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Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is an American symphony orchestra originating from St. Louis, Missouri. Joseph Otten brought the orchestra into being in 1880 as the St, Louis Choral Society. It has been ranked second oldest symphony orchestra in the US after the New York Philharmonic.
The auditorium of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at Locust and Broadway in Downtown St, Louis were the venues where the St Louis Choral Society made their performances. The 80 member chorus was united with a 31 member orchestra during the 1881-82 season.
A broken Musical Union also joined the group. The St Louis Choral Symphony was formally brought together in 1893. It grew into a 200 member chorus and an orchestra of 55 while performing at the World Fair under Alfred Ernst in 1904, and continued to play as a choral band. It changed its title to the St Louis Symphony orchestra under the leadership of Max Zach (1907-1921).
It performed at the Kiel opera House for many a year before shifting to its present home in Powell Symphony Hall. Apart from making overseas tours to Europe and Japan, it has regularly performed at the Carnegie Hall as well. Some notable labels that the SLSO has performed under include Colombia, RCA Victor, Red Seal, Telarc, and Angel EMI.
It has received fifty-six nominations, six Grammy Awards and has also issued CD recordings under its own label and Arch Media. The SLSO has been the resident orchestra for Opera theatre of Saint Louis since 1978 and is divided into two groups which each perform two operas during the season.
The Community Partnership Program is the far reaching education and community outreach program conducted by the SLSO. Several hundred free performances a year are given by the SLSO musicians in schools, churches and other places like community centers. It also has an affiliation with IN UNISON Chorus which is an association of 36 local African-American churches.
This Chorus is derived from IN UNISON churches and local residents. It performs with the symphony and conducts its own programs too. Founded in 1977, the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus is also linked with the symphony. The Chorus first director was Thomas Peck, and Amy Kaiser being the present. In 1970, the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra was brought into being by Leonard Slatkin.
The SLSOs national status expanded immensely during Leonard Slatkins music leadership which lasted from 1979-1996. The SLSO made numerous recordings during this time for labels such as EMI and RCA Victor labels. It also toured Europe and the Far East and also performed at the Carnegie Hall.
On the contrary, the financial standing of the Orchestra did not match this escalation. In 2000, the donations made to SLSO reached a staggering US$28 million. Don Roth, the then executive director and President of the Symphony had managed to secure a US$40 million challenge grant from the Taylor family to help the financial troubles of the Symphony in 2000.
The SLSO nearly faced bankruptcy in 2001 when Roth disclosed that it was in severe financial crisis. Randy Adams, a retired St. Louis banking executive succeeded Roth who retired in July 2001. Adams set out to raise extensive funds thereafter, trying to increase the endowment of the SLSO as he went along.
The musicians mutually agreed to a salary reduction, as part of the budget cutback and measures taken to save costs. They also agreed to a reduction of their contracts from 52-weeks to 42-weeks.
A salary related labor disagreement led to the postponement of concerts for two months. The musicians thought themselves to be locked out, whereas the management thought this course of action to be an illegal strike, the courts held that this was an illegal strike. The musicians and Adams then agreed to a new contract in March 2005.
American conductor David Robertson served as the Music Director of the SLSO from December 2003 to September 2005. His contract was extended in September 2006 to 2010.
Ward Stare holds the post of Resident Conductor, from early 2008 through to 2009, (previously Assistant Conductor), and is also the music director of the saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Slatkin, Gerhardt Zimmermann, David Loebel, David Amado, and Scott Parkman are among the previous SLSO Assistant Conductors.
Jeremy Geffen and Peter Czornyj are past vice Presidents of artistic administration. As of June 2007 the SLSO pronounced the resignation of Adams from the positions of President and Executive Director, as announced in February 2007.
December 2007 saw the appointment of Fred Bronstein as the new President and Executive Director of the SLSO. He began working in these positions in March 2008.