Performance Friday, March 20, 2015 | 8 PM

St. Louis Symphony

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
A passionate symphony by Tchaikovsky, Debussy’s lushly scored Nocturnes, and the New York premiere of WEAVE, a work by Meredith Monk, holder of the 2014–2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair, showcases the St. Louis Symphony and Music Director David Robertson’s mastery of a vast range of repertoire. Written during a tempestuous time in Tchaikovsky’s life, his Fourth Symphony reflects that tumult, melodically splendid and vibrantly orchestrated; it’s one of his most popular symphonies.

The contemporary work on this program is part of My Time, My Music.


  • St. Louis Symphony
    David Robertson, Music Director and Conductor
  • Katie Geissinger, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Theo Bleckmann, Baritone
  • Members of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus
    Amy Kaiser, Director


  • DEBUSSY Nocturnes
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • St. Louis Symphony

    Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the United States and is widely considered one of the world's finest. In September 2005, internationally acclaimed conductor David Robertson became the 12th music director and second American-born conductor in the orchestra's history. In its 135th season, the St. Louis Symphony continues to strive for artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility, and community connection. In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, the symphony is an integral part of the St. Louis community, presenting free education and community programs throughout the region each year.

    To celebrate his decade-long tenure with the St. Louis Symphony in 2014-2015, Mr. Robertson will showcase 50 of the orchestra's musicians in solo or solo ensemble performances throughout the season. Another highlight is a concert performance of Verdi's Aida, featuring video enhancements by S. Katy Tucker.

    In 2013-2014, Mr. Robertson led the St. Louis Symphony in a Carnegie Hall performance of Britten's Peter Grimes on the Britten centennial, selected as one of the most memorable concerts of the year by Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times. In the spring, Nonesuch Records released a disc of the orchestra's performances of two works by John Adams: City Noir and the Saxophone Concerto, which received the Grammy Award for Best Orchestra Performance. This follows the 2009 Nonesuch release of the symphony's performances of Adams's Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places, which reached No. 2 on Billboard's rankings for classical music and was named Best CD of the Decade by The Times of London.

    Recent tours have included the St. Louis Symphony's first European tour with Mr. Robertson in 2012, with performances at the BBC Proms, the Lucerne Festival, Paris's Salle Pleyel, and Musikfest Berlin. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff joined the symphony as featured soloist on the European tour. In 2013, the orchestra completed its second successful California tour with Mr. Robertson, which included a three-day residency at the University of California-Davis.

    David Robertson

    A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive orchestral and operatic repertoire, American conductor David Robertson has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world. In fall 2014, Mr. Robertson launched his 10th season as music director of the 135-year-old St. Louis Symphony. In January 2014, he assumed the post of chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

    To celebrate his decade-long tenure with the St. Louis Symphony, Mr. Robertson showcases 50 of the orchestra's musicians in solo or solo ensemble performances throughout the 2014-2015 season. Other highlights include a concert performance of Verdi's Aida, featuring video enhancements by S. Katy Tucker-one of a series of such collaborations during the season. In 2013-2014, Mr. Robertson led the St. Louis Symphony in a Carnegie Hall performance of Britten's Peter Grimes on the Britten centennial that Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times selected as one of the most memorable concerts of the year. In the spring of 2014, Nonesuch Records released a disc of the orchestra's performances of two works by John Adams: City Noir and the Saxophone Concerto. The recording received the Grammy award for Best Orchestral Performance.

    Mr. Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world. In his inaugural year with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, he led the ensemble in a seven-city tour of China in June 2014. He also led the summer 2014 US tour of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a project of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, to cities that included Boston and Chicago, culminating in a concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In fall 2014, Mr. Robertson conducted the Metropolitan Opera premiere of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer.

