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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

St. Louis Symphony's "Music You Know" Series Draws Inspiration From the Familiar

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:14 AM

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Like many of us, musicians are stirred by melodies they've both consciously and subconsciously processed over the years. That's something the "Music You Know" series wants to build upon.

"Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry — those were such awesome cartoons. The music just was so good," Chu says. "[In Edvard Grieg's] In the Hall of the Mountain King, the music is sort of demonic and gets faster and faster and faster, so it's almost impossible not to be brought along on the journey during the piece. For a cartoon, that's perfect, because it paints such a vivid picture."

Robertson agrees that he's been moved by a number of pieces during his lifetime, likening some of these melodies to a person's mother tongue, where they don't remember when or how a connection was formed. But he also says that it's never too late for a piece of music to become a powerful totem for a person.

"I remember becoming aware of listening to music when we got a reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was seven or eight years old," Robertson says. "We had Boléro [a 1928 piece by Maurice Ravel], and I can remember being aware of the act of listening, of following, 'Now this is happening in the beats.'

"I'd loved music since my earliest years, but this was a major shift of awareness," Robertson continues. "And this kind of thing can happen to anybody, at any point and at any age."

Robertson especially is excited about the educational aspect of the symphony's new series.

"The idea of the 'Music You Know' concerts is that learning can go on, but it's not something that needs to feel didactic," Robertson says. "I think most adults who come to a concert hall already have such a vast experience of life, which is individual to them.

"What's fascinating is to then see how they personally plug their own experiences into what it is they're hearing. And if we can figure out a way to help them feel more confidence in their own personal experience, that's a great thing."

Music You Know: Encore 8 p.m. Friday, November 21. Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard. $30 to $85. 314-534-1700.

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