On Thanksgiving weekend, SLSO strings perform Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires at three locations throughout the region, featuring Concertmaster David Halen and Associate Concertmaster Erin Schreiber 

On December 1, conductor David Danzmayr leads the orchestra in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, along with Jessie Montgomery’s Strum and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto featuring SLSO Principal Oboist Jelena Dirks

The second of five Live at The Sheldon concerts, curated by SLSO violinist Angie Smart and SLSO cellist Bjorn Ranheim, features SLSO strings players in music by Jessie Montgomery, Christian Quiñones, and Franz Schubert, plus the world premiere of a new work by University of Missouri student Harry González, December 6

On December 8, Kevin McBeth leads the SLSO and the SLSO IN UNISON Chorus in the annual Gospel Christmas concert, featuring baritone Wintley Phipps

The SLSO performs the scores to two films while the movies play on the Stifel Theatre big screen: Home Alone (December 9-10) and Back to the Future (December 28-29)

On December 12-17, the SLSO performs its traditional Mercy Holiday Celebration with a selection of holiday tunes, led by Stuart Malina and featuring vocalist Scarlett Strallen in her SLSO debut, in St. Charles and downtown St. Louis

The surprise-filled New Year’s Eve Celebration rings in 2024 with conductor Norman Huynh and vocalist Jimmie Herrod in his SLSO debut

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has announced details of its holiday concerts—a wide range of symphonic concerts performed across six venues throughout the region. Concerts include classical favorites, chamber music, films with scores performed live, and concerts that celebrate the holiday season. Two vocalists will make their SLSO debuts: musical theater veteran Scarlett Strallen and America’s Got Talent finalist Jimmie Herrod.

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at slso.org or by calling the Box Office at 314-534-1700. A full concert calendar is available at slso.org or on the SLSO’s mobile app available for iOS or Android. A broadcast of the December 1 classical concert will be aired on December 2 on 90.7 FM KWMU St. Louis Public Radio, Classic 107.3, and online. Audiences can attend a Pre-Concert Conversation, an engaging discussion about the music and artists on the program, one hour prior to each classical concert.

While the expansion and renovation of Powell Hall continues, the SLSO will perform holiday concerts at several venues throughout the region: St. Joseph Catholic Church Cottleville (November 24), Manchester United Methodist Church in Manchester (November 25), The Sheldon in Grand Center (November 26 and December 6), the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (December 1), Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis (December 8-10, 16-17, 28-29, 31), and the J. Scheidegger Center for Performing Arts at Lindenwood University (December 12-13). Shuttle service will be available for concerts at the Touhill at UMSL and Stifel Theatre starting at $15 per seat. There will be two shuttle pick-up locations for performances at Stifel Theatre: Plaza Frontenac and St. Louis Community College–Forest Park. Shuttles for performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL will depart from Plaza Frontenac, and free parking is available on the UMSL campus.

The Eight Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla 

Friday, November 24, 7:30pm 
St. Joseph Catholic Church Cottleville 
1355 Motherhead Road, Cottleville, MO 63304 

Saturday, November 25, 7:30pm 
Manchester United Methodist Church 
129 Woods Mill Road, Manchester, MO 63011 

Sunday, November 26, 3:00pm 
The Sheldon 
3648 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108   

David Halen, violin 
Erin Schreiber, violin 

Antonio Vivaldi                                      The Four Seasons 

Astor Piazzolla (arr. Desyatnikov) The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires 

The SLSO brings the melodies of the changing seasons to life in three performances on Thanksgiving weekend. The timeless charm of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons transports listeners to the northern Italian countryside, brilliantly contrasting with the passionate soundscape of Argentina in Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Season of Buenos Aires. From Vivaldi’s iconic Spring to Piazzolla’s intense Winter, the SLSO’s own gifted violinists, Concertmaster David Halen and Associate Concertmaster Erin Schreiber, weave a seasonal musical tapestry.  Tickets for general admission are $30.

David Danzmayr

Beethoven’s Second Symphony

Friday, December 1, 10:30am CST*
Friday, December 1, 7:30pm CST
Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis 
1 Touhill Circle, St. Louis, Missouri, 63121 

David Danzmayr, conductor
Jelena Dirks, oboe

Jessie Montgomery                             Strum

Ralph Vaughan Williams                   Oboe Concerto (First SLSO performances)

Ludwig van Beethoven                      Symphony No. 2

Presented by the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation.

