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Superstar John Legend will team with St. Louis Symphony for Muny concert in September

John Legend will team with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the first concert at the Muny since 1991.
The Muny
John Legend will team with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for the first concert at the Muny since 1991.

In the first concert at the Muny in more than three decades, singer John Legend will perform at the outdoor venue on Sept. 7, backed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The program is subtitled “A Night of Songs and Stories.”

The rare collaboration between St. Louis Symphony and the Muny will be the first concert at the Forest Park outdoor theater since the Moody Blues and Kansas performed there in 1991.

“We’ve been working on trying to bring back concerts in an exciting way. We hope this will be a very successful proof-of-concept,” said Kwofe Coleman, the Muny’s president and CEO.

Legend released his ninth album, “Legend,” in 2022. The EGOT winner – he’s won three Emmy Awards, 12 Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Tony Award — begins his summer tour on May 31 in Durant, Oklahoma.

Most of the shows are billed simply as “An Evening with John Legend,” but the R&B/pop superstar also has scheduled orchestral collaborations with San Francisco Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

A successful event could lead to another concert next year, Coleman said, but the Muny is not planning to add a busy concert series to its offerings. When adding to the organization’s activity outside the summer mainstage season, the Muny must remain considerate of other groups holding events in Forest Park, he said.

After hosting Whitney Houston, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams Jr. and other artists at the Muny in the 1980s, the theater’s leaders discontinued the concert series after the 1991 event.

Changes in the live concert business and new competition from venues like the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre — then called Riverport Amphitheatre — made the concerts less of a priority, said Coleman.

“It just wasn't a thing that was in the appetite of leadership at that point. But since I took this job [in 2022], it's been clear that it's still in the appetite for our community and our patrons. And we were able to put something together that benefits everyone,” Coleman said.

Coleman dipped into the concert promotion business this year as producer for the Confluence Music Festival on June 1-2 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Headliners for that event include Ludacris, T-Pain and Adam Wainwright. Coleman’s involvement with the festival grew out of World Wide Technology’s relationship with the Muny, he said.

“We were looking for an artist to bring concerts back to the Muny, maybe next year. But in talking to people about the festival, I learned that John Legend was available. And then the symphony was available. We’re the hinge of a good connecting point for that,” said Coleman.

The concert will mark the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s first appearance on the Muny stage since 1995.

The two organizations have been looking for a performance to collaborate on, said spokesperson Unitey Kull.

“This is something that we’ve been talking with the Muny about for a while now, and really trying to find the right fit to collaborate. And this particular concert feels perfect,” said Kull.

The Muny has a seating capacity of 11,000.

Tickets to the Muny show go on sale at 9 a.m. May 20. Seats are priced from $75 to $300. The Muny will distribute a number of free tickets, as it does for its musicals, but has not yet announced details.

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.