The Schubert Club commissioned an elegant bandshell to be both a venue for music events and a beautiful work of art. The bandshell occupies one end of an island in the Mississippi River where the river flows through downtown Saint Paul.
Architect and designer James Carpenter has developed a sleek design of glass and ironwood, with a saddle-shaped arch that can withstand the spring floods. Mr. Carpenter’s previous commissions include the entrance structure for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the Great Hall Tower of the San Francisco Civic Center. He has won recent awards for a suspended lens ceiling in the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix and his luminous arc in the San Diego Convention Center. In 2002, he was the winner of the National Design Award in the category of Environment Design.
Ground-breaking for the bandstand took place in October 2001, with the grand opening of the finished edifice on September 8, 2002. In addition to a dedication ceremony that day, there was an afternoon performance by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, including a new work by Minnesota composer Libby Larsen that was commissioned by The Schubert Club. This piece, Raspberry Island Dreaming, was a setting of writings about the river by Joyce Sutphen and Patricia Hampl, and was premiered by mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Diverse programming for the bandstand will be done through the Saint Paul Parks Department, with The Schubert Club providing classical music, jazz, and gamelan events.
The new bandstand is “sheer poetry,” according to a Star Tribune article about the structure by Linda Mack the day of its opening in September 2002. In December, the bandstand was mentioned in a Star Tribune article reviewing the architectural accomplishments of the year.
The bandstand was dedicated as The Heilmaier Memorial Bandstand, named for Anna Heilmaier, who enjoyed many Schubert Club concerts and was a research librarian at the Central Saint Paul Public Library for many years. The bandstand also honors Mildred Ellerbe, founder of The Schubert Club Museum, and Bill Kugler, a former Saint Paul bandleader and a significant figure in the city’s musical history.