Named “most imaginative classical holiday program” by the Star Tribune, and performed to overflow audiences for the past six years, The Schubert Club’s annual Songs for the Season program features winter songs and carols by more than a dozen Minnesota composers and songwriters. It is free and open to the public.
Neal Hagberg, singer/songwriter
Brian Barnes, guitar
Soloists Carrie Henneman Shaw, soprano; Laura Betinis Healy, mezzo; Nicholas Chalmers, tenor; Timothy Takach, bass
Curated and hosted by Abbie Betinis.
…with a special appearance by Central Choir with
Jennifer Anderson, organ & Steve Swanson, piano (Evening performance only).
This year’s program features music composed and arranged by Libby Larsen, Linda Kachelmeier, Timothy C. Takach, Richard Rasch, Elizabeth Alexander, Leandra Peak, Abbie Betinis, Bob Dylan, and even John Denver, who temporarily made Minnesota home. Plus two world premieres composed by Emily Levorson Feld and Isaac Lovdahl.
Curated and hosted by Abbie Betinis
Praised in The New York Times as “graceful,” “consistently stylish” (Boston Globe), and a “cool, precise soprano” (Chicago Tribune), Carrie Henneman Shaw is a two-time winner of the McKnight Fellowship for Musicians (2010, 2017). She has premiered major works by such Minnesota composers as Jocelyn Hagen and Abbie Betinis, and performed American premieres of works by Georg Friedrich Haas, Hans Thomalla, and Augusta Read Thomas. In addition to being an interpreter of contemporary and experimental music, Carrie specializes in music of the 17th century and has performed operatic roles with America’s leading Baroque opera company, Boston Early Music Festival. Carrie is a member of Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente and Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. She holds degrees in English and voice performance from Lawrence University and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. Carrie is an instructor at Winona State University and Bethel University.
Laura Betinis Healy, mezzo, praised for her “particularly rich tone” (The Tech, MIT), made “all the more beautiful by the edge of folk styling” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), has performed with chamber and choral ensembles throughout the Northeast and Midwest. As an active soloist in the Boston area, Laura has been featured with the Oriana Consort, King’s Chapel Choir, and Cappella Clausura, with whom she recorded The Complete Vespers of Cozzolani, and appeared as Anima (“the soul”) in the staged Hildegard von Bingen opera Ordo Virtutum. In 2015, Laura premiered her sister Abbie’s new Christmas carol on Minnesota Public Radio, along with jazz pianist Anthony Healy, and soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw. Last year, Laura appeared on the Minnesota Orchestra’s Inside the Classics program. A graduate of Ithaca College with degrees in Music and English, she currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Nicholas Chalmers, tenor, has sung with The Rose Ensemble, The Bach Society of Minnesota and Lyra Baroque Orchestra, the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, Glorious Revolution Baroque, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists, and the Minnesota Chorale. Recent solo engagements include Oratory, Magnum Chorum, the Church Music Association of America, and the St. Mark’s Cathedral Concert Series. Last spring, Nicholas concluded his Master’s studies in Choral Conducting at the University of Minnesota, where he conducted several campus ensembles and held a Teacher’s Assistant position in the music theory department. Nicholas is Director of Music at Chesterton Academy, Director of Music at Annunciation Church in South Minneapolis, and Artistic Director of the Mirandola Ensemble, which presents programs of rarely performed early music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras strategically juxtaposed with the compositions of 20th and 21st century composers.
Timothy C. Takach, bass, enjoys a busy and varied career as a composer, singer and clinician. As a full-time composer, Timothy has a healthy schedule of commissioned work, and his work has been called “gorgeous” (Washington Post) and “eventful” (Star Tribune). A co-founder and longtime member of Cantus, he has also performed with VocalEssence, Seraphic Fire, the SPCO Chorale and many other vocal ensembles. He is co-founder and vice president of Graphite Publishing and a founding member of the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative. Timothy graduated with honors from St. Olaf College with degrees in Music Composition and Art.
Louisville, KY native Brian Barnes began his professional musical career at the age of 15. Those first shows at bars, festivals and college campuses, in a bluegrass band with his brother, turned into a career spanning nearly 40 years. A multi-instrumentalist, Brianhas appeared at concerts and festivals from Japan to Bulgaria,Spain to the Arctic Circle performing roots, world and jazz music. He works regularly with many other artists performing for live shows as well as studio recordings, and is involved in creating music for his own performance, film, and animation projects.
Neal Hagberg was born in Omaha, NE in 1959. Two weeks later his family moved to Montevideo, MN, where he grew up in small town prairie life revolving around sports, Swedish hymns, theater and music. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, where he was pre-med, and spent a year of college studying Japanese language at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. During this time he also was involved in the music and theater productions on campus and was quarterback of the college football team. Hagberg was on his way to medical school when the road veered.
He had originally thought a career in professional sports sounded good. But being a small college wishbone quarterback did not exactly prepare him for the NFL. It didn’t prepare him for the folk music world either, but he reasoned at least in music he wouldn’t get landed on by 300 lb. noseguards.
In 1984, Hagberg was signed by Allied Concert Services to tour the Midwest as a solo singer/songwriter. From 1985-1989, while still continuing touring, he attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and received his M.Div. in 1989. In 1989, he teamed up with singer Leandra Peak and they formed the duo Neal & Leandra. One of Hagberg’s penned songs, “Old Love”, became a public radio favorite at stations around the United States, and he and Peak began touring nationally.
In 1992, Neal & Leandra were signed to a touring contract by Columbia Artists Management Inc. (CAMI), and two years later, Red House Records, a nationally renowned folk label, signed them to a long term recording contract. Since then, they have given concerts in 45 states and Canada. Critics and fellow musicians have hailed Hagberg’s songwriting as “mastering the art of saying more with less” (The Washington Post); “inspired” (Minneapolis Star Tribune); and credited Hagberg with writing “classics” (Tom Paxton).
In 2008, responding to the intolerance he saw around him in the world, Hagberg released a solo CD, It’s Not As Simple As It Seems. This project is ‘not “Old Love.”’ Refusing to reduce issues to sound bites, the 14 songs on this CD put a human face on the suffering we experience and, subsequently, cause in the world. No topic is off limits: war, homophobia, abortion, religious fundamentalism, or even forgiveness. The conversations that transpired led Hagberg to create workshops and artist in residencies on the themes of the songs, and also served as a springboard for workshops exploring the paths we choose in life. Hagberg’s particular path has led him to facilitate dialogues – using music as the entry point of discussion – back where he started his education: in schools, colleges, and places of worship, as well as at fine arts venues around the country. Hagberg is the recipient of two McKnight Artist Fellowships, one for Performance in 2003 and one for Composition in 2010.
Currently, Neal Hagberg is Director of Tennis & Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he has worked the past 34 years in the summers and now year round. Tennis & Life Camps is recognized as one of the top tennis camps in the country by Tennis Magazine. Hagberg is a USPTA Elite Professional and designed the “life” portion of TLC with legendary Gustavus coach and teacher Steve Wilkinson, whose philosophy was a radical, simple approach of teaching life skills through the game of tennis, by taking the focus off winning. Hagberg lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.
View the Frequently Asked Questions about the Courtroom Concerts.
About the Host
Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb, whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe). With over 50 commissioned works for ensembles such as Cantus, the New England Philharmonic, and The Rose Ensemble, Abbie has been awarded a McKnight Composer Fellowship, grants from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and Jerome Foundation, and was recently listed in NPR Music’s Top 100 Composers Under 40. A resident of Saint Paul, she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University, and was composer-in-residence with the Schubert Club from 2005-2017.