Something quite old and several things brand new highlight the breadth of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's 2011-12 season. There are five world premieres on the calendar -- including new work by Nico Muhly and Gerald Barry -- and a cycle of J.S. Bach's "The Art of Fugue."
"I'm halfway horrified and half-delighted that the Art of Fugue has never been done by the SPCO," said Patrick Castillo, director of artistic planning. "I personally have been obsessed with this a long time because it is such a nourishing piece of music intellectually and spiritually."
Muhly, the hot young composer, has written "Luminous Body" for the SPCO and vocal group Cantus to open the season, Sept. 9-10. Other highlights that month include Sibelius (Symphony No. 3, Sept. 16-17) and Schubert (Death of a Maiden, Sept. 23-25).
Part One of the Bach fugue project is Oct. 13-15, with Scott Yoo conducting. Also in October, look for violinist Leila Josefowicz playing Berg's chamber concerto for piano, violin and 13 winds (Oct. 29-30).
A world premiere, "Primera Luz," is the center of a program focusing on Russian composer Lera Auerbach (Oct. 20, 22). Four Auerbach pieces will be performed on that program.
Bach looms large in the November schedule. Part Two of the fugue cycle is Nov. 3-5. The next week, the Brandenburg Concertos are performed. Jeremy Denk plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 (Nov. 25-26).
December highlights include Christian Zacharias conducting and playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 (Dec. 1-3) and soprano Dawn Upshaw singing Baroque masterpieces (Dec. 8, 10). Zacharias is back for Haydn's Military Symphony (Dec. 16-18).
Joana Carneiro conducts the first two weekends in January, highlights being Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Mozart's overture to "The Marriage of Figaro." Soprano Christine Brewer sings Beethoven and Wagner.
Also in 2012, Upshaw sings a world premiere by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, and returns for Ravel and Debussy. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff plays Mozart; artistic associate Thomas Zehetmair explores Schubert with the Tragic Symphony, the Great Symphony and the Little C Major Symphony. The March program includes Barry's new work, "Feldman's Six-Penny Editions."
Mendelssohn's Reformation, Scottish and Italian symphonies are featured the last weekend of April and the first two weeks of May. The latter concerts include SPCO commissions by composer Giorgio Battistelli. Nicholas McGegan, a popular fixture with the SPCO, returns to conduct Haydn's "The Seasons."
Information is at 651-291-1144 or www.thespco.org.
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299