Gateway Festival Orchestra to present free summer concerts at Washington University

Annual series to open July 11 with 'Music for the Night'

James Richards, PhD, conducts the Gateway Festival Orchestra in its 47th season of free summer concerts at Washington University beginning July 11. Download hi-res image.

The Gateway Festival Orchestra will launch its 47th season of free Sunday-evening concerts at Washington University July 11 with “Music for the Night,” a program of works on nocturnal themes.

Musical director James Richards, PhD, will conduct the performance, which will open with the “witches’ Sabbath” scene from Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain (1867). Next up will be American composer Arthur Foote’s A Night Piece (1918), featuring solo flutist Jan Scott, professor emerita at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Concluding the program will be a medley of works from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Phantom of the Opera (1986) and from Johannes Brahms’ Orchestral Serenade No. 1 in D Major (1857).

On July 18 the orchestra will present music of Barbara Harbach alongside works by classical giants in “Bach to Basics.” Cathy Woelbling-Paul, teacher of applied music in Arts & Sciences, will serve as soloist on Harbach’s Rhapsodie Jardine for oboe and strings (1996). Also on the program will be Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major (c. 1731), the overture to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Der Schauspieldirektor (1786) and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 (1812).

Harbach, a noted harpsichordist and organist, is professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), where her opera O, Pioneers! debuted last fall.

Dance will dominate the series’ third concert July 25. The program, titled “Gotta Dance,” will open with Euphoria Overture, an original work by Gateway Orchestra violist Michael Blackwood, a music teacher in the Rockwood School District. The program will continue with Franz Schubert’s ballet music for the play Rosamunde (1823); Ron Nelson’s Sarabande: For Katharine in April (1954); and Alexander Borodin’s Polovtsian March and Dances, from the sprawling, unfinished opera Prince Igor (1890). Rounding out the program will be Percy Grainger’s setting of Molly on the Shore (1907) and the medley Salute to the Big Bands, arranged by Calvin Custer.

The season will conclude Aug. 1 with “Souvenir of Moscow,” a program of Russian music. Opening the concert will be Anatol Liadov’s Kikimora (1909), a tone poem describing the malicious ghost of Russian folktales. Also on the program will be Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra (1876), featuring soloist James Perretta, a student at Webster University’s Community Music School; and Vasily Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1894-95).

All concerts are free and open to the public and begin at 7:30 p.m. in Brookings Quadrangle, located just west of Brookings Hall, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives. The public is encouraged to bring lawn seating.

For more information, call (314) 569-0371 or visit

Gateway Festival Orchestra

The Gateway Festival Orchestra was established in 1964 by conductor William Schatzkamer, professor emeritus in piano in Washington University’s Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, and other local musicians, in part to provide summer employment to members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Gateway was the first integrated professional orchestra in the St. Louis area and its formation ultimately led to the merger of the Black Musicians’ Association with the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis (now Local 2-197 of the American Federation of Musicians). The group originally performed on the downtown riverfront but relocated to Washington University in 1970.

Gateway Festival Orchestra concerts are supported by the Roland Quest Memorial Fund of the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, the Regional Arts Commission, the Arts and Education Council, the Missouri Arts Council, and the Music Performance Fund of the American Federation of Musicians.

James Richards

Richards is associate dean for academic affairs in UMSL’s College of Fine Arts and Communication. He holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, NY, and degrees in orchestral conducting and music theory from the University of Texas at Austin.

Richards currently serves as conductor and music director of both the Gateway Festival Orchestra and the Saint Louis Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared frequently as a guest conductor and clinician for band and orchestra festivals throughout the United States, including numerous guest appearances with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery Series. In 2009, Richards conducted the New York premiere of the music theatre work, Booth!, which featured music by Harbach.

Currently president of the Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music, Richards is past-president of the Missouri Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (MoASTA) and previously chaired the international Merle J. Isaac Composition Contest.

As a violinist, Richards has performed with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Fox Theatre Orchestra, the Dance St. Louis Orchestra, the St. Louis Bach Society and the Landolfi String Quartet. He recently received the Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from MoASTA and the Faculty Excellence Award from the UMSL College of Fine Arts and Communication.


July 11: “Music of the Night”
July 18: “Bach to Basics”
July 25: “Gotta Dance”
Aug. 1: “Souvenir of Moscow”