St. Louis Symphony Orchestra celebrates the 50th anniversary of Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin's debut with the SLSO, April 27-May 4

Concerts on April 27-28 include St. Louis premiere of Loren Loiacono's Smothered by Sky, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Olga Kern, and – in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth – his Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish," with speaker Charlotte Blake Alston, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, and the St. Louis Children's Choirs

May 3-4 concerts comprise the world premiere of SLSO-commissioned work, Jeff Beal's song cycle The Paper Lined Shack featuring soprano Hila Plitmann, which honors Slatkin's 50-year partnership with the SLSO; plus Barber's Symphony No. 1 and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"

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(March 26, 2019, St. Louis, MO) – The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra celebrates its remarkable 50-year partnership with conductor Leonard Slatkin when the SLSO Conductor Laureate returns to lead the orchestra in two weeks of concerts – April 27-May 4.

SLSO Conductor Laureate Leonard SlatkinSlatkin's two weeks of concerts are programmed around works and people with special meaning in his career, and includes the world premiere performances of Jeff Beal's The Paper Lined Shack, a song cycle commissioned by the SLSO in honor of Slatkin featuring acclaimed soprano Hila Plitmann; the St. Louis premiere of Loren Loiacono's Smothered by Sky; Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Olga Kern; works by Barber and Tchaikovsky; and Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish," with speaker Charlotte Blake Alston, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, and St. Louis Children's Choirs. The SLSO performs "Kaddish" for the first time in more than 50 years in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of composer and conductor Bernstein's birth.

The 2018/2019 season marks the 50th anniversary of Slatkin's debut season with the SLSO. He began during the 1968/1969 season as assistant conductor under Music Director Walter Susskind. Over the next 28 years, he held positions including Associate Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor, culminating in a 17-year tenure as Music Director and Conductor from 1979-1996. Since 1996, Slatkin has held the title of Conductor Laureate with the SLSO.

Marie-Hélène Bernard, President and CEO of the SLSO, said: "During his 17-year tenure as Music Director, Leonard Slatkin completely reshaped the SLSO, positioning it for years to come as one of the country's leading ensembles. In the process, he redefined what an American orchestra could be. We are honored to have him lead the SLSO as we celebrate his 50-year relationship with this institution."

Leonard Slatkin, SLSO Conductor Laureate, said: "As I reflect on my relationship with the SLSO, I can only look back with pride. This fine orchestra has become a model for community outreach, a champion of music education, and continues to be among the most inspiring, musically, in the world. I am honored to share such a lengthy and fruitful relationship with this world-class organization. I'm especially proud of forming the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra while in St. Louis. Nothing makes me more proud than the fact that it is still not only viable, but an important organization that continues to do very well. The SLSO's future looks very bright with Stéphane Denève, and I'm excited to welcome him to the family."

Slatkin's first concert with the SLSO took place on October 13, 1968, with a program including pieces by Schubert, Mahler, Richard Strauss, and a series of dances by Johann Strauss, Jr. In his nearly 30 years with the SLSO following his first concert, Slatkin conducted every major work by dozens of composers, introduced 30 pieces commissioned by the SLSO to the orchestral repertoire, and conducted the U.S. or world premieres of 32 additional works. He became known for programming lesser-performed works by American composers and fostering relationships with several influential American composers, including Joseph Schwantner, Joan Tower, Claude Baker, and William Bolcom. His May 3-4 program continues this tradition of championing new works by American composers with the world premiere of a piece the SLSO commissioned to honor Slatkin on the 50th anniversary of his debut with the orchestra. The work by composer Jeff Beal, titled The Paper Lined Shack, is a song cycle performed with renowned soprano Hila Plitmann. Beal, best known as the Emmy-winning composer for the Netflix show House of Cards and close friend of Slatkin, will attend the world premiere performances.

Also on Slatkin's May 3-4 program is Barber's Symphony No. 1, which Slatkin recorded with the SLSO in the early 1990s. Slatkin's recording work with the SLSO resulted in 52 Grammy Award nominations (out of the orchestra's 60 total nominations) and four of nine SLSO wins for recordings of works by Barber, Copland, and Prokofiev. He directed the SLSO on almost 70 albums, conducting dozens of works by composers ranging from Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky to American composers Gershwin, Ives, and Bernstein, plus multiple compilations of works by American composers. Aside from prolific recording endeavors, Slatkin worked to raise the prestige of the SLSO nationally and internationally, leading the orchestra in numerous regional and national tours and five international tours to Europe and Asia.

