SLSYO: Youth Orchestra in NYC

Ward Stare
St. Louis Post-Disppatch

By Sarah Bryan Miller

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra director of communications Adam Crane happened to be in New York City over the weekend, when the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra made its first-ever journey there.

He dropped in on their rehearsal at enormous, historic Riverside Church, where they worked with conductor Ward Stare. Peggy Neilson, who runs the SLSYO, had everything under control.

“They sound great,” Crane reported via phone. “It’s pretty exciting.”

In a later email, he added

Ward went through all of the rep. today. Terrific acoustics in Riverside Church + a beautiful setting. Orchestra really sounded good once they adjusted to the differences from the Powell acoustics. Ward was very happy w/ the rehearsal. NY Times reviewing & apparently sending a photog. too. we’re all proud of the YO!

FYI – tomorrow they get a tour of Mannes and Manhattan School (the president of the Manhattan School, Bob Sirota, is giving them a talk personally!) Today was Juilliard. They also had tours of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

NY Phil concert was Saturday night – according to Ward – “Sir Andrew Davis invited the entire orchestra backstage and spent about 15 minutes with them after the concert (had an impromptu Q&A with the students which was great!….they asked him lots of good questions.”

Students also went to Ground Zero….

Stare adds:

Started with Brahms, then Rimsky Korsakov….then Mendelssohn, Candide, Sleeping Beauty Waltz, and Thomas Tallis (in that order).

Kids sound great – they are acting very professional and playing at a VERY High level. I’d say they’ve stepped it up to really show NYC what they can do. I’ve been very pleased and extremely proud of them.

On Sunday, the orchestra had coaching sessions with members of the New York Phil….which was great for them. After it was all over, the coaches each came to me and were full of compliments about how well they play….they (ny phil people) were clearly impressed!

As far as reactions from the kids themselves: my favorite so far was today at the rehearsal break when one of our players came up to me wide-eyed and excited talking about the Mendelssohn symphony and the “Dresden Amen” theme he uses…..we’ve been talking about it all year…and it sounds so great in this space. The student told me that when we played it in Riverside for the first time, and she looked up at me and saw all the Grand Gothic architecture all around us and the elevated statue of a crucifix over my shoulder she really ‘got it’…

It was really cool to see a reaction like that…..and I think that sums it up for many of them, too…..the energy was fantastic when we played the symphony……and that ‘Dresden Amen’ was STUNNING. Gave me goosebumps as I conducted it.