By Kelly Belich, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra wrapped up its 53rd season on June 7-9 with a thrilling performance of Haydn’s The Seasons. Former SPCO Artistic Partner and audience favorite Nicholas McGegan conducted what the Saint Paul Pioneer Press called “one of the most exuberant and enjoyable” concerts “of recent memory”. Joining the SPCO were soprano Dominique Labelle, bass Philip Cutlip, and Minnesota native tenor Thomas Cooley. Twin Cities choral music icon Dale Warland assembled and prepared the SPCO Chorale for this performance. Warland and the SPCO have had a long history of collaboration, both with the SPCO Chorale and also with the Dale Warland Singers. Since 1973, the SPCO and Dale Warland have worked together on more than 60 concerts. At the June 7-9 concerts the SPCO paid tribute to this long history, as well as Dale’s recent 80th birthday.
The beauty and majesty of The Seasons is all the more remarkable considering that Haydn was ill and nearing the end of his life as he wrote it, noting to his publisher, “no one will believe the strain and effort it costs me” to write. As for the SPCO’s interpretation of the piece, the Pioneer Press raved, “the performance at St. Paul’s Ordway Center…was a celebration not only of the pastoral life, but of the talents of the SPCO and all its gifted guests…it’s doubtful that you’ll ever hear it performed more expertly than this.”