The Power of Music: reflections on a recent Kidsjam workshop

By | Commentary | No Comments

Today’s blog post is about one of our newest education programs, KidsJam, written by Kate Cooper, our Director of Museum and Education at The Schubert Club. 

nirmala-photo-1The 2016-17 season of KidsJam began last week with some great moments as over 100 children played, listened, learned and created with music in workshops led by Nirmala Rajasekar and her percussion partner, Boopathi.  Students in after-school programs at Hallie Q Brown Center, Ramsey County Library – Maplewood, Arlington Hills Community Center and Paul Wellstone Neighborhood House participated in the Ragas and Talas (Melodies and Rhythms) of India, creating and playing their own rhythm instrument called a Mridangam.

kidsjam-2However, some new descriptive words came to mind after a very moving session last week at one of the KidsJam locations- impactful, freedom of expression, empathy, responsiveness, sensitivity, compassion, nondiscriminatory.  Twelve children from 4-5 different cultures gathering together expressed their feelings after hearing some improvisational Indian music sung by Nirmala.  They all meditated deeply throughout the performance and following, shared their stories with deep emotion.  What struck me, was the way these children, many who looked quite different from the child sitting next to them, comforted and embraced each other without any barriers of skin color or race between them.

kidsjam-3Nirmala was in awe by the flood of responses from these children, most only 7 or 8 years old.  “Responses from ‘calming’ to ‘feeling safe’ to ‘feeling like I am sitting right here with a family member who died’ to ‘missing my parent who I see rarely’;  the emotions discussed were deep, powerful and matured coming from the mouths of seeming babes.  The blessing of a common experience was upon us, the whole space had a transformed atmosphere.  Not many dry eyes listening to each child share.  I was personally full of gratitude….to the magical notes of music that connect, help understand one another and transform us…continually across man-made boundaries….a bridge like none other.”

Hailey, one of the group leaders at this venue said this experience “…was unlike anything I would have ever expected.  We had a very emotional night full of peacefulness laced with sadness as many children were willing to share their stories and their sorrow.  In my 3-1/2 years with this program, this is the first time that I have seen music bring out such raw emotions from my kids and bring us all closer.  It’s a moment I’m going to remember for the rest of my life!”


Ears, head and heart:  they all play their part in listening to music

By | Commentary | No Comments


After a relatively quiet summer – at least in terms of attending concerts – I find myself back in full swing.  We’ve had two Schubert Club concerts already and look forward to welcoming Renee Fleming and Hartmut Höll for their recital this coming Wednesday.  But I’ve also recently been to several other concerts locally, and I’ve been on the road to hear various artists and ensembles during August and September.

Especially when I go to hear a musician or ensemble we’re considering for a future Schubert Club invitation, I go with heightened senses.  I’m listening, I’m trying to figure out if this is music-making which would fit on one of our series, in short I’m in full judgment mode. 

When such performances begin, I’ve grown conscious that I’m usually listening very analytically.  How do I rate the technique, what about tempos, dynamics, phrasing, intonation, sound qualities, overall shape, stylistic choices appropriate to the music.  Does it all add up to something interesting?  It’s highly subjective of course, but these are all things that help us all assess a performance, and consequently help me to determine whether artist A or ensemble B are high on our wish list or not.

But I’ve noticed that on many occasions, after I’ve spent a few minutes organizing those thoughts, the really strong performers cause me to forget about analysis.  Instead, of thinking about the language, it’s what the musicians are communicating which takes over.  It doesn’t matter how they’re doing it, it’s the music they are making which speaks directly to the heart.   It might be uplifting and comforting, it might be unsettling, but it’s at that point that I’m won over.  After all, having a command of any language is only useful if you have something meaningful to say.  It’s not that the analysis isn’t worthwhile, but at some level we all respond to music and musicians at a gut level.  It can be difficult to speak or write articulately about how we respond to music and why a performance was good or not.  Sometimes we can only express a reaction in terms of “it was great.”

Have you attended any performances lately that have spoken to your heart? Please share with us.


Barry Kempton is Artistic & Executive Director of The Schubert Club. Originally from the UK, his previous management experience spans 25 years at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia.
More posts by Barry Kempton


Courtroom Concerts Resume Oct 13

By | Announcements, News | No Comments

Courtroom Concerts feature local artists of the highest caliber from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to Minnesota. Highlights in the 2016-17 season include Flying Forms Baroque Ensemble, Elkina Sisters piano duo, Artaria String Quartet, Ladyslipper Ensemble, Laura Caviani Jazz Trio, and the Lux String Quartet. This season will continue the tradition of highlighting music by Minnesota composers including Jeffrey Van, Linda Kachelmeier, Patrick O’Shea, Abbie Betinis, and Edie Hill, along with the return of the ever-popular “Songs of for the Season, by Minnesota Composers” concert in December.  The Courtroom Concerts will also feature winners–past and present–from the Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition. 

