SPCO concerts are canceled through May 10 in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Announcing our 2015-16 season

2015.16 Season Launch

We’re excited to share our 2015-16 season, which is now on sale. Here’s information from our announcement press release, previewing a year of incredible performances.

(Complete recordings of a number of the works scheduled in 2015-16 can be found on the Music from Upcoming Concerts page in our Listening Library.)


Today the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announces its 2015-16 season. Led by SPCO musicians and the SPCO’s dynamic roster of Artistic Partners, the 2015-16 season highlights the broad range of the SPCO’s artistry and its transformation to a primarily unconducted ensemble. Throughout the season, the SPCO will explore the depth and breadth of the chamber orchestra repertoire, with core works from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, as well as twentieth and twenty-first century works and world premieres.

New Artistic Partner Martin Fröst

Exhibiting “a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinetist – perhaps any instrumentalist” (The New York Times), Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst, whose appearances with the SPCO in the 2014-15 season were praised by critics and audiences alike, will join the SPCO as an Artistic Partner starting in the 2015-16 season.

  • Fröst and the SPCO will present the world premiere of his Genesis project November 11-12, featuring works by Hildegard von Bingen, Telemann, Schumann, Brahms, Bartók and Piazzola, along with transcriptions and original compositions by Anders Hillborg, Hans Ek and Görän Fröst. Fröst will serve as clarinet soloist, conductor and host, assuming the role of the jester who leads the audience through an exploration of the secular and sacred roots of classical music.
  • In February and March, Fröst will join the SPCO for two consecutive weeks of concerts featuring Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Anders Hillborg’s Peacock Tales, a dramatic concerto for clarinet and orchestra, written for Martin Fröst, that incorporates mime, dance and special lighting.

Celebrating Christian Zacharias

Christian Zacharias will join the SPCO for three consecutive weeks of concerts celebrating the final year of his Artistic Partnership in the new Ordway Concert Hall.

  • April 29-May 1, Zacharias will conduct the orchestra on works by Haydn, Escaich and C.P.E. Bach and will perform as piano soloist on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.
  • May 6-7, Zacharias will conduct Haydn’s Paris Symphony and his own arrangement of Gluck’s Suite from Orfeo and Eurydice. He will serve as piano soloist on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9.
  • For his final performances as an Artistic Partner, Zacharias will conduct Haydn’s Bear Symphony and perform Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto May 13-14.

Six premieres

In addition to the premiere of Martin Fröst’s Genesis project, the SPCO once again asserts its role as a champion of new works by presenting five additional premieres in the 2015-16 season, all of which are SPCO commissions or co-commissions.

  • On October 31, the SPCO and flutist Claire Chase will present the world premiere of a new concerto for flute and chamber ensemble by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura.
  • Artistic Partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the SPCO will present the world premiere of a new violin concerto by Michael Hersch November 6-7.
  • The world premiere of a new piano concerto by Timo Andres, written for Jonathan Biss, will be performed November 27-29, as the kickoff to a five-year project pairing Beethoven’s five piano concertos with newly commissioned concertos inspired by Beethoven’s work (see below for details).
  • January 22-24, the SPCO will perform the newly commissioned Murmurations for Strings by Derek Bermel.
  • The final program of the season will feature Patricia Kopatchinskaja and one of the world’s leading flamenco dancers, Fuensanta “La Moneta” performing the world premiere of Mauricio Sotelo’s Inner Red Light Sculpture for Solo Violin, Strings and Flamenco Dancer.

Kickoff of Beethoven/5, a 5-year commissioning project with Jonathan Biss

Next season the SPCO launches a project with pianist Jonathan Biss, Beethoven/5, for which the SPCO and a group of other orchestras is commissioning five composers to write new piano concertos for Biss, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. The five-year plan begins in November 2015 when Biss will join the SPCO to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and a new concerto by Timo Andres that it inspired. The SPCO is the lead commissioner on all five pieces, including new concertos by Sally Beamish, paired with Beethoven 1, to premiere in 2016-17; Salvatore Sciarrino, paired with Beethoven 4, to premiere in 2017-18; Caroline Shaw, paired with Beethoven 3, to premiere in 2018-19, and Brett Dean, paired with Beethoven 5, to premiere in 2019-20. International and national orchestra partners for each commission will be announced at later dates.

