St. Joseph Symphony

November 29, 2021


DEFINITION: showing or caused by strong feelings or a strong belief

Forget anything stuffy you might think about symphony or orchestra performances, and consider a symphony experience St. Joseph-style.

Because when it comes to professional symphony sounds with a unique and creative atmosphere, and a top-notch director, the Saint Joseph Symphony strikes a chord. Actually, several thousand chords. (Pun definitely intended.)

In 2021, the Saint Joseph Symphony welcomed new music director/conductor Dr. Christopher Kelts, who also leads two orchestras in Kansas City, along with an international ensemble while also serving as Director of Orchestral Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield. Kelts rose to the top of a pool of more than 20 candidates and brings a new awareness and enthusiasm for the ways St. Joseph’s history and culture create a distinct artistic setting. As candidates with outstanding resumes continued to apply, the search lasted 10 months – a testament to the uniqueness of the city’s symphony experience.

Right away, Kelts was intrigued by the “personality” of St. Joseph. “St. Joe has so much enrichment in its history, museums, and arts culture, and this includes a large role played by the Saint Joseph Symphony. This is an exhilarating style of music we bring to the community and guests, and I’m thrilled to be part of the experience!”

In comparison to other mid-sized cities, St. Joseph continues to stand out for having a full and active orchestra with professional musicians and a professional director. Symphony professional performances are held year-round in a variety of venues across the city, but most in the main seasons are perfectly suited for the incredibly beautiful Missouri Theater.

It may come as a surprise to discover that the Saint Joseph Symphony Society, Inc. was established in 1959, the latest in a line reaching back to a group called Rosenblatt’s Band in 1854. Today, the education program reaches hundreds of elementary school students each year with youth concerts and a chance to learn about the different instruments and how they work together. Area students who participate can take part in a Youth Concert Day, typically held at the historic Missouri Theater.

Working with Saint Joseph Symphony Managing Director Lori McAlister, Kelts was an active planner of the 2021-22 concert season. Kelts and McAlister viewed it as an opportunity to shine creatively. “What we are experiencing now is the hope and the excitement of reopening live music for all musicians and audiences,” says Kelts. “In St. Joseph, this also means bringing a diverse opportunity to the city and to our musicians, creating concert programs that are engaging.”

Why does Kelts say The Saint Joseph Symphony, and orchestra music in general, is such an important piece of our culture? “For the listener, The Saint Joseph Symphony brings the audible experience of symphonic music that can range from dark colors to bright sounds.  We are offering an experience – in which everyone will have a personal reaction and connection.” says Kelts.

He adds that there is nothing boring about orchestra performances. “You don’t need a degree in music to understand passion. Trust us, we’ve got passion by the bucket load.”

And by bucket load, we are talking exciting, romantic and entertaining music with the power to move you. Regarding dress code, Kelts encourages the audience to be comfortable and to remember that the most important thing is how the music sounds, not how the audience looks.

“The Saint Joseph Symphony is for all walks of life. You might see a friend from your neighborhood, your favorite local celebrity or a coworker at a performance. Some people attend on their own for a night or afternoon, and we welcome that. Everyone in attendance has a shared interest.”

Save the dates for your own personally moving experience:  Dec. 18, 2021, it’s Holiday Cheer featuring a mix of classic and contemporary and highlighting some awesome local talent; and then March 26, 2022, it’s Tales From Russia. Want to know more about Dr. Christopher Kelts? Check out his professional accolades here (http://www.keltsconductor.com).


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