During his two-week engagement, Slatkin will also lead a rehearsal of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, an ensemble he founded in 1970 that has become a cherished part of the SLSO family. This high-level youth orchestra has consistently nurtured the brightest young musicians in the St. Louis area. Six Youth Orchestra alumni now play in the SLSO: Kristin Ahlstrom, Associate Principal Second Violin; Becky Boyer Hall, Second Violin; Felicia Foland, Bassoon; Sarah Hogan Kaiser, Double Bass; Erin Schreiber, Assistant Concertmaster; and Mark Sparks, Principal Flute. The SLSO will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the YO throughout the 2019/2020 season. Throughout his tenure as Music Director, Slatkin committed to broadening the SLSO's education and outreach efforts. His vision led to the creation of the Saint Louis Symphony Community Music School, the first merger of an orchestra and a community music school in the nation. His emphasis on diversity inspired the IN UNISON church partnership program, begun in the early 1990s that has blossomed into a national model for fostering diversity in the orchestra community.

Prior to Slatkin's return to the SLSO, area residents can watch a concert featuring him on Night at the Symphony on the Nine Network. Slatkin's concert – featuring the works of Barber, Copland, and Gershwin – will air on Sunday, April 7, at 5:00pm on the Nine Network. Slatkin's second concert while in St. Louis – Tchaikovsky's Sixth – will be recorded by the Nine Network for broadcast on October 6, right before he returns to lead a program in the 19/20 season.

Slatkin Conducts Bernstein
April 27-28, 2019
Slatkin pays homage to the legacy of Leonard Bernstein during the 100th anniversary year of his birth by conducting Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish" – a hymn of praise sung in Jewish prayer services. Continuing his tradition of programming lesser-known pieces by American composers, Slatkin leads the SLSO in Bernstein's "Kaddish" for the first time. Speaker Charlotte Blake Alston and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (in their SLSO debuts) join Slatkin and the SLSO, St. Louis Symphony Chorus, and St. Louis Children's Choirs in performances of this monumental symphony. This will be the SLSO's first performance of "Kaddish" since 1965. Opening the concert is the St. Louis premiere of Smothered by Sky by Loren Loiacono, an American composer in whose work Slatkin deeply believes. The piece was given its world premiere by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Slatkin's direction. Van Cliburn Piano Competition winner Olga Kern returns to St. Louis for the fourth time to perform Rachmaninoff's virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 1, reuniting with the conductor who helped her establish a solo career in the United States.

Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8:00pm
Sunday, April 28, 2019, 3:00pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Olga Kern, piano
Charlotte Blake Alston, speaker
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
St. Louis Symphony Chorus | Amy Kaiser, director
St. Louis Children's Choirs | Barbara Berner, artistic director

Loren LOIACONO Smothered by Sky
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 1
BERNSTEIN Symphonic No. 3, "Kaddish"

Sponsored by Steinway Piano Gallery
Presented by The Silk Foundation
Supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts

Audiences can attend the free Pre-Concert Conversation at 7:00pm Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday in the auditorium. This weekend, the conversations are hosted by SLSO Creative Partner Tim Munro with guest, SLSO Principal Viola Beth Guterman Chu.

Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday, April 27, at 8:00pm for the live broadcast of the performance, along with interviews of Slatkin and Kern during intermission. Listen on air (90.7 FM KWMU) or online (

Tchaikovsky's Sixth
May 3-4, 2019
Slatkin leads the orchestra in the world premiere performances of Jeff Beal's The Paper Lined Shack on May 3-4 with acclaimed soprano Hila Plitmann in her SLSO debut. The song cycle was commissioned by the SLSO to honor the 50th anniversary of Slatkin's debut with the SLSO. Opening the concert is Barber's Symphony No. 1. Slatkin recorded Barber's symphony with the SLSO on an album that won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra (for Barber's Piano Concerto with pianist John Browning). Tchaikovsky's passionate Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique," closes the concert, an immensely moving work Slatkin took with the SLSO overseas.

