Video Interview: Minnesota’s Clara Osowski Wins 2nd Prize in International Song Competition

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Last week, I had the fun task of interviewing Twin Cities-based mezzo soprano Clara Osowski who is just back from Europe having won second place in the prestigious Das Lied International Song Competition in Heidelberg, Germany.  Here are some highlights from my conversation with her.  Sincere thanks to Schubert Club Board Member Peter Myers for recording and editing this interview.

Clara is well known to Schubert Club regulars who have enjoyed following the progress of her career over a number of years.  More information about Clara can be found here.

 

My description of the Schubert Club – but what is yours?

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A few weeks ago, I was asked for a brief written description of the Schubert Club for someone unfamiliar with what we are.  Sounds easy!  But like the perfect elevator speech, it kept me busy for a lot longer than I thought it would.  Here it is:   

Schubert Club is not so much a club, but rather a community of music-lovers, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to presenting and supporting classical music and musicians, with a focus on solo recitals and chamber music.  Sixty concerts each year feature guest artists and ensembles of world renown as well as distinguished local musicians.  Not just a concert presenter, Schubert Club supports local music students with scholarships, and provides introductory music lessons and workshops for Twin Cities children who otherwise get little exposure to music learning.  A third focus, our Museum in Landmark Center with keyboard instruments from four centuries and handwritten letters from famous composers among its exhibits (attracting 8,000 visitors annually), makes us a truly unique entity.  What keeps this 135-year old organization thriving?  A passion for music and a sincere belief in the positive impact of music on the quality of life.

While writing it, I was reminded that this is an organization that wears a variety of hats.  Music-lovers in this community – indeed music enthusiasts from all over the country and abroad know us for different reasons.  It might be the concert series they have attended for many years, it might be because of a particular composer letter in our Museum collection which throws light on their academic research (as happened recently) or because they participated in Project CHEER or won a scholarship years ago.  Concerts, the Museum collection and music education are all important facets of the Schubert Club and each aspect has a long history.  Even the relatively new Schubert Club Museum will be 50 in less than 5 years!

In addition to identifying what we do, I also want the biography to convey a little of why we do it – the passion and interest in music which ties together all who participate as a community.

But this is just my description of the Schubert Club, and I know that others may see it differently.  I’d love to hear your portrayal of the Schubert Club and invite you to compose a paragraph and post it below in the comments. Try to keep to 150 words or fewer.  We will include some submissions on our website and in future issues of our program magazine An die Musik, and anyone who participates will be entered to win tickets to your choice of an upcoming concert in the 2016-2017 season. We’ll contact the winners by email at the very end of March. 

Announcing the 17-18 International Artist Series & Music in the Park Series

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We are very pleased to share with you our 136th season, featuring the International Artist Series at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and the Music in the Park Series at Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ. 

Subscriptions will be on sale Monday, February 27 at 8:30am. Single tickets will be on sale Tuesday, August 1, at 11am. The best way to guarantee tickets to these very popular series is to purchase a subscription. Read more about subscriptions at the bottom of this email.

 

2017-2018 International Artist Series

 

Sir András Schiff, piano

Sunday, October 29, 2017, 3pm
Ordway Music Theater

Pianist Sir András Schiff is known as one of the most renowned interpreters of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. A Hungarian-born British classical pianist and conductor, he started piano at the age of five and has since received numerous major awards and honors, including the Grammy Award, Gramophone Award, Mozart Medal, and Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize. In 2014, Sir András was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music. For his October 29 Schubert Club recital, he will perform a program featuring Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms and Bach on the Ordway Music Theater stage. This will be his first Schubert Club recital in over 20 years, and we are thrilled to welcome him back to the Ordway stage. We advise you purchase your tickets early, as we expect this concert to sell out well in advance!

 

Eric Owens, bass-baritone
& Susanna Phillips, soprano

Wednesday, December 6, 10:30am & Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7:30pm
Ordway Concert Hall

This concert will feature vocal superstars Eric Owens and Susanna Phillips bring a program featuring Schubert songs to the Ordway Concert Hall. Bass-baritone Eric Owens is loved for his rich, velvety voice and is a regular at major opera companies like the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera Chicago. Susanna Phillips, winner of the The Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, is in her ninth consecutive season with the Metropolitan Opera. This will be her International Artist Series debut. This popular duo recital program has been adored by audiences at Carnegie Hall and across America, and we are thrilled to share it with our Schubert Club audience. The Inquirer in Philadelphia comments on this recital program, “Owens is a master storyteller, who often gives not just the characters of the song’s scenario but the larger world in which they exist, Phillips delivers an almost microscopically close reading of the song and its protagonists, revealed with the detail of a fine Shakespearean actress. Never does she force her Mozart-weight voice while hitting various emotional peaks. No longer a merely promising young singer, she’s a mature artist with a highly personal relationship with Schubert.”

