Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7:30 pm
Aliso Viejo, CA
St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Timothy McAllister, saxophone
JOHN ADAMS: Saxophone Concerto
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5
Tickets: $59

McCallum Theatre Thursday, January 28, 2016, 7:30 pm
Palm Desert, CA
St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Timothy McAllister, saxophone
JOHN ADAMS: Saxophone Concerto
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Friday, January 29, 2016, 8 pm
Berkeley, CA
St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Timothy McAllister, saxophone
JOHN ADAMS: Saxophone Concerto
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5
Tickets: $19 - $98

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Saturday, January 30, 10–11:30 am
Open Master Class
Maestro David Robertson coaches the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. The public is welcome to observe. Registration is now open.

David Brower Center, UC Berkeley Saturday, January 30, 1–5 pm
Symposium: Artists, Aesthetics and the Natural World [part 2]
1:00–2:15 pm Artist talk with David Robertson and Deborah
O’Grady moderated by Cal Performances' Director Matías
Tarnopolsky
2:30–3:40 pm Des canyons aux étoiles—The Natural World, Immensity and Wonder
Composer Olivier Messiaen's words drive this session on the
awesome power of nature to inspire impassioned works of art.
"I'd seen the canyons from two different perspectives. I'd seen
them from on high, with the vertigo of the abyss, that's
important, one sees vast black holes against the red of the cliffs.
Afterwards, ...we made our way to the very depths of the abyss,
we could see the path circling very high above us, and that is
what inspired the title of the work, Des canyons aux étoiles; one
progresses from the deepest bowels of the earth and ascends
toward the stars." Sabrina Klein, Cal Performances' Director of
Artistic Literacy explores art and the natural world with
Margaretta Lovell, History of Art, UC Berkeley; Kathryn Barush,
Art History, Graduate School of Theology of Santa Clara
University, and choreographer Anna Halprin.
3:50–5 pm The National Parks: Kindred Connections of the
Natural World and Creativity
A conversation on the personal and cultural values of arts and parks and the importance of access to nature, with Environmentalist Ken Brower, Will Rogers, Director, Trust for
Public Land, Caryl Hart, Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks, Johnathan Logan Jr., General Manager, Marin County Community Service District, and Rob Bailis, Associate Director, Cal Performances.

Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Sunday, January 31, 2016, 3 pm
Berkeley, CA
St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Deborah O’Grady, video
MESSIAEN: Des canyons aux étoiles…
Tickets: $19 - $98

Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Monday, February 1, 11 am
SchoolTime Performance: Excerpts from Messaien’s
Des canyons aux étoiles…
Matinee performance for grades K-12. Pre-registration required

Walt Disney Concert Hall Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 8 pm
Los Angeles, CA
St. Louis Symphony
David Robertson, conductor
Deborah O’Grady, video
MESSIAEN: Des canyons aux étoiles…
Tickets: $26.50 - $65