Taking the podium

Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto hurt his arm, so he can't deliver the solo he planned for this week. But the injury won't stop him from conducting a stimulating program for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Music includes Missy Mazzoli's string piece "You Know Me From Here" and Jimmy López's "Guardian of the Horizon" with SPCO principal cello Julie Albers. These contemporary works are flanked by two bits of Beethoven, both led by Kuusisto: "The Creatures of Prometheus Overture" and the bounding, ebullient Eighth Symphony. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Temple Israel, Mpls.; 11 a.m. & 8 p.m. Fri., Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie; 3 p.m. Sun., St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi; $11-$26, 651-291-1144 or thespco.org)

'Opus California'

English composer Sally Beamish's Second String Quartet was inspired by a visit to California, with movements titled "Boardwalk" and "Golden Gate." "Opus California" is the centerpiece of the Mill City String Quartet's latest recital. Also featured are quartets by Haydn (Op. 50, No. 5) and Beethoven (Op. 59, No. 2). (7 p.m. Fri., St. David's Episcopal Church, Minnetonka; 7 p.m. Sat., the Baroque Room, St. Paul; free, millcityquartet.com)

Staying power

Classical music prodigies often burn out young, but not Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti. Now in her early 30s, Benedetti built a flourishing career after winning the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at age 16. Benedetti returns to Minnesota this week for a recital featuring the U.S. premiere of a work for solo violin by jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis. Also featured are the hugely testing Chaconne from Bach's Partita No. 2, plus sonatas by Strauss and Prokofiev with pianist Alexei Grynyuk. (7:30 p.m. Fri., 3 p.m. Sun.; Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul; $26-$68, 651-292-3268 or schubert.org)

Future classics

Hear from a new generation of classical composers with "Future Classics," spotlighting new works by seven young Americans. The concert marks the culmination of a week spent workshopping new pieces at Minnesota Orchestra's annual Composer Institute. Music director Osmo Vänskä conducts. (8 p.m. Fri., Orchestra Hall, Mpls.; $20-$40, 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org)

Sing a song of protest

VocalEssence celebrates MLK weekend with its third annual "Together We Sing Festival," a hands-on event for all ages. This year's focus is songs of "protest and progress," with Cameroon Choir and Mila Vocal Ensemble appearing as guests and plenty of opportunities to sing along. (1:30-5 p.m. Sat., Minnesota History Center, St. Paul; free, registration required at vocalessence.org)