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Conductor Stéphane Denève hopes to ‘marry’ French, American music in upcoming performances

Conductor Stéphane Denève talked about his career and upcoming role at  the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Conductor Stéphane Denève talked about his career and upcoming role at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.";

Conductor Stéphane Denève is the music director designate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO), succeeding David Robertson as the orchestra's 13th music director in the 2019-20 season. Denève is currently the music director and chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and the principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Denève about his career and his upcoming role in St. Louis. 

Listen to the full discussion:


While he’s conducted worldwide, the native Frenchman is no stranger to St. Louis.

The frequent SLSO guest conductor will conduct two performances at the St. Louis Symphony this week on Feb. 2 and 3. Denève said he’s always enjoyed performing in St. Louis due to the friendliness and expertise of the musicians.

“I personally love the richness of the orchestra [in St. Louis.] It also has a very lush string section that allows me to be very lyrical. It’s an orchestra that’s very well balanced,” he said, stating how much he enjoys their refined performances.

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second oldest orchestra in the country. Denève said he would want to introduce new music and a bit of “French taste” in the orchestra’s musical selections.

He said he finds it interesting to explore different facets of musical works.

“There is not one truth in music. What is important is real interactivity with the musicians and the audiences that explores something different from the masterwork that we play,” he said. 

Denève enjoys taking contemporary music and making them into repertoire pieces – meaning musical works “that can stand the test of time.”

“I will try to propose to St. Louis audiences new music that for me, I strongly believe can become repertoire. And that means [music that] the musicians want to play and play again and music that audiences want to hear and hear again,” he said.

One of the contemporary pieces Denève will conduct this weekend is from French composer Guillaume Connesson, which he said is an example of music that will become “the repertoire of the future.”

Related Events:

What: Stéphane Denève Conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
When: Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. & Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.