*Refreshments courtesy of Kaldi’s Coffee and Eddie’s Southtown Donuts.

Conductor David Danzmayr returns to the SLSO for two concerts on December 1 that pair the familiar with the new. Danzmayr pushes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Second Symphony close to the edge, revealing the magic behind one of the composer’s lesser-known symphonies. SLSO Principal Oboist Jelena Dirks’ goal is to sing through her instrument. She has every opportunity in the songful, break-your-heart musical world of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto, performed by the SLSO for the first time in these concerts. Strum by Jessie Montgomery, the in-demand American composer of this moment, salutes American folk music.   

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra: Live at The Sheldon
Wednesday, December 6, 7:30pm CST  
The Sheldon Concert Hall
3648 Washington Ave., St. Louis, Missouri, 63108

Angie Smart, curator and violin

Bjorn Ranheim, curator and cello

Andrea Jarrett, violin

Shannon Farrell Williams, viola

Aleck Belcher, double bass
Jessie Montgomery                             Strum

Harry González                                     New Work (World premiere)

Christian Quiñones                               Pasemisí, Pasemisá

Franz Schubert                                       String Quintet in C major

Curated by Angie Smart (SLSO violin) and Bjorn Ranheim (SLSO cello).

The performance of Harry González’s work is presented in partnership with the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Sponsored by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The second in a five-concert chamber series in partnership with the SLSO’s Grand Center neighbor, The Sheldon, celebrates the virtuosity of SLSO string players on December 6. Curated and led by violinist Angie Smart and cellist Bjorn Ranheim, a quintet of SLSO string players performs a rich array of music by Jessie Montgomery and Christian Quiñones, as well as Franz Schubert’s Quintet in C major. In a unique partnership with the Mizzou New Music Initiative at the University of Missouri, the musicians also give the world premiere of new music by Harry González, a student composer. The St. Louis American called this new series “the hottest ticket in town.”

A Gospel Christmas

Friday, December 8, 7:30pm CST
Stifel Theatre
1400 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

Kevin McBeth, conductor

Wintley Phipps, vocals

St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus | Kevin McBeth, director

Leroy Anderson                                                    A Christmas Festival

Jeffrey Ames (orch. Dunsmoor)                     A Festive Praise

Traditional                                                              “Walk Together Children”

Traditional (arr. Wilberg)                                  “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy”

Traditional (arr. Lawrence)                               “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

G.F. Handel (arr. Warren/Jackson/Kibble/Hey/Chinn) “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration

Traditional (arr. Smith)                                      “Go Tell It On the Mountain”

Traditional (arr. Stoddart/Turner)                                 “Here’s One”

Alfred Burt (arr. Smith)                                     “Some Children See Him”

Jill Jackson (arr. Clydesdale)                            “Let There Be Peace On Earth”

Traditional (arr. Davis)                                       Deck the Halls

Brandon A. Boyd (orch. Joubert)                   “Sign Me Up”

Traditional (arr. Johnson/Davis)                    “Children, Go Where I Send Thee”

Franz Gruber (arr. Tyzik)                                   “Silent Night”

Cliff Duren                                                              Star of Wonder Medley

Traditional (arr. Clydesdale)                            “Kum Ba Yah”

Adolph-Charles Adam (arr. Smith)                                “O Holy Night”

Traditional (arr. Keveren)                                 “Amazing Grace”

Supported by Bayer Fund.

The SLSO IN UNISON Chorus returns for a beloved tradition on December 8, the Gospel Christmas concert with the SLSO, led by Chorus Director Kevin McBeth at Stifel Theatre. Joining the IN UNISON Chorus is baritone Wintley Phipps, whose silky-smooth voice highlights the soulful stylings of holiday music. Supported by Bayer Fund since 1994, the IN UNISON Chorus performs and preserves music from the African diaspora. 

Jason Seber

Home Alone in Concert

Saturday, December 9, 7:00pm CST
Sunday, December 10, 2:00pm CST
Stifel Theatre
1400 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

Jason Seber, conductor

Webster University Chorale | Trent Patterson, director

John Williams                                        Home Alone

Back by popular demand, the SLSO performs John Williams’ iconic score to Home Alone live to the hilarious and heartwarming holiday classic at Stifel Theatre on December 9-10. When the McCallisters leave for vacation, they forgot one thing: Kevin! Discover an experience the whole family can share. Limited tickets are available for this holiday favorite.

