Each of the artistic partners programs and leads a few weeks of concerts each season; the group currently includes conductor Roberto Abbado, violinist Joshua Bell, conductor Douglas Boyd, pianist Stephen Prutsman, and conductor Nicholas McGegan. Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard will begin his term at the beginning of the 2006-07 season, and Bell and Prutsman will step down at the end of the season after three years.
"Collaboration over a period of time with inspired and inquisitive colleagues is what makes my musical life exciting and rich," Upshaw said. "Chamber music can provide an exhilarating opportunity for music-making, and I am grateful to have been approached by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to undertake a series of concerts that explore a wide variety of musical styles. Since recording Copland's Emily Dickinson songs in the early 1990s, I have enjoyed sharing the stage with the musicians of the SPCO and I'm very excited to extend this association as an artistic partner."
Bruce Coppock, the orchestra's president and managing director, said, "This is an exciting appointment to the SPCO's remarkable group of artistic partners. Across an extremely broad repertory, Dawn brings fresh insight, an affecting dramatic presence, and an exquisitely beautiful voice. Her daring and adventuresome musical personality will be stimulating for SPCO musicians and audiences alike."
In her new role, Upshaw will program and perform in three weeks of programming each season. Coppock told Minnesota Public Radio that she wouldn't conduct, but might lead the orchestra as she sang. Upshaw told the St. Paul Pioneer Press she planned to commission new works for the SPCO, as well as programming older music.