Above: SPCO Artistic Partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja on her Grammy win: "I was really surprised."(Kyndell Harkness/Star Tribune)

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja was busy doing what she does – rehearsing a frantic 11 hours a day for a new concept concert in Switzerland.

When it was announced Sunday that she won a Grammy with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for best small ensemble performance for their recording “Death and the Maiden,” she was engrossed in her work with Camerata Bern about war on TV “but feeling nothing in our hearts.”

“I was really surprised,” Kopatchinskaja said of the Grammy victory via email on Tuesday afternoon. “I have to think back with gratitude and happiness – when we developed this Schubert project, with SPCO, it was really an incredibly free and creative moment. I felt being in the magic atmosphere of dear friends and superb musicians. Without this kind of support, trust and open minds in an orchestra, it’s impossible to imagine to go so far over strict borders of the petrified classical music industry. SPCO is very a fruitful and special bunch of people.”

The album is something of a collage or mashup of works by Schubert, John Dowland, György Kurtág and others.

The violinist, who is an SPCO artistic partner, thought this was a special album because it was a live recording with limited time for overdubs afterward.

“In a concert it's very unlikely to play super creative, unexpectable, spontaneous, and at the same time completely perfect,” she said. “Until recently everybody in the industry insisted on an outwardly perfect, highly polished and glossy surface. Perhaps now the interest shifts back to other qualities which we went for in this case: Meaning, connections between pieces, curiosity, creativity and surprise – exploring unknown territories.

“I really think times changed remarkably, people are bored with perfectness, they want to hear an interpretation full of life with all its bugs and less standard interpretations, less doll houses or wax cabinets of dead composers. They want to feel a connection to here and now. It’s a serious change in aesthetic benchmarks.”  

Kopatchinskaja is already witnessing the impact of her first Grammy.

“The real impact of prizes is that they raise interest in your work and this generates new opportunities, new collaborations and new projects,” she explained. “I already see this in the one day after the Grammy. I am immensely grateful.”

One thing the globe-trotting violinist hasn’t considered is where to put the Grammy when she receives it.

“To be honest I didn’t even know how a Grammy looks,” Kopatchinskaja admitted. “It should be definitely in St. Paul. I love SPCO and congratulate all musicians and management for their courage and wonderful musicianship.”