Mercy Holiday Celebration

Tuesday, December 12, 7:30pm CST
Wednesday, December 13, 7:30pm CST
J. Scheidegger Center for the Arts at Lindenwood University
2300 W. Clay St., St. Charles, Missouri, 63301

Saturday, December 16, 2:00pm & 7:30pm CST
Sunday, December 17, 2:00pm CST
Stifel Theatre
1400 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

Stuart Malina, conductor

Scarlett Strallen, vocals (SLSO debut)

Cally Banham, English horn

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (arr. Baynes)        Christmas Overture

George Wyle (arr. Clydesdale)                        “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

James Pierpont (arr. Waldin)                          “Jingle Bells”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (arr. Ellington/Strayhorn; orch. Tyzik) Selection from The Nutcracker Suite

Irving Berlin (arr. Maness)                                               “White Christmas”

Richard Rodgers (arr. Bennett)                       “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music

Adolphe Adam (arr. Clydesdale)                    “O Holy Night”

Various (arr. Stephenson)                                                 A Charleston Christmas

Traditional (arr. Tyzik)                                        Chanukah Suite

Tom Lehrer (arr. Malina)                                   “Chanukah in Santa Monica”

J. Fred Coots (arr. Holcombe)                         “Santa Claus in Coming to Town”

Sergei Prokofiev                                                   “Troika” from Lieutenant Kijé Suite

Leroy Anderson                                                    Sleigh Ride

Felix Bernard (arr. Harper; orch. Blank)      “Winter Wonderland”

Various (arr. Waldin)                                          “The Christmas Song/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Various (arr. Stephenson)                                 A Holly and Jolly Sing-Along!

Presented by Mercy.

The SLSO and conductor Stuart Malina bring the music of the holiday season to the stage at Stifel Theatre and Lindenwood University in St. Charles for a cherished holiday tradition—the Mercy Holiday Celebration. Full of favorite carols and sounds of the season, this year the orchestra will be joined by special guests, Broadway and West End veteran vocalist Scarlett Strallen and SLSO English horn player Cally Banham. Even Santa makes time for these festive concerts December 12-13 (Lindenwood) and December 16-17 (three concert at Stifel Theatre)! 

Back to the Future in Concert

Thursday, December 28, 7:00pm CST
Friday, December 29, 7:00pm CST
Stifel Theatre
1400 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

Norman Huynh, conductor

Alan Silvestri                                          Back to the Future

Recharge your flux capacitor…and get ready to celebrate the unforgettable 1985 classic, Back to the Future, with the SLSO performing Alan Silvestri’s score live as the film plays on Stifel Theatre’s big screen on December 28-29. Back to the Future topped the box office chart, spawned two wildly successful sequels, and stamped an enduring imprint on pop culture. Join Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), and a time traveling DeLorean for the adventure of a lifetime.

Jimmie Herrod

New Year’s Eve Celebration

Sunday, December 31, 7:30pm CST
Stifel Theatre
1400 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

Norman Huynh, conductor

Jimmie Herrod, vocals (SLSO debut)

Repertoire announced from the stage.

Send 2023 off in style at the SLSO’s annual bash—the New Year’s Eve Celebration concert. Frequent guest conductor Norman Huynh leads this musical party filled with surprises. Although the repertoire is a secret, it’s sure to be a fun-filled evening with the SLSO and guest vocalist Jimmie Herrod, a Pink Martini and America’s Got Talent alumnus. This one-night-only concert takes place at the stylish Stifel Theatre on December 31.

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Celebrated as one of today’s most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 144th year with the 2023/2024 season and its fifth with Stéphane Denève, The Joseph and Emily Rauh Pulitzer Music Director. Widely considered one of the leading American orchestras, the Grammy® Award-winning SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community collaborations—all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music. 

The transformational expansion and renovation of its historic home, Powell Hall, slated to be completed in 2025, builds on the institution’s momentum as a civic leader in convening individuals, creators, and ideas, while fostering a culture welcoming to all. Committed to building community through compelling and inclusive musical experiences, the SLSO continues its longstanding focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and access, embracing its strengths as a responsive, nimble organization, while investing in partnerships locally and elevating its presence globally. For more information, visit slso.org

Jelena Dirks, oboe

About the University of Missouri–St. Louis Touhill Performing Arts Center

Designed by the renowned architectural firm I.M. Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners, the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center is a landmark performance facility on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). The Center hosts an average of 120 events, 200 performances, and 90,000 visitors per year.

