Late last week, the League of American Orchestras named the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) as one of 24 U.S. orchestras to receive a 2011-2012 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. The musician-led, internationally-known chamber orchestra (also a Knight Arts grantee) is being recognized, specifically, in the category of Programming of Contemporary Music.
It’s such a well-earned accolade. SPCO’s season was marked by an intelligent, satisfying mix, including a healthy number of world premiere commissions by up-and-coming composers, deep catalog surprises by old favorites, piquant juxtapositions — all punctuated with enough beloved crowd-pleasers throughout the season to welcome listeners at a all levels. That the orchestra struck such a lively balance between old and new pieces is no small feat in an industry too often habitually conservative, even defensive in its approach to programming.
And I must say, SPCO’s recently announced line-up for the 2012-2013 season looks even better. I’m especially keen to hear the new Liquid Music concert series, which promises to be collaborative and “boundary defying.”
Here’s how SPCO describes what’s in store next:
“Premieres permeate the season, as do new collaborations between local and national musicians. You will notice strong attention paid to the visual dimension of performance, and a deepened partnership initiative with our friends at the Walker Art Center. Concerts at our home base – the intimate Music Room at SPCO Center – will be cabaret-style, with full bar, ambient lighting and excellent sight lines.”
Sounds intriguing, no?
Add to that an array of meaningful audience cultivation programs — compelling ticket deals and season “memberships,” which ensure SPCO’s world-class performances are accessible to anyone who’d like to attend, no matter their income level. With all they’re doing to keep the form vital, it’s sure gratifying to see the orchestra get some well-deserved national attention for their efforts.
On a related note: Minnesota Orchestra was also honored by the League of American Orchestras this year: Music Director Osmo Vänskä was awarded the ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming.