February 19, 2020
To mark the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 50th anniversary, alumni returned for a concert and to share memories of the lasting impact of their experience. Their stories were the focus of a recent episode of “Living St. Louis” on The Nine Network of Public Media. The youth orchestra was founded by Leonard Slatkin when he was assistant conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and it remains among the accomplishments of which the conductor is most proud. “It is my most vivid memory of the 27 years I spent in St. Louis—a sweeter sound had never been heard, at least to my ears,” Slatkin recalled, reflecting on the experience of leading the youth orchestra’s first rehearsal.
To commemorate the milestone, Slatkin has written a new piece dedicated to the members of the youth orchestra, past, present, and future. Bachanalia takes its inspiration from the Stokowski orchestration of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, the first piece the orchestra rehearsed together in 1970. It will receive its world premiere by conductor Gemma New and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra on May 31, 2020. The concert will be featured on the acclaimed NPR program From the Top.