Kate Nordstrum, in stylish heels, clicks down a hallway in Christ Church Lutheran, the south Minneapolis church famed for its sleek design by Eliel and Eero Saarinen. Nordstrum is not a pastor. But she is an evangelist, spreading the gospel of contemporary chamber music, an emerging genre that, like Nordstrum herself, is both classically influenced and aggressively vanguard. The church is just the latest venue she’s booking with music that Minnesotans might not otherwise hear.
Until recently, Nordstrum was the music curator at the Southern Theater, orchestrating atmospheric evenings with classical composers like Philip Glass protégé Nico Muhly and indie-rockers like Nat Baldwin of the Dirty Projectors, often on the same night. “A lot of people came for the indie rock, but then they’d be exposed to the other side of the bill,” Nordstrum says. “More often than not, people were pleasantly surprised.”
When the Southern Theater downsized last spring, Nordstrum went independent. But the music remains the same. This month, at the Cedar Cultural Center, she’s presenting composer Dustin O’Halloran, who scored the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette, joined by rocker Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie. She was also recently recruited by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra to produce nontraditional music programs and booked cabaret-style composer and singer Corey Dargel to perform with the SPCO.
Many of these performers hail from New York, where Nordstrum worked as a marketing coordinator for the Lincoln Center. A violin prodigy, Nordstrum was steeped in classical forms. Yet she was drawn to more experimental music.
At Christ Lutheran, she pauses in the airy sanctuary. Here, early next year, she’ll present Accordo, a chamber group of moonlighting SPCO musicians known for their relaxed, surprising performances. “I’m not interested in bands doing their normal set, where you can sing along with the five songs you know,” Nordstrum says. “The goal is to get people excited about the new.”
5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT KATE
1. Born in Wisconsin, she is a die-hard fan of the Green Bay Packers (sorry, Vikings).
2. She was once a yoga instructor, noted of course for her thoughtful playlists.
3. On her first day at Lincoln Center, she ran into Mikhail Baryshnikov in the lobby.
4. The first single she owned was “Life in a Northern Town” by the Dream Academy.
5. She’s currently listening to TV on the Radio’s new album, Nine Types of Light.