Artistic Partners

The SPCO is recognized for its innovative approach to artistic leadership. In 2004, the SPCO transferred broad artistic responsibilities from a music director to the SPCO musicians and an intentionally diverse group of Artistic Partners. The current roster of Artistic Partners consists of Italian conductor Roberto Abbado, American pianist Jeremy Denk, Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst, Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, German pianist Christian Zacharias, and Austrian violinist Thomas Zehetmair. Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and British multi-instrumentalist and Baroque specialist Jonathan Cohen will be joining the team of Artistic Partners starting in the 2016.17 season. Past Artistic Partners include pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, conductor Douglas Boyd, violinist Joshua Bell, conductor Nicholas McGegan, and pianist and composer Stephen Prutsman. In collaboration with a committee of SPCO musicians and management, the Artistic Partners develop distinctive multi-year programming plans focused on the particular musical interests they share with the SPCO.

Jonathan Cohen, Conductor Photo: Marco Borggreve

Jonathan Cohen

“…rising like a shooting star through the period performance sector…”
— Huffington Post

“What musical intelligence! … Jonathan Cohen appears as one of the spokesmen of ‘Baroque 2.0.’ …This is the exploration of a wider range of nuances and subtleties in many combinations and colorings.” — Le Devoir

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Jeremy Denk

“Mr. Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs, in whatever combination – both for his penetrating intellectual engagement with the music and for the generosity of his playing.” — The New York Times

“Denk is a pianist with much more than commendable technical skills. His keen intellectual curiosity, combined with insightful phrasing, can generate unusually vivid interpretations of an extensive repertoire.” — The Baltimore Sun


Martin Fröst

“. . . if you’re lucky, you’ll sometimes encounter a performance . . . so full of imagination, spirit and technical skill that simply standing and applauding enthusiastically seems faint praise. If only a leaping or flying ovation were possible.” — The Pioneer Press

“Fröst exhibited a virtuosity and a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinetist — perhaps any instrumentalist — in my memory.” — The New York Times

Patricia Kopatchinskaja Photo: Marco Borggreve for Naive

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

“Practice saying the name. Patricia Kopatchinskaja is a Moldovan violinist who has recently soared to fame. What is beyond argument is her fierce questing intelligence, allied to a virtuosity that lets her turn her instrument into a thousand characters in a drama to which only she has the script. Touching, mesmerizing and slightly mad: like everything she does.” — The Times, London

“A performer who puts the fun back into music making.”
— The Telegraph, Australia

Pekka Kuusisto High Res 2 - credit Kaapo Kamu SQUARE

Pekka Kuusisto

“Pekka Kuusisto’s rare gift is to become rather than perform the music he plays.”  — The Guardian

“If you’ve encountered an uncomfortably aristocratic air at some classical music concerts you’ve attended, be assured that violinist Pekka Kuusisto seems intent upon doing away with that.” ­— Pioneer Press

“His breathless tempo in the finale left both orchestra…and audience pleasantly warm. I went home singing….he is not so much a violinist as a musician who happens to play the violin.” — Star Tribune

Zehetmair square web

Thomas Zehetmair

“Artistic Partner Thomas Zehetmair conducted with passion, driving the music dramatically, creating a sense of devastation and mourning in the orchestra’s dissonances. As soloist, he made the most of the violin’s anguished utterances in his raw, uninhibited playing.” — The Star Tribune

“Music has to do with life. Music has to do with drama. The main issue is to convince people that listening to classical music is one of the greatest experiences you can have.” — Thomas Zehetmair