St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

Whatever your allegiances, 2012-13 was an unqualifiedly horrible season for the Twin Cities’ two major orchestras and for their audiences. Thankfully the SPCO is back in harness, with attractive programs, distinguished artistic partners, a host of neighborhood venues and plenty of cheap seats. The concerts of Oct. 3-5 (Mozart, Schubert, Ives and Stravinsky, led by Christian Zacharias) are particularly inviting, but you can profitably put a toe in almost anywhere. Don’t forget the Chamber Music Series, which features SPCO musicians in a rich assortment of small-ensemble fare (it starts the weekend of Oct. 10). And do remember how it felt when, for far too long, this plucky band was reduced to silence. (L.F.)

7:30 p.m. Oct. 3, 8 p.m. Oct. 4-5, $12-$42. Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul. 651-291-1144 or


“There Was a Child”:
One of the first classical concerts in the newly refurbished Orchestra Hall will be the massed forces of VocalEssence, the St. Olaf Choir and the Northfield Youth Choir, with soprano Maria Jette and tenor Dan Dressen, featuring the U.S. premiere of this oratorio by British composer Jonathan Dove. It traces a young man’s life from childhood to manhood in the spirit of Britten and Vaughan Williams. The program, led by Vocal­Essence artistic director Philip Brunelle, also includes works by René Clausen, Eric Whitacre and F. Melius Christiansen. (W.R.B.)
4 p.m. Oct. 27, Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, $10-40, 612-371-5656,

Pacifica Quartet:
Remembered for its superb Beethoven cycle a few years back, the foursome opens the Music in the Park Series with music of Mozart and Britten and Brahms’ incomparable Clarinet Quintet, featuring Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal Anthony McGill. (L.F.)
4 p.m. Sept. 29. $20-$24. St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Av., St. Paul. or 651-292-3268.

Imogen Cooper: Who said the piano recital is dead? The Frederic Chopin Society presents the British pianist in what is arguably the program of the year: the last three sonatas of Schubert. (L.F.)
3 p.m. Oct. 6. $15-$25. Mairs Concert Hall, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College, St. Paul. or 612-822-0123.

Accordo: Great chamber music (unlike, say, great sushi) doesn’t have to be flown in; much of it is made right here on the tundra. For proof, take in Accordo’s season-launching pairing of superlative string quintets by Mozart and Brahms. (L.F.)
7:30 p.m. Oct. 7. $12-$25. Christ Church Lutheran, 3244 34th Av. S., Mpls. or 651-292-3268.

Liquid Music series:
Ready for an aural workout? The SPCO’s border-crossing series, now in its second season, offers an unmatched introduction to the rising generation of musical creators, in spaces traditional and un-. This fall, catch Chicago’s much-praised Ensemble Dal Niente in music by Rebecca Saunders, John Cage and Minnesota’s Noah Keesecker.
7:30 p.m. Nov. 5. $10. Music Room at SPCO Center, 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul. or 651-291-1144.

Zeitgeist: For a more local — and more savory — take on the new, sample the ensemble’s New Music Harvest, Sept. 26-28 — a blend of auditory and gustatory experiences. (L.F.)
7:30 p.m. Sept. 26-27, $10. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28, $20. Studio Z, 275 E. 4th St., St. Paul. or 651-755-1600.

Embarked on its second half-century, Minnesota Opera has plotted a season with highlights including a revival next March of Domenick Argento’s “The Dream of Valentino,” featuring tenor James Valenti. November brings an elegant production of Richard Strauss’ lyric comedy “Arabella,” set in Vienna, with stellar sopranos Jacquelyn Wagner and Elizabeth Futral. Seldom staged in the English-speaking world, it’s not quite “Rosenkavalier” redux, but fans of that more celebrated concoction should not be disappointed. (L.F.)
7:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 12, 14 and 16. 2 p.m. Nov. 17. $20-$200. Ordway Center, St. Paul. or 612-333-6669.

Cantus: The theme for the male chorus’ fall program, “A Place for Us,” explores the American identity and the diverse cultures that make it up. While honoring Latino and Scandinavian immigrants with the title song (from “West Side Story”) and Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” the program also focuses on indigenous works, including Native American songs, Inuit chant and Hawaiian music, and two world premieres: “Let America Be America Again,” a poem by Langston Hughes set by Cantus member Paul John Rudoi, and “Psalm of the Soil,” a commission by Sarah Kirkland Snider. (W.R.B.)
7:30 p.m. Oct. 17, Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av., Mpls.; 7:30 p.m., Sat. Oct. 19, Sundin Music Hall, 1531 Hewitt Av., St. Paul, 3 p.m. Sun. Oct. 20, Trinity Lutheran Church, 115 N. 4th St., Stillwater, 11 a.m. Thurs. Oct. 24, Colonial Church of Edina, 6200 Colonial Way, Edina, 3 p.m. Sun. Oct. 27, Saint Bartholomew Catholic Church, 630 Wayzata Blvd. E., Wayzata, 612-435-0055,