Thursday night I attended the Town Hall meeting the St. Louis Symphony hosted. Attendance is by invitation. Most of the audience is on the stage but I got there right as it was starting so was instructed to sit on the left side in the auditorium. Since the meeting was being filmed and broadcast on TV, I was happy not to be on the stage.
I’ve attended one or two of these meetings in the past. They’re always interesting. It always opens with a musical piece or two played by a few of the orchestra members. This year it was a group of maybe eight. I don’t know what the first piece was (they were already playing when I found a seat) but the second was a sort of medley of Irish fiddle tunes.
The president of the symphony gives information about how they’re doing on their long range plan. Then he and the music director/conductor chat about the upcoming season. The music director has a nice dry sense of humor so this is the best part of the meeting in my opinion.
I must say the programming for the new season looks really interesting. They’re making it hard to pick which concerts to attend since there’s no way I can afford to go to all of them. As part of the orchestral program, there is going to be a Russian festival within the season. Some of the composers are familiar to me but others are not.
In addition to the orchestral series, there is a SLSO Presents section. These are concerts where they bring in different kinds of music groups to play with the orchestra. I remember that one group that will be coming is an ABBA-like group and another is a jazz trumpeter. To kick off the season will be another gala. The one this year featured Yo Yo Ma and the one next season will feature either Roberta or Renee (not sure of the first name) Fleming.
The last 20 minutes or so is a Q&A with the audience. I was a little disappointed that no one asked about the outcome of the Saturday night broadcasts. The radio station hosting them is in the process of being sold and the new owners may not want to carry the program. The music director was asked about how someone would go about getting a new composer’s music to the orchestra. As part of his response, he said, “Dead composers are much easier to work with. They don’t phone and say, ‘You played my fifth Symphony. I’ve written a sixth. Why don’t you play it?'” But the orchestra does play a lot of new music as well as the old established orchestral stuff.
The meeting was followed by a reception in the lobby of the symphony hall. Nice munchies of cheese, crackers, breads, vegetables and dill dip and some hot nibbles as well.