Avi Avital, mandolin
& Sérgio and Odair Assad, guitar

Tuesday, February 20, 7:30pm & Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 10:30am
Ordway Concert Hall

Avi Avital is an Israeli mandolinist, composer, and performer best known for his renditions of well-known Baroque and folk music, much of which was originally written for other instruments. Acknowledged by The New York Times for his “exquisitely sensitive playing” and “stunning agility,” Avi Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a GRAMMY nomination in the category “Best Instrumental Soloist.” After a wildly successful performance with Schubert Club Mix in 2015, we are delighted to welcome him back to hear another side of his playing.

Sérgio and Odair Assad are Brazilian-born brothers who have taken the classical guitar world by storm. Their exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble playing come from both a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and from studies with the guitar/lutenist Monina Távora (1921-2011), a disciple of Andrés Segovia. In addition to setting new performance standards, the Assads have played a major role in creating and introducing new music for two guitars. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them including Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Marlos Nobre, and many others. The Assads last performed on our Music in the Park Series to a sold-out audience in May 2015. Hearing the musical talents of all three musicians together, all making their debuts on this series, will be a magical event.

 

Jennifer Koh, violin
& Shai Wosner, piano

Tuesday, March 20, 7:30pm & Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 10:30am
Ordway Concert Hall

Born of Korean parents, American violinist, Jennifer Koh, began playing the violin by chance, choosing the instrument in a Suzuki-method program only because spaces for cello and piano had been filled. She made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11 and went on to win the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and an Avery Fisher Career Grant all when she was only 18 years old. She is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance.

For this recital, she will be joined by internationally recognized Israeli pianist Shai Wosner,  both making their debuts on this series. The New York Times declared that “Mr. Wosner’s singing tone and expressive musicality complemented Ms. Koh’s insightful, richly hued playing,” and The San Jose Mercury News raved of a recent concert that “Koh’s impetuous, bright-toned phrasing was attractively set against Wosner’s flowing, articulate pianism.” 

Steven Isserlis, cello
& Richard Egarr, harpsichord

Tuesday, April 24, 7:30pm & Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 10:30am
Ordway Concert Hall

Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist, Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author, and broadcaster. The recipient of many awards, Steven Isserlis is one of only two living cellists featured in Gramophone’s Hall of Fame. He takes a strong interest in presenting authentic performances using instruments and style that closely resemble music of the Baroque period. For this International Artist Series performance, he will be joined by the remarkable British harpsichordist Richard Egarr, in a recital featuring the viola da gamba sonatas of J.S. Bach as well as sonatas by Handel and Scarlatti.  Egarr will play a harpsichord from the Schubert Club’s keyboard collection.

Read more at schubert.org


2017-2018 Music in the Park Series

Schubert Ensemble of London

Sunday, October 8, 2017, 4pm

Since its first concert in 1983, the Schubert Ensemble of London has become widely recognized as one of the world’s leading exponents of music for piano and strings. The Ensemble has decided to bring its illustrious 35-year career to a close at the end of June 2018 in celebratory style, with over fifty concerts planned during their final season, including a return visit to Music in the Park Series. Their eclectic program features “The Whole Earth Dances,” a new, nature-inspired work by young British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad; Vaughan Williams’ romantic and rarely-performed Piano Quintet in C-minor; and the grand finale–Franz Schubert’s much-beloved “Trout” quintet.

 

Dover String Quartet
with David Shifrin, clarinet

Sunday, November 12, 2017, 4pm

The Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Praised by The Strad for “exceptional interpretive maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble,” the quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The Dover’s debut disc pays tribute to the renowned Guarneri Quartet, whose members served as mentors for the ensemble. Beginning their “mostly American” program with quartets by Richard Danielpour and Bartok, the Dover is joined by clarinetist David Shifrin to perform works for clarinet and string quartet by Corigliano and young American composer Chris Rogerson, along with arrangements of Duke Ellington tunes. Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. His numerous recordings, including trios with cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, have consistently garnered awards. A member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1989, Shifrin served as its artistic director from 1992 to 2004.

