Unwrapping a New Season

Martin Frost

Photo: Clarinetist Martin Fröst will make his SPCO debut October 9-12, 2014.

With Opening Night approaching, we invited two members of the club2030 council to look ahead to the coming season and answer some of the questions new audience members might have. To start this series of four posts, Johanna Lorbach shares her top concert pick from the 2014-15 season.

New seasons are like birthday presents: a bundle of gifts thoughtfully assembled by dear friends. There’s one gift in that bundle they know I’ll love because I’ve been asking for it. There’s another gift they bet I’ll love because they’ve known me for a while and know what I like. And there’s another gift they think I might love—or at least really appreciate—as long as I trust their choice and am willing to give it a try!

The 2014-15 season is a big one for the SPCO. They will welcome two new Artistic Partners, present several world premieres and, of course, inaugurate the new Concert Hall at the Ordway. And at the center of all of these glorious milestones are eighteen carefully created programs of tremendous music. I certainly didn’t have to look very far before I started eagerly scribbling dates in my calendar.

One of the first programs to catch my eye is Beethoven’s First Symphony, with Martin Fröst, the second week of October. Beethoven’s first foray into the symphony genre is bold and playful. There’s also a great recording from the February 2012 performance available on the SPCO’s Listening Library. (Have you checked out the Listening Library yet? It’s amazing! But more on that another time…) Also on the program is Grieg’s Holberg Suite, written to celebrate the Danish-Norwegian humanist playwright Ludvig Holberg. This is one of my all-time favorite pieces (one of the “they know I’ll love it” choices). Written in the 19th century, each of the five movements is based on an 18th century dance, and the joyful, lively melodies have definitely prompted more than one spontaneous living room dance session.

But it’s the directing and playing of Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst that has particularly piqued my interest in this concert. Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, one of the last works completed before the composer’s death, is one of those pieces that rejuvenates my spirit every time I listen to it (try it for yourself by listening to a movement of Martin playing with The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on his website). It also seems like Scandinavian musicians have a special connection to Minnesota audiences, which would make sense since about a third of us have Scandinavian heritage. Martin has been called “one of the most interesting, virtuosic and daring musicians of our time,” and “as unpredictable as he is brilliant.” I expect I’ll spend the evening on the edge of my seat, eagerly soaking up each note.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Beethoven’s First Symphony promises to be a playful, spirit-rejuvenating, and dance-inspiring concert. A gift from dear friends! Whatever it is, sign me up.

Johanna Lorbach is a member of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s club2030 Council.