Conductor David Robertson, from Malibu to St. Louis and back home
When David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, returns to California to lead his band on a five-concert, four-city tour of the Golden State this week, it’ll be old-home week for the conductor. Robertson was born in Malibu and raised in Santa Monica before heading to Europe and eventual fame.
But in addition to his appearances on some of the state’s most prestigious podiums -- including at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on Wednesday and San Francisco’s Davies Hall’s on Saturday and Sunday -- Robertson will be making a more prosaic stop: visiting his alma mater Wednesday morning, Santa Monica High School. He says he hasn’t been back since the mid-1970s, although he seems to have plenty of happy memories.
“My very first sweetheart was Larry Hagman’s daughter,” he recalled.
This time Robertson will be paying music students a visit. “It’s great that everybody talks about El Sistema,” Robertson said, referring to Venezuela’s vaunted nationwide music-education program. “But Santa Monica has had a program very much like that for many years. Students had the opportunity to take music at an early level and then continue their studies, and that continues today.”
Yet thrilled as he will be to walk the old hallways, Robertson has bigger concerns on his mind. “Everybody is facing such hard budget choices,” he said, “so it’s important for me to show how essential that experience was for me. And this is one way I can make people aware of that. Programs like this may look like a small thing on a budget line, but I can’t imagine my entire life without it.”
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-- David Mermelstein
Photo: David Robertson. Credit: Michael Tammaro