Calmus Ensemble

Sunday, December 3, 2017, 4pm

One of Germany’s most successful vocal groups, Calmus offers the unique combination of a soprano with four male voices ranging from bass to countertenor. The group has been awarded prizes in numerous international competitions, including the prestigious Concert Artists Guild Competition. Music in the Park Series brings the a cappella quintet to St. Paul with a program of carols from around the world − from 16th Italian century madrigals to traditional carols of France, Germany, Sweden and England, to American popular holiday songs. Embodying the rich choral tradition of its hometown of Leipzig, Germany, Calmus captivates both audiences and critics with its charming stage presence, flawless technique and entertaining presentations.

Parker Quartet

Sunday, February 11, 2018, 4pm

Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Well known to Twin Cities music lovers, the Parker made its debut on Music in the Park Series in 2007, subsequently serving as Artists-in-Residence at the University of St. Thomas, at the University of Minnesota, with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and as the first-ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio. Currently Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music, the Parker Quartet has distinguished itself with acclaimed recordings, including György Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet, which won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. The Parker’s Music in the Park Series concert will feature works by Mozart, Ligeti and Bartok.

David Finckel, cello
& Wu Han, piano

Sunday, March 4, 2018, 4pm

Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han rank among the most dynamic and influential forces in classical music today. Their performances have inspired audiences around the world and have won universal critical acclaim. Partners in music and marriage, they were recipients of Musical America’s prestigious Musicians of the Year award in 2012. David and Wu Han are in their third term as Artistic Directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and founding Artistic Directors of Music@Menlo, soon to celebrate its fifteenth season. A favorite of Music in the Park audiences, David Finckel and Wu Han make their fifth appearance on the series. Their program, titled “Distinctive Voices,” highlights works of Beethoven, Bruce Adolphe, Mendelssohn, Grieg, and a repeat performance of Lera Auerbach’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano,” composed for the duo and co-commissioned by Music in the Park Series in 2004.

Lark Quartet: Past and Present

Sunday, April 15, 2018, 4pm

This unique concert will celebrate the past and present Lark Quartet through music old and new, with the original quartet – founded in 1985 in the Twin Cities by native Laura Sewell – and the current Lark Quartet members for a total of eight musicians. In keeping with Lark’s tradition of broadening the chamber music repertory through diverse commissions, members of the current and original quartets join forces to perform the Minnesota premiere of Andrew Waggoner’s work for two string quartets. Dedicated to “the once and future Lark Quartet”, the commission was supported in part by the Thelma Hunter Fund of the American Composers Forum. Moving back in time to a work regarded as “one of the miracles of 19th century music”, the group brings the Music in the Park Series season to a close with a performance of Mendelssohn’s brilliant Octet in E-flat Major, written in 1825 when the composer was only sixteen years old.

Read more at schubert.org

Subscriptions on sale Monday, February 27, 8:30am

Subscriptions are on sale starting Monday, February 27, 2017 at 8:30am and can be purchased online at schubert.org/subscribe or by calling 651.292.3268.

International Artist Series five-concert subscription prices range from $93 to $217 for the daytime package option and from $110 to $240 for the evening package option. Student subscriptions are $55 (with valid I.D. and .edu email address). 
 
Music in the Park Series six-concert subscriptions are $144. Student subscriptions are $66 (with valid I.D. and .edu email address). 
 

Single Tickets on sale Tuesday, August 1, 11am

It Takes a Village: Volunteer Opportunities with Schubert Club

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Today’s blog post is written by Kate Cooper, the Schubert Club’s Education and Museum Director. 


As the preparation begins for our 95th annual Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition, I am surrounded by to-do lists, timelines, schedules, agendas and rosters.  It’s a chaotic time of the season, but one that gives me great satisfaction.  One of the most fulfilling pieces is the rallying together and camaraderie of what I call the “Schubert Club family” or our great circle of dedicated and passionate Schubert Club volunteers.

The old phrase “it takes a village” is quite apparent when planning for the scholarship competition.  We assemble up to 40 volunteers on a single day of student auditions.  I personally am so energized when I interact with our volunteers who arrive for their assigned positions filled with motivation and enthusiasm.  It results in days that flow like clockwork, and the atmosphere is filled with joy and excitement. 

