It’s an opportunity to celebrate the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach on Friday and Saturday, as St. Paul stages seven concerts of his music in 26 hours for the Before Bach’s Birthday Bash.
Start it off with the Bach Society of Minnesota and Rochester’s Choral Arts Ensemble performing the sadly beautiful “St. John Passion” on Friday night, and conclude it with Lyra Baroque and Iowa’s Grinnell Singers offering the rarely performed “Lutheran” Mass in A. Between them is the “Before Bach’s Birthday Bash,” a concert crawl on and around St. Paul’s Summit Avenue with lots of organ and dashes of piano, choral and chamber music. Here’s the lineup:
Few projects better capture the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s mission of mixing old music and new than “Beethoven/5.” The SPCO and pianist Jonathan Biss have commissioned five new piano concertos from five different composers. Each is inspired by a different Beethoven piano concerto — which is performed on the same program as the new work, Biss soloing on both.
This weekend marks the fourth of the five, “Watermark,” a piano concerto by wonderfully imaginative Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Caroline Shaw, alongside Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. Mischa Santora also conducts Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture.
Performances are 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Ordway Concert Hall, 345 Washington St., St. Paul; and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 900 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi. Tickets are $50-$11 (students and children free). Details: 651-291-1144 or thespco.org.
Pianist and pedagogue Mieczyslaw Horszowski died in 1993, but his final student, Rieko Aizawa, found him so inspiring that she asked violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Ramah Ramakrishnan if they could name their piano trio after him. They happily agreed, because they were also inspired by Horszowski’s musicianship and devotion to both the classic and contemporary.
The trio’s Schubert Club Music in the Park Series debut will offer some of each Sunday, with performances of Robert Schumann’s First Piano Trio and excerpts from Elliott Carter’s “Epigrams.” Then violist Masumi Per Rostad of the Pacifica String Quartet joins the trio for Johannes Brahms’ Second Piano Quartet.
The performance is 4 p.m. at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave., St. Paul. Cost is $31-$21. Details at 651-292-3268 or Schubert.org.