Announcing our 2017.18 season

We’ve just released the details of our 2017.18 season, looking ahead to another year of thrilling performances led by illustrious musicians and stellar roster of Artistic Partners. Find more information in the press release below, listen to some of the scheduled works in the Music from Upcoming Concerts page. And of course, season tickets are now on sale. We can’t wait for you to join us!


Today The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) announces its 2017-18 season. Led by SPCO musicians and a dynamic roster of artistic partners, the 2017-18 season shines a light on the talents of individual musicians as well as the collective whole as the orchestra continues its shift to becoming a primarily unconducted ensemble. The 2017-18 season features numerous concertante and solo performances by SPCO musicians, seven premieres, intimate chamber music performances and new concert formats and venues.

“Kyu and our musicians have planned a wonderful and dynamic season for our community. It is hard to imagine topping our current extraordinary season but they might have done it,” said SPCO Managing Director and President Jon Limbacher. “We are excited to expand our Neighborhood Series to the West Side of Saint Paul and to introduce a new chamber music series at the Turf Club. These new series will allow us to serve an even broader cross section of the Twin Cities community.”

Eleven SPCO musicians featured as soloists

  • Opening Weekend (September 15-17) will feature SPCO musician-led performances of Jessie Montgomery’s Banner for Chamber Orchestra, a multi-layered and multi-cultural take on the Star Spangled Banner, followed by Ginastera’s Variaciones concertantes. Closing the program is Beethoven’s Triple Concerto featuring SPCO Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini, SPCO Principal Cello Julie Albers and piano phenom Orion Weiss in his SPCO debut.
  • November 2-5, Principal Violin Kyu-Young Kim and Principal Bass Zachary Cohen will be featured in performances of Giovanni Bottesini’s Gran duo concertante.
  • Principal Violin Francisco Fullana will take center stage December 1-3 for performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3.
  • Concertmaster Steven Copes will be featured as soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto January 12-14.
  • January 25-28, violinist Eunice Kim and violist Hyobi Sim, both new members of the SPCO, will join forces to perform Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat for Violin and Viola.
  • SPCO Principal Flute Julia Bogorad-Kogan, flutist Alicia McQuerrey and Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini take center stage on a program featuring Baroque Concertos by Geminiani, Cimarosa and Vivaldi, February 16-17.
  • April 5-15, violinist Maureen Nelson will perform Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.

“We are proud to feature our own musicians as soloists more than any other major American orchestra,” said Artistic Director and Principal Violin Kyu-Young Kim. “Featuring our own musicians as soloists has always been part of the SPCO’s programming, but in recent seasons, with the addition of so many new and exciting musicians who thrive in the solo spotlight, it has become an even bigger and more important part of our season. It is really at the heart of what we do to foster the connection between our musicians and our audiences.”

Continuation of the New Generation Initiative

In August 2016, the SPCO announced the New Generation Initiative, a suite of programs designed to dramatically expand access to classical music for young people in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area. Through generous funding from a small group of individual donors, the SPCO has made it easier than ever for young people to experience SPCO concerts through free and reduced priced tickets, as well as new concert formats and experiences, which will be continued and expanded in the 2017-18 season.

“There is strong evidence that engagement with music at a young age has a profound impact on learning and development,” said SPCO Director of Education and Community Engagement Erin Jude. “In addition, when young people participate in musical activities or attend concerts with their peers or with the important adults in their lives, it presents a magical opportunity for shared discovery and connection. We are so pleased to offer numerous opportunities for young people to engage with our music in the coming season through our New Generation Initiative, as well as through our Free Family Music Series and our CONNECT music education program.”

All child and student tickets free

Building on its historical commitment to affordable ticket prices, the SPCO announced the New Generation Initiative in August 2016, further expanding access to young people by offering free child and student tickets for all regular SPCO concerts starting in the 2016-17 season. Children and students can get free tickets to as many SPCO concerts as they would like, with nearly the entire season available for free ticket reservations. These efforts have seen great success to date, with nearly four times as many children and students attending regular concerts to date in the 2016-17 season than the previous year.

SPCO at Icehouse and SPCO at Turf Club

In addition to free and extremely affordable ticket prices, the New Generation Initiative includes efforts to create new concert experiences that appeal to younger audiences. After a highly successful three-concert series at Icehouse and a trial concert at the Turf Club during the 2016-17 season, the SPCO will return to both of these venues for a three-concert series at each during the 2017-18 season. Patrons will enjoy intimate chamber music performances, specialty cocktails and delicious food all at once in these inviting and eclectic venues.

“A chamber orchestra has a unique advantage in terms of its mobility and flexibility,” said SPCO Artistic Director and Principal Violin Kyu-Young Kim. “We can fill up a concert hall stage for an epic Beethoven symphony, or pare ourselves down for an intimate performance of a Mendelssohn quartet and still provide an emotionally powerful experience for audience members. We believe that chamber music belongs everywhere, whether it is the Ordway Concert Hall or a bar in Minneapolis, and we want to bring our music to unexpected places where young people are already gathering.”