One of the keys to our success to the Schubert Club volunteer program is our fabulous Volunteer Coordinator, Kirsten Peterson. She is impeccably organized and connects with our volunteers with kindness, radiating a true love for the organization.  “I love connecting our volunteers with opportunities that are a great fit for their interests and talents, and then watching the magic happen”, says Kirsten.  “our volunteers embody what it means to be part of the Schubert Club family, working with friends old and new, united by the music, to support Schubert Club programs.”

A volunteer can enjoy an abundance of Schubert Club programs.  Whether it’s welcoming audiences to concerts as an usher, helping nervous competition students stay calm, or playing silly songs on homemade instruments with delighted KidsJam kids, you will be instrumental in helping people in our greater community of all ages learn to love music and so much more!  Please check out the video below and feel the genuine and heartfelt spirit of Schubert Club volunteerism.

I want to encourage all who are reading this blog to consider becoming an integral part of the Schubert Club as a volunteer, if you aren’t already.  Interact with familiar friends and make new friends as you share a common interest and enjoy fun and fulfilling activities.   Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering adds more zest and happiness to your life as you give to others!

Watch our website announcing our annual volunteer appreciation events which are held every September.  We celebrate and welcome new and existing volunteers to start the season off.  We are blessed with the spirit of volunteerism within our organization so please consider joining the family!

If you are interested in volunteering, and would like to receive more information about opportunities, please email our volunteer coordinator, Kirsten at kpeterson@schubert.org. She’ll put you on our list and keep you informed of any upcoming opportunities. You can also learn more about volunteer opportunities at schubert.org/volunteer.  

 

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

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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.

 

Live Streaming Concerts Expands Access to Schubert Club

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This coming Thursday at 7:00pm, Schubert Club presents an encore performance of our lunchtime program Songs for the Season, a program dedicated entirely to holiday songs and carols created by Minnesota composers.  It is curated by Schubert Club composer-in-residence Abbie Betinis and colleague Max Carlson, and features an outstanding vocal quartet with guitar and cello accompaniment.  The evening performance, a full repeat of the noon concert, will be held at TPT’s Street Space in Lowertown St Paul.

Those who have attended this particular presentation in Decembers past know that this is a very popular lunchtime concert; so popular indeed that we have had to turn people away when the Courtroom in Landmark Center reaches capacity.  So, adding a repeat performance makes sense for that reason alone.

The 7:00pm performance will be a first for another reason:  we will live stream the concert.  It will be accessible to anyone around the world with access to the internet by going to our website, schubert.org/songsfortheseason.

More and more performers and presenters are making concerts and events available by live stream.  Our Schubert Club digital technology committee has discussed the merits of live streaming many times, as we see concerts and recitals available online through internet broadcasters like medici.tv, as well as major institutions like Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall.

I’m really excited about Schubert Club’s first ever live-streamed concert.  Most importantly, it expands access to music by 15 Minnesotan composers beyond those who can make their way to downtown St. Paul to listen in the flesh.  I hope families, friends and fans of the composers and performers, indeed anyone with an interest in music written by living composers will join us remotely if they can’t be at the performance in person.

This will be an interesting experiment for us at Schubert Club and I expect that it will signal the introduction of further concerts and events broadcast via the internet.  However, I remain hesitant as to whether we will rush to introduce live streaming of all our concerts, at least in the near future.  For the time being, I expect us to pursue live streaming when a program is unique or in some way special to us as an organization.  So, programs like our Student Scholarship Competition Winners Recital “Schubert Club Musicians on the Rise” and other specially curated concerts will be our focus for live streaming in the next few years, rather than recitals presented in the International Artist Series or Music in the Park Series.   

Watching a live stream online is, of course, not the same as being in the actual room with musicians, music and an audience, a community of fellow music-lovers.  But for those who cannot attend in person for whatever reason, participating remotely is the next best thing.  Whether you join us in person or join us via the live feed, you will be warmly welcome.

Concert details:

Schubert Club presents Songs for the Season by Minnesota Composers

December 15, 2016
12pm Courtroom Concert at Landmark Center
7pm Encore performance at Twin Cities Public Television and streaming live online below

Both concerts are FREE, and we expect both concerts to reach capacity.
The 12pm performance will be first come, first served. We are no longer accepting reservations for the 7pm concert, though if you are interested in attending the concert, walk-ups are welcomed at the door.

 

More details here: schubert.org/songsfortheseason

How We Put Donations to Work for our Community

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As I finish up signing a large pile of letters to generous donors asking them to renew their gifts to the Schubert Club’s annual fund, I’ve been reflecting on how fortunate we are to have patrons who support our programs.  It’s an appropriate moment to be grateful, having just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday! 

