Tag Archives: st. louis symphony

Arts events for families on October 7

What are you doing on Sunday, October 7, 2012? We are so lucky in St. Louis to have many quality, family friendly arts events to choose from this Sunday. Join in the fun and enjoy visual art, dance, jazz, or classical music!

Visual arts open studio at COCA
Sunday, October 7, 2012, 1 to 3 pm
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130

Children (3+) explore collage, book art, watercolor, and paper maché under the guidance of COCA’s visual arts instructors. Children under 6 must be accompanied by an adult.

hip hOZ performance at COCA
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130
$16 to $20

COCA presents the world-premiere of this original production that takes audiences on a high energy, hip-hop adventure down the yellow brick road. Created by international hip-hop sensation, and COCA’s own, Redd Williams, hip hOZ features innovative choreography to mash-ups of classic and contemporary music. Tickets are almost sold out as of October 4, 2012.

Get Hip! Jazz St. Louis Youth Concert at Touhill Performing Arts Center
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2 pm
One University Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63121
FREE (no tickets needed)

Presented by Jazz St. Louis, Get Hip! is a fun, interactive introduction to jazz that illuminates the art form’s cultural origins, concepts about improvisation and creative self-expression, and explores the role and responsibility of each individual member of the jazz ensemble and how they all must work together. Instrument “petting zoo” and face painting begins at 1 pm in the lobby.

St. Louis Symphony Family Concert: Green Eggs and Ham at Powell Hall
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3 pm
718 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103
$12 to $17

This 45 minute interactive performance features a theme of “trying new things,” something everyone needs help with! The first half of the concert includes music by Copland, Reich, and Ives and encourages the audience to join in with clapping, rhythm patterns, and singing. The second half of the concert brings the famous book Green Eggs and Ham to life, with words by Dr. Seuss, music by Rob Kapilow, actor Michael Boudewyns, and soprano Kimberly Schroeder of the Really Inventive Stuff theater group.

Photo: Jazz St. Louis

St. Louis Symphony & Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Being a St. Louis transplant, I am consistently amazed at the cultural and artistic resources we have in the region considering the size of this city. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is one of those incredible gems. Their Friday evening performance with the contemporary dance company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, was an enthralling experience overall and offered audiences the rare chance to enjoy contemporary dance with live music, something most dance companies cannot afford without co-producers. The connectivity between the orchestra and the dancers (even on a limited rehearsal schedule) was clear and confident.

The performance begins with Mozart’s lively Le nozze di Figaro Overture, a comforting and familiar piece that the symphony played with great enthusiasm. The orchestra did a wonderful job of presenting those naked, glorious, and untainted Mozart lines where there is absolutely no wiggle room for intonation or ensemble issues.

The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancers joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for Arcangelo with music by Corelli and Scarlatti. Concertmaster David Halen’s exquisite playing really sang in this work. The choreography by Nacho Duato and the dancers visually brought to life all of the luscious stretching, pushing, pulling, and quick changes between staccato and legato that are written in the score. Countertenor, David Stephens, gave a historically accurate performance, filled with the clean, round sounds, which we heard in the Mozart.

The Brandenburg Concerto left us breathless. I had to restrain myself from dancing in the aisle. After seeing the dancers in the Corelli and Scarlatti pieces, it was a nice opportunity to listen to the orchestra alone playing this famous Baroque work. The symphony’s attacks, dynamics, and textures took on a new feel in the Brandenburg after seeing them visually embodied by the dancers earlier.

The Anna Clyne piece was my favorite. Organic, rather unearthly music is joined by choreography that is subtle, filled with breath, challenging, and unique yet somehow familiar. The shadowed lighting design, white costumes, and poignant playing by the orchestra was memorable. I was amazed by the dancers’ gorgeous use of their feet–their roll down and languid slow walks across the stage were stunning.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor David Robertson, smartly gives us a little humor and playfulness and of course connections to the Baroque music we heard earlier in the concert, by programming Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto. We get to hear the symphony’s stellar woodwind and brass sections in this piece and solid piano playing by Peter Henderson.

