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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.

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.

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.

This weekend the St. Louis Symphony is repeating what is starting to look like a holiday tradition with a celebration of the film music of John Williams, conducted by maestro David Robertson. If it's anything like previous programs of Williams's music, it will certainly make a joyful noise — and isn't that largely what the season is all about?

As I noted in one of my symphony preview posts a few days ago, it's far from clear exactly what set of historical accidents turned George Frederick Handel's 1741 oratorio "The Messiah" into a Christmas tradition here in the USA. But traditional it is, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of early music specialist Bernard Labadie, are observing it in fine style this weekend.

In a recent post I looked at the way Handel's "Messiah" got moved from Easter to Christmas. This time I'd like to take a look at an even more puzzling question: Why does everyone stand during the "Hallelujah" chorus that concludes Part 2?

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