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  • Katie Geissinger

    Katie Geissinger has performed with Meredith Monk worldwide in concert and theater pieces such as ATLAS, mercy, the Grammy-nominated impermanence, Songs of Ascension, and The Politics of Quiet, which received a Bessie Award. Career highlights include the premiere of Bang on a Can's Obie-winning The Carbon Copy Building (Canteloupe), appearing in Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach (Elektra Nonesuch), and performances as soloist in Bach's Magnificat, Honegger's Le roi David, and Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar at Carnegie Hall. Other credits include Jonathan Miller's staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion at BAM; John Tavener's The Veil of the Temple at Lincoln Center; and Ann Hamilton's the event of a thread, with music by David Lang, at the Park Avenue Armory. Her Broadway credits include Baz Luhrmann's production of La bohème and Coram Boy. Upcoming performances include Julia Wolfe's Steel Hammer in collaboration with Anne Bogart's SITI Company and the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

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  • Theo Bleckmann

    Theo Bleckmann is a Grammy-nominated singer, composer, and arranger whose work spans concerts, installations, live electronic vocal processing, contemporary music theater, cabaret, ambient music, and performance art. Mr. Bleckmann has released a series of diverse albums that include his collection of acoustic solos for voice (I dwell in possibility) and his highly acclaimed Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush. He has worked with such artists as Ambrose Akinmusire, Laurie Anderson, Uri Caine, Philip Glass, Ann Hamilton, John Hollenbeck, Sheila Jordan, Phil Kline, David Lang, Kirk Nurock, Frances McDormand, Ben Monder, Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and, since 1994, with Meredith Monk. Mr. Bleckmann has also appeared with Laurie Anderson on Late Show with David Letterman. In 2010, Terry Gross interviewed him for Fresh Air on NPR. Mr. Bleckmann is currently working on his first CD for ECM.

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  • Amy Kaiser

    One of the country's leading choral directors, Amy Kaiser has conducted the St. Louis Symphony in Handel's Messiah, Schubert's Mass in E-flat Major, Vivaldi's Gloria, and sacred works by Haydn and Mozart, as well as Young People's Concerts. She has made eight appearances as guest conductor for the Berkshire Choral Festival in Sheffield, Massachusetts; in Santa Fe; and at Canterbury Cathedral. As music director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York for 12 seasons, she conducted many performances of major works at Lincoln Center. Other conducting engagements include concerts at Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival and more than 50 performances with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Principal conductor of the New York Chamber Symphony's School Concert Series for seven seasons, Ms. Kaiser also led many programs for the 92nd Street Y's acclaimed Schubertiade. She has conducted more than 25 operas, including eight contemporary premieres.

    A frequent collaborator with Professor Peter Schickele on his annual PDQ Bach concerts at Carnegie Hall, Ms. Kaiser made her Carnegie Hall debut conducting PDQ's Consort of Choral Christmas Carols. She also led the professor in his Canine Cantata: "Wachet Arf" with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

    Ms. Kaiser has led master classes in choral conducting at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and has served on the faculty for a Chorus America conducting workshop and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. An active guest speaker, she teaches monthly classes for adults in symphonic and operatic repertoire, and presents the series Illuminating Opera at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

    Ms. Kaiser has prepared choruses for the New York Philharmonic, the Ravinia and Mostly Mozart festivals, and Opera Orchestra of New York. She also served as faculty conductor and vocal coach at Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College The New School for Music. An alumna of Smith College, she was awarded the Smith College Medal for outstanding professional achievement. The 2014-2015 season is Ms. Kaiser's 20th as director of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage: Meredith Monk and David Robertson in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.

At a Glance


Much of Debussy’s music presents itself as an aural response to visual stimulus. The orchestral triptych Nocturnes paints musical pictures of three imaginary scenes: clouds passing over Paris, a village festival, and a seascape. Debussy is often compared to the French Impressionist painters; with this work, he musically achieves something similar to their ambiguous, yet highly evocative, use of line, color, and texture.

MEREDITH MONK  WEAVE for Two Voices, Chamber Orchestra, and Chorus

The title of this 2010 composition, WEAVE, is allusive in a poetic way, but it also connotes the musical processes at work in the piece. Monk weaves a continuous, rich, and haunting sonic tapestry from several thematic ideas that entwine in counterpoint even as they evolve slowly over the course of the work.

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY  Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is deeply personal, freighted with autobiographical significance. Through his music, the composer confessed to feeling condemned to misery by implacable destiny. The Fourth Symphony, Tchaikovsky told an intimate correspondent, reflects his struggle against what he feared was his cruel fate.

Program Notes


Meredith Monk: Carnegie Hall's 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair

Meredith Monk is the holder of the 2014–2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

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