In a season of St. Louis Symphony anniversaries, here’s another: it’s the 10th anniversary of the St. Louis Symphony blog. Let’s pop a cork!
Here is how it all began, October 4, 2004–the first post:
So how did this get started?
It was a bit of synchronicity. I have been with the SLSO for a year now following eight years covering the arts for the Riverfront Times. Here at the Symphony, we’ve been looking for ways to improve slso.org. The idea of a blog, an (almost) daily journal of life at the Symphony, had been on my mind as a possibility. And, as it happened, other people had been thinking the same thing. With my experience as a journalist and columnist, we thought I could record the inner life of the organization – running into JoAnn Falletta on the elevator, hearing Dominique Labelle let out a joyous “Woo hoo” at the end of a rehearsal, David Robertson sightings – as well as provide commentary and observations about the music itself, as well as the issues surrounding the world of orchestral music.
So here we are. My first disclaimer: I have no music training of any kind. I listened to rock & roll when I was younger and I still do. But somewhere along the way I heard classical music as well. I’m old enough to remember the Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts on TV and recall being blown away by those smart New York City kids in the audience. Many years later, I’m still not as smart as them. I also remember going to a performance of Verdi’s Otello at the Portland Opera House (Portland, Oregon) on a junior-high field trip and sitting in absolute awe of the enormous scale of it all – the staging, the voices, the emotions. In the vernacular of the time, it really was a trip.
As a grownup, finding myself as a cultural critic and journalist, I came to the Saint Louis Symphony with more curiosity than background. I like the music. I like to listen to the music live in Powell Hall. What’s not to like? And talking to Orchestra members such as David Halen and Gary Smith and Jan Gippo and Felicia Foland and Richard Holmes and Amy Oshiro and Morris Jacob, and then interviewing visiting artists such as Philip Glass and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and John Adams – I found out stuff, and hopefully passed on some of the stuff I found out to readers.
Lo and behold, things change. I now find myself among the musicians and staff I formerly admired, and occasionally criticized (tenderly), from the outside. In truth, I couldn’t have imagined a better place to land in St. Louis.
The blog. What will it be? I’m of the generation that learned creation as process. Let’s find out as we go along. There will be the offhand observations: those little hickies that are on violin and viola players necks aren’t there because the string section is incessantly romantic but because of the repeated placement and pressure of their instruments underneath their chins time after time. Believe it or not, it took me a while to figure that out. I’ll talk about current articles, books, films that in one way or another reflect on the orchestral world. Mostly, I hope this blog may help to open the orchestral experience to you in ways that will increase your pleasure and interest.