The Touhill staff manages several collaborative relationships and programs that, along with campus and community partners, bring together a diverse season of dance, theatre, music, festivals, and special events.

About Stifel Theatre

Stifel Theatre is a historic, 3,100 seat theatre in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Originally opened in 1934, Stifel Theatre’s stage has welcomed some of entertainment’s greatest performers and was the primary venue for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1934-1968. Following a $78.7 million restoration, this historical gem has been restored to its original splendor and undergone state-of-the-art upgrades.

Stifel Theatre plays host to a wide variety of events, including concerts, comedies, theatricals, family shows, holiday productions, and more.

Norman Huynh, conductor


The IN UNISON Chorus and SLSO musicians will be joined by ensembles connected to Ray, including IN UNISON Chorus alumni, The Legend Singers, the UMSL Community Choir, and the choirs of Manchester United Methodist Church and Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, led by IN UNISON Chorus Director Kevin McBeth and guest conductor Dr. Brandon Boyd

This community concert is free, tickets are required

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and its IN UNISON Chorus will pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Robert Ray in a free community concert at Powell Hall on Monday, May 1, 2023. Ray was the founding director of the IN UNISON Chorus, a resident SLSO chorus that specializes in the performance and preservation of music from the African diaspora. He passed away in December 2022 at age 76.

The concert celebrates Ray’s many contributions to the country’s arts and music landscape, featuring the IN UNISON Chorus, SLSO musicians, vocalists Denise Thimes and Jermaine Smith, and singers from ensembles impacted by Ray’s signature musicianship, led by current chorus director Kevin McBeth and guest conductor Dr. Brandon Boyd.

The concert is Monday, May 1, at 7:30pm. Free tickets can be reserved by visiting slso.org.

Dr Robert Ray

Marie-Hélène Bernard, President and CEO of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, said, “Dr. Robert Ray was a trailblazer—a brilliant musician and educator with a heart for the St. Louis community. His formation and leadership of the IN UNISON Chorus, and his devotion to its evolution as an essential choral group in the region, is one of countless legacies he leaves. We are honored to pay tribute to his legacy with the IN UNISON Chorus and Director Kevin McBeth.”

With unwavering dedication, Ray led the ensemble from its formation in 1994 through 2010, shaping its distinct sound and deep artistic profile. In addition to his wholehearted leadership of the IN UNISON Chorus for 16 years, Ray was a gifted composer and teacher, guiding many young musicians into their careers as a professor first at the University of Illinois, and most recently at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. His music filled many spaces, from local churches all the way to Carnegie Hall. Many of his compositions blended elements of music from the African diaspora with traditional classical forms, resulting in pieces with a singular voice. The SLSO and IN UNISON Chorus have performed selections from Ray’s Gospel Mass many times since its SLSO premiere in December 1996.

The free community concert highlights Ray’s career as a composer, director, and educator. More than 200 singers from various ensembles impacted by Ray will collaborate on the concert, including the IN UNISON Chorus and IUC alumni, The Legend Singers, the UMSL Community Choir, and the choirs of Manchester United Methodist Church and Webster Groves Presbyterian Church. Current IN UNISON Chorus Director Kevin McBeth will lead the concert alongside Dr. Brandon Boyd, a protégé of Ray’s and the Assistant Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of Missouri. Boyd’s I’ll Fly Away and Sign Me Up will be performed. The concert includes music by John Rutter, whose music Ray championed during his career. The performance includes selections from Ray’s own Gospel Mass—a landmark work that has been performed in Carnegie Hall—with well-known local vocalists Denise Thimes and Jermaine Smith, as well as Ray’s He Never Failed Me Yet. Throughout the concert, family, friends, and past and present IN UNISON Chorus members will remember Ray through song, poetry, and spoken word.

John RUTTER                                           Selections from Suite Antique

Brandon BOYD                                       I’ll Fly Away

Evelyn SIMPSON-CURENTON            O Glory

Jeffrey AMES                                          In Remembrance

Isaac CATES                                             It’s Working

Brandon BOYD                                       Sign Me Up

Robert RAY                                              Selections from Gospel Mass

Robert RAY                                              He Never Failed Me Yet

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Celebrated as a leading American orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 143rd year with the 2022/2023 season and its fourth with Music Director Stéphane Denève. The SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community collaborations, honoring its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.

