The opening of opening night of 2008 for The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra was unforgettable.
Musical director David Robertson turned to greet the audience. He struck up the band. The orchestra played "The Star-Spangled Banner."
David continued to face the audience. He began to encourage and conduct the audience - as a choir. He got us started in singing. We picked up, quick, and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" - as a choir, with the Symphony and David Robertson.
"Holy shit!" I said to myself. (My wife was home sick. Toyy and Asmeret and Mama Lisa and Lyndsey and Lola and Brooke and John and Frank were all unavailable at the last minute.) "David Robertson is playing choir conductor - and I am in the choir!"
Some young women behind me had gorgeous soaring soprano voices. I could feel and hear them hemming themselves in, hearts springing to do more - they had the chops and volume to solo all over this melody, but they felt part of a mass choir formed by the Symphony conductor and didn't feel emboldened to solo.
In the cheezy movie version, the conductor would spec out the talent in the nosebleeds, step aside on the conductor's stand, and somehow manage to signal for them to solo, all the way up there. My girls then would have taken the melody and done acrobatics on it, in the register of angels, while the conductor smiled up in a honeyed glow.
This did not happen Friday night at Powell Symphony Hall. The girls soared, but held back. The audience sang as a mass choir. David Robertson conducted us, all together. I was proud to be in St. Louis and a taxpayer supporter of this Symphony and an American.
Next weekend (Oct. 3-5) David Robertson conducts The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in:
MOZART The Abduction from the Seraglio Overture
STEVEN MACKEY Time Release (Friday only)
HK GRUBER Rough Music (US Premiere) (Saturday only)
CHRISTOPHER ROUSE Der gerettete Alberich (Sunday only)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7
That's a clever way to get three shows out of one!
Amateur sketch of the maestro by me Friday from the nosebleeds.