David Robertson has a winning smile and the gift of gab. Those two assets will take you far in life, but Robertson also has vision. And vision will carry the possessor and all who share it to great heights. Robertson's vision is that the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, which he directs, becomes a presence in the lives of as many people as possible, whether or not they live in St. Louis. To this end, the SLSO performs everywhere that will take them, in myriad permutations. Here's Robertson and a group of SLSO musicians at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts with a selection of minimalist pieces to complement the Flavin light installations. There's Robertson and the SLSO in St. Charles' Frontier Park, playing under the summer stars. Back again at Powell Hall for New Year's Eve, performing a live score for a Charlie Chaplin movie. Now he's massed the best band in St. Louis at the Touhill Performing Arts Center in order to construct the jeweled soundscapes of Messiaen's Turangalîla. "It's amazing," you think. "I'm seeing this guy in my dreams." And then you open the New York Times to find David Robertson and the SLSO on the front page of the Arts section in a very positive review of the Turangalîla show, and suddenly you recognize the through-line of Robertson's vision. Make the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra vital; make it interesting; make it varied; make it accessible. Do all these things well, and then play the music beautifully, no matter what's on the program that night — and people will come to hear you no matter where you are, even if they have to hop a plane to do so. They will. And they are.
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