View the entire season


KidsJam Receives Arts Access Grant

By | Announcements, News | No Comments


The Schubert Club has been awarded an Arts Access grant from the State Arts Board specifically to support KidsJam in various Twin Cities community centers. KidsJam, first introduced in the spring of 2014 is designed for kids ages 5-14 to play, listen, learn and create with music. Throughout the 75-minute workshops, children get involved through creative activities and movement, and learn about the people, cultures, and sounds behind the music. This is the first time we’ve received an Arts Access award from the Arts Board! Learn more about KidsJam


October 5 to be named “George Reid Day” in the City of St. Paul

By | Announcements, News | 3 Comments


Mayor Christopher Coleman will proclaim thiscoming Wednesday (October 5) as George Reid Day in recognition of the many contributions he has made as a trustee, educator, artist and friend of the Schubert Club, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Public Art Saint Paul and many other arts institutions around the Twin Cities.  We are proud to celebrate this extraordinary community leader.


Through Oct 4, purchase a PICK-3 Schubert Club Mix package and save 50% on tickets to Tembembe!

By | Announcements | No Comments

Special Offer!

Through Oct 4, purchase a PICK-3 Schubert Club Mix package and save 50% on tickets to Tembembe!

If you purchase a PICK-3 package, you’ll save $2 on each ticket in your package, and if you include Tembembe in your package, you’ll save 50% on your Tembembe tickets! Valid through October 4, 2016. Not valid on previously purchased tickets.



Tembembe Ensamble Continuo: “Fandango Barroco”

Thursday, October 13, 2016, 7:30pm

Aria, Minneapolis

“Fandango Barroco” features Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, a 5-member instrumental and vocal ensemble from Mexico. Bringing together the sound world of the Hispanic baroque guitar and the music of Mexican and Latin American contemporary culture, Tembembe explores the similarities between the instruments and practices of these two traditions. Expect a riveting performance including song and dance that brings alive the festive spirits of both the Hispanic fandango of the 17th century and contemporary traditional fandango.

Learn more about this performance at


Five things I like to see in concert venues – before even a note is heard

By | Commentary | No Comments

Over the summer I read a blog post of a professional orchestra wind player who wrote up a list of things he didn’t like to see during a concert. Apparently he developed the list initially for student musicians he was coaching.  I agreed with pretty much everything he included, but it got me thinking about what I actually do like to see.  I came up with these five things pretty quickly, all in advance of the actual experience of hearing any music.

  1. Smiling ushers and welcoming box office staff as I enter the venue. If the journey to the venue has been trying, parking difficult or the temperature outside is 20 Fahrenheit below, a warm welcome changes your mood.  It’s nice to think that someone appears to appreciate the effort you’ve made to get there.
  2. A clean and tidy stage or performance area with lights focused on the stage – and also on any special features in the room. For example, a former presenting partner of the Accordo series (Ben Johnson) encouraged us to feature the impressive candlestick at Christ Church Lutheran – and to light the candles.  It was a lovely image which many audience members commented on.
  3. A buzzing, expectant audience. One of the reasons we go to concert venues is to experience music in a community of fellow music-lovers.  So, walking first into the lobby and then into the performance space itself is particularly fun if other people are excited about the upcoming experience too.
  4. Musicians entering the stage with a purpose. It might seem trivial or of little importance to some, but I believe that the way a musician or ensemble enters the stage and engages with the audience from the moment we see them, tells us audience members something about the performance we’re about to experience.  It’s all about the energy projected from the stage.  Audiences (consciously or subconsciously) respond to the energy coming from the stage, they reflect their own energy back to the performers.   And as many artists have told me, they feel that energy from the audience, feed off it and usually perform better because of it.
  5. Well-dressed musicians. I am not a fan particularly of uniforms or conventional concert dress.  I don’t mind it, but I have grown tired of seeing orchestras in tails, evening dress or all-black attire.  Most important for me, is that musicians on stage have made some effort (shirts ironed, shoes polished), that they have thought about style (and some color please!) and that these don’t look like clothes they might have worn on the way to the concert.