Did you know that the revenue the Schubert Club earns from ticket sales covers just less than 30% of our expenditure?  Our endowment funds with gifts to the Schubert invested over many past decades generates a further 25% of the funds needed to run the organization.  The remaining 45% of revenue comes from contributions and grants – from the State, the City of Saint Paul, foundations, corporations and most significantly, from individuals.

Here’s a brief summary of what those contributions allow us to do:

  • Keep our ticket prices affordable. This current season, a subscriber to the International Artist Series pays between $20 and $51 for their seat – even to hear Renée Fleming in recital!
  • Offer 24 free lunchtime concerts on Thursdays in Courtroom 317 at Landmark Center.
  • Present free family concerts in St Anthony Park as part of Music in the Park Series; and our Azure family concerts (for families with kids on the autism spectrum) are also free.
  • Maintain free entry to our Schubert Club Museum. Last year we had about 8,000 visitors, many of them school groups.  Among the exhibits you can currently see – in some cases even play – are keyboards from 4 different centuries (including an 1830 Kisting piano once played by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn and an 1878 Bechstein played by Liszt, Brahms and Mahler); original handwritten letters by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin; and a room dedicated to instruments of the brass family including some visitors can try out.
  • Support student musicians with over $50,000 of scholarships.
  • Bring musical teaching artists to a number of after-school programs in Saint Paul and surrounding neighborhoods at no cost through our new KidsJam program (photo above).
  • Provide the Project CHEER program for up to 100 kids in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood with affordable piano and guitar lessons in collaboration with the Hallie Q. Brown Center.
  • Co-sponsor a jazz piano workshop day for advanced and beginner student jazz pianists.

Just under half the number of people who attend Schubert Club events, education programs and our Museum do so without charge.  It is a wonderful way to make sure that music is accessible to all in the community who wish to participate.

So a warm and sincere thank you to all our contributors.  Whether your gift is a few dollars or many thousands of dollars, every donation makes a difference in our community.

 

Following in the Footsteps of Mendelssohn

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Today’s post is written by Paul Olson, Director of Development at the Schubert Club. 


In the summer of 1829, the 20-year-old composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy made a three-week visit to London and Scotland which resulted in the writing of two of his best-loved works: the Overture – The Hebrides, and the Symphony No 3 in A minor (Scottish).

In May 2016, a group of 28 Schubert Club patrons traveled together to the UK to trace Mendelssohn’s trip in order to experience the sights, sounds and culture that influenced him to write these two iconic works. Most people don’t realize that Mendelssohn was also a painter and sketch artist, and we visited these locations and compared his sketches to the scenes – they are virtually unchanged for the past 187 years.

img_9178We had the privilege of being led on this tour by Mendelssohn scholar, UK musician and orchestra administrator, Stephen Carpenter. Our tour began in London, just as Mendelssohn started his trip before embarking on his Scottish journey. Highlights included a champagne toast atop the Shard (London’s tallest building) while enjoying the vistas of London, a private luncheon and tour at Houses of Parliament, a recital by violinist Augustin Hadelich at the iconic Wigmore Hall (Hadelich will be performing for the Schubert Club International Artist Series concerts on November 29 and December 1), a tour and private recital at Handel and Hendrix House, and some in the group imbibed each evening at area pubs. 

img_2235A lovely train trip to Scotland began our tour to Edinburgh. We boarded a coach and went down to Melrose and Abbotsford (the home of Sir Walter Scott), around the Highlands and over to the western Isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa (with Fingal’s Cave which influenced the Hebrides Overture) and Loch Lomond. Along the way, we experienced quintessential Scottish traditions: Eating Haggis (grain, spices and sheep organ meat baked in the sheep’s stomach, which was surprisingly delicious), having a private Scotch whiskey distillery tour and tasting, walking the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in pouring rain, enjoying a private evening in the Queen’s dining room on the Royal Yacht Britannia, and hearing the haunting sounds of bagpipers in traditional kilts. 

img_0257As I now reflect back on the amazing experiences from this tour, I never imagined that a group of Schubert Club patrons, traveling together to Scotland to trace the travels of a German composer, would result in friendships that will last a lifetime. I believe that is the most important thing that came out of the trip. And for that, I sincerely thank you,  Felix Mendelssohn!

