Recent News
John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams , Julian Wachner, Ludovic Morlot, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Renaud Capucon, Daniel Hope, Jennifer Koh, Gil Shaham, Alisa Weilerstein, Béla Fleck, Brooklyn Rider , Maya Beiser, Rosanne Cash, Voces8 , New York Polyphony
End of Year 2014 'Best Of' Roundup
Shai Wosner
Norman Lebrecht Album of the Week
Sinfini Music
Stefan Jackiw
Violin in good hands with soloist, orchestra
The Columbus Dispatch
Jeremy Denk
Concert review: Denk shuffles Schubert, Janácek with creative panache
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
New Ailey dance pays tribute to civil rights icon
Associated Press
Stefan Jackiw
ProMusica's commissioned violin concerto brings together two friends
The Columbus Dispatch
Benjamin Beilman
Violinist Benjamin Beilman joins the roster
New York Polyphony
Preview: New York Polyphony adds a modern flair to old music
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Inon Barnatan
From Bach to Barber with Barnatan
The Boston Musical Intelligencer

News archive »

SLSO gives powerful performance

Ward Stare, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Sarah Bryan Miller

Resident conductor Ward Stare is by now familiar to St. Louis audiences for pops and Youth Orchestra performances. Friday night’s performance was his first regular St. Louis Symphony Orchestra subscription program.

He definitely has the chops to conduct at that level. Stare is a compelling figure on the podium, clear in his commands and graceful in his movements and the music still sounds good with one’s eyes closed.

The program paired two 20th-century works — Samuel Barber’s thoughtful “Second Essay for Orchestra” and music from Serge Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet” — with a Late Romantic symphony, Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 n E minor, “From the New World.”

The Barber opened the concert, and was in some ways its most completely satisfying piece, beginning in as melancholy a mode as autumn, and working its way to joy. After a couple of infelicitous moments early on, the orchestra came together strongly.

Rather than choosing one of the familiar suites from Prokofiev’s score, Stare put together his own, in the order they would be heard in the ballet. That provided a nice dramatic arc, but at a cost: “The Death of Tybalt” was composed to end Act II and cries out for applause. Since it hits at the three-quarter mark in the suite, Stare gave a spoken introduction to the suite in order to ask for silence after it.

Dvorak filled the second half. English horn Carolyn Banham played the familiar “Going home” theme beautifully, and most of her colleagues offered strong playing as well, a little scrappiness from the upper strings (early on) and the horns (sporadically) aside.

The performance deserved the huge ovation it received from the large audience. That brought an encore: No. 8 from Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” vividly and accurately played.