New St. Louis Symphony music director wants to heal the region

ST. LOUIS - A Frenchman is the new Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

In his first St. Louis television interview Stephane Deneve told Fox 2`s Dan Gray he hopes his music can play a role in healing St. Louis` racial divisions.

“Well, it’s definitely one of the best orchestras of this country which means one of the best orchestras of the world.”

Deneve is the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director-designate, he will become Music Director when he succeeds David Robertson whose 13-year tenure as Music Director concludes at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

The native Frenchman has conducted orchestras around the world but he is no stranger to St. Louis.  He has been a guest conductor with the orchestra several times, and audiences have noticed his special relationship with the SLSO.

“Look, would you marry somebody that you don`t feel for you is the most special person and that`s really indeed what I feel and in the case of the St. Louis symphony I’m glad that the audience can feel this palpable energy chemistry that we have together because it`s very precious.”

Deneve has a head full of curls and a head full of ideas.  He is passionate about presenting new music from contemporary composers

“Often people associate new music, modern music something they may not like that is intellectual and I want to really change this image and make a deal with the audience and say look, I will try to offer you always music which I believe will stand the test of time and will become the repertoire of the future.”

He plans to expand the orchestra's outreach in St. Louis and use music to build bridges.

“I’m, of course, I am very aware of the Ferguson story and more recently all the stories, and my heart is very touched by that, and its very new to me that in my life that maybe I say with modesty, of course, I will have a possibility to play a role in helping the future of this community.”

Deneve is cheerful warm and engaging he even played the grand piano on the Powell Hall stage during our interview.  He's very comfortable on stage and speaking to audiences.

“I will certainly address the audiences very regularly on stage.  I love to speak and I think people should know that an orchestra is made of very cool people, a lot of the enthusiasm is so great so in sync with our society.”

Deneve has had principal posts around the world:  Brussels, France, Scotland, Germany, and European orchestras are largely publicly funded.  American orchestras rely on donations, which   Deneve is embracing his job as conductor and fundraiser.

“I’m very lucky because I think the orchestra which is healthy, and it's always fragile.  So, we should never take anything for granted but I think there is a strong support.  I think the audience here knows how much a jewel the St. Louis Symphony is and that’s very dear to my heart.  I think this is the right feeling actually.”

“You know, you love the Cardinals, and you should be proud of the Cardinals.  And I think you should also be so proud for the St. Louis Symphony for its unique sound and unique talent so yes, I think we have a bright future and I want to be a part of it."