Announcing our 2018.19 season

Today The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) announces its 2018-19 season – the 60th concert season for the organization. Led by SPCO musicians and a dynamic roster of Artistic Partners, the 2018-19 season is full of fascinating programs that get to the heart of the music, with fresh interpretations of core repertoire and premieres of newly commissioned works. The season features over 125 performances at 18 venues throughout the Twin Cities and the inaugural installment of Tapestry, a biennial festival that seeks to engage the community in the musical exploration of a culturally resonant theme.

Celebrate 60
Thanks to the generosity of the Twin Cities community, the SPCO has been sharing music for six decades, entering its 60th concert season in September 2018. The organization will thank the community for its generous support and celebrate this anniversary throughout the season with special events, media projects and a “Celebrate 60” fundraising campaign aimed at continuing to increase the organization’s donor base and encouraging monthly, multi-year and legacy giving to sustain the SPCO and ensure it can continue to enrich the community for decades to come.

“As the SPCO prepares to celebrate our 60th anniversary next season, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support from our community,” said SPCO Managing Director and President Jon Limbacher. “We are proud to provide our community with a truly great orchestra and the growing support of our donors over the last six decades has made it possible for the SPCO share music with more people than ever before. The ongoing generosity of our community will be crucial in helping us continue to elevate the artistic excellence of the orchestra and further expand access to transformational performances for the broadest possible audience in the Twin Cities.”

Programs led by SPCO musicians
The SPCO’s collaborative artistic model is unique in the orchestra world. SPCO musicians are deeply involved in choosing the repertoire they perform each season and the artists who join them. Performing without a conductor for more than half of its performances, musicians in the orchestra work together to form compelling interpretations of a wide variety of repertoire.

“The versatility of the SPCO musicians and their ability to perform with precision and passion in such a huge range of repertoire and styles, with or without a conductor, is central to the artistic profile of the ensemble,” said Artistic Director and Principal Violin Kyu-Young Kim. “‘Led by SPCO musicians,’ a description that comes up more and more frequently in SPCO program offerings, captures our collaborative approach and the importance of each member of the ensemble in shaping a convincing interpretation. Performances by the SPCO offer a variety of approaches and configurations that is unmatched in the American orchestra world and that creates distinctive and transformational experiences for our audience.”

Seven SPCO musicians featured as soloists
In addition to numerous unconducted, musician-led performances, the 2018-19 season also features seven SPCO musicians in solo roles with the orchestra.

  • September 13-15, violinist Eunice Kim will perform Beethoven’s Romance No. 1 for Violin.
  • January 17-20, Principal Cellist Julie Albers will join Artistic Partner and violinist Pekka Kuusisto as soloists in Jimmy López’s Concerto grosso for Violin, Cello and Strings, Guardian of the Horizon.
  • Cellist Sarah Lewis will perform Dvořák’s Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra as part of Tapestry19 February 15-17.
  • March 28-30, Violinist Maureen Nelson and Principal Violinist Kyu-Young Kim will join forces as soloists in Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.
  • Associate Principal Violinist Ruggero Allifranchini will perform Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto for two weeks of concerts April 26-May 5.
  • Principal Cellist Julie Albers will be featured once more as soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto in A Major May 16-19.
  • May 23-25, Concertmaster Steven Copes will perform Frank Martin’s 20th century masterpiece Polyptyque for Violin and Two Small String Orchestras.

Tapestry19: Musical Reflections on Home
Tapestry is a biennial festival that explores a culturally resonant theme within our community through the musical perspectives of a diverse set of composers and artists. In the inaugural 2019 festival, Tapestry19, the SPCO will delve into the concept of home – where, when and how we feel at home in a dynamic and ever-changing world. Tapestry19 deals with a central question: “How do I recognize my home?” SPCO Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Lembit Beecher and musicians of the SPCO have curated Tapestry19 to include many musical responses to that question and engage with a wide range of collaborators to explore home from their unique perspectives.