SPCO at Icehouse and SPCO at Turf Club performances will be held on the following dates (programming to be confirmed at a later date):

SPCO at Icehouse
Thursday | Oct 19 | 7:30pm
Thursday | Feb 22 | 7:30pm
Thursday | May 3 | 7:30pm

SPCO at Turf Club
Wednesday | Nov 15 | 7:30pm
Wednesday | Jan 24 | 7:30pm
Thursday | Mar 15 | 7:30pm

A limited number of subscription tickets for SPCO at Icehouse are available at this time for $60 per person for the three-concert series. Tickets for individual SPCO at Icehouse and SPCO at Turf Club events will be available one month before each concert for $20 each. The ticket price includes a drink of choice (wine, beer, craft cocktail or non-alcoholic house-made beverage) at each of the three concerts. Food will also be available for purchase before, during and after the performance.

Three-concert series of SPCO Happy Hour performances

After a wildly popular trial run in April 2016, and another Happy Hour Concert slated for Thursday, May 11, 2017, the SPCO has scheduled a three-concert series of Happy Hour Concerts at the Ordway Concert Hall for the 2017-18 season. These special one-hour concerts will feature a shortened program and a special happy hour before the concert from 4:00–6:00pm with drink specials and food available for purchase from various Twin Cities food trucks.

  • Happy Hour Concert: Schubert’s Third Symphony
    Thursday | Oct 5 | 6:00pm
  • Happy Hour Concert: Jonathan Biss Plays Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto
    Thursday | Feb 1 | 6:00pm
  • Happy Hour Concert: Maureen Nelson Plays The Lark Ascending
    Thursday | Apr 12 | 6:00pm

 Continuation of club2030 program

In addition to free student and child tickets and new concert formats, the SPCO will continue to offer $10 best available seats for club2030 members (the SPCO’s free club for people in their 20s and 30s) at nearly all SPCO concerts in the 2017-18 season. The SPCO will also expand the number of exclusive post-concert after parties held for club2030 members throughout the season. The SPCO introduced its club2030 program in 2007 and membership has grown to over 6,300 young people in their 20s and 30s to date.

New three-concert series on Saint Paul’s West Side at Humboldt High School
In an effort to serve more people throughout the Twin Cities, the SPCO will expand its Neighborhood Series with a new three-concert series at Humboldt High School on Saint Paul’s West Side.

  • Schubert’s Third Symphony
    Wednesday | Oct 4 | 7:00pm
  • Baroque Concertos and Haydn’s Fire Symphony
    Friday | Feb 16 | 7:00pm
  • Schubert’s Octet
    Friday | May 11 | 7:00pm

Seven premieres including two newly commissioned works

The SPCO once again asserts its role as a champion of new works by presenting seven premieres in the 2017-18 season, including two SPCO commissions or co-commissions.

  • The SPCO continues its five-year Beethoven/5 project with celebrated pianist Jonathan Biss next season with the world premiere of a new piano concerto by Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino.Beethoven/5 features the SPCO leading an international collective of orchestras (the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) in commissioning five composers to write new piano concertos for Biss, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. The project launched in November 2015 when Biss joined the SPCO to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, along with the new concerto it inspired: the 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blind Banister by Timo Andres. Sally Beamish composed the concerto City Stanzas for the 2016.17 season, which was paired with Beethoven’s First Concerto. This season, Sciarrino’s new concerto will be paired with Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto. Future installments of this project will see concertos by Caroline Shaw, paired with Beethoven’s Third Concerto, to premiere in 2018-19; and by Brett Dean, paired with Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto, to premiere in 2019-20.
  • November 9-12, the SPCO will present the U.S. premiere of Anders Hillborg’s Bach Materia, a new work for Solo Violin and Strings featuring SPCO Artistic Partner Pekka Kuusisto as director and soloist.
  • January 12-14, the SPCO will present the Midwest premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Records from a Vanishing City for Chamber Orchestra. Montgomery is a rising star in the contemporary American composing scene and has been featured on a number of SPCO programs in recent seasons.
  • Two premieres will be presented March 9-10 under the direction of SPCO Artistic Partner Martin Fröst. First, the U.S. premiere of Martin and Göran Fröst’s Nomadia, followed by the world premiere of Jesper Nordin’s Emerge, both written for solo clarinet and orchestra.
  • Newly appointed SPCO Composer-in-Residence Lembit Beecher will make his SPCO compositional debut April 5-8 with the Midwest premiere of his piece, Conference of the Birds. Beecher’s residency is made possible by New Music USA and the League of American Orchestra’s Music Alive program, which is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their work with composers and new music, capitalizing on the power of composers and their creativity to build new paths for orchestras to heighten their relevancy and deepen their relationships with their communities. Major funding for Music Alive comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • May 25-27, the SPCO will present the world premiere of a newly commissioned piano concerto by Hannah Lash, featuring SPCO Artistic Partner Jeremy Denk as soloist. Hailed by The New York Times as “striking and resourceful…handsomely brooding,” Lash’s music has been performed at the Times Center in Manhattan, the Chicago Art Institute, Tanglewood Music Center, Harvard University, The Chelsea Art Museum, and on the American Opera Project’s stage in New York City.

