Music in the Park Series opens 39th season Oct. 8

It’s the church. It’s the community. And it’s the music, composers and musicians all coming together.

“That’s what’s fabulous” about the Schubert Club’s Music in the Park Series, says Julie Himmelstrup, series founder and artistic director.

The chamber music series has been held at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave., since its founding in 1979, and that intimate setting is a key part to what has made this series a success.

Music in the Park will open its 39th season Sunday, Oct. 8, with the Schubert Ensemble of London. All concerts are held on Sundays at 4 p.m. at the church. To buy season or individual tickets call 651-292-3268 or go to Here are the concerts in the 2017-18 season:

Schubert Ensemble of London, a group widely recognized as one of the world’s leading exponents of music for piano and strings, will return to Music in the Park Oct. 8. The St. Anthony Park concert is part of the ensemble’s final season. It will bring its 35-year career to a close at the end of June 2018.

The ensemble’s eclectic program will feature “The Whole Earth Dances,” a new, nature-inspired work by young British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad; Vaughan Williams’ romantic and rarely performed Piano Quintet in C-minor; and the grand finale, Franz Schubert’s much-beloved “Trout” quintet.

The Dover Quartet with David Shifrin, clarinet, will perform Nov. 12. The quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. Beginning its “mostly American” program with quartets by Richard Danielpour and Bartok, the Dover will be joined by clarinetist David Shifrin to perform works for clarinet and string quartet by Corigliano and American composer Chris Rogerson, along with arrangements of Duke Ellington tunes.

The Calmus Ensemble, one of Germany’s most successful vocal groups, will perform Dec. 3 with a program of carols from around the world. Calmus offers the unique combination of a soprano with four male voices ranging from bass to countertenor. Work will include 16th-century Italian madrigals to traditional carols of France, Germany, Sweden and England, to American popular holiday songs.

The Parker String Quartet will perform Feb. 11 with work by Mozart, Ligeti and Bartok. Inspiring performances, luminous sound and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning quartet. Well-known to Twin Cities music lovers, the quartet made its debut with the Music in the Park Series in 2007, subsequently serving as artists-in-residence at the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and as the first-ever artists-in-residence with Minnesota Public Radio.

Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han will perform March 4. The two musicians rank among the most dynamic and influential forces in classical music today. Partners in music and marriage, they were recipients of Musical America’s prestigious Musicians of the Year award in 2012. A favorite of Music in the Park audiences, Finckel and Wu will make their fifth appearance on the series. Their program, “Distinctive Voices,” will highlight works of Beethoven, Bruce Adolphe, Mendelssohn, Grieg and a repeat performance of Lera Auerbach’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano,” composed for the duo and co-commissioned by Music in the Park Series in 2004.

The season will culminate on April 15 with a celebratory concert, the Lark Quartet: Now and Then (A Celebration of 30 Years). This unique concert will celebrate the past and present Lark Quartet through music old and new, with the original quartet—founded in 1985 in the Twin Cities by St. Anthony Park cellist Laura Sewell—and the current Lark Quartet members for a total of eight musicians. In keeping with Lark’s tradition of broadening the chamber music repertory through diverse commissions, members of the current and original quartets will join forces to perform the Minnesota premiere of Andrew Waggoner’s work for two string quartets. Dedicated to “the once and future Lark Quartet,” the commission was supported in part by the Thelma Hunter Fund of the American Composers Forum. Moving back in time to a work regarded as “one of the miracles of 19th-century music,” the group will bring the Music in the Park Series season to a close with a performance of Mendelssohn’s brilliant Octet in E-flat Major, written in 1825 when the composer was just 16 years old.

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