At the same time, the SPCO seeks to amplify voices in the Twin Cities community, both by commissioning local composers to create new music and by engaging with members of the community to tell their stories. Tapestry19 will feature the world premiere of Twin Cities interdisciplinary artist, vocalist and composer PaviElle French’s A Requiem for Zula, a tribute to her mother and her upbringing in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. In addition, audio recordings of stories of home told by community members, some who have called the Twin Cities home for many years and some who have newly arrived here, will be built into a new work by Beecher, along with poetry by Twin Cities writer and University of Saint Thomas professor Chris Santiago. The festival will also feature the world premiere of a new work by Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh about the collective memories of growing up in Syria in the 1980s, and a newly commissioned work by 16-year-old American composer Maya Johnson.

Tapestry19 features five world premieres over three weeks across several SPCO concert series, including the Liquid Music Series, which will present the world premiere of a collaboration between Twin Cities Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy and New York DJ and composer Jace Clayton. (The full Liquid Music Series will be announced at a later date.) In addition to performances, the festival will also include community discussions.

“Music provides a language with which we can explore complex ideas and express deeply felt emotions, and we are looking forward to engaging our community in musical dialogue around the idea of home and the meaning it holds for composers and musicians of diverse backgrounds,” said Kyu-Young Kim. “Through Tapestry we seek to bring forward themes that resonate with our Twin Cities community on a biennial basis and we are thrilled to welcome audiences to be part of the inaugural festival in the coming year.”

Bach’s Saint John Passion
The SPCO continues its tradition of bringing significant oratorios to our community with performances of Bach’s Saint John Passion in the exquisite acoustics of the Ordway Concert Hall and the architecturally stunning Cathedral of Saint Paul. Artistic Partner and early music expert Jonathan Cohen leads the SPCO, along with a stellar cast of vocal soloists and renowned Twin Cities choral ensemble The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, led by Artistic Director Matthew Culloton.

The 2018-19 season brings the fourth installment of the orchestra’s five-year Beethoven/5 commissioning project with celebrated pianist Jonathan Biss, which explores the music of Beethoven alongside the work of living composers—two pillars of the SPCO’s core repertoire. In March 2019, the SPCO and Biss will perform the world premiere of a new piano concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Caroline Shaw, along with Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. The Beethoven/5 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, and Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto was paired with Salvatore Sciarrino’s concerto The Dream of Stradella in the 2017-18 season. This project will conclude in the 2019-20 season with a concerto by Brett Dean, paired with Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto (the Emperor).

Seven premieres and music by living composers
Renowned for its vigorous advocacy for new music, the SPCO will premiere seven newly commissioned works and will perform numerous additional works by living composers throughout the season.

Six premieres will be presented as part of Tapestry19 and the Beethoven/5 project (see above for details). The seventh premiere will be presented in January 2019, when the orchestra will give the Midwest premiere of Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer’s Asunder, a new work for chamber orchestra co-commissioned by the SPCO. On the same program, Artistic Partner and violinist Pekka Kuusisto will join the SPCO to perform Tyshawn Sorey’s Conduction, in which Sorey will direct Kuusisto and the SPCO in improvisations with a set of gestural cues, the conductor and instrumentalists creating a composition together in real time.

In the 2018-19 season, the SPCO continues its tradition of presenting American works over Thanksgiving weekend, with music by John Adams, Steve Reich, Missy Mazzoli and the late Pauline Oliveros.

Music by living composers Jimmy López, Michael Abels and Jörg Widmann will also be performed, along with two weeks of programs featuring music by pianist and composer George Walker, the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for music.

Exciting programs led by Artistic Partners

  • In addition to joining the SPCO and The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists in performances of Bach’s Saint John Passion in November, Artistic Partner Jonathan Cohen will return in January and May to lead the orchestra in four Haydn Symphonies.
  • Artistic Partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja returns, fresh from the Grammy® win with the SPCO for the Death and the Maiden album, this time with her longtime duo partner Polina Leschenko to perform Mendelssohn’s rarely heard Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra.
  • Artistic Partners Jeremy Denk and Martin Fröst bookend the season, Denk with a season opening performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, and Fröst with two weeks of performances in multiple venues featuring Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet with SPCO musicians, and selections from his Genesis project exploring the secular and sacred roots of classical music.
  • Artistic Partner Pekka Kuusisto explores a wide range of American music in his weeks with the SPCO, from the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros to the improvisatory world of Tyshawn Sorey and Vijay Iyer. He will also lead the orchestra in SPCO staples like Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony and Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin.

