Just last week, the Schubert Club presented superstar soprano Joyce DiDonato at the Ordway. This fall, it will present superstar violinist Joshua Bell.
Bringing big-name classical artists to Twin Cities audiences – along with other artists we should know better – is something the Schubert Club has done exceedingly well for more than 125 years through its International Artist recital series, a jewel in the crown of our performing arts season. We can thank the Schubert Club for the St. Paul debuts of artists including Vladimir Horowitz, Leontyne Price, Mstislav Rostropovich and Cecilia Bartoli, and overall for a marvelous consistency of excellence. Some of the best concerts we’ve ever heard have been theirs, including pianist Igor Levit’s performance last October. When the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky died in 2017, we were forever grateful to have seen him on the Ordway’s stage in 2014.
Today the Schubert Club announced its 2019-20 International Artist and Music in the Park series, the first held at the Ordway, the second at the intimate St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ.
The International Artist Series will begin Sunday, Oct. 27, with Joshua Bell at the Ordway Music Theater. The boyish Bell has been a major force in classical music for more than 30 years. The most celebrated violinist of our time, he leads the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and performs on a 1713 Stradivarius.
On Dec. 5 and 6, British brother and sister Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cellist, and Isata Kanneh-Mason, pianist, will make their Twin Cities debuts. He won the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award – the first black artist to take that honor – and played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. Sheku and Isata are two of seven brothers and sisters, all talented musicians, in a family that must have been struck by lightning, or maybe they’re visitors from another planet. They’ll perform in the Ordway Concert Hall.
On March 10, 2020, Grammy-winning Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov will light up the Music Theater. Gramophone’s 2016 Artist of the Year, Trifonov was part of the Chopin Society’s 2012-13 season and played a sensational concert with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2014, when he was all of 22.
On April 22 in the Music Theater, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu will make her Twin Cities debut. One of the dominant divas of our time, Gheorghiu is known for her passionate, intense performances. She and her former husband, fiery French tenor Roberto Alagna, were once opera’s hottest (and most volatile) couple. Gheorghiu will be accompanied by Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu.
The International Artist Series sounds pretty good so far, but wait. During the 2018-19 season, violinist Nicola Benedetti was the Schubert Club’s first Featured Artist. For 2019-20, the Danish String Quartet will be its first Featured Ensemble. The quartet will visit the Twin Cities twice, giving concerts and taking part in community engagement activities.
During their residency here, they’ll play the full cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets over six concerts: two for the International Artist Series, one for the Music in the Park Series, and three more that aren’t part of either series. Two of these will be at Westminster Hall and one at the American Swedish Institute. The complete schedule and all the available deets – including which quartets will be featured in each concert – are available on the Schubert Club website. There will also be a pre-series lecture with U of M musicologist Daniel Freeman and a post-series reception with the quartet. The International Artist Series concerts are set for May 15 and May 17.
The year 2020 is Beethoven’s 250th birthday, so we can expect to hear a lot of Ludwig, but this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore these masterworks in depth, with a group that has won raves for their Beethoven recordings and live performances.
The Music in the Park Series has been a fixture in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood since 1979, when it was founded by Julie Himmelstrup. It merged with the Schubert Club in 2011, and Himmelstrup remained artistic director until her retirement last year. All of the concerts are held in the intimate St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ.
The 2019-20 season will open on Sunday, Sept. 22 with the Twin Cities debut of the Montrose Trio – renowned pianist Jon Kimura Parker, violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith. On Nov. 19, the Paris-based Modigliani Quartet will make its debut here with music by Stravinsky, Haydn and Tchaikovsky. The Skride Piano Quartet – Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, pianist Lauma Skride, violist Lisa Berthaud and cellist Harriet Krijgh – will perform Schubert, Mendelssohn and Enescu on Feb. 9, 2020.
On March 28, violinist and Minnesota Orchestra first associate concertmaster Susie Park will play a concert with Israeli pianist Benjamin Hochman. Top laureates and alumni of the Sphinx competition comprise the Catalyst Quartet, which will perform on April 26. On May 10, the Danish String Quartet will play one of the concerts in its Beethoven marathon.
Subscriptions are on sale now for both series; 651-292-3268. Single tickets will be on sale Aug. 1.
Meanwhile, both series are still under way. The final event in the 2018-19 International Artist Series will take place April 3 and 4 in the Ordway Concert Hall, with cellist Gautier Capuçon and pianist Yuja Wang. Capuçon is one of today’s most exciting and exuberant artists. The dazzling, stylish and rocket-fueled Wang made her International Artist series debut in 2011 and returns as the 2017 Musical America Artist of the Year. FMI and tickets.
Music in the Park will present two more concerts in this season. On March 17, the Horszowski Trio will perform with violist Masumi Per Rosta. On April 14, the season will close with the Brentano String Quartet. FMI and tickets.