Performance Saturday, March 10, 2012 | 8 PM

St. Louis Symphony

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

Karita Mattila
joins David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony for a performance of Quatre Instants, which Kaija Saariaho wrote specifically for the Finnish soprano. When Mattila premiered the work at the 2003 Ekenäs festival, critics called the performance “irresistible” (Le Monde). Paired with Stravinsky’s Firebird, it’s a concert you can’t miss.


  • St. Louis Symphony
    David Robertson, Music Director and Conductor
  • Karita Mattila, Soprano


  • DEBUSSY Printemps
  • KAIJA SAARIAHO Quatre Instants
  • STRAVINSKY The Firebird (complete)


  • St. Louis Symphony

    Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the country 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 132nd season, the St. Louis Symphony continues to strive for artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility, and community connection.

    The St. Louis Symphony is one of only a handful of major American orchestras invited to perform annually at Carnegie Hall. Recordings by the orchestra have been honored with six Grammy Awards and 56 Grammy nominations over the years. The orchestra has embraced technological advances in music distribution by offering recordings over the internet. The St. Louis Symphony download initiative includes live recordings of John Adams's Harmonielehre, Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Christian Tetzlaff, and Scriabin's The Poem of Ecstasy, available exclusively on iTunes and In 2009, the symphony's Nonesuch recording of John Adams's Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places reached No. 2 on the Billboard rankings for classical music, and was named Best CD of the Decade by TheTimes of London.

    In September 2012, the St. Louis Symphony embarks on its first European tour with Music Director David Robertson. The symphony visits international festivals in Berlin and Lucerne, with stops in Paris and London as well, performing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, Schoenberg, Gershwin, Ives, and Elliott Carter. Christian Tetzlaff joins the symphony as featured soloist. The tour is fully funded by corporate sponsor Monsanto and a group of anonymous donors.

    In June 2008, the St. Louis Symphony launched Building Our Business, which takes a proactive, two-pronged approach: Build audiences and re-invigorate the St. Louis Symphony brand, making the symphony and Powell Hall the place to be; and build the donor base for enhanced institutional commitment and donations. This is all part of a larger strategic plan adopted in May 2009 that includes new core ideology and a 10-year strategic vision that focuses on artistic and institutional excellence, doubling the existing audience, and revenue growth across all key operating areas.

    David Robertson

    A consummate musician, masterful programmer, and dynamic presence, David Robertson has established himself as one of today's most sought-after American conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music making and stimulating ideas. In the fall of 2011, Mr. Robertson began his seventh season as music director of the 132-year-old St. Louis Symphony, while continuing as principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 2005.

    Mr. Robertson's guest engagements in the US include performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Ensemble ACJW, and the New York Philharmonic, where Mr. Robertson is a regular guest conductor. In May 2012, Mr. Robertson returns to the Metropolitan Opera to conduct Britten's Billy Budd with Nathan Gunn and James Morris in the leading roles. Internationally, guest engagements include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, where Mr. Robertson appears regularly; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as part of Music Viva; and several concerts with the BBC Symphony. In addition to his fresh interpretations of traditional repertoire, this season Mr. Robertson conducts world premieres of Graham Fitkin's Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony and cellist Yo-Yo Ma; John Cage's Eighty with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Providence, a newly commissioned work by Dutch composer Klaas de Vries, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; and new works by Yann Robin and Michael Jarrell with the New York Philharmonic.

    A champion of young musicians, Mr. Robertson has devoted time to working with students and young artists throughout his career. On February 5, 2012, he conducted the Orchestra of St. Luke's and a chorus of New York City students in the Carmina Burana Choral Project at Carnegie Hall. The program included Orff's seminal work, as well as new works written by three high school-aged composers based on musical themes from Carmina Burana. 

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  • Karita Mattila

    Karita Mattila is one of today's most exciting lyric dramatic sopranos. She is recognized as much for the beauty and versatility of her voice as for her extraordinary stage ability. A native of Finland, Ms. Mattila was trained at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where her teacher was Liisa Linko-Malmio; subsequently, she studied with Vera Rózsa for nearly 20 years. Ms. Mattila's innate sense of drama has led to remarkable collaborations with such major stage directors as Luc Bondy in his highly acclaimed Don Carlos, which she performed in Paris, London, and at the Edinburgh Festival; Lev Dodin in his productions of Elektra for the Salzburg Easter Festival and PiqueDame and Salome at the Opéra National de Paris; Peter Stein for his SimonBoccanegra in Salzburg and DonGiovanni in Chicago; and Jürgen Flimm for his Fidelio at the Metropolitan Opera. She is an influential artistic force in the development of new music, regularly collaborating with eminent contemporary composers in the debut performances of significant modern works. Recent performances in this genre include the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho's Émilie at the Opéra National de Lyon.

    Recent highlights include the title role of Janáček's Kát'a Kabanová at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Lisa in Pique Dame at the Metropolitan Opera, TheMakropulos Case at San Francisco Opera, and concert appearances with The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Berliner Philharmoniker with Sir Simon Rattle.

    Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Mattila has won numerous awards. Most importantly, she was named Musical America's Musician of the Year-one of the most prestigious honors paid to classical artists in the US-and has been awarded one of France's highest cultural honors, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

    Future engagements include the role of Emilia Marty in The Makropulos Case at the Metropolitan Opera and the Finnish National Opera; the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and at the Opéra National de Paris; Leonore in Fidelio for Houston Grand Opera; and recitals at the Edinburgh Festival and Carnegie Hall.

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


Kaija Saariaho's Quatre Instants, Attente (Longing) 
Karita Mattila, Soprano | Martin Katz, Piano

At a Glance

On tonight’s program, early symphonic works by Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky complement a recent set of love songs by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. True to their title, Saariaho’s Quatre Instants (Four Instances) evoke a distinctly French mood, with nuanced shadings and expressive sensuality. Saariaho has long been influenced by her adopted home of France—in particular, by the spectralist school of composers as well as her work in the 1980s at IRCAM, the electro-acoustical think-tank in Paris. Saariaho’s French musical pedigree smoothly connects with the first piece on the program, Debussy’s Printemps (Spring), whichpredates the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by approximately seven years and invites comparisons to Debussy’s later orchestral pieces. The evocative work excited and inspired a young Stravinsky. While studying composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky reportedly took his teacher to a concert that featured Printemps. Rimsky-Korsakov’s tart reaction was, “Don’t make me listen to it again, because I may grow to like it.”

Just a few years after Rimsky-Korsakov’s death, the untested Stravinsky scored an instant international success with the ballet The Firebird. With its warm orchestration and Russian folkloric scenario, The Firebird has its own springtime symbolism. Heard here in its full splendor, the complete Firebird contains innovative writing that is still spellbinding a little more than 100 years since its premiere.
Program Notes



David Robertson and Jeremy Geffen introduce The Firebird 


David Robertson Introduces the St. Louis Symphony


Kaija Saariaho on the Role of Nature in Her Work

Kaija Saariaho is the holder of the 2011-2012 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

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