The most exhausting and full of more obvious dance “tricks” were found in the visually arresting, “As few as 3000,” with choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo and music by Martinu. There are some moving moments between two dancers undulating their torsos and heads to meet foreheads in this work, bringing us full circle to the curvatures we heard and experienced from the music and choreography in the first half of the program.

In general, it is rather challenging to program a concert featuring contemporary dance and a relatively traditional symphony orchestra in a large hall because typically the audiences of each do not crossover significantly. The cost of the concert tickets will most likely limit the usual contemporary dance audiences from being able to attend this performance, but I think that the event evolved into a fruitful collaboration that may excite current classical music patrons into exploring the realm of contemporary dance a little more.

There is one final performance Sunday, February 19 at 3 pm.

“Grow St. Louis” Grants

Agricultural giant Monsanto is an amazing supporter of nonprofits throughout the world and especially here in St. Louis where the company is based. As part of Monsanto’s public relations campaign, “Grow St. Louis,” the company created a contest to challenge local nonprofits to improve our region. The three winning organizations who receive the most votes from the general public will receive grants of $15,000, $10,000, or $5,000. There is a long list of worthy projects, but here are a few arts related recommendations.

CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis)
St. Louis Symphony
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Arts and Education Council
Circus Harmony

Voting ends January 29 and you can vote once each day. The first time you vote, you will be asked to validate your email address. This validation request is emailed to you and may end up in your junk folder, so be sure to check or your vote won’t count.

Vote for your favorite project here and help support the arts in St. Louis.

Photo: CAM

Mozart’s The Magic Flute for Families

The St. Louis Symphony performs a 45 minute condensed version of Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute, on Sunday, January 15 at 3 pm, Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard), with Ward Stare conducting. Filled with imaginative settings, a bird seller, a captured princess, an evil queen of the night, colorful costumes, an eight foot long stuffed dragon, and of course beautiful and unforgettable music, this abbreviated version of The Magic Flute is a great introduction to opera for mature preschoolers and up (even adults who are not fond of sitting through 3 hours of a full length opera).

The performance features baritone Ian Greenlaw, several artists from the prestigious Opera Theatre of St. Louis Young Artists program, and local singers. The opera is presented in English with projected titles. Tickets start at an incredibly reasonable $7 each and are available online or by calling 314.534.1700.

Additional tips:

* There is no intermission so be sure to make a restroom stop before the show.
* Kids hungry before the performance? Family friendly treats such as candy, Billy Goat potato chips, cookies, beverages, and more are available for sale in the lobby.
* Current best seating availability is in the rear top balcony section and the rear main level areas. You may want to bring binoculars for your children if you sit in these areas so that they can see more costume or facial details of the performers. In terms of sound, I would recommend the balcony seating area over the rear main floor area.
* Metered street parking is free on Sundays, so if you want to secure one of these spots, try to arrive a little early to the performance. Otherwise, there are paid parking lots adjacent to Powell Hall.
* At various stations throughout the lobby areas prior to the performance, kids can try out a flute, a violin, and other instruments. Any instruments with mouth pieces are cleaned of course before each use!
* The Arizona Opera produced a nice study guide about The Magic Flute geared towards school age children and adults who are new to the opera.
* Visit the blog “Playing by the Book” for wonderful children’s books about The Magic Flute.

A taste of the music from the Metropolitan Opera’s famous 2006 Julie Taymor production:

Photo: Ken Howard, Metropolitan Opera

Baby Got Bach: interactive music event for kids

Sponsored by the Centene Corporation, Baby Got Bach in St. Louis is an interactive concert series for kids age 3 to 6. Experience this free, entertaining program praised by the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and hundreds of parents, on Saturday, November 26 at 10:30 am, Centene Plaza, 7700 Forsyth Boulevard. Orli Shaham, a local musician, internationally known pianist, and busy Mom of twins is the founder and artistic director of Baby Got Bach. She will be joined by a quintet of wind players from the St. Louis Symphony.

