A month of celebrations for the new Ordway Concert Hall in St Paul launches Saturday with a gala concert and an open house Sunday.
Saturday's concert will feature performances by representatives of the Ordway's main tenants: the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the Schubert Club and the Ordway itself.
The new hall was built on the space once occupied by the 300-seat McKnight Theater. The venue, designed specifically for the SPCO, seats a total of 1,100 people on three levels.
• Photos: Tuning the new Ordway
Minnesota Opera Music Director Michael Christie, who will conduct the gala, said the event highlights the creation of a remarkable hall.
"To make the McKnight Theater into this space so perfectly proportioned for the SPCO, and for Schubert Club, and hopefully the Opera eventually as well, it's amazing to think that we are all launching this thing together," he said.
The concert's program is designed to highlight each of the Ordway tenants, with an unconducted performance by the SPCO, a performance by pianist Jeremy Denk with soprano Sasha Cooke, and a piece with soloists and the chorus from the Minnesota Opera.
"In a certain way we kind of felt like we were throwing a lot of stuff into the stew," Christie said, "But I think people will certainly get a great sense of the spirit of each organization."
The new Ordway Concert Hall will then throw open its doors for free concerts and tours Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. There will be an official ribbon-cutting at 11:30 a.m., and visitors can tour the original Ordway music theater as well as the new hall. The open house runs until 4 p.m.
SPCO President Bruce Coppock said there will be ample opportunity to experience the wonderful acoustics of the new space.
"There will concerts basically every 45 minutes or so," he said. "Different concerts by a whole variety of artists. There'll be Broadway, there will be SPCO performances, Schubert Club performances."
"I also believe that anybody can have their own 15 seconds of fame and go up on the stage and do their thing for 15 seconds and then come back down. So it should be a lot of fun," said Coppock.
The weekend events launch a series of concerts of all types over the next few weeks. The SPCO will play its debut concerts in the hall on Thursday and Friday. The Minnesota Opera will then present the world premier of its adaptation of "The Manchurian Candidate" beginning March 7.