Now Open! The New Ordway Concert Hall

By Barry Kempton

I failed to post a blog last Monday.  I didn’t exactly forget, but those of you who are aware of or involved in our Twin Cities music scene, will know well that we have just opened a new Concert Hall at the Ordway.  I say “we” as The Schubert Club is one of four organizations which make up the Arts Partnership.  It is this formal collaborative entity (the Arts Partnership’s four members are the Ordway Center itself, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and ourselves) which has raised the funds for the construction – and an endowment fund to help subsidize our rent; and it is the Arts Partnership which is in the middle of a 3-week run of “opening nights” featuring many different genres of music which will feature on the Concert Hall stage long into the future.  It’s been a busy but thrilling week.

Just yesterday afternoon we got to hear the first recital in the Concert Hall – the talented and inventive Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto with Irish accordionist Dermot Dunne playing Bach violin sonatas interwoven with European folk tunes, some of which actually pre-date Johann Sebastian’s own lifetime.  The Hall is truly a very fine acoustic room in which to hear a recital – something we certainly could be confident about since we heard the Chamber Orchestra in it earlier in the week, but there’s nothing like the experience itself to remove any lingering doubt! 

All the more satisfying since we The Schubert Club will present many of our International Artist Series in the Ordway Concert Hall next season.  Though the bigger Music Theater has been a fabulous home for our flagship recital series since the Ordway opened 30 years ago, the new Concert Hall opens up new possibilities for us to present artists and instruments which wouldn’t have worked in the larger size venue. 

We cannot ever thank enough those many individuals and institutions who have made this Ordway enhancement possible.  Starting with the extraordinary Campaign Committee who worked so tirelessly for about six years raising money, the State of Minnesota, the City of St Paul, the corporate and foundation community and the hundreds of individuals who have contributed so generously to make this happen.  We also owe gratitude to the architect Tim Carl of HGA and his creative team, acoustician Paul Scarbrough of Akustiks and the many men and women who built the hall – of McGough Construction and their sub-contractors. 

I feel privileged to head up an arts organization in this extraordinary state.  Minnesota’s commitment to arts and culture make it a special place to live in.