St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra based in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1880 by Joseph Otten as the St. Louis Choral Society, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is the second-oldest professional symphony orchestra in the United States, preceded only by the New York Philharmonic. Its principal concert venue is Powell Hall, located in midtown St. Louis.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra
782px-Powell Symphony Hall.jpg
Powell Hall home of the St. Louis Symphony
Former name
  • St. Louis Choral-Symphony
  • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Founded1880
Concert hallPowell Hall
Principal conductorStéphane Denève
Websitewww.slso.org

HistoryEdit

The St. Louis Choral Society performed in the auditorium of the St. Louis Mercantile Library[1] at Locust and Broadway in Downtown St. Louis. During the 1881/82 season the 80-member chorus was joined by an orchestra of 31 members. A disbanded Musical Union joined the group. In 1893, the St. Louis Choral-Symphony was formally incorporated. It remained largely a choral organization through its performances at the 1904 World's Fair under Alfred Ernst when it expanded to a 200-member chorus and an orchestra of 55. Under Max Zach's tenure (1907 to 1921), it changed its name to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Before moving to its current home in Powell Hall, the SLSO performed for many years at the Kiel Opera House. The orchestra has given concerts regularly at Carnegie Hall and has made overseas tours to Europe and to Japan. The St. Louis Symphony has recorded for the Columbia, RCA Victor, Red Seal, Telarc, Vox/Turnabout, Angel EMI, and Nonesuch labels. It has also issued CD recordings on its own label, Arch Media, and has received seven Grammy Awards and 58 nominations. For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the St. Louis Symphony has been the resident orchestra since 1978, divided into two ensembles, each performing two of the operas in the season. Also associated with the orchestra is the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, which was founded in 1977. Its first director was Thomas Peck. Since 1995, Amy Kaiser has served as the chorus director.

The national prestige of the St. Louis Symphony grew most prominently during the music directorship of Leonard Slatkin, from 1979 to 1996. During his tenure, the orchestra made many recordings for the EMI and RCA Victor labels, and toured to Europe and the Far East, as well as concerts at Carnegie Hall. However, this growth in prestige was not matched by stabilization of long-term finances. In 2000, the SLSO's endowment stood at US$28 million.[2] In 2000, the executive director and President of the SLSO at the time, Don Roth, had secured a US$40 million challenge grant from the Taylor family (owners of privately held Enterprise Rent-A-Car) to help the organization's money situation.[3] However, in that same year, he revealed the situation of severe financial problems with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra finances, which nearly led to the orchestra's bankruptcy in 2001. Roth resigned his position in July 2001, and was succeeded by Randy Adams, a former St. Louis bank executive. Adams embarked on extensive fund-raising efforts in the following years, seeking to enlarge the SLSO's endowment in the process. As part of the budget cuts and cost-saving measures, the musicians agreed to salary cuts over that time, and also a reduction of their 52-week contract to 42 weeks.

Following the departure of Hans Vonk as music director after the 2001-2002 season, Itzhak Perlman served as music adviser to the orchestra from 2002 to 2004. In December 2003, the symphony's board announced David Robertson as the next music director of the orchestra, effective with the 2005/06 season.

In January 2005, a labor dispute led to a cancellation of concerts for two months.[4][5][6] Before the musicians could vote on the terms of the new contract, management changed the locks to Powell Hall without notifying them. Auditions were cancelled, and the health insurance for musicians was cancelled without notice as well. Whilst the musicians considered themselves to be 'locked out', management considered this action to be an illegal strike, since the players' attorney, Leonard Leibowitz, had advised them against filing certain documents as required by law. The National Labor Relations Board agreed with management. After a two-month period of negotiations, the musicians agreed to a ten-week reduction from a 52-week season, and 30% wage reductions. Upon returning to the stage, the musicians enacted a "Vote of No Confidence" on Executive Director Randy Adams. Both parties then reached a mutual agreement under which they agreed to refer to the eight-week period as a "Work Stoppage" and the "Vote of No Confidence" was rescinded.[7] In March 2005, the musicians and Adams agreed to a new contract.[8][9][10]

From 2005-2018, the SLSO music director was David Robertson. During Robertson's tenure, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has partnered with St. Louis Public Radio to broadcast its subscription concerts live every Saturday night during its regular season, since the fall of 2010, after the sale of the St. Louis classical radio station KFUO. Robertson conducted the orchestra's first-ever appearance at The Proms in September 2012.[11] In 2013, Robertson's contract was extended through the 2015/16 season, and a further contract extension, announced in March 2014, was through the 2017/18 season.[12] Robertson's tenure as SLSO music director concluded at the end of the 2017/2018 season.