Although free tickets for this event have already all been distributed as of Sunday, November 20, you may add your name to the Baby Got Bach mailing list to receive information about other upcoming St. Louis concerts on February 18 and April 21, 2012 at 11 am (note the April date is tentative), also at Centene Plaza in Clayton. If your kids are flexible, you can still go to the Saturday, November 26 event without a confirmed reservation and possibly be admitted as space becomes available. I’m sure that not all the people who have confirmed reservations will actually show up (the initial maximum capacity on the event was approximately 200 people). Such is the nature of last minute life with kids, holidays, and of course when tickets are free.

Parking is available for $2 per hour at the Centene Plaza garage. Street parking is another option and is free on Saturdays.

About the event
The first 30 minutes of Baby Got Bach gives kids an opportunity to visit four musical activity stations where they can meet musicians, play with instruments, conduct, and explore music concepts. This portion is followed by a ten minute “jam session” in which the musicians perform songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” while audience members have a percussion instrument to play. Musical terms such as forte and piano will be taught (if your child watches the Disney Jr. show, “Little Einstein’s,” or is a Kindermusik student, she/he will be in the know!). Baby Got Bach concludes with the main stage concert program featuring the following brief pieces:

Bach: Invention in C Major
Berio: Opus Number Zoo (first movement)
Beethoven: Variations on “La ci darem” (selections)
Schumann: Fantasy Pieces (no. 3) for clarinet and piano
Mozart: Quintet for piano and winds (third movement)
Ligeti: Bagatelles No. 1 & 3 for wind quintet and piano
Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee (transcription for wind quintet and piano)

Baby Got Bach brings much joy, fun, and a quality musical experience for the preschool set and their caregivers. If you are able, feel free to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to this worthwhile nonprofit organization.

About Orli Shaham, Artistic Director, Host, and Pianist
Orli Shaham got an early start in her music career. She began playing piano at age four, and got her first music scholarship when she was five. Just a couple years later, she began her studies at The Juilliard School with Herbert Stessin. That was the beginning of a flood of prestigious performances and awards, launching her international career. Ms. Shaham has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras and has been lauded for her recitals at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, and Lincoln Center, as well as many other renowned concert halls around the globe. Ms. Shaham has preschool twins Nathan and Alex and college-age stepsons Peter and Jonathan. She lives in St. Louis and New York with her husband, St. Louis Symphony conductor David Robertson.

Photo: Ali Winberry

Five must see October events

There is an abundance of family friendly arts, culture, and Fall fun going on in St. Louis this month. Here are five events you won’t want to miss.

1. 20th Anniversary Celebration of Powder Valley Nature Center, Saturday, October 22, 10 am to 3 pm. FREE. Visitors can enjoy a photo scavenger hunt, a discovery table with live reptiles and amphibians, crafts for kids, live music, and more.

2. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and pianist Olga Kern perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Friday, October 21 at 10:30 am and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm. This concert is a better fit for a musically engaged child 10 years old and up, but if you have a particularly focused kid or a prodigy of sorts, a 7 to 9 year old would most likely be fine. $25 to $110. This concert also features Elgar’s sublime Enigma Variations. Note: there is an additional concert on Saturday, October 22 at 8 pm but it is more expensive and later at night of course.

3. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead, Sunday, October 30 at 3 pm. Kids tickets start at $7! A great Halloween event and wonderful opportunity for children who are beginning to learn about the sounds and textures of the orchestra. Watch a YouTube video about the production.

4. The Missouri Botanical Garden, Children’s Garden, is open through October 31 and then closed for the season. Climbing, pretend play galore, tree houses, a slide, ropes, caves, musical instruments, sand, no automatic flush bathrooms, and more! FREE to $5.

5. Halloween Free Family Day at CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), Saturday October 29, 1 to 4 pm. FREE. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions, art projects, face painting, storytelling, and more. Children are encouraged to dress in their Halloween costume.

Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

St. Louis Symphony Performances

The St. Louis Symphony is right in your backyard but is also world renowned. Haven’t seen them before or having difficulty picking a concert from their wonderfully full performance schedule? Here are some suggestions for both unique outings with the kids and stellar date nights. In particular, the date night concerts feature some not-to-be-missed incredible artists and repertoire. Unless otherwise noted, the following descriptions (and adjectives) of the performances are taken directly from the St. Louis Symphony web site.

Single tickets for most 2011-2012 concerts are available on Friday, August 12.

Information about the 2011-12 Season
Box Office and Ticket Information
Plan Your Visit
Powell Hall

Photo: St. Louis Symphony, Scott Ferguson


Warner Brothers presents “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony”
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 7 pm
Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 2 pm
George Daugherty, conductor and creator
Bugs Bunny is back with the STL Symphony providing live accompaniment to your favorite classic Looney Tunes on the big screen. This exhilarating new version is perfect for the entire family.


The Composer is Dead
by Nathaniel Stookey with text by Lemony Snicket
Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 3 pm
Ward Stare, conductor
Bobby Norfolk, narrator
There’s dreadful news from within Powell Hall–the composer is dead! Halloween weekend experience Lemony Snicket’s murder mystery whodunit, where the instruments are the suspects and no one will go unnoticed.


Mozart’s The Magic Flute (abridged)
In partnership with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 3 pm
Ward Stare, conductor
Endlessly inventive, charmingly fantastical and utterly unique, Mozart’s final opera is a lighthearted tale of love and the art of birdcatching. The STL Symphony presents a special condensed version for kids featuring Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Young Artists.

Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies
Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 7 pm
Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 2 pm
Ward Stare, conductor
Fun for the whole family! Enjoy a concert of symphonic arrangements from The Walt Disney Studio vault. Disney in Concert features music, film clips, and artist renderings showcasing a variety of musical scores from popular Disney movies including Mary Poppins, The Lion King, The Huntchback of Notre Dame, and more.


An American in Paris
Friday, September 30, 2011 at 8 pm
David Robertson, conductor
Ward Stare, conductor
Edgar Meyer, double bass
IVES Central Park in the Dark (Culture Mama note: This isn’t performed very often. Brilliant unraveling kind of music.)
COPLAND Suite from The City (with film accompaniment)
MEYER Double Bass Concerto No. 3 (World Premiere)
GERSHWIN An American in Paris

David Robertson leads an All-American program full of favorites complete with Gershwin’s depiction of an American’s escapades through the “City of Lights” and Copland’s first film score, The City, presented live with film. Edgar Meyer, reigning virtuoso of the double bass, makes his STL Symphony debut performing the world premiere of his astounding third double bass concerto.

Enigma Variations
Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:30 am (Coffee Concert)
Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 8 pm
Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 3 pm
Vasily Petrenko, conductor
Olga Kern, piano (Culture Mama note: I worked with this wonderful pianist in DC at her Kennedy Center debut and have been continuously amazed at her strength, smarts, and gorgeous playing.)
RACHMANINOFF The Isle of the Dead
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1
ELGAR Enigma Variations
Elgar’s mysterious Enigma Variations are full of familiar and gorgeous melodies including the popular “Nimrod.” Paired with pianist Olga Kern performing Chopin’s dazzling Piano Concert No. 1, you’ll be humming the marvelous tunes of this program for days.

Christine Brewer sings Strauss
Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8 pm
Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 8 pm

David Robertson, conductor
Christine Brewer, soprano
DVORAK Symphony No. 7
CRUMB A Haunted Landscape

R. STRAUSS Four Last Songs (Culture Mama note: one of my favorite works)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch declares that “there is no one today who sings Richard Strauss’ soprano roles better than Christine Brewer – period.”  Hear the St. Louis phenomenon performing Strauss’ stirring Four Last Songs, his final complete work, and David Robertson conducting Dvorak’s splendid Seventh Symphony.


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Culture Mama note: Yes! Dance with live music.)
Friday, February 17, 2012 at 10:30 am (Coffee Concert)
Friday, February 17, 2012 at 8 pm
Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 8 pm
Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 3 pm
David Robertson, conductor
Hubbard Street Dance Company
St. Louis Symphony welcomes back the famed Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as one of the highlights of this exciting season exploring the synergy between music and dance. The internationally recognized troupe, returns to St. Louis after performing to sold-out audiences in 2009.

