David Robertson and The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are getting their act together and taking it on the road to sunny California this week and next, with appearances in Aliso Viejo, Palm Desert, Berkeley, and Los Angeles, January 27 through February 2. If what I saw in Powell Hall Saturday night is any indication, they're going to take the West Coast by storm.
The musical "Georama," a staged reading of which was part of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Ignite! New Play Festival in 2014, is getting a fully staged world premiere right now in the Rep studio. It's not perfect, but has a lot going for it: a great cast, a literate book, an appealing score, and above all, a fascinating story about John Banvard.
This weekend is a busy one for David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, with regular subscription concerts yesterday morning and tonight and another enjoyable Whitaker Foundation-sponsored "Music You Know" concert last night.
The second and more substantial half of this weekend's St. Louis Symphony double bill consists of only two works: John Adams's "Saxophone Concerto," which the SLSO recorded in 2014, and Mahler's powerful "Symphony No. 5," which hasn't been heard here since 2009.
It's another two-for-one sale at Powell Hall this Friday and Saturday as David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony present "Music You Know: Romantic Favorites" on Friday night, and major works by John Adams and Mahler Friday morning and Saturday night. I'll talk about the second program in another article.
America's bicentennial sparked a lot of activity on the classical music scene, including special concerts, new commissioned works, and even a record label (New World) dedicated to American music, past and present. One of the more unusual commissioned works, though, came not from an American composer but from a Frenchman. It was "Des canyons aux étoiles..." ("From the Canyons to the Stars...") by Olivier Messiaen, and it's getting its local premiere this Saturday by David Robertson and the SLSO.
I love visiting Paris, and in my memory the city has a lovely soft-focus luminosity that is beautifully captured in Disney/Pixar's 2007 animated comedy "Ratatouille," the concert version of which got its North American premiere last weekend at Powell Hall with the St. Louis Symphony and guest artists under the baton of Sarah Hicks.
As it has every Christmas season since 1951, the Bach Society of St. Louis presented its "Candlelight Concert" last night. It's a local tradition grounded in fine musicianship and intelligent programming, and marred only by the fact that it lasts but one night.
What with El Niño, global warming, and the relentless drumbeat of hate and fear from the rightward end of the political spectrum, it hasn't felt much like Christmas lately for me. But walking into a bright, wreath-bedecked Powell Hall Friday night for the first of the St. Louis Symphony's Macy's Holiday Celebration concerts changed all that. I'm starting to feel like a right jolly old elf.
I haven't read Ann Patchett's popular novel "Bel Canto". So I have no idea whether the musical and theatrical overload of the opera version, which is currently having its world premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago, reflects the style of Ms. Patchett's writing or that of composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz.