SPCO violinist will pull double-duty as artistic director and musician


The president and managing director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is retiring – just two years after he returned following the orchestra's labor dispute and lockout.

Bruce Coppock announced Wednesday he will retire in January, and his job will be split between two veterans of the SPCO, a news release says.

Jon Limbacher – the former vice president of the SPCO – will become the managing director and president, while violinist Kyu-Young Kim will become artistic director. The move marks the first time a major American orchestra has appointed a current member of the orchestra as artistic director, SPCO notes. (He'll still continue to play on stage.)

As for Coppock, his quick departure from the SPCO was all part of the plan.

"So here's the thing," Coppock told MPR News. "When I came back in 2013, I had four or five things I really wanted to accomplish."

Those things: Get the ensemble back on track financially after the lockout, bring in new artistic partners, build and open a new concert hall, get a new labor contract, and lastly, make a plan to replace himself, the Star Tribune says.

With those items checked off the list, Coppock will retire and the SPCO will move towards an orchestra driven by its musicians – one of the goals he had upon his return in 2013, reports note.

“We wanted some combination of artistic awareness, institutional awareness, strategic skills, raw intelligence and commitment to the community. And we were able to put together this absolutely dream team of Kyu and Jon," Coppock told MinnPost.

As for where the orchestra is headed, MinnPost asked Coppock, Kim and Limbacher where they see the ensemble in five years (2019-20 marks the SPCO's 60th anniversary):

Coppock hopes to see a more "robust version" of itself, a fully developed international touring career, and overall seeing the orchestra play at a higher level.

As for the new leaders, Kim envisions the orchestra "thriving" after adding a "significant number" of new members, while also bringing more diversity to programming and live-streaming concerts, among other things, while Limbacher sees the SPCO playing at an even higher level and also serving a broader cross-section of the community, MinnPost reports.

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