“We feel it is central to our mission to advocate for classical music as a living, breathing art form with relevance to contemporary life, and how better to do that than to champion the music of our time,” said Kim. “Lembit Beecher, Hannah Lash and Jessie Montgomery are three of the leading voices of a younger generation of American composers. Beecher is the SPCO’s new Composer-in-Residence through a program called Music Alive. In addition to featuring and workshopping Beecher’s music in the next two seasons, the SPCO and Beecher are collaboratively developing programming and projects for future seasons with a special focus on female composers and composers from diverse backgrounds.”

No Fiction Festival

In March, the SPCO presents the No Fiction Festival, a weeklong festival focusing on true stories, personal histories of marginalized voices, and the music of their moment. The festival’s inspiration stems from music’s ability to get to the emotional heart of a story. SPCO Chamber Music performances in 3 different venues and multiple Liquid Music Series presentations allow the SPCO to weave storytelling in a non-traditional sense into its varied program offerings. Female composers and performers are featured especially prominently in the festival.

“Through the No Fiction Festival, the SPCO is excited to tell many stories that we feel will resonate with our community,” said Kim. “The intimacy of our Chamber Music Series and the innovation of our Liquid Music Series are two powerful ways in which we can connect more deeply with our audiences.”

March 14, 2018 – Nathalie Joachim with SPCO String Quartet: Fanm d’Ayiti, Women of Haitian Song Project (Liquid Music Series performance at Amsterdam Bar & Hall)

Chicago-based flutist and composer Nathalie Joachim (eighth blackbird, Flutronix), “an edgy multi-genre performance artist who has long been pushing boundaries with her flute” (The Washington Post), joined the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series as virtual artist in residence for the 2016.17 season. Throughout the year the virtual residency has tracked the development of Joachim’s Liquid Music-commissioned project exploring Haitian song and the role of women’s voices in Haitian music culture. The virtual residency allows for unparalleled online creative intimacy via regular updates on the Liquid Music blog, as well as videos and cross-country events. The fruits of the residency will be premiered in the Twin Cities as part of the SPCO’s No Fiction Festival and Liquid Music’s 2017-18 season.

March 15-18, 2018 – Strong Sisters (Chamber Music Series performances at the Turf Club, Capri Theater and Center for the Performing Arts at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School)

From the 12th century German mystic, visionary, and composer Hildegard von Bingen to the 21st century New Zealand composer of Maori heritage, Dame Gillian Whitehead, this chamber music program traverses an enormous range of female musical voices and remarkable stories. Strong Sisters is more than just a showcase of leading female composers past and present. At the heart of the program are works by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, the most famous sisters in classical music. These two sisters drew upon each other for strength and inspiration, but after Lili’s death at the tragically young age of 24, Nadia stopped composing and focused on teaching, becoming the most influential composition teacher of the 20th century. Each of the other works on this program traces its strength through a different channel: von Bingen through her faith, Jessie Montgomery through spirituals and her parents’ work in the civil rights movement, Grażyna Bacewicz through her studies with Nadia Boulanger, Whitehead through a close friend struggling with cancer, and Joan Tower through her connection with the performers for whom she wrote her first quartet.

March 20, 2018 – Brian Harnetty: Shawnee, Ohio (Liquid Music Series performance at Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College)

In this Liquid Music Series presentation, a group of eleven portraits of people and songs from Appalachian Ohio chronicles their history with energy and extraction, from 19th century coal mining to fracking today. “Harnetty brings gem recordings up out of the basement and into the light…the resulting music isn’t about stepping back into the past, but rather experiencing the past and the present simultaneously in a way that is instructive” (New Music Box). Performed with sampled archives, field recordings and live musicians, Shawnee, Ohio critically engages ecology, energy, place and personal history to ask: What are the sounds of mining? Of fracking? Of a town fighting to survive after a century of economic decline and environmental degradation? These sounds are recorded as compositional material reflecting layers of history and memory in Appalachian Ohio. Shawnee’s history includes coal, gas and clay extraction, and the formation of early labor unions. The town’s downturn and partial restoration act as an ethos of the struggles and hopes of the larger region, now immersed in a controversial fracking boom. Shawnee, Ohio considers these histories, evokes place through sound, and listens to the present alongside traces of the past.

