As the summer winds down, many of St. Louis’ top arts organizations are ramping up a new season. We asked in-the-know arts professionals what they’re most looking forward to in the world of visual and performing arts.

Barbara Liberman

Former principal pianist, St. Louis Symphony

“Attending conservatories in Chicago and New York City, then returning to St. Louis 52 years ago was disappointing. But concerned citizens have transformed that arid desert. Thirty-eight years’ experience playing in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra shapes my anticipations. Topping the list: the Symphony’s May, 2015 concert presentation of Aïda, preceded by February appearances featuring André Watts performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2, and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting Stravinsky’s savage Rite of Spring. Opera Theatre’s illuminating “Spotlight on Opera” panel discussions, Master Classes, and four world-class opera presentations? A desert no longer, St. Louis blooms!”

Ben Nordstrom

Currently starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at STAGES St. Louis

“Since moving back to St. Louis last year, I've been reminded time and again of our vibrant arts and culture scene. From larger events to some smaller ones that some may not know about, here's what I'm definitely looking forward to this season:

“St. Louis Art Museum - Tragic and Timeless: The Art of Mark Rothko. Although I'm not well-versed in the art world, I always love Rothko's work. The new contemporary wing at SLAM is incredible and the collection includes Warhol, Pollack and Rothko's Red, Orange, Orange on Red.

“Dawn Weber's Swing and Blues and Funk Set in Lafayette Park on Aug. 2. I first saw Dawn play when we both shared the bill at a small fundraiser for St. Margaret of Scotland. She is a true artist with serious skills. But she also brings a charm and quirkiness to her act that takes it to the next level.

“R-S Theatrics - Eat Your Heart Out, showing Dec. 5-14. R-S Theatrics is an awesome professional theatre company that only produces St. Louis premieres. This is a beautiful play and the cast of all St. Louis actors includes Michelle Hand and Ann Marie Mohr.

“St. Louis Symphony - Pixar In Concert, on Dec. 27-28. Our 10-year-old son loved Ben Folds at the Symphony back in April. This should be a sure bet to get him back to Powell Hall again. And really, does it get any better than Toy Story?

“Webster Conservatory - The Tempest, showing in spring 2015. Sure I'm biased because I am a graduate. But the kids at Webster are some of the top talents in the country and Bruce Longworth, Webster's long-tenured Shakespeare guru, knows how to get these students to ‘speak the speech’ better than anyone in St. Louis.”

Erin Warner Prange

Executive director, Big Muddy Dance

“I am excited for the enthusiastic development of arts collaborations between different art disciplines, which have been popping up more and more in St. Louis over the past few years. Grand Center as an arts district has flourished in that aspect, where we've been able to see the St. Louis Symphony exhibiting video and dance, The Sheldon incorporating multiple performance art media in their galleries, and the Pulitzer Foundation encouraging performers to their installations. I can't wait to see what is in store this coming season!”

Scott Schoonover

Artistic director/conductor, Union Avenue Opera

"I'm looking forward to seeing what's up and coming at the Tavern of Fine Arts in the DeBaliviere neighborhood of the Central West End. This gem of a café/bar hosts almost nightly performances of different genres ranging from cabaret to musical theatre to opera and classical chamber music. The performances are free to watch--and more important, free to the performers, who even get a small cut of the bar! It's a great place to catch local artists of all abilities from new-to-the-scene singers to seasoned performers."