The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Stéphane Denève announce appointment of Stephanie Childress as Assistant Conductor

Childress will also serve as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra

(December 9, 2020, St. Louis, MO) – Today, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra announced that the Franco-British conductor Stephanie Childress has been named the SLSO’s Assistant Conductor, an appointment made by Music Director Stéphane Denève following an international search.

Stéphane Denève, Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, said, “In my entire life, I have never been so excited by the discovery of a new talent! Stephanie Childress is truly special and has a tremendously bright future. She impressed all of us deeply during her audition with the orchestra. We were all absolutely amazed by her refined musicality and her inspiring energy on the podium. She displayed a rare natural leadership through her powerful imagination and charmed everyone with her highly communicative passion for music. I know Stephanie will be a great asset to our entire organization.”

Stephanie Childress, Assistant Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, said, “I am delighted to join the SLSO family. I’m so impressed with the orchestra’s warm sound, welcoming energy, and beautiful home. The SLSO has a sterling reputation in the industry and I’m eager to work alongside these brilliant musicians and Stéphane Denève. I’m equally excited to become the Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and make music with these tremendous young musicians.”

Marie-Hélène Bernard, President and CEO of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, said, “Stephanie is a remarkable musician—a brilliant conductor and violinist—and she will be an ideal and central partner for the entire SLSO family. We are excited to welcome Stephanie to St. Louis and are eager to watch as she takes the podium with all of our ensembles. Our incredibly talented Youth Orchestra musicians will benefit greatly from her experiences, musicianship, and leadership. We look forward to Stephanie becoming a member of our artistic family.”

In her role, Childress will assume a variety of conducting responsibilities, including leading the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra as the 50-year-old ensemble’s Music Director. She will make her St. Louis debut conducting a chamber orchestra of SLSO musicians in spring 2021 and will also perform with the orchestra as violin soloist later this winter. Additional concerts will be announced at a later date.

A violinist-turned-conductor, Childress rose to prominence in several prestigious competitions and was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition both in 2016 and 2018. She has also found success in conducting competitions, recently earning the second prize at the inaugural La Maestra conducting competition in Paris. Described as a “seriously exciting talent” (Operissima), she has conducted several of Europe’s leading orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic, and she most recently made her conducting debut with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). She counts the famed conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the current LSO Music Director, as one her mentors.

Childress’ initial contract will run through the 2021/2022 season. She succeeds former Resident Conductor Gemma New—the Music Director of the Hamilton (Canada) Philharmonic Orchestra and the Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra—who held that position with the SLSO from 2016 through May 2020.

About Stephanie Childress
Second prize winner at the inaugural conducting competition, La Maestra, held in Paris in autumn 2020, Stephanie Childress is making her mark as a conductor and has been likened to “other notable young conductors of the past such as Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Simon Rattle” (Varsity). In the 20/21 season, Childress makes debuts with the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. She also begins her tenure as Assistant Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 2021.

Childress established her own ensemble, Orchestra Rheia, in 2019, leading them to make their first public performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem in May of the same year. She was also appointed to the position of Principal Conductor of the London Lawyers’ Symphony Orchestra for the 19/20 season.

Establishing herself in both symphonic repertoire and opera, Stephanie has already conducted a number of productions, including Jeremy Sams’ The Enchanted Island with the British Youth Opera, Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at St. John’s College (Cambridge), Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement for the Cambridge University Opera Society, and the world premiere of Anna Semple’s opera The Next Station is Green Park at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Childress is a regular assistant for Sir Simon Rattle, and has attended masterclasses with esteemed conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Paavo Järvi, Neeme Järvi, Sian Edwards, Colin Metters, and most recently with Jukka-Pekka Saraste at the LEAD! Festival in Finland.

As a violinist, Childress rose to prominence when she became a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition in both 2016 and 2018. She was featured in the BBC’s 2019 Proms Launch Video ahead of her Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall with the Southbank Sinfonia and Jessica Cottis. Shortly after, Childress performed alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Glasgow’s Proms in the Park.

Known not only as a fantastic conductor and violinist, Stephanie is an active supporter of the Tri-borough Music Hub, an award-winning organization for music education. She has taken part in a number of programs with the association, including leading the junior string ensemble at an ‘Artists for Inclusivity’ event and speaking at the Youth Music Conference held at the Royal College of Music in February 2020. Last summer she appeared on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and BBC Proms Extra, as well as joining adjudicating panels for the RPS Awards (Storytelling Category) and the Ivor Novello Awards (Orchestral Category) last September.

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Eric Dundon

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