Mozart in Motion with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for Northrop’s 2018-19 Dance Season
The SPCO is pleased to partner with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as part of Northrop’s 2018-19 Dance Season. Mozart in Motion, with dance works by George Balanchine and Jiří Kylián, is a tantalizing mix of classical, contemporary and comic ballets danced by one of America’s most exciting regional ballet companies. Dance works are paired with Mozart’s Divertimento in B-flat, Six German Dances and Haffner Symphony, performed live by the SPCO. It is the orchestra’s first return to Northrop since its grand reopening in 2014.

Sphinx Virtuosi co-presented with The Arts Partnership (The SPCO, Schubert Club, Minnesota Opera and the Ordway)
On October 28, The Arts Partnership will join forces for a co-presentation of Sphinx Virtuosi. A chamber ensemble comprised of the nation’s top Black and Latino classical string soloists, the Sphinx Virtuosi returns to Saint Paul after acclaimed performances at the Ordway in 2016 and 2017. The orchestra will perform music by composers from communities searching for harmony and separated by time, distance, hardship and conflict. Included are works by Emmy-nominated

Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom, three-time Grammy-nominated Uruguayan-American composer Miguel del Aguila, multiple Grammy Award winning American jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, and the Chamber Symphony of one of the towering figures of classical music, Dmitri Shostakovich.

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 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 next season.

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 in the 2016-17 season than the previous year. Child and student attendance continues to expand during the 2017-18 season.

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 highly successful three-concert series at Icehouse and Turf Club during the 2017-18 season, the SPCO will continue performing at both of these venues during the 2018-19 season. Patrons will enjoy intimate chamber music performances, specialty cocktails and delicious food all at once in these inviting and eclectic venues.

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.

Happy Hour performances
The SPCO continues its series of Happy Hour Concerts at the Ordway Concert Hall in September 2018 and May 2019. These one-hour concerts feature a shortened program and a special happy hour before the concert from 4:00–6:00pm with free beer from local breweries and food available for purchase from various Twin Cities food trucks.

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 2018-19 season. The SPCO will also continue to offer exclusive post-concert after parties 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.

Music Moves
The SPCO will continue its Music Moves program in the 2018-19 season, which brings performances to those who cannot attend regular concerts, such as patients recovering from cancer treatments at rehabilitation facilities, residents of memory care units in assisted living centers and children receiving treatment in hospitals.

Free live and on-demand concert videos in the SPCO’s online Concert Library
Expanding on its past streaming audio offerings, the SPCO launched the Concert Library in spring of 2017, offering full-length concert videos for live streaming and on-demand viewing, completely free of charge. Concert videos can be viewed for FREE anytime, anywhere, an unlimited number of times for ultimate flexibility and accessibility—no fees, donations or subscriptions required.

Since the launch of the Concert Library, the SPCO has streamed eight performances, including its first ever live stream of a Family Concert, and added numerous videos to its on-demand library, with plans to live stream 7-10 concerts per season, as funding permits.

“We are committed to sharing music with the broadest possible audience in the Twin Cities and the Concert Library is the most recent step in our history of bold moves toward greater accessibility,” said Jon Limbacher. “Not only do we bring our music to numerous venues throughout the Twin Cities and offer the most affordable ticket prices of any professional American orchestra, but now we are bringing our music to people’s homes, offices, or right to the palms of their hands, completely free of charge. The Concert Library will help us dramatically expand the number of people we are able to serve in our community.”

16 regular performance venues throughout the Twin Cities
In addition to the Ordway Concert Hall, the SPCO will continue its regular concert series in Twin Cities suburbs and residential neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in 2018-19:

  • 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
  • Venue TBD in North Minneapolis (while Capri Theater undergoes renovations/expansion)
  • 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

Ticket information
Season ticket packages are now available for purchase. To learn about available packages and order tickets, call the SPCO Ticket Office at 651.291.1144 or visit To request a brochure, email [email protected]. The Ticket Office is open 12pm – 5pm Monday through Friday and 11am – 3pm Saturday. Season ticket packages start at just $30 for adults and are free for children and students. Individual tickets for the 2018-19 season will go on sale in August, with ticket prices ranging from $10-$55 for adults (free for children and students).