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Stéphane Denève

Stéphane Denève conducts a rehearsal Sept. 11, 2019, at Powell Symphony Hall for his first concert as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Photo by Laurie Skrivan,

Regarding “Authoritative French and Russian music from Denève and the SLSO” (Oct. 20): Get to Powell Hall as soon as you can and experience for yourself the wonder that is Stéphane Denève, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s new music director. But be warned: You may succumb, as I have, to what I’ll call Stéphanomania, a malady whose chief symptom — apart from susceptibility to abundant Gallic charm — is a sudden increase in heart rate the moment Maitre enters from the wings. As a committed Stéphanomane, I’ll tell anyone willing to listen that we are witnessing what is likely the onset of an epoch in American orchestral history. Quite possibly, Denève will one day be linked with St. Louis just as Georg Solti is with Chicago, Leopold Stokowski with Philadelphia, and Arturo Toscanini with New York.

Denève is insanely gifted with a fabulous ear, a staggering mastery of his scores, and a buoyant, bubbly personality that grabs hold of the musicians and makes them want to give a thousand percent. The musicians are clearly crazy about him, and he about them. There is in fact a love fest going on at Powell Hall right now, and you want to be part of it.

How long is the Denève era in St. Louis likely to last? Ten years, if we are lucky. Fifteen, if we pray very hard.

So catch Stéphanomania while you can, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.

Donald Wilson • St. Louis County