The SLSO serves as a convener of individuals, creators, and ideas, and is committed to building community through compelling and inclusive musical experiences. As it continues its longstanding focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and access, the SLSO embraces its strengths as a responsive, nimble organization, while investing in partnerships locally and elevating its presence globally. For more information, visit slso.org.

About the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus

The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus is an auditioned ensemble of 100+ volunteer singers that performs a variety of musical styles, with a focus on the interpretation, performance, and preservation of music from the African diaspora.

Founded in 1994 by Dr. Robert Ray as an extension of the SLSO’s IN UNISON community outreach initiative, the IN UNISON Chorus performs several times each year with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and throughout the community. Chorus members often come from IN UNISON Program partner churches. Many chorus members sing in other vocal ensembles or church choirs. All share a love of music and of singing.

Bayer Fund has supported the Chorus since its inception. The Chorus has been led by Kevin McBeth since 2011. Learn more about the IN UNISON Chorus at slso.org.


By CB Adams

On the 1988 U2 album “Rattle and Hum,” singer Bono introduced the band’s cover of “Helter Skelter” by saying, “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back.” Although “Helter Skelter” may seem a strange way to begin a review of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Dec. 15 performance of A Gospel Christmas, it’s actually an apt comparison. The tsunami of seasonal carols and jingles that retailers start blasting in early fall threatens to steal our attention from the hymns and ecclesiastical music that examines – if not downright proclaims – the “reason for the season.”

A show like A Gospel Christmas aims to steal back holiday music – at least for one performance a year. The songs, like Michael Lawrence’s “Carol of Christmas,” Camille Saint-Saens’ “Praise Ye, the Lord of Hosts,” and the traditional “The First Noel” resonate more fully than songs about flying reindeer, mommy kissing Santa Claus or little fir trees who cry so much.

To borrow a quote from Stephen Hill, the host of the long-running radio program Hearts of Space, hymns “engage us on a deeper, more internal level when we simply open ourselves to the sound and listen with the heart.”

Kevin McBeth

There’s an unmatched power and vibrancy of human voices raised en masse, and the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus transformed Powell Hall into a sanctuary of soulful celebration. Conducted by Kevin McBeth, A Gospel Christmas was really three concerts woven into one. The IN UNISON Chorus provided the lion’s share of performances with songs that included the “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration,” the traditional “Beautiful City” and Kirk Franklin’s “Silver and Gold.”

Among all the excellent voices contributing to IN UNISON, the program included outstanding solos by several members, including soprano De-Rance Blaylock who performed “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and countertenor Tai Oney who performed “Mary Had A Baby.” “Praise Ye, The Lord of Hosts” from Saint-Saëns’ “Christmas Oratorio” received a rousing performance from IN UNISON’s Men’s Glee Club.

Early in the show, McBeth announced that IN UNISON’s founding director, Dr. Robert Ray, had passed away that day. Ray led the ensemble from its formation in 1994 through 2010 and shaped its distinct sound as it evolved into an essential choral group in the region. The evening was dedicated to Ray and celebrated his vision for the chorus, many members of which come from the IN UNISON Program partner churches.


The second concert within a concert was a sprinkling of songs by American singer, songwriter and pianist Sheléa Frazier, known professionally by the single moniker Sheléa. With a reputation as a “singer’s singer,” Sheléa has also portrayed gospel singer Dorinda Clark Cole in the 2020 Lifetime biopic, “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.”

Both the IN UNISON Chorus and Sheléa could have carried the show singly, the combination, along with the SLSO, provided a lively cadence and welcome variety of material. Sheléa sauntered easily through chestnuts like Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song” and Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” as well as one of her own compositions, the delightful “Don’t Wanna Wait ‘Til Christmas.”

Balancing out the program was the SLSO, which swelled Powell with wordless wonders such as the traditional “Overture of Joy (A Christmas Melody)” and Hugh Martin’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

In this season of aural plentitude, A Gospel Christmas provided a welcome respite from the jingle-jangle of more commercial holiday music – made all the more precious by both its impressive quality and one-night-only scarcity. I was reminded of an Elton John quote, “When in doubt, write a hymn.” To which I would add, “And then sing it out loud.” By the end of A Gospel Christmas, I felt that I had been satisfyingly “churched” and yearned to shout out, “Say amen, somebody!”