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St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Brahms’ First Symphony – Labor of Love

February 21, 2025 @ 10:30 am
|Recurring Event (See all)

Conductor David Afkham makes his SLSO debut in a program of struggle, then exultation. In The Ring of Fire and Love, Finnish composer Outi Tarkianen explores the earth-shattering moment of a child’s birth. Pianist Saleem Ashkar brings searching intelligence to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24, dramatic music written at a time of personal joy. Brahms toiled over his First Symphony for decades, producing a life-affirming journey from darkness to light.

A few things to know:

  • “The ‘ring of fire’ is a volcanic belt that surrounds the Pacific Ocean,” says composer Outi Tarkianen. “It also describes what a woman feels as she gives birth. That moment is the most dangerous in the baby’s life. The Ring of Fire and Love is a work for orchestra about this earth-shattering, creative, cataclysmic moment they travel through together.”
  • “I feel very close to Brahms,” says conductor David Afkham. “I grew up with these grand Germanic composers. That’s my home.” Afkham has a curious mind. “I have always been interested in very different fields: science, theater, nature, history, philosophy. We conductors have to know a little about everything.”

“When I was a child, my father had an old car, and a work colleague had an old piano,” says Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkar. “Both were so old that they couldn't be sold. So they simply swapped them." Ashkar, who was born in Nazareth and studied in London, is Artistic Director of the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, formed of young and professional musicians to encourage collaboration between Arab and Jewish musicians.

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