Gilmore Artist Award winner, Igor Levit Returns Next Season

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Many International Artist Series regulars will remember Igor Levit’s debut recital at the Ordway two years ago.  For those who heard him play then, it is maybe no great surprise that last week, it was announced that he won a major piano prize: the Gilmore Artist Award worth $300,000.  There’s an in-depth, fascinating article about him in Sunday’s New York Times here.

I have two fun revelations relating to Igor Levit and the Gilmore Award. 

First, Igor will return to the International Artist Series next season.  I know that sharing this news breaks with our usual practice of announcing new seasons (International Artist Series and Music in the Park Series) in February.  But given the news of the award and the fact that several Schubert Club friends immediately got in touch to urge us to bring Igor back, I am happy to “leak” Igor Levit’s return recital in October – in advance of publishing the rest of the series.  I’m excited, and I know many Twin Cities recital fans will be too.

The other thing I’m pleased to reveal after the secrecy of the past two years is that I was a member of the 5-person Gilmore selection committee.  It was both a privilege and a fascinating process.  The selection procedure for the Gilmore Artist award winner is different to the way that most prize money is awarded in the classical music world; this is expressly not a competition.  Serving on the Gilmore jury involves hearing nominated pianists performing in public performances without the artists knowing that they are under consideration.  Sometimes alone and sometimes together with other committee members, I attended recitals and concerto performances in various parts of the United States and Europe.  Our brief was to attend “under the radar”, listen and report back to the rest of the committee with observations and recommendations.  Over the course of many months, I listened to dozens of recordings and made some 20 or so trips to hear pianists perform.  It made for a busy couple of years.  Increased frequent flyer miles aside, it was a remarkable opportunity to hear many of the leading emerging pianists of our time.  And while it is true that you can learn a lot about a performer from a recording (both audio and video), you learn a whole lot more when you hear them live.  So, I feel as if it was not only a great experience for me personally, but that it should serve Schubert Club too, as we do our very best to present outstanding artists in concert for our audience.

I’m not in a position to compare the pool of candidates with pools of previous rounds, but I can say that the quality – both technical and musical – of the short list of pianists I got to hear was unbelievably high.  As a committee, we’ve agreed not to identify the broader list of names we were considering, but it is fair to say that Igor Levit stood out as an pianist who not only shone musically and technically, but as an artist who takes risks with his programming choices and always has something interesting to communicate to his audience.  We’re in for a treat with his October recital featuring music by Bach, Busoni, Schumann, Wagner and Liszt.  As for the rest of the artists and ensembles we will present next season, I’m afraid you will have to wait a few more weeks until our announcement next month.

Happy Holidays from the Schubert Club staff!

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Today’s post is a short blog wishing you all a very Happy Holidays from all of us in the Schubert Club staff. 

Our small but mighty staff team produces some 60 concerts annually, runs a museum, administers a scholarship competition and several other music education programs, not to mention the associated marketing, box office, fundraising and accounting functions that organizations of our kind count on every single day.  I am grateful for my colleagues and how they go about their work from day to day with commitment to Schubert Club and respect for their fellow team members.

By the way, there’s one more program we’re looking forward to in our December Celebration of the Human Voice which has featured so far:

  • vocal ensemble Calmus in the Music in the Park Series
  • Schubert song recitals by Eric Owens and Clara Osowski
  • Clarice Assad with father Sergio in Schubert Club Mix
  • and David Evan Thomas’s set of songs “Joy” for vocal quartet and piano four-hands

On Thursday (December 21), the annual Songs of the Season program featuring carols by Minnesota composers and curated by popular Courtroom Concerts host Abbie Betinis will have two performances:

Thursday at noon, Landmark Center (downtown St Paul), Courtroom 317:  Courtroom Concert series

Thursday at 5:00pm, Dunsmore Room of Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, 6161 Highway 65 NE, Fridley, MN 55432

Both performances are free.  We hope to see you there, at noon or 5:00, to wish you the very best for the festive season.

If not on Thursday, we will see you in the New Year!


(Photo, from top to bottom, left to right:
David Morrison, Barry Kempton, Janet Peterson, Paul Olson, Kate Cooper, Kelsey Norton, Tessa Retterath Jones, Emma Figgins, Aly Fulton, Max Carlson, Summer Freed)

Guest Blog Post: Concert Etiquette and Clapping Between Movements by Katie Heilman

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Today’s blog post is written by guest, Katie Heilman. Katie is a regular attendee at Schubert Club concerts, a member of Schubert Club’s Theoroi program, program assistant at GTCYS (Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony), composer, and oboist. Learn more about Katie here.