Bach Mass in B minor
Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 3 pm
David Robertson, conductor
Susanna Phillips, soprano
Kate Lindsey, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Stephen Powell, baritone
St. Louis Symphony Chorus
Amy Kaiser, director
Composed in the final year of Bach’s life, the monumental Mass in B minor inspires audiences regardless of background as a spiritual masterpiece. David Robertson leads the combined forces of the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus for this powerfully transcendent work.

Death of Klinghoffer at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Are you mesmerized by the works of contemporary artists Bill Viola, Shirin Neshat, and William Kentridge? Do you hold your breath at the subtle gestures embedded in William Forsythe’s choreography? Did Meredith Monk’s work (whose performances were utterly filled with undefinable sound) used to keep you up at nights? Have you felt the purity of Bach cello suites resonate in your hands and heart? Have you lost all track of time and place when listening to a choir rehearse in a cathedral in some tiny corner of Europe? Have you “seen” sound float up into the air when hearing a Urtiin duu (longsong)? And does the tender yet collapsing beauty of Prokofiev’s works make you close your eyes?

If some of this makes sense to you (and even if it doesn’t!), go experience Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer. You’ll discover unspoken pieces of the artists and sounds above throughout a moving and provoking performance. No need to get hung up on the formality or structure of opera–this production is simply and gloriously meaty art. The brilliant score, stunning chorus and orchestra performances, singing, lighting, staging, video projections, gestures, use of props, and stillness will wow you and make your heart ache a little in the communal darkness of the audience.

The Death of Klinghoffer is based on the true story of a hijacking of the ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, by Palestinian terrorists and the murder of one of the passengers, Leon Klinghoffer. The 1991 opera was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams with an evocative and poignant libretto by Alice Goodman.

Conductor Michael Christie literally eats this score up. If you have a chance, sit in the theater where you can see him conduct. He sings every word with the artists on stage and wraps the orchestra (members of the St. Louis Symphony) together so cohesively, despite the crazy entrances, textures, and meter changes. Stage Director James Robinson has brought together a subtle, smart, and powerful vision of this opera. I absolutely loved the video projections of Greg Emetaz. Chorus Master R. Robert Ainsley did a superb job with the chorus whose moments on and off stage were some of the most memorable sounds in an opera production that I’ve ever heard. Baritone Brian Mulligan who performs the role of Leon Klinghoffer, was a standout. Beyond having an incredibly rich, solid, powerful, and tender voice, he has a unique dreamy yet somehow familiar sound. He sounds like coming home. For me, Brian Mulligan sings so perfectly the most moving phrase of the entire production. This phrase is seemingly so mundane, yet subtlety holds the immensity of everything that this story, this history, and this opera stirs up. Leon Klinghoffer sings to his wife surrounded by terrorists on the sunny deck of the ship in their last moment together (although they don’t know it yet), “I should have worn a hat.”

A huge bravo to Opera Theatre of St. Louis for having the courage to bring this production to light, the intelligence to present meaningful outreach and very thoughtful commentary and discussion, and the creativity and persistence to generate support from the community both in St. Louis and beyond. I feel lucky to have experienced this production.

(The only tiny criticism I feel worth mentioning… the bird “puppet” on a stick at the end was too literal and looked very awkward from the side seats. It kind of broke the moment.)

Three performances of The Death of Klinghoffer remain. Tuesday, June 21 at 1 pm; Thursday, June 23 at 8 pm; and Saturday, June 25 at 8 pm. Tickets $25 to $120. Special promotion for the Tuesday, June 21 at 1 pm show ONLY: mention the promo code HOOKYDK online or when you call the box office, and get tickets for $35 in section 2 of the theater. These seats are regularly $100 each.

Recent reviews of Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s The Death of Klinghoffer

St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
The Wall Street Journal review
The New York Times review

The Death of Klinghoffer discussion guides on the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s web site.

Photo: Opera Theatre of St. Louis