‘From Start to Finnish’ July 15

Gateway Festival Orchestra presents free Sunday concerts

The Gateway Festival Orchestra presents free concerts in Brookings Quadrangle throughout the month of July. (Photo: Liam Otten)

The music began as a string quartet. It concluded with full orchestra.

Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote the first version of his “Andante Festivo” in 1922 to celebrate the anniversary of a local sawmill. Seven years later, he expanded the piece for the wedding of his niece, and expanded it again the following year.

But the final version would not debut until 1939, when Sibelius emerged from retirement to conduct “Andante Festivo” for the New York World’s Fair. The recording, which was broadcast across the United States, is the only example of Sibelius’ conducting to survive for posterity.

Conductor James Richards

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, the Gateway Festival Orchestra will perform “Andante Festivo for String Orchestra” as part of its 2018 summer concert season. The program, titled “From Start to Finnish,” also will feature Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, as well as works by Launy Grøndahl, Edvard Grieg and a medley from “Mamma Mia,” based on songs by the pop group ABBA.

The concert series will continue July 22 and 29. All performances 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. Ted Drewes frozen custard and bottled water will be available for purchase. For further information, call 314-741-5948 or visit www.gatewayfestivalorchestra.org.

About the Gateway Festival Orchestra

The Gateway Festival Orchestra is conducted by James Richards, the Founders Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The orchestra was established in 1964 by conductor William Schatzkamer, professor emeritus in piano at 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.

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