“Beethoven’s music has been an obsession for as long as I can remember—working on it has been a constant source of joy, inspiration, and frustration. In this, I’m joined by most musicians I know, regardless of age, training, or background. That is why the idea of asking five very different composers to write a piece that, in some way, responds to Beethoven, is so exciting to me: each of them will have a relationship with him that is unique and intense, and these five works should constitute a significant and varied addition to the concerto repertoire. Beethoven’s own five concerti cover a huge amount of formal and emotional territory. I’m sure that these new works will as well, and I’m incredibly excited to discover them,” Biss explains.

“The SPCO is thrilled to partner with Jonathan to bring this ambitious project to fruition,” says SPCO Senior Director of Artistic Planning Kyu-Young Kim. “We are constantly seeking to find new entry points into our core repertoire, the music of Beethoven and the work of living composers serving as twin pillars of that repertoire. When Jonathan, who has collaborated with us for almost a decade and has developed an amazing chemistry with our players, introduced the idea for Beethoven/5, we leapt at the chance to take the lead in creating a new body of work that will deepen our audience’s understanding and appreciation of works, old and new.”

A multitude of programs led by SPCO musicians, highlighting the SPCO’s transformation to a primarily unconducted ensemble

  • September 25-October 4, SPCO musicians will lead unconducted performances of works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Haydn. SPCO Principal Cello Julie Albers and Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini will serve as soloists on these concerts, performing concertos by Tchaikovsky.
  • SPCO musicians will lead unconducted performances of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings October 16-23 in neighborhood venues throughout the Twin Cities.
  • Violinist Veronika Eberle will join the SPCO to perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 on an unconducted program that also features works by Ligeti and Haydn, as well as a newly commissioned piece for strings by Derek Bermel.
  • January 29-February 14 will feature unconducted performances of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, as well as works by Shostakovich and Prokofiev.
  • Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini and Principal Second Violin Kyu-Young Kim will lead the orchestra on performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires April 22-24.

First full season in the new Ordway Concert Hall

2015-16 marks the SPCO’s first full season in the new Ordway Concert Hall, which opened on February 28 and has been met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called the Ordway Concert Hall “inviting” and “acoustically ideal.” The Wall Street Journal’s Heidi Waleson said “The excellent SPCO, led from the first chair by concertmaster Steven Copes, sounded bright and present, with chamber-music clarity” and “Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question showed off the space’s resonance.”

New Sunday afternoon series in Ordway Concert Hall

A new 6-concert series will be held in the Ordway Concert Hall at 2:00pm on Sunday afternoons. The series will feature performances of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (September 13), Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion (October 11), Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with Jonathan Biss (November 29), Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite and Hillborg’s Peacock Tales with clarinetist and Artistic Partner Martin Fröst (March 6), Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto with Pekka Kuusisto (April 3) and a program of Spanish music featuring violinist and Artistic Partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja and flamenco dancer Fuensanta “La Moneta” (June 12).

Core works of the chamber orchestra repertoire by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Copland

  • Works by Bach include his Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, Saint Matthew Passion, Wedding Cantata, and Brandenburg
  • The SPCO will present its annual holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah (December 17-19) as well as pieces for soprano and orchestra by Handel in May, featuring soprano Joèlle Harvey as soloist.
  • Several Haydn symphonies will be performed, including No. 30 (Alleluja), No. 57, No. 82 (The Bear), No. 84 (Paris), No. 85 (La Reine) and No. 88. Other works by Haydn include his Piano Concerto in D and his Notturno No. 1.
  • Artistic Partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and pianist Jonathan Biss will perform Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto.
  • Numerous works by Mozart will be performed throughout the season, including his Symphonies Nos. 29, 34 and 41 (Jupiter); Piano Quintet in E-flat with Jonathan Biss; Violin Concerto No. 3 with Thomas Zehetmair as soloist; Violin Concerto No. 4 with Veronika Eberle as soloist; Violin Concerto No. 5 with Pekka Kuusisto as soloist; Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 24 with Christian Zacharias as soloist and Clarinet Concerto with Martin Fröst as soloist.
  • Thomas Zehetmair will lead the SPCO on performances of Mendelssohn’s First Symphony and Scottish
  • Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds will be performed on the season opening concerts with Jeremy Denk as soloist. Additional works by Stravinsky include his Pastorale for Violin and Winds, Pulcinella Suite and The Soldier’s Tale.
  • Concertos for cello and violin by Tchaikovsky will be performed by SPCO musicians September 25-October 4, and his Serenade for Strings will be performed unconducted October 16-23.
  • February 26-27 will feature unconducted performances of Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Baroque in abundance

For Baroque lovers, there will be ample opportunity to experience this important part of the SPCO’s core repertoire during 2015-16.

