Barry Kempton apologizes for the heat in his office, blaming it on the way bright sunshine through his large windows at the Landmark Center can quickly add a few degrees to the temperature inside.
But generally the man who bears the title of both artistic director and executive director of the Schubert Club is very happy with life. He's announcing the new star-studded season for the state's oldest arts organization, which pulls in big names like pianist Jonathan Biss and violinist Christian Tetzlaff, as well as newer names like Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa.
"A wonderful big personality, I think, in her playing. She has well over 50 million visits to her YouTube sites, and I think that offers us an opportunity to see who's out there visiting YouTube and seeing and hearing performers, who might be curious to come and hear her live. So I think that is a good opportunity for us."
Kempton says there are no themes to the season (listed below) other than for the International Artist series, where he wanted to make sure he had artists of sufficient charisma to work well in the large space of the Ordway Center.
"I guess the slightly unusual pick is Gidon Kremer coming with his chamber orchestra," said Kempton. "Which is something I didn't set out to try and make happen, but it was presented as an opportunity to the Schubert Club and it seemed like too good of an opportunity to turn down."
Kempton has been at the Schubert for about 18 months, returning to St Paul after a stint as chief executive at the City of London Sinfonia. For many years before he served at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as vice president for artistic planning and general manager.
Kempton says the Schubert's series at the Ordway is going very well, with a local following.
"We don't want to make change there," he said. He's also pleased with the more intimate Music in the Park series at the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ.
"I think the opportunity to us at the Schubert Club is to look beyond that," he said. "And if we are going to look at bringing in newer audiences, maybe younger generations and a broader cultural diversity mix, the opportunity is there for us to think about some different programming."
Kempton says plans are under way, probably for next season and to look for an announcement in a few months.
"But I think there is opportunity for us to use technology in the way of streaming and broadcast, which we are looking into, which allows us to share what is happening at the Schubert Club more broadly within the state and, indeed, nationally."
He also intends to expand the use of the Schubert's museum and its extensive collection of instruments, including events where experts play some of the instruments, and talk about their use in the past and today.
These are strange days for the classical community what with the labor disputes at the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO. Understandably Kempton chooses his words carefully when asked about the impact of the strife as it drags on.
"I think to look for a silver lining in the current lockouts with both orchestras, it would be for me that there is an outcry from the public who love and miss their orchestras, love and miss their classical music," he said.
Kempton says he hopes the disputes are resolved soon so as to avoid hurting the classical community in the Twin Cities in the longer term.
INTERNATIONAL ARTIST SERIES
Jonathan Biss, piano
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
Christian Tetzlaff, violin • Lars Vogt, piano
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013
Gidon Kremer, violin with Kremerata Baltica
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014
Valentina Lisitsa, piano
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
Monday, May 19, 2014
MUSIC IN THE PARK SERIES
St. Anthony United Church of Christ
Pacifica Quartet with Anthony McGill, clarinet
Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013
Erin Keefe, violin • Anna Polonsky, piano
Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013
Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014
Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Hopefully future plans don't include "merging" with the "SPCO Society". Given that the Schubert Club is a principal tenant of the Ordway, along with the SPCO, and that Kempton worked for the SPCO for many years, I am sure that he is choosing his words carefully - as well as his artists.