SPCO explores 500 years of music in 2011-2012 season


Patrick Castillo is very proud of his band.

"This is a very good Baroque band," he said the other morning. "And so we're going to have those muscles of the orchestra flexed with the music by Bach and the music by Handel."

His band, by the way, is the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and he's the artistic planning director. He was talking about the SPCO's 2011-2012 season which is released this morning.

"We are also going to have five world premieres so showing a very broad spectrum of music that I think the SPCO excels at," he said.

The new season samples works from half a millenium, but really highlights new music. The season opens with a new oratorio by New York composing phenom Nico Muhly, who has been playing regularly at the Southern Theater over the past few years.

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Castillo says if the season has a theme it's simply to explore great music.

"We have the music of Bach and Handel, but we also have five world premieres and a lot of other living composers represented in our 11-12 season," he said.

He singles out a string symphony by Lara Auerbach which will also premier in the fall.

"She is a very dynamic composer, pianist, poet. Really kind of a consummate artist," he said. "A little bit of a throwback to the comprehensive artistry that we saw with the composers of the late 19th century. You know, these piano virtuosos who took the stage in their own piano concerti. So she'll be performing her works as well during a week-long residency with us."

Castillo says the artistic partner model which the SPCO has been using for several years now continues to work well, with both the commissioning of new work and the deeper exploration of the music of the past. He points to a series of concerts planned for Dawn Upshaw.

"If you want to play Bach, you don't just play Bach, but you play Bach with the best Bach people and I think our artistic partner roster allows us to do things like that."

The SPCO will also revamp its website, and build up the availability of archived concerts online.