The announcement comes in the middle of the Schubert Club's 125th anniversary season.
The organization is one of Minnesota's oldest and most revered cultural institutions, and throughout its long history has nurtured the local music community and brought many legendary classical musicians to St. Paul.
Kathleen van Bergen says she likens the Schubert Club to some of the world's most important recital venues.
"People often compare the Schubert Club to Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall or Wigmore Hall in London," said van Bergen. "The Twin Cities are incredibly lucky to have such a gem of an organization that has been cared for over 125 years."
"I'm thankful to him and I wish I had known him. And I hope that I'm able to work with the board and the staff and the community to build on what he established."
Van Bergen comes to the Schubert Club from the Philadelphia Orchestra, where she's been vice president of artistic planning for the past three years. Before that, she was a vice president with the St. Louis Symphony.
Unlike those two organizations, the Schubert Club presents recitals and chamber music programs. As someone who has been playing violin since the age of 4, van Bergen says she's excited about developing chamber music programs.
"I'm very much looking forward to getting involved in a little more intimate side of music making," said van Bergen. "We've done everything in the orchestra world from Mahler's 8th Symphony and Schoenberg's 'Gurrelieder,' but the simplicity and intimacy of a recital is when you really feel the passion and connection of artists. I very much look forward to spending some time reconnecting with this repertoire and supporting and nurturing artists."
Although the Schubert Club is best known for the international artist concert series, it's a multi-faceted institution with museum collections, education programs, student competitions and even an Indonesian Gamelan ensemble.
Board member Dee Ann Crossley was on the search committee for a new executive director. She says Kathleen van Bergen has both the energy and desire needed to manage such a unique organization.
"She just came across as so energetic and outgoing with a vibrant personality. She also came across as being very respectful of the long tradition and history of the Schubert Club," said Crossley.
The board had been searching for a new executive director since the death of Bruce Carlson in July of 2006. He transformed what had been a tiny organization into one of the Twin Cities' most important cultural institutions.
Crossley says board members knew they wouldn't find another Bruce Carlson, but they believe Kathleen van Bergen will be just as much of a visionary as he was.
Van Bergen says she's honored to be entrusted with the her predecessor's legacy.
"I'm thankful to him and I wish I had known him. And I hope that I'm able to work with the board and the staff and the community to build on what he established," said van Bergen. "Through my process of getting to know the Schubert Club and a little bit about Minneapolis and St. Paul, everyone speaks of Bruce with a smile on their face. And as much as he has done for the organization, I feel very supported in leading the next chapter."
Kathleen van Bergen begins her work as the Schubert Club's new executive director in March. She's coming to the Twin Cities this weekend, and will attend the Schubert Club's Tuesday night concert with Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.