The Arts Owe a Big Thank You to Community Leadership

By Barry Kempton

It’s wonderful how Twitter helps you keep up with news around the world!  I read an article in the Scotsman this morning retweeted by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO).  It was an interview actually with 30-year chairman of the SCO Donald McDonald.  He is stepping down and his reminiscing reminded me of some of the wonderful things I experienced there in the period I worked for that orchestra from 1986 to 1995.

The interview included a mention of one goal of his that has to-date alluded him, namely the addition of a 1000-seat concert hall, a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland and the home of the hugely prestigious Edinburgh International Festival has the Usher Hall (2300 seats) and the beautiful, intimate Queen’s Hall but lacks a purpose-built medium size concert hall. 

Though the Thanksgiving holiday passed by a few weeks ago, I can’t help taking a moment to reflecting on how fortunate we are here in St Paul to be about to open an 1100 seat concert hall at the Ordway, not only a home for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, but a quality venue for The Schubert Club and for many other Twin Cities ensembles and musical performers.  The State of Minnesota and the City of St Paul have done their part to fund the new Concert Hall, but over two thirds of the financial support has come from private sources – individuals, foundations and corporations.  How lucky are we to have community leadership that not only loves the arts, but backs that up with their own money!

If you have the good fortune to attend one of the Rock the Ordway opening events in February/March 2015, take a moment to look at the list of donors on the wall and if you see them, thank them!  Completing a capital project like this is not easy, not here and not anywhere in the world.

Check out the full line-up of 22 Opening Nights at the Ordway here.


photo above: Ordway Concert Hall interior progress as of early December, 2014.