Have you ever been to another country and found yourself confused by the customs of everyday life surrounding you? Or have you gone to a wedding of a different culture from your own and saw people saying certain things at certain times or dressing a certain way, and you felt out of place?

I’ve had several conversations recently with friends and colleagues about the state of classical music and diversity. One thing I’ve been thinking about in particular lately is concert etiquette. Concert etiquette is what I suspect turns many people off from attending classical music concerts (besides cost). There’s this idea that classical music is really stuffy, and when you think about it… it kind of is. Most concerts in other musical genres expect noisy audiences, clapping when you like something, and coming and going as you need to. Not so with classical concerts. The vast majority of classical concerts expect audiences to be quiet, only clap at the very end of the piece, and you better not leave during the middle of a piece!

I grew up in a musical family and didn’t learn that you weren’t supposed to clap in between movements until I was at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert, probably in late middle school (a few years after I’d started playing an instrument), and I started clapping after the first movement of whatever symphony they were playing, because it just made sense. It wasn’t until I got a weird look from my mom that I realized that wasn’t “okay.” When people start clapping between movements of a piece, I see that same weird look get passed along through the “regulars” at the concert. I’ve seen this happen twice in the last few months. The first was during the Sphinx Virtuosi concert at the Ordway, where the vast majority of the audience was people of color (especially younger people of color). The second was just this past weekend, when the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra performed Mozart’s third violin concerto to an audience with several students (they all certainly looked younger than me). The common thread between these two audiences, besides clapping between movements? They weren’t your stereotypical classical music demographic!

Here’s my philosophy on clapping between movements (or other “breaches” of classical etiquette): if people are clapping between each movement, they aren’t necessarily being rude. It’s probably because they don’t know about this weird tradition we have that really only dates back to the end of the 19th century or so. That means there’s a good chance they’re probably first-timers at an orchestra concert, which is awesome! And yes, there are some pieces where’s it’s nice to have that silence in between movements (slow Mahler for sure), but Mozart or Haydn? Clapping in between movements was standard back in their day – sometimes, if the audience really liked something, they’d demand a second run-through of a movement or section. I’ve attended a bunch of more “informal” chamber concerts at coffee shops and art museums where you’ll even have people chatting in the background. For a first-timer at a classical concert, going to the orchestra probably feels the same as being a foreigner in another country. There are so many customs that we’ve been doing for years that a newbie isn’t going to automatically know, and they might feel lost and alienated when people stare at them for not doing the “correct” procedures.

It’s great when the administrative side of an organization is working to bring in new audiences, but in order for this to be successful, we as current audience members need to be more welcoming and patient when new audiences don’t automatically know the culture. Administrators, if you really want to make sure that your program is quiet and that audiences wait until the end to clap, then just make an announcement before the concert. They do this sometimes at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra when they have a program that interweaves other pieces throughout a larger piece, and it doesn’t feel out of place at all. Imagine how much more welcomed new audience members would feel if we let them know when it’s appropriate to clap, instead of assuming? It’s like when you have someone over to your house for a party, and you let them know where the restroom is, where to leave their coat, and where to put the food they brought. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to take a lesson from the newcomers and bring back clapping between movements of certain pieces. Trust me, Haydn is a lot more fun when you let yourself get a little rowdy.

Video Blog: Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition

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At our Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship competition earlier in 2017, Schubert Club board member and media professional Peter Myers roved the corridors and practice rooms of Augsburg University’s music department with a video camera, talking to students about the competition, about what it means to be a competitor and what they get out of participating.  

November is here and applications for the 2018 Student Scholarship Competition are now being accepted!   The competition will take place in February/March 2018.  We award scholarships totaling over $50,000 annually to young musicians to be used for further musical education.  Check out the new video which shines a light on what makes the competition so special, from the mouths of our competitors themselves. Take a look, and whether you’re a music student yourself or know a budding young musician, be sure to tell everyone to get their applications in by January 19, 2018


What Makes a Great Place For a Concert?

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One reason (of many) why I find my position at the Schubert Club so interesting is that we present concerts and recitals in so many venues. It means that I am always happy to hear from people about performance spaces they’ve enjoyed. Though I’ve lived in the Twin Cities since 1995 (with a 5-year hiatus in London), and I’ve been lucky to attend many live arts events all over the place, I am still learning about new spaces where Schubert Club might present live music. This curiosity for new venues is especially relevant for our Schubert Club Mix series which got underway for its fifth season last week at Aria in Minneapolis.

