Fire on Stage

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Oleta Adams joined the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus and St. Louis Symphony for Gospel Christmas rehearsal on stage at Powell Hall Wednesday night. There were reports of an underground fire in Grand Center sometime during the night. I haven’t heard of a cause, but Adams was smoldering.

 

Oleta Adams

Oleta Adams

Making the Rounds

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The Symphony musicians continue to make the rounds of places where people get together, whether sick or well, old or young. It’s kind of like the Symphony’s marriage with the community: in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.

 

Angie Smart and Claire "the Clown" Wedemeyer bring Build-a-Bear to Mercy Hospital through the combined SymphonyCares and Clowns on Call programs.

Angie Smart and Claire “the Clown” Wedemeyer bring Build-a-Bear to Mercy Hospital through the combined SymphonyCares and Clowns on Call programs.

Xiaoxiao Qiang and Katy Mattis perform at Canterbury Park

Xiaoxiao Qiang and Katy Mattis perform at Canterbury Park.

Tambourine Management

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If you don’t have a gig to play your tambourine, you can take time to show others how. During a break in the Symphony action, Principal Timpani Shannon Wood visited Parkway Central Middle School and gave a few lessons in tambourine management. Start here. Timpani later.

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Can’t Look

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Katy Mattis, Associate Principal Viola, told me that the worst thing about the Circus Flora show is that the musicians don’t have time to look away from their music to watch the action. Although you will probably catch a few peeking during the Flying Wallendas’ finale.

The Flying Wallendas

The Flying Wallendas

Into the Mystic

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On Wednesday morning a patient at SLU Cancer Center received final chemotherapy leading up to his bone-marrow transplant. A patient going through such a procedure is, and this is more than metaphor, being reborn. The old bone marrow dies, new living tissue enters the system. The staff at SLU have developed a small ritual for such an event, a kind of birthday celebration.

The St. Louis Symphony SymphonyCares program has been partnering with SLU Cancer Center for a number of years. Musicians visit its infusion room once a month and perform for patients receiving chemotherapy. After the program got going, patients began to plan their treatments according to the concert schedule.

With the infusion-room concerts being such a success, Maureen Byrne, Director of Community Programs, thought if there was a birthday party going on at the Cancer Center, the Symphony musicians needed to be a part of it as well.

Allegra Lilly prepares to perform at the St. Louis University Cancer Center.

Allegra Lilly prepares to perform at the St. Louis University Cancer Center.

So for the first time, Wednesday morning, musicians from the Symphony played a requested song on the occasion of one patient’s bone-marrow transplant. Principal Harp Allegra Lilly and First Violin Ann Fink performed Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” in an arrangement by composer and Symphony violist Chris Woehr.

“It was a magical experience” Byrne told me afterward. “For all the logistics, all that went into making this happen … the patients, the staff, the musicians, all were stunned when it was over. It was deeply meaningful, and it was personal.”

In the Meantime

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Powell Hall is receiving a circus makeover for A Winter Fable, the Circus Flora-St. Louis Symphony collaboration playing this weekend, December 12-14.

The musicians return to the hall Thursday for rehearsal. In the meantime, they are teaching and performing around the region. Here is Principal Trombone Tim Myers teaching a class at Parkway Central Middle School.

Myers 1Myers has taught me a lot about music over the years. I bet he could teach anything and be inspiring.

Also this week, a Tower Grove Park concert in the Piper Palm House with Karin Bliznik, trumpet; Dave DeRiso, double bass; Tom Stubbs, percussion; and Patti Wolf, piano, Tuesday night.

Thursday, bass trombone player Gerry Pagano makes his 20th annual visit to St. Agnes Home as part of SymphonyCares. He brings the whole section: Myers, Amanda Stewart and Jonathan Reycraft. That concert is a highlight of the year every year.

Gerry Pagano at St. Agnes Home

Gerry Pagano at St. Agnes Home

Grammy Nominations

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The St. Louis Symphony has received two Grammy nominations for the Nonesuch recording of John Adams’ City Noir, Best Orchestral Performance & Best Engineered (Classical) Album. Hot diggety. Click.

 

David Robertson and John Adams during rehearsal break of "City Noir," February 2013.

David Robertson and John Adams during rehearsal break of “City Noir,” February 2013.

4 X 4

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Four Seasons. Four St. Louis Symphony violinists. As Jooyeon Kong, who plays Autumn, says, “What’s not to love?”

Vivaldi at Dewey

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St. Louis Symphony Director of Education Berakiah Boone brought six Symphony string players to perform Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons for second graders at Dewey Elementary on Tuesday. Violinists Ann Fink, Xiaoxiao Qiang and Eva Kozma, violist Chris Tantillo, cellist Alvin McCall and bassist Dave DeRiso played for an exuberant audience. Do second graders get Vivaldi? They bobbed their heads to the beat, they danced in their seats to the rhythms, they recognized shifts in tempo and knew what “tempo” means. I barely got “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” when as was in second grade.

In the words of one student, when it was all over: “That was good!”

Berakiah Boone with members of the St. Louis Symphony strings at Dewey Elementary.

Berakiah Boone (center) with members of the St. Louis Symphony strings at Dewey Elementary.

Idyll Thoughts

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Progress as promised. The Four Season‘s podcast is available on 10-50-135. I mostly quote Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi, so I know the content is worthy. Whether I’m pronouncing Siegfried Idyll correctly or not is up for grabs.

 

Steven Jarvi conducts this weekend's concerts featuring Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Photo: Dilip Vishwanat

Steven Jarvi conducts this weekend’s concerts featuring Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Photo: Dilip Vishwanat