From the President
Thank you for visiting this space. I am writing with regard to important developments at the St. Louis Symphony, with a focus on our upcoming 2014-15 Season, our 135th.
The esteem in which the St. Louis Symphony continues to be held was affirmed by the music world this past fall. Following their November 2013 Carnegie Hall concert, the New York Times called the Symphony’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes on the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, “…incisive and wrenching” and it was named one of the top five classical performances of 2013 by the New York Times. review
Here at home, audiences continue to make the St. Louis Symphony, with its breadth and depth of programming, a destination location for all kinds of music. This season, total ticket revenues continue to track ahead of the prior year, especially in key products like Live at Powell Hall which shows revenues at the present time running ahead by 28%.
Ticket revenues are one piece of a comprehensive plan to continue to build operating revenues. In fact, in the five years since the launch of the Building our Business initiative in 2008, the St. Louis Symphony has seen its ticket revenues grow 36% due largely to its highly successful Live at Powell Hall performances; its paid attendance grow 17% (including more than 39,000 new patrons); per-concert average increase 15%; and its contributed operating revenues grow 26%, all resulting in a reduction of its structural deficit in 2013 to its lowest level since 2005 and smallest deficit as a percentage of budget in 12 years. FY2013 Financial results (Download | PDF)
Next Season – Our 135th press release
Building audiences continues to be key. Our focus for the Wells Fargo Advisors Classical Series is on programming balance, accessibility, creativity and artistic growth. The 2014-15 Season is the 135th of the STL Symphony and marks David Robertson’s 10th season as music director. In addition to world renowned soloists and guest conductors, the season is unique among major orchestras in featuring fifty of the St. Louis Symphony’s own musicians in solo performances. With programming as diverse as Ravel’s Bolero and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, to a concert version of Verdi’s Aida that includes specially commissioned video enhancements, along with works of today’s most exciting composers like John Adams and James MacMillan, the season displays a range of musical styles that highlights the breadth of our orchestra and audiences. The St. Louis Symphony’s sixth annual gala features pianist Lang Lang. Live at Powell Hall which has been the source of double-digit ticket sales growth since its inception five years ago, continues to show a completely different side of the St. Louis Symphony. Highlights include three very special movie-with-live-orchestra presentations including the U.S. premiers of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Gladiator, along with the iconic blockbuster film, The Godfather which includes never before heard parts of one of the most famous movie scores in history. Live at Powell Hall also reprises its highly successful collaboration with Circus Flora in a new holiday production, A Winter Fable.
Three special initiatives are planned for the 2014-15 Season. A new CD with Nonesuch Records featuring John Adams’ City Noir and Saxophone Concerto co-commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony is scheduled for release in 2014. Building on its November 2013 Peter Grimes triumph, the St. Louis Symphony returns to Carnegie Hall in March 2015. And the St. Louis Symphony in partnership with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri/Southern Illinois presents the critically acclaimed, Defiant Requiem, a moving musical and theatrical experience that tells the story of courageous Jewish prisoners of the Terezin Concentration Camp who performed Verdi’s Requiem in an act of resistance.
Over the Next Horizon
Next year and beyond, the continued success and ultimate sustainability of the St. Louis Symphony as a great orchestra in large part depends upon meeting long-term benchmarks and objectives. The St. Louis Symphony has a rolling ten-year plan that matches revenue objectives to goals established in the strategic plan. Projections call for revenues to grow about 3% and expenses 2% annually and to continue to close remaining structural operating gaps by 2020, gaps which have been funded through 2015 by special funding raised specifically for this purpose ensuring no deficits accumulate. Now, as we continue to focus on operating revenue growth, a renewed focus on building on an endowment that today stands at $155 million is an important strategy in ensuring excellence and long-term sustainability.
Please watch this space to learn more about our progress in this important area in the coming months. In the meantime, I appreciate your continued interest in the St. Louis Symphony.