Additional educational and auxiliary events for the festival will include partnership programming with the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis, a panel discussion/talk-back following the Shawnee, Ohio presentation and a virtual residency with Nathalie Joachim in our CONNECT schools through the premiere of Fanm d’Ayiti.

Prestigious Berkeley Residency

After a successful week-long residency in Berkeley, California during the 2014-15 season with Artistic Partner Martin Fröst, the SPCO returns to the prestigious Cal Performances at University of California, Berkeley on February 9-11. The SPCO and pianist Jonathan Biss will perform three programs, each of which will include a Beethoven Piano Concerto and a recent SPCO commission. Two of the commissions from the Beethoven/5 project (Timo Andres’ The Blind Banister and a new piano concerto by Salvatore Sciarrino) and George Tsontakis’ O Mikros, O Megas will see their West Coast premieres during the three-day residency. The SPCO was praised in the SFGate for the March 2015 weekend of performances: “The St. Paul players elicited that precarious thrill perfectly, all while delivering a performance of remarkable and fearless precision.”

Patricia Kopatchinskaja extends Artistic Partnership with the SPCO through 2019-20

Following a successful European tour and critically acclaimed recording of their Schubert Death and the Maiden project, the SPCO and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja will renew their collaborative explorations for another three seasons. The 2017-18 season will see Kopatchinskaja soloing on Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, leading Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and performing the sprechstimme role, an expressionist vocal technique combining elements of speech and song, in Schoenberg’s iconic Pierrot Lunaire.

Guest artists make their SPCO debuts

  • Pianist Orion Weiss makes his SPCO debut alongside SPCO Associate Concertmaster Ruggero Allifranchini and SPCO Principal Cello Julie Albers as soloists in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Opening Weekend, September 15-17.
  • December 1-3, Joshua Weilerstein makes his SPCO conducting debut for performances featuring Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte for String Orchestra, Barber’s enigmatic Adagio for Strings, Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in D, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto featuring SPCO Principal Violin Francisco Fullana.
  • Soprano Amanda Forsythe, tenor Isaiah Bell, baritone William Berger, and Twin Cities chorus The Singers make their debuts alongside SPCO Artistic Partner Jonathan Cohen for annual holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah, December 14-17.
  • Conductor Teddy Abrams joins the SPCO for his conducting debut May 25-27 with world premiere performances of Hannah Lash’s new piano concerto featuring Artistic Partner Jeremy Denk as soloist.

Returning guest artists

  • Pianist Jonathan Biss will return September 21-23 for the third installment of Beethoven/5, a five-year project pairing newly commissioned piano concertos with one of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. This season, he will perform the world premiere of a new piano concerto by Salvatore Sciarrino, paired with Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto in a program conducted by Matthias Pintscher. Biss will also return to the Twin Cities February 1-3 for performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 5 (Emperor). He will then join the SPCO as soloist for three separate programs as part of the orchestra’s residency at Cal Performances in Berkeley, California.
  • SPCO audience favorite and countertenor John Holiday will return December 14-17 for performances of Handel’s Messiah.

Music Moves

The SPCO will continue its Music Moves program in the 2017-18 season, which brings performances to those who cannot attend regular concerts, such as patients recovering from cancer treatments at American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, residents of memory care units in assisted living facilities and children receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.

Sphinx Virtuosi co-presented with The Arts Partnership (The SPCO, The Schubert Club, Minnesota Opera and the Ordway)

On October 22, The Arts Partnership (the SPCO, The Schubert Club, Minnesota Opera and the Ordway) will join forces for a co-presentation of Sphinx Virtuosi, an ensemble comprised of the nation’s top Black and Latino classical string soloists who are all alumni of the prestigious Sphinx Competition for young American string players. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Sphinx Organization, this self-conducted ensemble will perform an exciting program of concerti through the ages including Beethoven’s timeless Grosse Fuge, Vaughan Williams’ Concerto grosso, and works by Jimmy Lopez and Michael Abels. This will be Sphinx Virtuosi’s second engagement with the SPCO, returning after a highly successful performance in 2016.

16 regular performance venues throughout the Twin Cities
In addition to the Ordway Concert Hall, the SPCO will continue its series in Twin Cities suburbs and residential neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in 2017-18:

  • Ordway Concert Hall in downtown Saint Paul
  • Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ in Summit Hill, Saint Paul
  • Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Temple Israel in Uptown Minneapolis
  • Capri Theater in North Minneapolis
  • Benson Great Hall at Bethel University, 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
  • Sundin Music Hall at Hamline University, Saint Paul
  • Center for the Performing Arts at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School, Saint Paul
  • Icehouse in Minneapolis
  • The Turf Club in Midway Saint Paul
  • Humboldt High School Auditorium on Saint Paul’s West Side