Adams stood-down as the orchestra's president and executive director in June 2007.[13][14][15] Fred Bronstein assumed the posts in March 2008.[16] Faced with declining ticket sales and deficits, Bronstein immediately launched an aggressive new revenue plan with audience development at the core of its actions. Bronstein also took steps to broaden and diversify the symphony's programming through popularly oriented programming series such as "Live at Powell Hall". Since 2008, because of new programming and marketing strategies, ticket revenues have grown 39% in the 2012 fiscal year, the highest revenues in over a decade, while seats sold grew by 16% and more than 31,000 new people were added to the customer base, reversing five years of decline. Because of successful audience development initiatives at the core of the plan as well as other revenue progress and strong management of expenses, the structural deficit (whose gaps are funded by additional contributions) has declined 18% from $3.4M in 2007 to $2.8M in 2011, dipping as low as $2.62m in 2010.

Bronstein left the SLSO to head the Peabody Conservatory in the spring of 2014. In February 2015, the SLSO named Marie-Hélène Bernard, then-president of the Handel and Haydn Society as its new president and CEO, effective July 1, 2015.[17]

In 2003, Stéphane Denève first guest-conducted the orchestra. In June 2017, the orchestra named Denève as its next music director, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of three seasons. He held the title of Music Director Designate for the 2018-2019 season.[18]

AwardsEdit

In its 140-year history, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has earned nine Grammy Awards out of 60 nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Year Category Works Conductor Additional Nominees Result
1978 Best Classical Performance - Choral Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky Leonard Slatkin Thomas Peck, Chorus director Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Marc Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz
Best Classical Performance - Orchestra Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 1 Nominated
1979 Best Classical Performance - Orchestra Rachmaninoff: Symphony Nos. 2 & 3 Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Marc Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz
Classical Producer of the Year Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3 Marc Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz Nominated
Best Classical Performance - Choral Beethoven: "Choral Fantasy," "Elegiac Song," "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" Jerzy Semkow Thomas Peck, Chorus director Nominated
1980 Classical Producer of the Year Bizet: Carmen Suites 1 and 2; Grieg: Peer Gynt Suites 1 and 2 Leonard Slatkin Robert Woods Won
1981 Best Classical Performance - Choral Prokofiev: Music from the films, Ivan the Terrible Leonard Slatkin Thomas Peck, Chorus director Nominated
1982 Best Classical Performance - Orchestra Debussy: La Mer, Prelude a l'apres midi d'un Faune, Danses Sacre et Profane Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Classical Album
Classical Producer of the Year Robert Woods Won
Best Classical Performance - Choral Rachmaninoff: The Bells, "Three Russian Songs" Thomas Peck, Chorus director Nominated
1983 Best Classical Orchestral Recording Del Tredici: In Memory of a Summer Day (Child Alice, Part 1) Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Marc Aubort
Classical Producer of the Year Marc Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz Won
1984 Best Classical Orchestral Recording Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 Leonard Slatkin Won
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Paul Goodman
Best Classical Album Nominated
Classical Producer of the Year Jay David Saks
1985 Best Classical Album Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Classical Orchestral Recording
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Paul Goodman
Classical Producer of the Year Prokofiev: Cinderella Suite; Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Jay David Saks Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey Nominated
1986 Best Classical Album Copland: Billy the Kid and Rodeo Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Classical Orchestral Recording
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Marc Aubort
Classical Producer of the Year Marc Aubort, Joanna Nickrenz
Classical Producer of the Year Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 Jay David Saks Nominated
1987 Best Classical Album Hanson: Symphony No. 2, "Romantic"; Barber: Violin Concerto Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Classical Orchestral Recording Hanson: Symphony No. 2, "Romantic"
Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra Barber: Violin Concerto Elmar Oliveira, violin
Best Contemporary Composition Schwantner: A Sudden Rainbow Nominated
Classical Producer of the Year Brahms: Serenade No. 1; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 Jay David Saks Nominated
1988 Best Classical Orchestral Recording Copland: Appalachian Spring Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Classical Producer of the Year Joanna Nickrenz
Best Contemporary Composition Bolcom: Symphony No. 4 Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano Nominated
1989 Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra Schuman: Violin Concerto; Bernstein: Serenade Leonard Slatkin Robert McDuffie, violin Nominated
Classical Producer of the Year Patti Laursen
1990 Best Classical Orchestral Recording Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical William Hoekstra
1991 Best Classical Album Barber: Symphony No. 1 and Piano Concerto Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra John Browning, piano Won
Best Engineered Recording - Classical William Hoekstra Nominated
Best Orchestral Performance Copland: Symphony No. 3 Nominated
Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra Bartok: Violin/Viola Concertos Pinchas Zuckerman, violin Nominated
1992 Best Classical Orchestral Recording Schuman: Symphony No. 10, New England Triptych, American Festival Overture, Variations on America (orch. Ives) Leonard Slatkin Nominated
1993 Best Orchestral Performance Ives: Symphony No. 3 Leoanrd Slatkin Nominated
Best Contemporary Composition Erb: Concerto for Brass and Orchestra Nominated
1994 Best Engineered Recording - Classical Bartok: The Miraculous Mandarin and Concerto for Orchestra Leonard Slatkin William Hoekstra Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Copland: Music for Films William Hoekstra Won
1995 Best Engineered Recording - Classical Anderson: The Typewriter: Leroy Anderson Favorites Leonard Slaktin William Hoekstra Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Orff: Carmina Burana William Hoekstra Nominated
1996 Best Classical Album Copland: Dance Symphony, Short Symphony, Organ Symphony Leonard Slatkin Nominated
Best Engineered Recording - Classical Lawrence Rock, Williams Hoekstra
Classical Producer of the Year Joanna Nickrenz Won
2015 Best Orchestral Performance Adams: City Noir and Saxophone Concerto David Robertson Tim McAllister, saxophone Won
Best Engineered Album - Classical Richard King Nominated
2016 Best Classical Instrumental Solo Adams: Scheherazade.2 David Robertson Leila Josefowicz, violin Nominated

