Posted at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2011
by John Birge
Kathleen van Bergen, executive director of the Schubert Club, is leaving to become CEO of the The Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida. That's according to this report in the Wall Street Journal.
As MPR reported, Van Bergen joined the Schubert Club in 2008, succeeding the late Bruce Carlson, who cemented the St. Paul organization's reputation as one of the country's premiere presenters of world-class artists.
Ms Van Bergen swept through like a tornado taking much of the charm and historical richness of the Schubert Club in its wake. The "renovated" museum did not take advantage of the architectural beauty of the Landmark Center and removed exhibits which had been developed with much thought over time. Much money was spent on glitter without addressing the important functions of a museum.
Fewer instruments are on display than before. Instruments cannot be played without an appointment. and the playable instruments are crammed into a small room, not on public display. Gone is the Saint Paul-made historic Raudenbush player piano with digitized rolls of Stavinsky playing Stravinsky or Landowska playing Mozart, along with holiday music or Scott Joplin: a delight to all who saw and heard it play. Gone is the Italian di Rossi harpsichord made around 1542, as well as its copy made by local instrument maker Dick Sorenson. Most of the museum's collection is in storage areas which have no humidity or temperature control. I had hoped that efforts would be made to create a catalog of the collection, enabling scholars and others to gain information on the many amazing instruments in the collection. Instead money was spent on creating a more "fashionable" appearance.
Gone is the exhibit featuring violinist, conductor, Theodore Spiering a pivotal figure in the development of a classical music culture in the United States in the early 1900’s. The exhibit contained contained pictures and letters of Brahms, the violinist Joakim, and Mahler. Even a Lincoln document was part of this exhibit.
Gone is the Summer Song Festival which provided master classes for young budding singers and much pleasure for those of us who enjoy the vocal song literature accompanied by fine pianists.
Gone also are key members of the Carlson era staff. For those of us who loved Bruce Carlson and loved the Schubert Club, it has been truly heart rending to watch what happened under Ms Van Bergen. Let us hope that the board recognizes the tragedy of what has been lost and acts wisely when choosing a new director.