Mix (as it is inevitably shortened to) is our concert series designed to appeal to music lovers who prefer live performances with less formality and concert ritual. We’re intentionally informal; artists interact with the audience more; and we go to extra efforts to make the ambiance in the venue more relaxed than it is likely to be in a more traditional concert hall like our wonderful Ordway (home of the International Artist Series) or a church like St Anthony Park UCC (home of Music in the Park Series). 

As we plan future years of Schubert Club Mix, I will always be on the look out for new and interesting spaces. There are three primary criteria in a space which factor in assessing a space’s suitability for presenting concerts: Acoustic, location, & ambiance.

Acoustic: kind of obvious, but not all big rooms with large volumes sound the same. We’re blessed in the Twin Cities with several venues which have truly world-class acoustics for unamplified music – the Ordway and Orchestra Hall are at the top of that list. The recent removal of carpet and other changes at St Anthony Park’s United Church of Christ have made an extraordinary difference, making this church a wonderful place to listen to chamber music. Not all venues can have superlative acoustics though. What I always look for is a balance of resonance and clarity, and the confidence that the sound produced by musicians and their instruments really fills the space.

Location: it’s not only important to present concerts in locations which are convenient for an audience to get to, but also that they have amenities close by like parking, restaurants and bars and that the whole experience of going out for the evening feels safe and enjoyable. 

Ambiance:  slightly more difficult to put one’s finger on, ambiance is, I believe, hugely significant to an audience member’s enjoyment of an event – and thus an important factor in the decision whether to return another time. Ambiance can be created by the look or architecture of a space, its history, the welcome of our staff and ushers, lighting, even an aroma or some kind of association that is personal to an individual. A great example of this is the comment I hear regularly at Aria when audience members nostalgically remember performances by Theater de la Jeune Lune ten or more years ago.

Since Schubert Club has no primary performance space, we will always be on the look out for new possible venues. This nomadic approach to presenting concerts is, I think, a strength and opportunity for Schubert Club.  We can seek out spaces which suit different performers and meet the needs of different audience members. As our new strategic plan calls for the organization to make connections with new communities, we need to pursue our curiosity to find gathering spaces which we haven’t yet come across.  I’ll be pleased to hear from anyone who has venues or community connections they would like to recommend.





Congratulations to Clara Osowski and Tyler Wottrich who won the Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder at Wigmore Hall, London

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Congratulations to local mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski and pianist Tyler Wottrich who were finalists in the recent Wigmore Hall International Song Competition in London, and indeed they won the Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder.  Clara’s outstanding voice and magical song interpretations are very familiar to Schubert Club regulars and supporters of the Source Song Festival.  

The day after the competition, Clara and Tyler were interviewed on BBC Radio 3  by Ian Skelly.  The 2 hour radio show, “In Tune” can be heard here for another 3 weeks.
Clara and Tyler’s interview and song performances begin at about 3 minutes and end at 22 minutes.

There is also a lovely review of their performance in the competition itself in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

Announcing the 2017 An die Musik recipient: Nancy Weyerhaeuser

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The An die Musik Award is Schubert Club’s highest honor. It’s presented annually to one classical music enthusiast whose outstanding dedication and commitment over many years has significantly furthered the work and mission of Schubert Club. It is announced and presented at our Annual Meeting. This year’s well-deserved recipient is Nancy Weyerhaeuser.

Nancy’s involvement with and commitment to the Schubert Club goes back more years than we can imagine.  Since her mother Catherine Neimeyer was President of the Schubert Club Board some 60 years ago, it appears that Nancy had no choice but to be immersed in Schubert Club music and ideas from an early age. A past member of the Board of Directors, a member of the erst-while Corporate Board, a founding member of the Advisory Circle, a still-very-active community member of the Nominating & Governance Committee with apparently unlimited ideas for potential new board members, a subscriber with husband Ted for more decades than we have records, a generous and engaged supporter of all we do, the list of Nancy’s commitment to the Schubert Club is extensive. She and Ted established the John and Catherine Neimeyer International Artist Series Endowment Fund in memory of Nancy’s parents. She and Ted were Honorary Chairs of our 130th Anniversary Gala concert featuring the great American Soprano, Jessye Norman. Because of Nancy’s commitment and thoughtfulness, in addition to her love for music and the Schubert Club, we are honored to award her the 2017 An die Musik Award. 

