The end of an era in the Ordway Music Theater


Our first Ordway Music Theater concert in 1985. (We’ll take the same photo again at our final Music Theater concert on Saturday night.)

Just over 30 years ago, the SPCO performed for the first time in the Ordway Music Theater. The Ordway anchored a rebirth of downtown St. Paul as a cultural destination and became a beloved venue for generations of SPCO audiences.

This morning, we held our final rehearsal on the Music Theater stage, and the next three nights will be a fitting sendoff to three decades in the old hall.

The program opens with American composer Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, a work written for the composer’s wife, which captures the intimacy and tenderness of Pablo Neruda’s original poetry. After his wife died, Lieberson personally selected mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor to perform the work, and we’re thrilled to have her join us once again.

After intermission, what better way to say farewell to such a grand space than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Our performances features conductor Andrew Manze, fantastic soloists, and Dale Warland’s SPCO Chorale.

There are still tickets available for tonight’s performance, with very limited availability Friday and Saturday.

For the final performance on Saturday night, we’re going to recreate the historic first photo shown above. The concert will be sold out, but watch for last-minute availability or tune in for the live broadcast on Classical MPR.

It’s also a time of new beginnings, of course, with the opening of the new Ordway Concert Hall next door. After years of planning a venue that’s acoustically designed especially for a chamber orchestra, it’s been amazing to hear the new space. We’ve had two test “hard hat” concerts for the men and women who built the hall, and last night we welcomed a crowd of SPCO donors and club2030 members for an open rehearsal of the Beethoven. In each of these performances, acoustician Paul Scarbrough and his team have been examining every corner of the space, making adjustments to ensure it sounds its best for our Concert Hall Opening Celebration concerts on March 5 and 6. We can’t wait for you to hear our new home!