SPCO season opener

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra opens its new season with two classic pieces of Americana. First comes an "immersive" performance of Terry Riley's vibrant, pulsing "In C," the minimalist movement's breakthrough from half a century ago. Then there's Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," a sepia-tinted look at a more innocent America, sung by fast-rising soprano Julia Bullock. Jeremy Denk also returns to perform Beethoven's beloved "Emperor" Concerto, with the SPCO artistic partner directing the orchestra while playing piano. (8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul; $12-$50, 651-291-1144 or thespco.org)

Ultra-cool Bernstein

The LOFTrecital collective spent recent seasons breaking the mold of the Twin Cities classical scene, staging enterprisingly programmed recitals in stimulating settings. The new season brings the most ambitious LOFTrecital project yet: a rare performance of Leonard Bernstein's "Songfest" featuring six singers performing settings of a dozen American poems — in solo, duet, trio and sextet configurations. LOFTrecital artistic director James Barnett anchors the evening on piano, with a team of vocal soloists drawn from across America. (7 p.m. Sat., Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center, Mpls., free, reserve tickets at facebook.com/loftrecital)

Gospel galore

Where does gospel music come from? "The Sound of Gospel" concert ventures an answer with 200 singers from 20 choirs drawn from across Minnesota. Directed and produced by singer Jevetta Steele, the event traces the music's origins from vocal music brought to the U.S. by slaves, mapping the development of spirituals, quartet singing and, eventually, full-scale gospel choirs. Twin Cities actor T. Mychael Rambo emcees. (6:30 p.m. Mon., Minneapolis Convention Center, Mpls., $15, 612-910-5853 or minnesotastatebaptistconvention.com)