 

 

Full Halls are Not Good Enough

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The Schubert Club is very fortunate to have a very strong base of donors and subscribers. We are able to brag about halls that are 85% full on average, a number much higher than many other similar organizations, for years and years on end. While we’re proud of these numbers, we are still determined to improve and are constantly working to attract new and younger audiences to our concerts in an effort to make sure the arts remain vibrant well into the future.

Data compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts shows that the average age of classical music audiences has shifted from an average age of 42.5 in 1982 to 49 in 2008. Additional studies reveal that about 9% of the U.S. adult population participated in classical music events in 2012, down from 11.5% in 2002. Similar downward trending statistics are true for other disciplines including Art Museums, Musical Theater, Jazz, Dance, and Opera. This same set of data shows that the biggest decreases in arts attendance are among young people. This could be due to the increased competition for young people’s leisure time, a waning of arts education in schools, or because more and more people are getting their “arts fix” through technological means versus live performances. Whatever the reasons, it seems quite apparent that all arts organizations need to play their part to help ensure we reverse this trend and help ensure arts appreciation grows among the youth of today.

The Schubert Club has several initiatives to help grow arts appreciation in younger audiences. We have our Family Concerts for kids of the very youngest of ages. KidsJam workshops (interactive music workshops in our Museum and after-school programs) and Project Cheer (free private music lessons at the Hallie Q. Brown Center) target school aged children. We also have a unique program called Theoroi that aims to grow arts appreciation in a group of young adults, ages 21-40, and encourages them to share their enthusiasm with their peers using social media.

In addition to these programs, we also have student ticket discounts, extremely affordable subscription options for students, a discount ticket membership program called “Five Dollar Scholar,” and we have tailored our marketing strategies to better connect with younger audiences.

While we’ve seen great successes with all of these initiatives, our work is by no means done. As we celebrate our 135th anniversary season and look forward to the next 100+ years, reaching new audiences will remain a top priority for us. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas about how to cultivate a new generation of arts appreciators. Please do share with us.

 

About Tessa Retterath Jones
Tessa Retterath Jones is the Marketing & Audience Development Manager at the Schubert Club, responsible for all aspects of marketing, ticketing, audience development, and online communications such as social media and schubert.org content. Tessa has been with the Schubert Club since 2006. 

The Power of Music: reflections on a recent Kidsjam workshop

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Today’s blog post is about one of our newest education programs, KidsJam, written by Kate Cooper, our Director of Museum and Education at The Schubert Club. 


nirmala-photo-1The 2016-17 season of KidsJam began last week with some great moments as over 100 children played, listened, learned and created with music in workshops led by Nirmala Rajasekar and her percussion partner, Boopathi.  Students in after-school programs at Hallie Q Brown Center, Ramsey County Library – Maplewood, Arlington Hills Community Center and Paul Wellstone Neighborhood House participated in the Ragas and Talas (Melodies and Rhythms) of India, creating and playing their own rhythm instrument called a Mridangam.

kidsjam-2However, some new descriptive words came to mind after a very moving session last week at one of the KidsJam locations- impactful, freedom of expression, empathy, responsiveness, sensitivity, compassion, nondiscriminatory.  Twelve children from 4-5 different cultures gathering together expressed their feelings after hearing some improvisational Indian music sung by Nirmala.  They all meditated deeply throughout the performance and following, shared their stories with deep emotion.  What struck me, was the way these children, many who looked quite different from the child sitting next to them, comforted and embraced each other without any barriers of skin color or race between them.

kidsjam-3Nirmala was in awe by the flood of responses from these children, most only 7 or 8 years old.  “Responses from ‘calming’ to ‘feeling safe’ to ‘feeling like I am sitting right here with a family member who died’ to ‘missing my parent who I see rarely’;  the emotions discussed were deep, powerful and matured coming from the mouths of seeming babes.  The blessing of a common experience was upon us, the whole space had a transformed atmosphere.  Not many dry eyes listening to each child share.  I was personally full of gratitude….to the magical notes of music that connect, help understand one another and transform us…continually across man-made boundaries….a bridge like none other.”

Hailey, one of the group leaders at this venue said this experience “…was unlike anything I would have ever expected.  We had a very emotional night full of peacefulness laced with sadness as many children were willing to share their stories and their sorrow.  In my 3-1/2 years with this program, this is the first time that I have seen music bring out such raw emotions from my kids and bring us all closer.  It’s a moment I’m going to remember for the rest of my life!”