Bach to Basics Trivia Quiz Answers

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At last week’s Schubert Club Mix featuring music by Philip Glass and Johan Sebastian Bach played by Christopher O’Riley, we had a pre-concert trivia quiz.  Thanks to former Schubert Club intern Quinn Shadko for researching and presenting the quiz.

Here are the answers to our Bach to Basics trivia quiz:

Sound Round

  1. The Beach Boys, “Lady Lynda” (Bach – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring)
  2. Xzibit featuring Dr. Dre, “Symphony in X Major” (Bach – Brandenburg #3)
  3. Paul Simon, “American Tune” (Bach – St. Matthew’s Passion)
  4. Alicia Keys, “Karma” (Brahms – Violin Concerto)
  5. The Toys, “Lover’s Concerto” (Bach – Minuet in G)


A: Mozart


A: Mendelssohn


A: Schoenberg


A: Brahms


A: Chopin

General Knowledge

Q:Who is attributed with saying that Bach is “the immortal god of harmony?”
A: Beethoven

Q: Bach once walked a great distance to hear his favorite organist, Dietrich Buxtehude, perform. How many miles did he walk?
A: 250 miles

Q: What famous film features Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor during a baptism scene?
A: The Godfather

Q: What Broadway musical draws from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for one of its main themes?
A: The Phantom of the Opera

Q: What is the common title of Bach’s comic cantata that directly translates from German as “Be still, stop chattering?”
A: The Coffee Cantata


An Endowment: what is it and why does it matter?

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Schubert Club has an Endowment Fund. We are very fortunate to have this Fund  — a vital piece of the organizational and financial puzzle challenging today’s non-profit organizations. I thought I would write my blog today about our Endowment and provide, I hope, some clarity around what it is and what it does for Schubert Club’s programming.

First, what do we mean by “Endowment”? An Endowment is a long-term or perpetual investment owned by an organization that generates income to fund its ongoing mission. The gifts that are given to the Endowment are not spent; they remain invested in stocks, bonds and other investment vehicles, managed either directly or indirectly by the Board of Directors.

The first Schubert Club Scholarship Fund was established back in 1922 on the occasion of Schubert Club’s 40th anniversary!  Over the years, a significant number of donors have added to the endowment with generous gifts and bequests. Some donors may wish to support a particular program, to honor a person, or simply to express their belief in the organization’s mission; but in all cases, the reason Endowment gifts are made is to help ensure the long-term stability of Schubert Club. The current value of our Endowment is approximately $15 million.

Each year, the Board authorizes a certain percentage to be withdrawn from the Endowment to fund programming. Of course we all know that the value of investment portfolios can go down as well as up. So, the Endowment draw authorized by the Board of Directors needs to be small enough to reasonably allow the fund to sustain itself for future years, and large enough to actually fulfill the Endowment’s mission-related purpose each year. This year, Schubert Club’s Endowment draw is 4.5%.

Of Schubert Club’s annual draw, about 70% is restricted by donors for specific programs, and the other 30% is available for general operating purposes. In the current year, the Endowment draw amounts to 28% of our total revenue. The rest comes primarily from ticket sales, donations, grants and sponsorships.

What does our Endowment Fund pay for? Donors over time have made endowment gifts to support Schubert Club’s overall mission in the Operating Fund, as well as to support specific programs. There are five specific areas of programming that the Endowment funds:

  1. The Concert Fund supports primarily our International Artist Series. It pays for some of the artist fees and concert production costs, allowing us to keep ticket prices affordable. You’re unlikely to be able to buy top price tickets to a 5-performance recital series featuring artists like Renée Fleming and Sir András Schiff anywhere else in the country for $200! 
  2. The Music in the Park Series Fund was added in 2014 to help support that wonderful concert series.
  3. The Scholarship Fund supports student musicians through the Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition, the Special Music Grants program, and the Jazz Piano Workshop day.
  4. The Education Fund supports the Schubert Club’s education and outreach programs, which are offered at free or reduced cost to participants.
  5. The Museum Fund has enabled us to keep Museum admission free.   

Endowment giving is not possible for everyone, but it’s certainly not just for wealthy music lovers. Consider this: an endowment gift or provision in your will of $5,000 will generate $225 every year (4.5% of $5,000). Similarly, $10,000 will generate $450 annually.  Every endowment gift, be it $50,000 or $5,000, is meaningful  because it contributes to Schubert Club’s ability to offer our programs to people who share our love of music without the barrier of high prices. 

If music is important to you and if you believe Schubert Club is playing a role in your musical life and in the musical life of the Twin Cities community, please give it some thought.  You can really make a difference.