St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

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The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is a major United States symphony orchestra based in St. Louis. Founded in 1880, it is the second-oldest U.S. symphony, after the New York Philharmonic. Before moving to its current home in Powell Symphony Hall, it performed for many years at the Kiel Opera House. The orchestra has given concerts regularly at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and has made overseas tours to Europe and to Japan. The SLSO has recorded for the Columbia, RCA Victor Red Seal, Telarc, and Angel EMI labels. It has also issued CD recordings on its own label, Arch Media, and has received six Grammy Awards and fifty-six nominations. For Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the SLSO has been the resident orchestra since 1978, divided into two ensembles, each performing two of the operas in the season.

The symphony has an extensive education and community outreach program, known as the Community Partnerships Program. SLSO musicians give several hundred free performances a year of chamber music in schools, churches and other venues, such as community centers. The symphony has a partnership with 25 local African-American churches called IN UNISON, whose choir, drawn from church members, performs with the symphony as well as on its own programs. Also associated with the symphony is the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus, which was founded in 1977, and whose current director is Amy Kaiser. The Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra was established in 1970 by Leonard Slatkin.

The national prestige of the SLSO grew most prominently during the tenure of Leonard Slatkin. During his tenure, the SLSO made many recordings for the EMI and RCA Victor labels, and toured to Europe and the Far East, as well as concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York. However, this growth in prestige was not matched by stabilization of long-term finances. As of 2000, the SLSO endowment stood at $28 million. In 2000, the executive director and President of the Symphony at the time, Don Roth, had secured a $40 million challenge grant from the Taylor family to help with securing the SLSO money situation. However, in that same year, he revealed the situation of severe financial problems with the SLSO finances, which nearly led to the orchestra's bankruptcy in 2001. Roth resigned his position in June 2001, and was succeeded by Randy Adams, a retired St. Louis bank executive. Adams embarked on extensive fund-raising efforts in the following years, seeking to enlarge the endowment of the SLSO in the process. As part of the budget cuts and cost-saving measures, the musicians agreed to salary cuts over that time, and also a reduction of their 52-week contract to 42 weeks.

In January 2005, a labor dispute related to salaries led to a cancellation of concerts for two months. While the musicians considered themselves to be locked out, and the management considered this action to be an illegal strike, the action was ruled in the courts to be an illegal strike. In March 2005, the musicians and Adams agreed to a new contract.

The American conductor David Robertson is the current Music Director of the SLSO as of September 2005, having been named to that position in December 2003. In September 2006, he extended his contract to 2010. The post of Assistant Conductor, who also acts as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, is currently held by Scott Parkman.

On February 20, 2007, the SLSO announced that president and executive director Randy Adams would be leaving the organization in June 2007. A search for his replacement began immediately.

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(Note: Eddie Silva currently works for the SLSO. His above articles predate his employment with the orchestra.)