St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announces program for annual Forest Park concert 

SLSO Marks the 50th Anniversary of its First Free Community Performance on Art Hill; Honors Memory of Noted Philanthropist and SLSO Champion Mary Ann Lee

(August 28, 2018, St. Louis, MO) - The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra marks the beginning of its 2018/2019 season, titled "From Our Family to Yours," with its free Forest Park concert on Wednesday, September 12, at 7:00pm on Art Hill. This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the SLSO's first community concert in Forest Park.

Forest ParkFor the second year in a row, Resident Conductor Gemma New will lead the SLSO in this annual concert, which features highlights from the upcoming season, the 139th for the SLSO. In keeping with the season’s family theme, the SLSO will feature 16-year-old Theo Bockhorst as a soloist on Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Bockhorst, who is in his junior year at Clayton High School, isthe concertmaster of the SLSO’s Youth Orchestra. His mother, Angie Smart, is a violinist with the SLSO.

SLSO President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard said, “The Forest Park concert is a cherished St. Louis tradition, both for the region and our SLSO family, thanks to the generosity of Mary Ann Lee. She was an amazing and generous civic leader, and we honor her memory through this performance. We are thrilled to welcome Gemma New back to the podium for this year’s concert, which celebrates the SLSO’s legacy and connection with the St. Louis community, our extended family.”

The concert includes works by composers who will be featured throughout the 18/19 season, from Mozart and Mendelssohn to John Williams and Alan Menken. After the Forest Park concert, New leads the SLSO for its Season Opening Weekend (September 22-23) with an SLSO debut by pianist Behzod Abduraimov. The program features Enigma Variations – a piece inspired by the family and friends of composer Edward Elgar – as well as Sibelius’ Finlandia,Grieg’s Piano Concerto, and Musica celestis by Kernis. In April, New returns to the lead a second program that features pieces all with French connections, including Adès Three Studies from Couperin, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite by Strauss, and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp – featuring SLSO principals Allegra Lilly (harp) and Mark Sparks (flute).

SLSO Forest Park Concerts

Over the past 50 years, the SLSO has performed 31 free community concerts in Forest Park, entertaining hundreds of thousands of guests. In 2004, this special event became an annual tradition, thanks to the generous support of Mary Ann Lee, a long-time SLSO patron who worked tirelessly to ensure the arts in St. Louis were available for all to enjoy. The performance serves as the unofficial start of the orchestra’s season, highlighting works from the coming year. The SLSO reaches an increasing large and engaged audience with this free community concert.  Estimates in recent years suggest that the SLSO performs its Forest Park concert for more than 10,000 people from throughout the region each year. The SLSO is proud to continue this 50-year tradition and enrich lives through power of music through rich and varied community engagement efforts. 

An estimated 20,000 people packed Art Hill for the SLSO’s first Forest Park concert, on June 2, 1968. The event was a farewell performance by the orchestra’s three conductors: Music Director Eleazar DeCarvalho and Associate Conductors George Cleve and Edward Murphy. The program included selections from a range of composers, including Strauss, Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, and Verdi. For Verdi’s Grand March from Aida, the SLSO was joined by 100 trumpeters from area high schools.

Stanley Goodman, President of the St. Louis Symphony Society, delighted at the turnout for that concert, noting, “This is one of the ways in which the symphony can serve the community. We look forward to more free concerts.”

The St. Louis Art Museum will feature extended hours just prior to the concert, up until the start at 7:00 pm.  Food trucks will also be on-site, and picnicking is encouraged. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and stay for the dazzling fireworks display immediately following the performance.

Forest Park Concert:  Wednesday, September 12, 7:00 pm

Gemma New, conductor
Theo Bockhorst, violin

SMITH The Star-Spangled Banner
MOZART Eine kleine Nachtmusik
COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3, "Scottish"
BRUCH Scottish Fantasy
WAGNER Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"
RODGERS Selections from The Sound of Music
ALAN MENKEN Beauty and the Beast Overture
JOHN WILLIAMS “Harry’s Wondrous World” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
SOUSA Stars and Stripes Forever
In memory of Mary Ann Lee