Friday, May 3, 2019, 10:30am
Saturday, May 4, 2019, 8:00pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Hila Plitmann, soprano

BARBER Symphony No. 1
Jeff BEAL The Paper Lined Shack (World Premiere)
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphonic No. 6, "Pathétique"

Presented by Mary Pillsbury
Supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts

Audiences can attend the free Pre-Concert Conversation at 9:30am Friday and 7:00pm Saturday in the auditorium. This weekend, the conversations are hosted by pianist Peter Henderson.

Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday, May 4, at 8:00pm for the live broadcast of the performance, along with interviews of Slatkin, Plitmann, and Beal during intermission. Listen on air (90.7 FM KWMU) or online (

Leonard Slatkin's two-week engagement with the SLSO is supported in part by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

The 18/19 SLSO Classical Season is presented by World Wide Technology and the Steward Family Foundation and runs through May 12, 2019.

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at or by calling the Box Office at 314-534-1700.

2019/2020 Season
Slatkin returns to lead a special classical concert in the 2019/2020 season. On October 12-13, Slatkin and the orchestra will premiere a SLSO co-commission honoring Slatkin's 75th birthday. The piece, in which five orchestras close to Slatkin each commissioned a composer to write a variation on Paganini's Caprice No. 24, will also include previously composed variations premiered in commemoration of Slatkin's final concert as SLSO Music Director in May 1996. Additional works that weekend include the SLSO premiere of Mozart's Oboe Concerto with SLSO Principal Oboe Jelena Dirks and Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life). Subscriptions for the 19/20 season are on sale now at or by calling the Box Office at 314-534-1700.

To learn more about Leonard Slatkin, visit

About SLSO Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin
Internationally acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin is Conductor Laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and Directeur Musical Honoraire of the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL). He maintains a rigorous schedule of guest conducting throughout the world and is active as a composer, author, and educator.

Highlights of the 2018/2019 season include a tour of Germany with the ONL; a three-week American Festival with the DSO; the Kastalsky Requiem project commemorating the World War I Centennial; Penderecki's 85th birthday celebration in Warsaw; five weeks in Asia leading orchestras in Guangzhou, Beijing, Osaka, Shanghai, and Hong Kong; and the Manhattan School of Music's 100th anniversary gala concert at Carnegie Hall. He will also conduct the Moscow Philharmonic, Balearic Islands Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Louisville Orchestra, Berner Symphonieorchester, Pittsburgh Symphony, RTÉ National Symphony in Ireland, and Monte Carlo Symphony.

A recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, Slatkin also holds the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor. He has received Austria's Decoration of Honor in Silver, the League of American Orchestras' Gold Baton Award, and the 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award for his debut book, Conducting Business. His second book, Leading Tones: Reflections on Music, Musicians, and the Music Industry, was published by Amadeus Press in 2017.

Slatkin has conducted virtually all the leading orchestras in the world. As Music Director, he has held posts in New Orleans; Washington, D.C.; London (with the BBCSO); Detroit; and Lyon, France. He has also served as Principal Guest Conductor in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.

Born in Los Angeles to a distinguished musical family, he is the son of violinist-conductor Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller, founding members of the famed Hollywood String Quartet. He began his musical training on the violin and first studied conducting with his father, followed by Walter Susskind at Aspen and Jean Morel at Juilliard. He is the father of one son, Daniel, and makes his home in St. Louis with his wife, composer Cindy McTee.

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Celebrated as one of today's most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 139th year with the 2018/2019 season and Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève. Widely considered one of the world's finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connections – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.

In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, which has been the permanent home of the SLSO for more than 50 years, the orchestra is an integral part of the diverse and vibrant St. Louis community, presenting free education programs and performances throughout the region each year. It presents St. Louis Symphony Live at the Pulitzer, a four-program series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The SLSO also serves as the resident orchestra for Opera Theatre Saint Louis, with this season marking the 42nd year of their partnership.

The Grammy Award–winning SLSO's impact beyond the St. Louis region is realized through weekly Saturday night concert broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio, acclaimed recordings, and regular touring activity. A sought-after artistic partner by preeminent musicians and composers from across the globe, as well as by local and national organizations, the SLSO enjoys a long history of robust and enduring artistic collaborations that have developed and deepened over the years.

Today, the SLSO builds on the institution's current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with Stéphane Denève. Denève, who has been a frequent guest conductor with the orchestra since 2003, begins his tenure as Music Director with the 19/20 season, following this season as Music Director Designate. For more information, visit

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