Part Three- Checking In with the Schubert Club Staff: How Have Things Changed?

By Schubert Club

As we continue with our virtual season, the Schubert Club staff is still working predominantly from home. We checked in with our hard-working team to ask their favorite Schubert Club memories, what it’s like to work remotely, and how their roles have changed during the pandemic.

Read up on our other staff members!
Part One: Janet Peterson, Kelsey Norton, Galen Higgins, and Anna Torgerson
Part Two: Kate Cooper, Miranda Kettlewell, Jessica Hastreiter, and Amy Marret
Part Three (Currently reading):  Kristina MacKenzie, Maximillian Carlson, and Barry Kempton

Kristina MacKenzie – Director of Marketing: 

How has your role changed during the pandemic?
Part of my role involves being responsible for ticket sales and earned revenue, as well as tracking, forecasting and reporting those numbers. When we decided to make our online concerts free, I needed to think creatively about new ways to measure the success of our programs. We now have an amazing opportunity to reach audiences across the country and even around the world, so developing strategies to target different audiences outside of the twin cities and broaden our reach has been a fun challenge. We’ve gotten such positive feedback and on our virtual concerts. It inspires me to know that what we’re doing is uplifting others, and we’ve received messages from as far as Berlin, Mexico City, and Singapore!

This year of has also changed the way we communicate with our subscribers. Having consistent, transparent, and clear communication with our audiences has been even more critical, because things are constantly shifting. Keeping everyone informed about schedule changes and cancellations, as well as helping our audience transition to an all online season has definitely kept our team busy!

Schubert Club has a very collaborative office culture – what is it like working remotely? 
Schubert Club did a great job of transitioning everyone to work remotely and making sure we were set up with everything we needed at home, but I miss our team so much! We chat all day on Slack, but of course it’s not the same as seeing each other in person. It’s definitely not quiet at home, though! My husband is a middle school teacher and is teaching remotely, and our two boys Alex (3) and Owen (1) are at home with us. Thankfully we’ve formed a bubble with both sets of grandparents so we do have help during the day, but we’re still juggling work and family life with a lot of people in a small space, which is both beautiful and hectic!

What is your favorite Schubert Club memory?
When I was a Vocal Performance major at St Olaf, one of my best friends (also a singer) and I drove up from Northfield to see Renee Fleming perform on the International Artist Series. I was starstruck for the entire performance, and we waited in line to have her sign our programs after the concert. It was such a special night, and I’ll never forget it. As soon as I had the financial means from my first full-time job after graduation, I started subscribing to the International Artist Series. I also have very fond memories of competing in the Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship competition as a high school and college student. 

What has helped you stay positive and keep busy during the pandemic?
Staying busy is never a challenge with two little kids at home! Honestly, they inspire me and help me to stay positive. Their smiles and giggles just light up my day. Our three-year-old’s imagination is fully taking off, and I love hearing the stories he dreams up and all of the questions he has about the world around him. And our one-year-old’s mischievous little personality is really starting to blossom. Because I get to be near them every day now, I’m here for little moments and milestones I might have missed otherwise, and I’m so grateful for that.

I’ve also made an effort to keep up my regular yoga and seated meditation practice as best I can. I’ve been practicing for more than a decade so I can’t imagine a week going by without getting on my mat a few times. Online classes have been a lifesaver, and I’ve even been able to practice with some of my favorite instructors who are not local over Zoom. And I’ve been reading more – fiction, but also a lot of Carl Sagan, which helps me keep things in perspective right now. If you haven’t read “Pale Blue Dot,” I cannot recommend it enough.

Maximillian Carlson – Program Editor and Production Coordinator

How has your role changed during the pandemic?
Switching to virtual concerts–and having them so frequently–meant a crash course in video editing, courtesy of our Graphic Designer, Galen. It’s been something of a happy discovery producing and editing concerts from this new technical perspective.

Schubert Club has a very collaborative office culture – what is it like working remotely? 
For communicating, we’ve adapted well with the available tech. In some ways I thrive in a digital environment with a good (or bad) meme just a click away. But I’ve stopped trying to tell jokes in Zoom meetings. The delayed reactions and blank stares from my co-workers cause me too much angst.

What is your favorite Schubert Club memory?
I’ve acquired quite a few years at Schubert Club, but I’ll choose a recent one. Making the music video for Libby Larsen’s song cycle “Raspberry Island Dreaming” this past September was a real highlight.
“Raspberry…” was a 2002 Schubert Club commission written for the opening concert to celebrate the new bandshell on Raspberry Island in downtown Saint Paul. The cycle is three songs about the Mississippi River with texts by Patricia Hampl & Joyce Sutphen. Nostalgic and mystical, it’s a gorgeous piece of music by Libby. Clara Osowski (mezzo-soprano) and Tyler Wottrich (piano), recorded the music at Wild Sound Studios, and a week later we filmed the video on the island, where the piece premiered 18 years ago, almost to the day.
It was a perfect afternoon, a final summer flare-up before the cold weather moved in. Libby showed up to cheer us on. Curious island picnickers and joggers came to watch and wish us well. Libby and I observed a field mouse scurry out from under the band shell to listen transfixed for a few minutes. Moments between takes were spent discussing beer. Clara contemplated standing ankle-deep in the Mississippi for “Shall we Gather at the River,” but decided against it. Libby, ever the inquisitive hunter of sounds, used her phone to capture audio/video of rustling prairie grasses (I accidentally wandered into her shot). Spirits were high, and the mood was light. It was a terrific bit of teamwork all around.
The video was part of a collaborative Courtroom Concert with Vocal Essence and Source Song Festival to celebrate Libby Larsen’s 70th Birthday.

What has helped you stay positive and keep busy during the pandemic?
I tried baking bread, but switched to Margherita pizzas. It’s a simple Neapolitan pizza I’ve spent an absurd amount of time trying to perfect.

Barry Kempton – Artistic and Executive Director

How has your role changed during the pandemic?
In a way, my role really hasn’t changed that much.  As I did prior to the pandemic, I plan our future activities, oversee and support my amazing staff team in their work, keep the Board of Directors informed and remind myself daily of Schubert Club’s mission.  But plenty has changed in the last 11 months.  We’ve revisited our offerings in the 2020-21 season multiple times;  and because of so much uncertainty, it’s been important to be comfortable with making tentative plans with the knowledge that they’ll likely change.

Schubert Club has a very collaborative office culture – what is it like working remotely? 
I’m fortunate to have a dedicated office space at our home where I can shut myself away for work.  It functions remarkable well.  But I miss going to Landmark Center every day and I miss seeing my colleagues regularly.  We meet twice a week on Zoom and I’m grateful for the technology.  But we all know, it’s not the same as real human interaction. 

What is your favorite Schubert Club memory?
This question is hard!  Over my nine years, there have been dozens of truly memorable moments.  But if I have to choose one, I’ll go with Schubert Club’s first recital in the new Ordway Concert Hall in March 2015 performed by Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and Irish accordionist Dermot Dunne.  It’s memorable not only for the occasion itself, but also because the program of interwoven Bach and folk music was a joy and revelation to listen to.  And after the collective efforts of the Arts Partnership and so many individuals, it was wonderful to hear music in our new hall – and to know that St Paul has a new world-class concert venue.

What has helped you stay positive and keep busy during the pandemic?
It’s so uplifting to hear from members of our audience, our supporters and the positive encouragement from the Board of Directors.  At a time when we’re not gathering for concerts, events or meetings, I am delighted every time we hear from our Schubert Club friends and community.