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portrait of Patricia Hampl

Virtual Concert: Spotlight On: Patricia Hampl – “Writing My Way into Music”

Thursday, June 22, 7:30PM
Thursday, June 29, 7:30PM


This performance is part of our Digital Concert Series, and will be available to purchase individually and as part of an 8-Concert package. For more information on pricing and how to purchase, visit schubert.org/virtual.

Ticket holders will be emailed a password on the day of the performance, and will be able to log in and view the performance at its scheduled premiere time.

Recorded May 16, 2022 at Summit Beer Hall


About the Artists

An evening of memoir and music comes together in this concert curated and narrated by Patricia Hampl.  She revisits her lifelong passion for Czech music with works  by Dvorak, Janacek, and others, performed by pianist and accordianist Dan Chouinard and Prague-based soprano Ema Katrovas, for an event in the West 7th neighborhood where Patricia was born.


Patricia Hampl first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her Cold War memoir about her Czech heritage. This book and subsequent works have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 30 years.

Her most recent book, The Florist’s Daughter, won numerous “best” and “year end” awards, including the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year” and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime (2006), was also one of the Times Notable Books; a portion was chosen for The Best Spiritual Writing 2005.

I Could Tell You Stories, her collection of essays on memory and imagination, was a finalist in 2000 for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction.

Other works include Spillville, a meditation on Antonin Dvorak’s 1893 summer in Iowa, and Virgin Time, about her Catholic upbringing and an inquiry into contemplative life.  A Romantic Education appeared in a new edition with a post-Cold War “Afterword” in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

Four of her books have been named “Notable Books” of the year by The New York Times Book Review.

Tell Me True: Memoir, History and Writing a Life came out from Borealis Books (the trade division of the Minnesota Historical Society Press), co-edited by Ms. Hampl and Elaine Tyler May with essays by 14 memoirists including the editors.

She is the author of two collections of poetry, Woman before an Aquarium, and Resort and Other Poems. In 2001, Carnegie Mellon Press chose Resort and Other Poems for its Contemporary Classics series. Ms. Hampl conceived the idea and edited The Saint Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald with a major “Introduction” by her, also published by Borealis. She also edited Burning Bright, an anthology of sacred poetry from Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Ballantine Books).

Ms. Hampl’s fiction, poems, reviews, essays and travel pieces have appeared in The New YorkerParis ReviewGranta, The American Scholar, The New York TimesLos Angeles TimesBest American Short Stories and Best American Essays.  She has presented four one-woman shows at the Fitzgerald Theater, St Paul, with musical partner Dan Chouinard, all broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio.

She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Bush Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (twice, in poetry and prose), Ingram Merrill Foundation and Djerassi Foundation. In 1990 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

Ms. Hampl is Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, where she teaches fall semesters in the MFA program of the English Department. She is also a member of the permanent faculty of the Prague Summer Program, and affiliated with Kingston University-London as Visiting Professor in the Centre for Life Narratives. She regularly gives readings, lectures and workshops and serves as visiting writer across the country and internationally.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Jerome Foundation (St Paul, Minnesota) and the Teachers and Writers Collaborative (New York) and as a Trustee of the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France).



Czech-American classical singer Ema Katrovas’  most recent projects involve the Prague City Gallery, for which she sang in the Light Underground Festival (2020) – where she was praised for her “provocative voice” in OperaPlus magazine- and an installation piece for the Monument of National Literature for which she also created compositions. She is working on a short musical film called SENTIMENT, built around a monodrama by composer Juliana Hall. She regularly performs with DUO KAM, which she founded in 2017 and which seeks to bring unusual art song programs to the general public. 

Ema started out singing in Czech theaters and concerts halls while she was still a student, performing Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro (W.A. Mozart) with the Kammer Oper Prague (since 2014) and touring Germany and Austria as the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the F.X. Šalda Theater in Liberec (2015), with which she subsequently sang La Charmeuse in Massenet’s Thaïs (2016). In 2017, she debuted at the Silesian Theater in Opava as the First Nymph in Rusalka (A. Dvořák.) She regularly collaborates with various non-classical ensembles like the theatrical group Indigo Company (since 2016) or the Okamžitý Filmový Orchestr (OFO) conducted by Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer (2018 and 2019).

In 2020, she was selected as one of six participants by Thomas Quasthoff for his masterclass at the Bach Archiv in Leipzig. In 2020 and 2021, she studied contemporary vocal repertoire with Sarah Maria Sun and improvisation with Christoph Ogiermann at the John Cage Institute in Halberstadt, where she placed second in the John Cage New Music Competition 2020. She has collaborated with composers and premiered their work since the beginning of her academic training.

She received her Master’s from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 2017.

Ema is also interested in documenting the creative process and the lives of artists, including through her interview podcast series Artists on the Verge. To that end, in the summer of 2021, she had the opportunity to attend the academy of the Aix-en-Provence Festival as a cultural journalist.


For three decades Dan Chouinard has been pianist and accordionist of choice for a who’s who of Twin Cities performers, an enabler of community singalongs and a writer of hit shows for public radio, concert hall and theatrical stage.

The list of regular Twin Cities colleagues includes Maria Jette, Prudence Johnson, Kevin Kling, Ann Reed, the Rose Ensemble and his bandmates in Lush Country. He’s appeared all across the upper Midwest and turned up often on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

As a writer and host he’s often asked to create special live programs for Minnesota Public Radio, the MN Historical Society, the Rose Ensemble and others. His show Civil War Homecoming played at the Fitzgerald Theater in April 2015, was broadcast statewide on MPR and continues to be shown on Twin Cities Public Television. His stage musical Steerage Song toured throughout Minnesota in 2013, a show co-authored with Peter Rothstein about the Ellis Island era of immigration to the US, as portrayed in folk songs, newspaper clippings and Tin Pan Alley tunes. In 2014 his show Cafe Europa, about bicycling with an accordion from Naples to Normandy in search of Minnesota WWII stories, was broadcast and televised statewide.

In 1994 he created an acclaimed radio series The Singer’s Voice, broadcast live Sunday nights from the Dakota Jazz Club, then in St. Paul, hosting song-spiked conversation from the piano with a different singer each week, over 200 in the six years of the show’s tenure.

His essays have been published in Minnesota Monthly, Saint John’s Magazine, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Showcase magazine and in the Minneapolis StarTribune.

He’s traveled extensively in France and Italy, with bicycle and without, and has presented French and Italian sing-alongs at the Alliance Française in Minneapolis. He spent the last months of summer 2015 working in Italy on an independent Hollywood film, Smitten!, to be released early next year.

He’s a musical consultant and concert organizer at the progressive St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community in South Minneapolis, and leads monthly community sing-alongs in downtown Minneapolis and St. Anthony Park.

He grew up in a big musical family near Lindstrom MN, attended St. John’s University in Collegeville MN and spent four years as a teacher of French and Italian as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.