Mr. Robertson has, to begin with, a very sure feel for programming, both at the individual concert and season level. He has consistently assembled subscription seasons that combine the tried and true with the lesser known and the brand new. The Pulitzer Series concerts, meanwhile, have offered exciting and challenging works from the 20th and 21st centuries. And the symphony's various outreach programs have embedded the organization firmly in the local community.
Mr. Robertson has also been successful in getting national and international attention for the orchestra, including Carnegie Hall appearances and tours of California and Europe (including a concert in the BBC Proms series). His tenure has also seen the return of the orchestra's weekly concert broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 FM, HD 1, and via a very high-quality Internet stream.
Mr. Robertson also appears to have an excellent relationship with the orchestra. More than once in my reviews I have commented on how much the musicians seem to like him and on how much joy he seems to take in conducting them. That sort of thing communicates itself to the audience.
And then, finally, there's the remarkable depth of the orchestra's talent pool under Mr. Robertson. I've been attending St. Louis Symphony concerts for over 40 years now and reviewing them for KDHX on a sporadic basis since the station went on the air and on a regular basis since the 2010-2011 season. I've seen music directors come and go during that time, but I don't think orchestra has sounded this good since the Slatkin years.
More than once I've noted that this is an orchestra of virtuosi, and I think we can thank Mr. Robertson for at least some of that. It's truly his orchestra now, and even though he is also chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and has guest appearances all over the world, I hope he continues to see St. Louis as his home base.