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Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Chamber Orchestra)

Founded: 1959 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (= SPCO), based in Saint Paul (the state capital of Minnesota). The SPCO, now in its 51st season, is the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra and is widely regarded as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. In collaboration with four Artistic Partners - Roberto Abbado, Douglas Boyd, Dawn Upshaw and Christian Zacharias - the 35 virtuoso musicians present more than 150 concerts and educational programs each year, and are regularly heard on public radio’s Performance Today which reaches 1,101,000 listeners each week on 242 stations, and SymphonyCast reaching 218,100 listeners each week on 104 stations. The SPCO has released 67 recordings, commissioned 127 new works, and performed the world premiere of 49 additional compositions. The SPCO has earned the distinction of 14 ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. Renowned for its artistic excellence and remarkable versatility of musical styles, the SPCO tours nationally and internationally, including performances in premier venues in Europe, Asia and South America.

Launched in 1995, the SPCO’s award-winning CONNECT education program reaches 5,000 students annually in 16 Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools.

History of the SPCO Artistic Leadership Model

Leopold Sipe (1959-1971) founded the SPCO and was the first to conduct the orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

Dennis Russell Davies (1972-1980) led the SPCO on its first international tour.

Pinchas Zukerman (1980-1987) led the SPCO as both soloist and conductor on sold-out international tours. Zukerman was also instrumental in establishing Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the SPCO’s venue in Saint Paul.

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (1987-1988) served as SPCO’s Interim Music Advisor.

Christopher Hogwood (1988-1992) served as Director of Music, along with Hugh Wolff as Principal Conductor, and John Adams (1988-1990) as Creative Chair. Christopher Hogwood, Hugh Wolff and Adams formed a tripartite Artistic Commission.

Hugh Wolff (1992-2000) led the SPCO in 20 recordings and commissioned 26 new works. He also launched the adult education series Musical “U,” and made acclaimed tours of Asia and Europe.

Andreas Delfs (2001-2004) launched the SPCO’s annual concert broadcasts on Twin Cities Public Television. He also further strengthened the orchestra’s commitment to the Classical repertoire, leading performances of all nine L.v. Beethoven symphonies in one season and launching a three-year celebration of W.A. Mozart’s music.

In the 2004-2005 season, the SPCO transferred broad artistic responsibilities from a music director to the SPCO musicians and four Artistic Partners: Nicholas McGegan (SPCO’s Baroque Series Director since 1999-2000), Joshua Bell, Douglas Boyd, and Stephen Prutsman. Under this model the members of the SPCO are given a much higher degree of artistic control. SPCO Center opened its doors for the first time and a new concert series was introduced at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater.

Italian conductor Roberto Abbado joined the SPCO as its fifth Artistic Partner during the 2005-2006 season. Abbado conducted three weeks of W.A. Mozart as the culmination of the three-year W.A. Mozart project. Prices were lowered to $10 and $25 in the Neighborhoods in an effort to reach out to new audiences. During this season, two new partnerships were formed with the SPCO: a three-year residency with the University of Chicago and a multi-faceted collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Music.

French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard joined the roster of Artistic Partners in the 2006-2007 season. Wayzata Community Church was added as a new Neighborhood venue. The orchestra toured Europe for the first time since 1998.

World-renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw joined the roster of Artistic Partners in the 2007-2008 season. New venues at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley and Benson Great Hall at Bethel University in Arden Hills were added.

In January of 2008 the SPCO hosted the first-ever International Chamber Orchestra Festival. Over four weeks, four world-renowned chamber orchestras (the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra) joined the SPCO for concerts all over the Twin Cities.

German pianist and conductor Christian Zacharias joins the SPCO as an Artistic Partner in the 2009-2010 season.

Awards and recognitions

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance: Dennis Russell Davies (conductor) & the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for Copland: Appalachian Spring (1980)

Music Directors/ Group Leaders

Leopold Sipe (1959-1971)
Dennis Russell Davies (1972-1980)
Pinchas Zukerman (1980-1987)
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (Interim Music Advisor - 1987-1988)
Christopher Hogwood (Music Director - 1988-1992)
Hugh Wolff (Principal Conductor - 1988-1992)
Hugh Wolff (1992-2000)
Andreas Delfs (2001-2004)
Christian Zacharias (2009-Present)
Bobby McFerrin (Creative Chair - 1994-1999)

Artistic Partners

Joshua Bell (2004-2007)
Stephen Prutsman (2004-2007)
Nicholas McGegan (2004-2009)
Pierre-Laurent Aimard (2006-2009)
Douglas Boyd (2004-Present)
Roberto Abbado (2005-Present)
Dawn Upshaw (2007-Present)
Christian Zacharias (2009-Present)

Source: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Website; Wikipedia Website (July 2010)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2010)

Recordings of Bach’s Instrumental Works




Pinchas Zukerman


[O-1] (1986): Concerto for 2 violins, strings & continuo BWV 1043; Concerto for violin, strings & continuo No. 2 iBWV 1042 [w/ violinist Midori Gotō]

Christopher Hogwood


Bach-Hogwood: Fugue on a theme by A. Corelli in B minor, BWV 579, arranged for string orchestra

Hugh Wolff


Agnus Dei from BWV 232, arranged for fluglehorn, strings & continuo [w/ trumpeter Sergei Nakarjakov]

Links to other Sites

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Official Website)
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Wikipedia)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Monday, November 20, 2017 11:07