The orchestra rehearsed on Tuesday morning for the evening League of American Orchestras Conference Concert, an open rehearsal for some conference attendees, among them conductors watching David Robertson conduct.
David Robertson, Anna Kuwabara, and Jesse Rosen
Jesse Rosen, the President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras stopped backstage before rehearsal, and then thanked the musicians onstage for their involvement as musical hosts this week.
I caught a few shots of the musicians warming up on stage.
Tom Stubbs on snare drum
Left to right: Beth Chu, Melissa Brooks, Anne Fagerburg, and Daniel Lee
Peter Henderson practices his Doctor Atomic Symphony part.
Celeste Golden Boyer and David Halen
Left to right: Melissa Brooks, Chris Woehr, Daniel Lee, and Alvin McCall
Preliminary sessions of the League of American Orchestras Conference begin Monday. My department, External Affairs, will be representing at an afternoon session downtown.
Also representing at this conference will be the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, which gives a concert at Powell for conference attendees on Tuesday afternoon. The big orchestra takes the stage in the evening, which is a concert for everybody. Tickets on sale.
David Robertson with YO percussion
David Robertson conducts both the YO and the St. Louis Symphony concerts. He and the YO got in some extra rehearsal on Monday morning. Robertson got right into Ingram Marshall’s Kingdom Come with the musicians, going right into the bass and percussion sections to make a point.
On Friday morning the percussion, music stands, chairs and risers were herded into corners of the stage before being set in place for the weekend rehearsals of the League of American Orchestras Conference Concert. The concert is Tuesday night at Powell Hall.
Powell Hall stage
With the St. Louis Symphony divided in two for Opera Theatre performances and Live at Powell Hall concerts the past few weeks, it comes together as one mighty force playing some mighty repertoire: Mozart, Wagner, Sibelius, John Adams. David Robertson conducts. Eric Owens sings. Come see your orchestra show off for the orchestra folks visiting from around the U.S. and Canada. Represent, St. Louis!
The League of American Orchestras Conference is right over the horizon. We can see it just over the Circus Flora tent. Almost here. We’ll be ready.
Champion, which receives its world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis on Saturday, is a complex story about Emile Griffith, a world-champ boxer who “killed a man in the ring,” and who also frequented gay nightclubs during a time when the closet was in the darkest shadows of American society.
Sunday, Smetana’s The Kiss opens at OTSL. It is, as one Symphony musician told me, “about a kiss.”
One of the many pluses about having OTSL in our town is how it shows that opera is about everything under the sun, and in the shadows.
Ward Stare is busy this weekend. He conducts Il tabarro and Pagliacci at Opera Theatre Friday night, and then the 1812/Bolero Live at Powell Hall concert Saturday night.
The orchestra is in the pit for Pirates of Penzance at Opera Theatre Sunday, and YO auditions are still in progress. Keep practicing. Don’t stop believing.
I’ll be on a road trip. Back to blogging Tuesday. (Road trip and Journey lyric just seem to go together.)
With St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra auditions ongoing, here is more proof that good things come out of YO experience:
St. Louis Symphony English horn and oboe player Cally Banham joined the Philadelphia YO as fourth oboe when she was a teenager. Her “first principal ever,” would later move from double reed to become one of the most distinguished bass baritones of our time: Eric Owens. Yes, the very Eric Owens who joins the Symphony to sing Mozart and Wagner at the League of American Orchestras Conference Concert, here at Powell, June 18.
“He was the first one to tell me how to play in an orchestra,” Cally told me. “He was very nice to me. Eric went on to Curtis [Institute] to pursue his singing career, but over the years our paths have crossed. Every couple years Eric would say hello on the stage or come to the orchestra pit. Sometimes he would ask to play my oboe and he always sounded great. I’m kind of glad he got out of that habit because he made playing the oboe look so easy.
Eric Owens as Alberich in Das Rheingold
“I didn’t hear him sing until his career had progressed,” Cally continued. “I went to the Met for Das Rheingold to see him as Alberich, the role that really elevated his career.
“He last sang with the Symphony in 2009. I’m happy that he’s coming back. I can’t wait to see him.”
Another alum of that YO squad: Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who has been a guest conductor in St. Louis and is music director of the Fort Worth Symphony, was the assistant conductor of that ensemble.
St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra auditions are in progress, all in the capable hands of YO Manager Jessica Ingraham. Last night it was violas and double basses, about two dozen all together, playing for St. Louis Symphony judges.
This is what they see when they take the stage for audition. The judges are behind the curtain.
I helped with some musician wrangling, and, as always, I was charmed by the young people who work to be in the YO. They gave each other encouragement. They helped each other. They were polite. They were the kind of folks you’d want to spend some time with and listen to what they think, people you’d want to create an orchestra around. And then hear how they make music, and imagine them making a better world.
Richard Hayman was unable to make it to his tribute concert last month. The Symphony’s Pops Conductor Emeritus was greatly missed, and not just because of the great sparkly jackets or the harmonica virtuosity. He possesses a gracious and fun-living spirit. He is a true music man.
Alison Harney, Don Martin, and Tina Ward
During a break in the action in the Opera Theatre, Smetana The Kiss, rehearsal, musicians signed a giant card, sending their love and appreciation to Hayman. I’ve been assured that there is a giant envelope big enough to fit it. The card, that is, the love and appreciation are boundless.
I took a very quick poll of favorite Queen songs among the musicians. The top picks included:
On the music stand
We Will Rock You
Another One Bites the Dust (violinist Jessica Cheng informed me that the USC Band always played this during football games whenever there was a sack)
We Are the Champions
Fat Bottom Girls (which was usually mentioned sheepishly, but then it was usually added “But it’s really my favorite”)