Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (2013)
"The Life and Times of Beethoven"
Steven Jarvi, conductor
Michael Boudewyns as Prof. Nigel Taprrot

Meet the Real Music Stars
at the STL Symphony Family Concerts

By Nicole Plegge
STLParent magazine
Tue, Sep 24, 2013

The St. Louis Symphony Family Concert Series begins with the world premiere of The Life and Times of Beethoven on September 29, conducted by new Resident Conductor, Steven Jarvi, and featuring performer Michael Boudewyns, back for his third season with the orchestra.

Boudewyns brings a vaudeville-inspired approach to the symphony, accompanying Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with the story of this iconic composer, told through physical performance and creative narration that strikes a chord with young symphony fans.

Boudewyns jumps into the shoes of Professor Nigel Taproot, a retired British university don and Beethoven devotee. Through each of the Fifth Symphony’s four movements, Boudewyns explores four significant times in the composer’s life, including his difficult childhood, his descent into deafness, the Fifth Symphony’s maligned premiere, and finally, the triumph behind one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed.

“The fact is, Beethoven’s story is really inspiring,” said Boudewyns. “Although he had a horrible childhood and was going deaf, he kept going and kept writing, knowing he had something to offer. We all have moments that are less than happy, when we have our doubts or concerns but everybody has something to offer. For this family concert, we’re all playfully working together in service of Beethoven’s vision.”

Since 2004, Boudewyns and his wife, Sara Valentine, have combined childlike enthusiasm and classic theatre to add another dimension to the symphony experience.

“Storytelling in general has always been a part of every orchestra. Every movement of a composition tells a story,” Boudewyns remarked.

Together, the Really Inventive Stuff founders have scripted numerous theatrical pieces which have been performed on symphony stages across the globe. In fact, Boudewyns has thrilled young audiences from the St. Louis Symphony stage with his roles in Peter and the Wolf, Toy Symphony, and Green Eggs and Ham.

This past year, the St. Louis Symphony commissioned him to create The Life and Times of Beethoven. For the past 10 months, Boudewyns and Valentine have researched Beethoven’s life and studied his letters to develop a script that would celebrate the composer’s achievements
and blend seamlessly with Jarvi’s performance.

According to Boudewyns, the goal of The Life and Times of Beethoven for kids and adults alike is twofold:

“We want to create something that leaves people feeling they’ve had a full experience and want to come back and hear the St. Louis Symphony again, and realize how lucky they are to live by such a wonderful symphony."

For Boudewyns, every child deserves the chance to experience the St. Louis Symphony and The Life and Times of Beethoven for themselves. And in fact, the encounter can be life-changing.

“We are constantly surrounded by technology, but for 45 minutes, a child can sit and be surrounded by the vibrations of awesomeness that Beethoven has assembled. It’s truly an
experience that is worth a lifetime, and you just can’t put a price on it.”