Thursday, September 25, 2008

A guide to strange places with SLSO

The best band in town - The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra - has its first gigs of the new season this weekend. Though opening weekend deserves to be sold out on the eve of opening night, it's not. According to the website, most seats in the $19 to $105 range (with many price points in between) are still available.

These guys are really organized - they plan and post their setlists in advance - and this one is a beauty:

* Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3
* Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra (excerpted on the SLSO site).

I know, I know, they're a cover band. But they're a really cool cover band! And, in the orchestral world, covering the modern composer John Adams (as SLSO does more and better than anyone) is about as original and inventive as it gets.

But why listen to me talk about this band when you can listen to the bandleader, the approachable genius David Robertson, talk about his band?

In promoting opening weekend, the Symphony is introducting the first in a series of video snippets about their programs. The video on the opening weekend program is very tastefully done. Lots and lots of David talking, which is never less than fascinating (or publishable), with several musicians also acquitting themselves insightfully. The candid rehearsal clips, with David and the band interacting with the music in civilian clothes, are beautiful.

And all of this without crass corporate sponsorship - which, if you sample similar video previews from other U.S. symphonies, is bucking an obnoxious trend. I only wish the director of the clip were credited.

I'll have to ask my old friend Eddie Silva who did the good work on this thing and why they aren't telling us on the website. Eddie runs the Publications Department at SLSO and pens a very interesting blog about life at Powell Hall. A recent post relates how violinist Becky Boyer Hall lost a big toenail in a Powell Hall mishap, just before the first rehearsal for opening weekend.

The toenail came off. The show went on. That's why you need a guide to strange places.


My rotten sketch of SLSO violinist Darwynn Apple is from last season. Darwynn muste on the gig this weekend because I saw him in rehearsal on that there preview video.

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