Disagree? Or did I miss something important to you?  Please let me know.  Maybe you can help us improve the experience of attending Schubert Club concerts this coming season.    


Announcing the 2016-17 Courtroom Concert Season

By | Announcements, News | No Comments

Announcing the 2016-17 Courtroom Concert Season
(Free weekly noontime concerts at Landmark Center)

SAINT PAUL, MN (September 15, 2016) —The Schubert Club’s popular Courtroom Concert Series, hosted by Composer-in-Residence Abbie Betinis, opens its 24th season of free weekly concerts on Thursday, October 13 at noon. Courtroom Concerts are held most Thursdays, October 13 through April 27, in Courtroom 317 of Landmark Center. They are free and open to the public. The Courtroom Concert Series is co-sponsored by Minnesota Landmarks and the Schubert Club.

Courtroom Concerts feature local artists of the highest caliber from the Twin Cities and nearby surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. Highlights in the 2016-17 season include Flying Forms Baroque Ensemble, Elkina Sisters piano duo, Artaria String Quartet, Andrew Lovato, baritone, Ladyslipper Ensemble, Laura Caviani Jazz Trio and the Lux String Quartet. This season will also continue the tradition of highlighting music by Minnesota composers including Jeffrey Van, Linda Kachelmeier, Patrick O’Shea, Abbie Betinis, and Edie Hill, along with the return of the ever-popular “Songs of for the Season, by Minnesota Composers” concert in December.  The Courtroom Concerts will also feature winners–past and present–from the Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition.

These one-hour concerts often reach capacity. Complimentary coffee is served.
About the Host:
Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb, whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe).  With over 50 commissioned works for ensembles such as Cantus, the New England Philharmonic, and The Rose Ensemble, Abbie has been awarded a McKnight Composer Fellowship, grants from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and Jerome Foundation, and was recently listed in NPR Music’s Top 100 Composers Under 40.  A resident of Saint Paul, she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University and composer-in-residence with the Schubert Club.

Courtroom Concerts 2016-2017 Schedule

October 13
Samuel Calvo Rosenstone, piano; Keith Yánes, bass; Tarek Abdelqader, drums

October 20
I. Dolce Wind Quintet
II. Christopher Atzinger, piano

October 27
Francesca Anderegg, violin; Brent Funderburk, piano

November 3
Belka Quartet

November 10
I. Mimi Tung, piano
II. Aura Duo: Laura Sewell, cello; Ora Itkin, piano

November 17
Andrew Lovato, baritone; Mary Jo Gothmann, piano

December 8
Imuka Singers

December 15
Songs for the Season by Minnesota Composers
Carrie Henneman Shaw, soprano; Laura Betinis, alto;
Nicholas Chalmers, tenor; Timothy C. Takach, bass

December 22
Laura Caviani Jazz Trio

January 5
I. Ian Snyder, violin; Susan Garrelts, piano
II. Charles Asch, cello; Ann DuHamel, piano

January 12
I. Eric Broker, baritone; Lara Bolton, piano
II. C.J. Longabaugh, saxophone; Justin Sales, saxophone; Casey Rafn, piano

January 19
I. Academy of Voices
II. Nancy Oliveros, violin; Mary Ellen Haupert, piano

January 26
Hannah Peterson Green, flute; Joe Trucano, pianoFebruary 9
Irina and Julia Elkina, duo piano

February 16
Music of Minnesota Composers Linda Kachelmeier and Patrick O’Shea:
Alan Dunbar, baritone; Meredith Mihm, piano

February 23
I. Nirmala Rajasekar, veena
II. Flying Forms: Marc Levine, baroque violin; Tulio Rondón, baroque cello; Tami Morse, harpsichord

March 2
Artaria String Quartet

March 9
Ladyslipper Ensemble:
Sahar Hassan, mezzo soprano; Phil Rukavina, theorbo; Paul Berger, lute; Ginna Watson violin; Mary Burke, viola da gamba

March 23
Music of Minnesota Composer Abbie Betinis

March 30
Brannon Cho, cello

April 6
Music of Minnesota Composer Jeffrey Van:
Jeffrey Van, guitar; Brenda Mickens, violin; Clara Osowski, mezzo soprano

April 13
Musicians from Lakes Area Music Festival

April 20
Music of Schubert Club Composer Mentorship Students
Lux String Quartet

April 27
Music of Minnesota Composer Edie Hill
Linda Chatterton, flute; Kristian Anderson, guitar

Schedule subject to change. 
For more information and detailed program information, please visit


Announcing Live at the Museum and Hill House Chamber Players

By | Announcements, News | No Comments

Live at the Museum 2016-2017

On four evenings this season, favorite local artists bring live classical music—and more— to the galleries of the Schubert Club Museum in historic Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. Complimentary wine, sparkling water, and treats will be served with each event, and the Museum will be open for concert-goers to explore beginning at 6:30pm the evening of each concert.

Tickets for all Live at the Museum events are just $12 if purchased in advance, or $16 at the door. These concerts often sell out. 

Live at the Museum 2016-2017 Season

The Fortepiano and the First Romantics with Michael Tsalka
Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 7:30pm
Works by Ferdinand Ries, Ludwig van Beethoven, W.A. Mozart and Luigi Cherubini
Enjoy works by these celebrated composers performed by Michael Tsalka on fortepiano in celebration of his recent recording on instruments from the Schubert Club collection. These Viennese keyboards, highly praised and respected by Beethoven and other great musicians from the times, were known for their clarity of tone and fast, responsive action and damping. Michael Tsalka demonstrates a masterly control of dynamics, and is moreover thoroughly attentive to phrasing and tempi in a way that totally explains the music of these great masters.

Ole Bull and the Hardanger Fiddle with Peter Sheppard Skaerved
Thursday, November 17, 2016, 7:30pm
Peter Sheppard Skaerved is one of very few violinists to have performed and recorded on the violins of Paganini, Viotti, Joachim, Kreisler, and Ole Bull. One of the gems from Schubert Club’s historical instrument collection includes an exquisite 19th century Norwegian Hardanger fiddle believed to once be the property of Ole Bull around 1860. Spend the evening with Peter as he shares interesting stories of Bull and this amazing instrument along with performing music of Ole Bull and others on this historical instrument.

Music and Tales From the Schubert Club Manuscripts
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7:30pm
Featuring: Vern Sutton, tenor and narrator; Maria Jette, soprano; Michael Sutton, violin; and Donald Livingston, keyboard
Enjoy another season to read between the lines of an all new set of letters from the Schubert Club’s famous Gilman Ordway Manuscript collection. Vern Sutton will explore the details surrounding the music and personalities of Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Brahms, Elgar, and Bloch. Then hear live performances of these composer’s works with historically enlightened ears.

Sing, Poet! American Songs of Celius Dougherty
Thursday, April 6, 2017, 7:30pm
Featuring: Mark Bilyeu, piano; Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano; and other Source Song Festival Musicians
Join the Artistic Directors of the Source Song Festival, Mark Bilyeu and Clara Osowski as they offer the second of three evenings dedicated to the music of locally born and internationally recognized Celius Dougherty. The evening will be rich with multi-media interviews, recordings, manuscripts, and letters from both the University of Minnesota and the Schubert Club collections.

Hill House Chamber Players 2016-2017

The Hill House Chamber Players are Julie Ayer, violin; Catherine Schubilske, violin; Thomas Turner, viola; Tanya Remenikova, cello; and Mary Jo Gothmann, piano. The Players perform at the historic James J. Hill House on Summit Ave in St. Paul, Minnesota. The series is cosponsored by The Schubert Club and the Minnesota Historical Society.

The Hill House Chamber Players will present “Women of Note,” in three sets of concerts during the 2016-2017 season. They will explore rarely heard gems by women composers, as well as favorite works for piano and strings by Schumann, Mozart, and Faure.

New this season! Come early for a conversation with Emily Hogstad from 6:45-7:15pm

Single and season tickets can be purchased by calling 651.296.5662

Hill House Chamber Players 2016-2017 Season

October 10 & 17, 2016, 7:30pm
Amy Beach: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F-sharp minor, Op 67

Judith Lang Zaimont: Calendar Collection for Solo Piano (excerpts)

Robert Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Opus 44 

March 6 & 13, 2017, 7:30pm
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K.493

Rebecca Clarke: Viola Sonata

Clara Wieck Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor, Op 17 

May 1 & 8, 2017, 7:30pm
Lili Boulanger: Two Morceaux: Nocturne and Cortege
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Piano Trio in D minor, Op 11
Gabriel Faure: Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op 15 
Programs subject to change 

Join the Hill House Chamber Players at the Saint Paul Classical Music Crawl! 
Saturday, October 15, 2016, 2-4pm
The Baroque Room, 275 E 4th St, #280, Saint Paul