  • The SPCO presents three consecutive weeks of Baroque programming in December, continuing its holiday tradition of performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos December 11-12 and Handel’s Messiah at the Basilica of Saint Mary and at the Ordway Concert Hall December 17-19.
  • Artistic Partner Jeremy Denk will perform Bach’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4 September 18-19.
  • The orchestra will perform Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion with conductor Paul McCreesh and singers from the Gabrieli Consort October 9-11.
  • December 3-5, Artistic Partner Thomas Zehetmair will lead a program featuring Bach’s Wedding Cantata with soprano Hyunah Yu as soloist.
  • Conductor and harpsichordist Laurence Cummings and soprano Joèlle Harvey will join the SPCO for a program of works by Dowland, Purcell and Handel May 26-28.

 Guest artists making their SPCO debut

  • Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion will be performed in a distinctive one-to-a-part arrangement featuring singers from the Gabrieli Consort in their SPCO debut,   October 9-11.
  • On October 31, flutist Claire Chase, a 2012 MacArthur Fellow, described by the LA Times as a “force of nature, and a force of the flute,” will make her SPCO debut in a special program that features Salvatore Sciarrino’s Cutting the Circle of Sounds for 104 flutists (four flute soloists and 100 flute “migranti”). Sciarrino places the four soloists in a circle surrounding the seated audience, creating a blanket of often barely audible sounds, which are then disrupted by processions of the other 100 migrating flutists, effectively “cutting the circle of sounds.” Also on the program will be the world premiere of a new concerto for flute and chamber ensemble by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura.
  • English conductor Matthew Halls will make his SPCO debut conducting holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah December 17-19.
  • April 15-16, the SPCO will be joined by quartet-lab (Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin, Isabelle van Keulen, violin, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Pieter Wispelwey, cello) for a program featuring Beethoven’s Serioso Quartet, arranged by quartet-lab for string orchestra. The program also includes works by Biber, Crumb and Enescu.
  • May 26-28, Joèlle Harvey, “a soprano with presence, poise and silvery top notes” (The New York Times), will make her SPCO debut singing works for soprano and orchestra by Handel.

Returning guest artists

  • October 9-11 features Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion led by English conductor Paul McCreesh.
  • After her performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the SPCO in 2014-15, soprano Hyunah Yu returns to sing Bach’s Wedding Cantata December 3-5.
  • On January 15, frequent SPCO guest conductor Scott Yoo will join the SPCO to present a Notable Encounter program featuring a deep-dive into Bartók’s 20th-century masterpiece Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. The first half of the concert will feature commentary and musical examples by Bartók, Bach and Mozart, often in subtle arrangements by Yoo himself, followed by a complete performance of the Bartók.
  • Violinist Veronika Eberle will perform Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto with the SPCO January 22-24
  • March 12-20, conductor, harpsichordist and cellist Jonathan Cohen will return to the SPCO to lead two weeks of performances featuring works by Mozart, Schubert and Rameau
  • Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto will lead a program in early April that weaves a contemporary Estonian piece by Tüür, his Action-Passion-Illusion, with other contemporary offerings by Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and Michael Tippett on the first half, and interlaces movements from Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 on the second half
  • Conductor and harpsichordist Laurence Cummings will lead the SPCO on a program of works by Dowland, Purcell and Handel May 26-28.

SPCO musicians featured as soloists

  • September 25-October 4, SPCO Principal Cello Julie Albers and Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini will serve as soloists on works by Tchaikovsky
  • Concertmaster Steven Copes will perform German composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto funebre for violin and strings February 18-20
  • Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini and Principal Second Violin Kyu-Young Kim will be featured as soloists in performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires April 22-24

Asian Tour

The SPCO will tour to Asia in November 2015 with new artistic partner Martin Fröst, with performances in Taipei, Singapore and Jakarta. The tour is sponsored by Barclay’s Bank and will feature performances of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

11 regular performance venues throughout the Twin Cities
In addition to the new Ordway Concert Hall, the SPCO will continue its series in Twin Cities suburbs and residential neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in 2015-16:

  • Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ in Summit Hill, Saint Paul
  • Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis
  • Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis (temporary replacement venue for Temple Israel as Temple Israel undergoes a construction project)
  • Capri Theater in North Minneapolis – these concerts are produced in partnership with the Capri and once again, a third of the seats will be offered for free on a first-come, first-served basis, released within a month of each concert date
  • Benson Great Hall at Bethel University in Arden Hills
  • Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater
  • Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi
  • Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley
  • Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie
  • Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata