Classical music has its share of otherworldly sonatas, fugues, concertos and operas, but of all the compositional formats, it is the requiem alone that serves the express purpose of ushering souls to the next realm. Simply, a requiem is a hymn, dirge or musical service for the repose of the dead, and of all requiems composed in the Western classical tradition, it is Hector Berlioz's Requiem that is the granddaddy. First performed in 1837 by 400 instrumentalists and vocalists, Berlioz's Requiem is at once huge, dramatic and awe-inspiring. The French composer wrote of his opus, "If I were threatened with the destruction of the whole of my works save one, I should crave mercy for the Requiem."
Your extremely rare opportunity to hear live one of the grandest, most enigmatically expressive works of music in the history of Western civilization comes this weekend when the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus bid loving farewell to former conductor Hans Vonk, who passed away in late August of this year. Andrew Litton (pictured) leads the orchestra and chorus in honoring Vonk's life in music with Berlioz's Requiem at Powell Symphony Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard) on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., then on Sunday at 3 p.m. (November 12 through 14). The massiveness and complexity of the piece renders it difficult enough to produce, but the SLSO takes things further by arranging the brass and chorus in the four corners of Powell Hall around the audience for added, mind-blowing effect. A pre-concert presentation by the SLSO's chief lecturer, Hugh Macdonald, begins one hour before each performance. Tickets range in price from $32 to $99. For more information or to reserve tickets, call 314-533-1700 or visit www.slso.org. -- John Goddard
In death, Francis Albert Sinatra has become larger than life. His movies are being remade (Manchurian Candidate, Ocean's Eleven and sequel), he has a buzzworthy new commercial, and now even the Kansas City Ballet has adopted some of his massive cachet. The KCB brings its dance interpretation of Frankie's oeuvre, Nine Sinatra Pieces, to the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-534-1111) for three performances (at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 12 through 14). With the choreography of Twyla Tharp set to songs such as the towering "Strangers in the Night," Nine Sinatra Pieces explores several styles of dance under the influence of Ol' Blue Eyes' supreme style. Will the dancers be hoisting tumblers of Scotch? Only one way to find out. Tickets are $18 to $28. -- Paul Friswold
Is there any childhood tale more heartrending than The Velveteen Rabbit? Try this on for size: Even the stoic Mr. Night started brushing away tears when we reminded him of that imaginative, ill little boy and the bunny who was his dearest companion. Whether you committed this beautiful story to memory as a child or barely remember what it's about, you owe yourself -- and any kids in your life -- the pleasure of witnessing modern-dance troupe ODC/San Francisco's interpretation of the tale. The show comes to life (see picture above) at the Center of Creative Arts (524 Trinity Avenue; 314-725-6555) at 7 p.m. Friday, November 12, and at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (November 13 and 14). Tickets are $20, and Mr. Night implores you to bring hankies. -- Brooke Foster
According to press materials, Michael Bauermeister and Gloria Attoun Bauermeister, one-half of the acoustic Augusta Bottoms Consort, "currently write songs about things that they find remarkable," among other topics. Wonder if they write any songs about their inhumanly long lives -- per the same press materials, these two have been playing music together for five thousand years. If anything, that's pretty remarkable. See this ancient duo, along with roots trio Salt of the Earth, at 8 p.m. as part of Songwriter Night 4 at Music Folk in Webster Groves (8015 Big Bend Boulevard; 314-961-2838 or www.musicfolk.com). The show costs $5, and that's in today's money, not the seashell-money of long ago. -- Alison Sieloff