St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association announces winners of annual Express the Music student writing contest

Seventy-five area students honored for prose and poetry based on classical music at awards ceremony at Powell Hall

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(March 28, 2019, St. Louis, MO) – Today, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association announced the winners of the 22nd annual Express the Music contest, in which students sixth grade through high school from throughout the St. Louis region listen to a piece of orchestral music and interpret the piece through poetry and prose. This year, students reflected on the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Awards for 75 finalists were presented at a ceremony hosted by the SVA at Powell Hall on Saturday, March 23.

Judges reviewed more than 700 entries from schools across the bi-state region to select the 75 finalists. A second set of judges, all professional writers and editors, selected the top three winners in each division from the finalists' compositions.

The top three winning entries in the prose and poetry categories in two age divisions – Junior (sixth through eighth grade) and Senior (high school) – received a cash prize.

The winners are:

Prose (Junior Division):
First place: Olivia Gentilini, 8th grade, LaSalle Springs Middle School
Second place: Melanie Migneco, 6th grade, Truman Middle School
Third place: Ava Brouster, 8th grade, Villa Duchesne

Prose (Senior Division):
First place: Mary Therese Capps, junior, Villa Duchesne
Second place: Rachel Ruddy, junior, Villa Duchesne
Third place: Mahtab Chaudhry, senior, Parkway South High School

Poetry (Junior Division):
First place: Andrew Nehre, 6th grade, Gateway Science Academy Middle School
Second place: Alexandre Snyder, 8th grade, Wydown Middle School
Third place: Lilian Work, 8th grade, St. Mary Magdalen

Poetry (Senior Division):
First place: Addison Gherardini, senior, Nerinx Hall
Second place: Rachel Solverud, junior, Nerinx Hall
Third place: Emma Just, senior, Francis Howell High School

Now in its 22nd year, the Express the Music contest invites area middle and high school English and music teachers to have their students listen to a piece of music selected by the organizers and respond with either a poem or a short story that reflects the impact of the music selected. More than 2,000 St. Louis-area students participated in the 2019 contest. Teachers selected seven compositions from each of their classes to enter into Express the Music. The St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association runs the contest.

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

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Association
Over the past almost 100 years, the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association has actively supported the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in a variety of ways, from unique education programs including Picture the Music/Express the Music and the Instrument Playground, to exciting volunteer opportunities, fundraising projects, and more. Originally founded in 1923 as The Women's Committee of the Saint Louis Symphony Society, the SVA currently has more than 130 active members whose efforts champion the mission of the SLSO: enriching lives through the power of music.

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