Celebrating Composers-in-Residence: Edie Hill & Abbie Betinis

By Barry Kempton

Later this week, we will post an announcement inviting applications for a new position for Composer-in-Residence at the Schubert Club.  It will be a revamped composer position, and I am excited at the prospect of reading proposals and meeting some of Minnesota’s finest creative people during our search.

But in today’s blog, I would like to turn my focus on two very special people, the two colleagues who have served jointly in the role of Schubert Club Composer-in-Residence for the past twelve years.  Edie Hill and Abbie Betinis joined the Schubert Club as Composers-in-Residence in 2005.  They were brought into the team by the late Bruce Carlson, Schubert Club Director from 1968 through 2006.  They have devoted their creativity, time and passion for music to a broad array of Schubert Club activities and have provided wonderful inspiration to three different Schubert Club directors: Bruce Carlson, Kathleen van Bergen and myself.

Their twelve years of service is considerably longer than the usual composer residency in a music organization, but their work and contributions have always been fresh and enthusiastic.  I have hesitated to initiate change for this very reason, but we have all agreed that a healthy residency should last a finite amount of time and that change in any creative position can and should be a positive thing. 

A few words about the extraordinary work that Edie and Abbie have done during their residencies.

Edie Hill has devoted herself primarily to our Composer Mentorship program. Under her leadership it has grown to offer mentorship to four high school age composers each year with remarkable devotion.  Those of us who have had the opportunity to see the April performance of the resulting new works in a Courtroom Concert know what an impression Edie has on these talented and creative young people.  It is a profound experience for all involved (Edie included) – and for those of us who have witnessed the program first-hand too.

Abbie Betinis has dedicated herself to the Schubert Club too – in myriad ways.  Though we see her most often as our weekly Courtroom Concert host, her role as liaison to the Minnesota new music community has included both musical and administrative jobs, including advocacy and programming, new music grants and adjudication, staff arranger and engraver, co-administering the Composer Mentorship program, and numerous writing and speaking projects.  Her work lives on in her contributions to our museum guides’ script, cataloging our composer archives, and her Schubert Club book chapter “125 Years of New Music”.

Of course as composers, we’ve heard music by each of them, at least once every year at their Courtroom Concerts.  Their programs this season will be in March and April. 

I personally am grateful to them for their wise words and counsel whenever I’ve needed them.  These are two creative minds and wonderful human beings.  We will have the opportunity to celebrate their contributions and thank them for work at the Schubert Club later this spring.  We are lucky to have artists like these two women in our community.