St. Louis Symphony Youth OrchestraEdit

Leonard Slatkin established the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra in 1970. The post of Resident Conductor (formerly Assistant Conductor), who also acts as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, is currently held by Gemma New.[19] Past St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductors have included Slatkin, Gerhardt Zimmermann, David Loebel, David Amado, Scott Parkman, Ward Stare, and Steven Jarvi.

Chorus ensemblesEdit

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra houses two choral ensembles: the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and the IN UNISON Chorus. Founded in 1976 by music director Jerzy Semkow and its first director, Thomas Peck, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus is an orchestral chorus that performs in major concerts throughout each season, usually featured in choral symphonies. The Symphony Chorus is currently directed by Amy Kaiser, a well-known choral director, having previously led various ensembles across the country.

The IN UNISON Chorus was established in 1994 by Robert Ray, and performs a variety of musical styles; it primarily focuses on the music of African-American and African cultures, notably gospel music, and partners with several churches in the St. Louis area. The IN UNISON Chorus is currently directed by Kevin McBeth, who is also Director of Music at Manchester United Methodist Church in suburban St. Louis. The ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary during the 2018/2019 season.[20]

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra also features the Holiday Festival Chorus, consisting of high-school-aged singers from across the St. Louis region, performing at holiday concerts each season.

Music directorsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hoover, John Neal (Fall 1985). "St. Louis Mercantile Library". Journal of Library History. 20 (4): 440–443. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  2. ^ Silva, Eddie (1 November 2000). "Facing the Music". Riverfront Times. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  3. ^ Silva, Eddie (12 September 2001). "Stop the Music". Riverfront Times. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  4. ^ Miller, Sarah Bryan (2005-01-20). "Symphony strike echoes across US". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  5. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (4 January 2005). "Labor Dispute Halts Music in St. Louis". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  6. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (17 February 2005). "The Silence in St. Louis Is Starting to Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  7. ^ Mattison, Ben (24 February 2005). "Labor Board Rules St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Strike Is Illegal". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  8. ^ Mattison, Ben (25 February 2005). "St. Louis Symphony Management and Musicians Reach Tentative Deal". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  9. ^ Mattison, Ben (2 March 2005). "St. Louis Symphony Musicians Approve New Contract, Ending Two-Month Work Stoppage". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  10. ^ Gay, Malcolm (24 August 2005). "Unfinished Symphony". Riverfront Times. Archived from the original on 19 November 2005. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  11. ^ Ashley, Tim (2012-09-05). "Prom 71: St Louis Symphony/Robertson". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  12. ^ "St. Louis Symphony Announces Contract Extension with Music Director David Robertson through 2017–2018" (Press release). St. Louis Symphony. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  13. ^ Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, "SLSO President and Executive Director Randy Adams Announces Resignation". Press release, 20 February 2007.
  14. ^ Miller, Sarah Bryan, "Symphony president says he will step aside in June". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 21 February 2007.
  15. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (22 February 2007). "St. Louis Symphony President Randy Adams Resigns". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
  16. ^ Sarah Bryan Miller, "SLSO hires new president". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 15 December 2007.
  17. ^ Miller, Sarah Bryan (2015-02-11). "St. Louis Symphony Orchestra names new president and CEO". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  18. ^ "Stéphane Denève Named Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony" (Press release). St. Louis Symphony. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  19. ^ Miller, Sarah Bryan (2016-06-02). "SLSO appoints Gemma New as resident conductor". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  20. ^ Salter, Jim (2018-12-24). "St. Louis Symphony's In Unison Chorus begins 25th year". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2019-07-08.

External linksEdit