Symphony announces a soaring musical schedule for next season

David Robertson
St. Louis Public Radio

Listen to the interview with David Robertson and Marie-Hélène Bernard about planning the 2016-2017 season.

By Robert Duffy

This is the orchestra’s 137th season; the repertory for it was announced this morning by SLSO Music Director David Robertson and Symphony President and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. There's another milestone: Robertson himself chalks up a dozen career years on Grand Boulevard as maestro of the St. Louis orchestra. That, in a peripatetic era, is a statistic that soars on its own, and one cheered not only by St. Louis audiences but audiences all over the country and abroad, as well.

First off the season’s artistic runway is a celebration of the 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic solo flight in 1927.  The music is Kurt Weill’s “Der Lindberghflug” or “The Flight of Lindbergh.” This transcendent composition, which will employ the services of the orchestra’s distinguished chorus, conducted by Amy Kaiser, includes material Robertson said was produced in the heat of enthusiasm for Lindbergh and his achievement.

On the program with Lindbergh is Pierre Boulez’s “Dialogue de l'ombre double" or “The Dialogue of the Double Shadow.” Robertson says that like Lindbergh, a man alone with his machine, the Boulez piece is a solo clarinet alone with technology — technology that allows the musician to send his music out into the hall in an artistic flight that is made solo.

Including the "Dialogue” in the season constitutes a tribute to Maestro Pierre Boulez, who died in early January. He and Robertson were close friends and artistic colleagues. After Boulez’s death, Robertson said, "Pierre Boulez was creative in the deepest sense of the word. His genius touched and continues to inspire a huge number of people. His engagement with the world of music altered its course. He is a singularity. His legacy will resonate through time."

In  its obituary, the Guardian newspaper described Mr. Boulez as “arguably the single dominant figure of the classical musical world through the second half of the 20th century and beyond.”

Following later, the orchestra will perform work by, and in celebration of, the 70th birthday of John Adams, one of contemporary music’s greatest and most popular composers.

Another important musical flight involves Beethoven. Robertson said he wanted to give our audiences here the opportunity to hear all five of the Beethoven piano concertos, each presented by a different distinguished conductor.

The season concludes with something enormous: Richard Wagner’s 1839 opera “Der fliegende Holländer,” based either on a bad ocean voyage of Wagner’s or on a novel by Heinrich Heine — probably both. More important is the place of the opera in Wagner’s portfolio. “Dutchman,” particularly in its use of telling motifs, which are set in the overture then developed fully later in the opera, prefigures later works by Wagner such as the monumental Ring Cycle, for example.

“We are looking at a number of different things” next season, Robertson said in our telephone interview. “The whole season has a colorful theme and we explore technology for good and for ill. It is a pertinent way to look at the world right now.”

Listen to the interview and check out season highlights.