SLSO, music director Stéphane Denève announce 2019/2020 season

Orchestra’s 140th year, Denève’s first year as music director

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO), along with new music director Stéphane Denéve, announced the details of its upcoming season on Tuesday.

“I fell in love with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra back in 2003 when I first conducted this superb orchestra in its beautiful home. After all these years of our partnership, I am still quite taken by the unique musical spirit of this wondrous institution,” Denève said. “The talent and refinement of its musicians, and their true friendliness and openmindedness, have always struck me as providing exceptional opportunities for profound music-making.”

SLSO is the second-oldest orchestra in the county, celebrating its 140th year beginning September 2019 and running through May 2020. Denève, who currently serves as Music Director Designate, will begin his tenure as the 13th Music Director of the SLSO with a free concert at Forest Park’s iconic Art Hill.

“I am overjoyed to begin my tenure as Music Director,” Denève said. “To collaborate with this exceptional orchestra, to serve its remarkable community and to ensure our music is even more accessible for all. For this first season of our ‘marriage,’ I was given the freedom to dream and I am passionate about every single week.”

Denève said he is dedicating this season to a Franco-American arch to honor St. Louis’ “strong and abiding connections” to France while exploring the shared “vibrant, sensual aesthetic” being the pleasures of sound and color. He said throughout the season, SLSO will explore connections between classic repertoire and the music of their time, including guest artists and new talents, with the bond of Powell Hall and the St. Louis community.

According to Denève, a specific guest to expect to see is his longtime collaborator, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who will be SLSO’s first “Artist-in-Residence,” with thanks to the generosity and support from Jean-Paul and Isabelle Montupet.

“We also will continue to perform pieces recommended by our musicians,” Denève said. “Sharing these musical gifts from our family to yours.”

Through the connection between French and American musical cultures, Denève’s classical programs will feature a wide range of repertoire which will include works by Beethoven; Brahms; Liszt; Mozart; Shostakovich; Stravinsky and Wagner. Works by French composers include Berlioz; Guillaume; Connesson; Debussy; Poulenc; Ravel; Roussel and Saint-Saëns which will complement the American repertoire of the season by John Adams; Barber; Bernstein; William Bolcom; Gershwin; Jennifer Higdon; Pierre Jalbert and John Williams.

“Stéphane Denève is a remarkable musician and collaborator, and the chemistry between him and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is palpable,” Marie-Hélène Bernard, president and CEO of SLSO, said. “With the start of Stéphane’s tenure as Music Director, we are thrilled to create a space for their partnership to grow and thrive.”

Bernard said the 2019/2020 season is a reflection of Denève’s energy and excitement. According to her, Denève building on the 140th year history of SLSO by embracing the beloved traditions while also incorporating new ideas.

SLSO will also be performing two world premieres during the 2019/2020 season.

One performance will be by Pulitzer Prize winner, Kevin Puts, to commemorate Denève’s inaugural concerts as the newest music director. That performance will be held on September 21-22, 2019.

The second world premiere will be a performance of the work by Pulitzer Prize winner, Aaron Jay Kernis, on November 15-16, 2019.

In addition to the world premiere performances, SLSO will give the premiere of an SLSO co-commissioner to honor Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin’s 75th birthday. The performance will be a piece that five orchestras, who are close to Slatkin, have each commissioned a composer to write a variation of Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. SLSO has partnered with John Corigliano to compose a variation with other contributing composers including Mason Bates, Guillaume Connesson and Cindy McTee.

“[Denève’s] commitment to enhancing our artistic, educational, community and media outreach truly aligns with the SLSO’s strategic initiatives to embrace existing and new audiences,” Bernard said. “Stéphane has already established himself as a vital partner to our entire SLSO family. This is truly a historic moment for our community, and a defining one as we look toward our future together.”

Denève will lead the SLSO for 12 weeks total throughout the season, including 11 classical subscription programs. His tenure will begin with the festive Forest Park concert for the St. Louis community on September 12, 2019, featuring the SLSO and the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus.

For more information about the 2019/2020 season and a list of performance dates visit here.