Kate Nordstrum broadly defines classical music in “Liquid Music”

The SPCO’s producer of special projects Kate Nordstrum has spent the last few months juggling a lot of arrangements, but now she has revealed all (well most of) the details of the SPCO’s new Liquid Music Series.

“It’s classical music broadly defined,” Nordstrum said.

“Where we will be presenting new work by exciting emerging composers and musicians who we know nationally and locally and presenting classical music in different concert formats and on different scales,” she told me the other day.


Kate Nordstrum (Image courtesy Kate Nordstrum)

“What we really care about with the series is bringing new audiences to classical music and creating new access points and just giving greater options I guess you might say for people to be listing to and enjoying classical music.”

Liquid music is a new enterprise for the SPCO in that the organization is a presentation series. It opens in November with a Laurie Anderson show “Dirtday!” presented at, and co-sponsored by, the Walker in Minneapolis.

Four of the concerts in the series will be at the SPCO Center in the Hamm building in downtown St Paul. The orchestra built the space a few years ago, but it’ll be a new venue to many concertgoers.

Nordstrum admits that may be a challenge, but it’s also in the series’ spirit of trying new things.

“One thing we have going for us is ticket prices are super, super reasonable,” she said. The Anderson tickets are $39, but all the other concerts in the series will be $10.

Some of the programming is quite involved For example one event called “Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner” involves turntablist DJ/rupture aka Jace Clayton, deVon Gray of Twin Cities hip hop heroes Heiruspecs, and local new music group Ensemble 61. Nordstrum describes it as a music and performance piece which provides a snapshot of Eastman’s work. He was an African-American composer, pianist and vocalist who combined minimalist processes with pop music.

The evening will feature three new adaptations of his work, including a piece for four pianos. Clayton is best known for his electronica work, but Nordstrum says with this pieces he is delving into the classical work.

“Video will be a part of it too. But it’s going to come together seamlessly” she laughed.

Liquid Music also includes a gig at the New Amsterdam Bar in St Paul, again breaking down some musical barriers.

Ben Frost in an electronic composer based in Iceland who has studied under Brian Eno,” said Nordstrum. (“He’s) Really very much influenced by classical minimalism and has done really interesting work with orchestra but is also just as much influenced by harder music, punk and metal even.”

Other concerts feature Reid Anderson of the Bad Plus, members of the SPCO, yMusic, Bang-on-a-Can, My Brightest Diamond, and a host of others.

You can find all the details here.

It’s a lot to take in, but Nordstrum is betting it’s a winning combination. “I think we have nothing to lose. I think people are excited about this music.”

Nordstrum describes the series as a new frontier for the SPCO, saying it’s taking a risk by presenting the works of other musicians.

“But I think it’s going to be really advantageous to artists outside and inside of the orchestra,” she said. “I think its doing to educate the audiences here in the Twin Cities more broadly in classical music and I think it’s going to be really fun in terms of dialogue between full orchestra and smaller scale production.”

She believes there will be thematic ties between Liquid Music and the full orchestra season.

“So I think that far from it being complicated to have a program like this at an orchestra it’s going to be a real beacon and and an example nationally in terms of what can be done and what can be new within classical music and orchestra presentation.”

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