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Events tagged with 2017-18 Season

About This Concert:

American, French and Russian fireworks open the season, including Stravinsky’s incandescent Suite from his ballet The Firebird, and a performance with the Canadian violin phenom James Ehnes.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • James Ehnes, Violin

ADAMS
Short Ride in a Fast Machine

RAVEL
Pavane for a Dead Princess

HILLBORG
Violin Concerto No. 2 [U.S. Premiere]

BERLIOZ
Roman Carnival Overture

STRAVINSKY
Suite from The Firebird (1919 revision)

Fun Facts:

  • John Adams has said of his Short Ride in a Fast Machine that you can imagine you’re in a convertible, top down, driving way too fast—and loving it.
  • Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess is one of the most elegant of this 20th-century Frenchman’s creations, inspired not so much by an actual princess, but the composer’s wish to conjure a courtly dance that a princess, say, of the 16th century would’ve loved.
  • Performers in Ravel’s day loved his Pavane so much that the tempo got slower and slower—prompting the composer to say, “this is a pavane for a dead princess, not a dead pavane for a princess.”
  • James Ehnes has a global reputation for his approachability as well as his virtuosity, and The Times (London) last fall praised “the Canadian’s polite, unassuming manner [which] belies his brilliant artistry.”
  • If you want to hear more from phenom James Ehnes, he’ll be back in January for our Tchaikovsky Marathon.
  • Ehnes has one of the most active solo careers today, but also formed the Ehnes String Quartet to collaborate with friends in chamber music.
  • Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture is the Act II curtain-raiser to his 1844 opera Benvenuto Cellini—which bombed on opening night and has hardly seen the light of day since—and these nine minutes of break-neck, beautiful music remain one of his most popular concert pieces.
  • The end of Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird is bar-for-bar some of the most exciting music of the 20th century.

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About This Concert:

Finland declared independence in 1917, and we celebrate its centennial with breathtaking music and musicians from this remarkable Nordic nation.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Elina Vähälä, violin

AHO
Minea

J. KUUSISTO
Violin Concerto

SIBELIUS
Symphony No. 2

Fun Facts:

  • Aho titled Minea in honor of Minneapolis, the city in which it was premiered in 2009.
  • Osmo Vänskä picked the violin prodigy Elina Vähälä when she was just 12 to make her debut with his Finnish orchestra, the Lahti Symphony. Vänskä later named Vähälä the orchestra’s “young master soloist.”
  • Sibelius’ Second was written in 1901, when Russia had sanctioned Finnish language and culture, and the music has been called the “Symphony of Independence.” It is the most popular of his seven symphonies, famous for its final pages of soaring brass fanfares.
  • FinnFest returns! This annual Finnish-American heritage festival began in 1983 in Minneapolis and has moved to a different US city each year. Orchestra Hall is the host site for this year’s FinnFest, including a beautiful Finnish Expo in our lobby!

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About This Concert:

Sibelius didn’t just write incredible symphonies! Hear a pair of his works for chamber ensemble, featuring Osmo Vänskä on the clarinet and guest violinist Elina Vähälä in this NightCap performance.

Please note: this chamber music performance will be in the Orchestra Hall auditorium.

SIBELIUS
Overture F minor for Brass Septet

SIBELIUS/arr. Kuusito, J.
En Saga

  • Elina Vähälä, violin
  • Erin Keefe, violin
  • Silver Ainomäe, cello
  • Kristen Bruya, bass
  • Osmo Vänskä, clarinet
  • Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, horn
  • Additional personnel to be announced

Fun Facts:

  • The brass septet has been one of the most important musical ensembles in Finland since the 1870s. It is a national specialty and the basis for much of the country’s band music.
  • Finland was once called “The Land of a thousand lakes and brass septets.”
  • En Saga, known mostly as a piece for full orchestra, was originally envisioned by Sibelius as a chamber piece, but the original sketches have gone missing. It is heard here in an arrangement by contemporary Finnish composer-conductor Jakko Kuusisto.
  • Sibelius’ symphonic tone poem inspired a painting by his good friend Akseli Gallen-Kallela, which depicts both a fantastical landscape and a portrait of the composer.
  • En Saga is one of Sibelius’ earliest works, and he confesses to composing it using many of his own emotions as the basis for the work.
  • Osmo Vänskä is serving as honorary chair of FinnFest celebrating Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence.

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About this Concert:

Calling all La La Land fans! Relive the magic as we screen the blockbuster movie while the Minnesota Orchestra plays the Oscar®-winning score.

Fun Facts:

  • La La Land was nominated for 14 Oscars and won six, including Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “City of Stars.”
  • The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the first ensembles to present La La Land in Concert.
  • The movie’s composer Justin Hurwitz met director Damien Chazelle at Harvard, where they were band mates. Hurwitz also scored Chazelle’s music-centered film Whiplash.
  • Ryan Gosling trained as a jazz pianist so he could play the piano scenes himself.
  • Co-star John Legend, a classically trained pianist, learned to play guitar for his role.
  • The New York Daily News praises La La Land as “…a singing love letter to musicals,” and Rolling Stone calls it “a hot miracle.”

This film has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America.

La La Land © 2017 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About This Concert:

Associate Conductor Roderick Cox wowed audiences and critics last season in his subscription debut, and he builds on that success with one of the piano world’s most dazzling talents, Alessio Bax.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Roderick Cox, conductor
  • Alessio Bax, piano

ARGENTO
Valentino Dances

GRIEG
Piano Concerto

RACHMANINOFF
Symphonic Dances

Fun Facts:

  • The Star Tribune called Cox’s performance last season “a highly auspicious subscription concert debut. Cox will be in the vanguard.”
  • Dominick Argento’s Valentino Dances comes from his acclaimed 1993 opera, The Dream of Valentino, about the silent-film heartthrob Rudolf Valentino.
  • Argento, who remembers his boyhood music classes as “50-minute sessions of excruciating boredom,” is Minnesota’s only Pulitzer Prize winner in composition.
  • Shhh: don’t tell the Norwegians! Grieg, Norway’s most beloved composer, wrote his Piano Concerto in Denmark (where he went for the sun) after studying in Germany.
  • Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances was his final work, written in 1940 and summing up a long career with brief quotes from earlier pieces, but it also holds a beautiful alto saxophone solo that surprised everyone at its premiere.
  • Alessio Bax has won several of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions, and he also loves to write; his online journal “Have Piano Will Travel” began as a way for him to write about the music world, but he often included favorite recipes as well, so now many think of it as his food blog.

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About This Concert:

Nathalie Stutzmann makes her Minnesota Orchestra conducting debut with Beethoven's own favorite symphony, his sunny Fourth.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
  • Bixby Kennedy, clarinet

PROKOFIEV
Symphony No. 1

MOZART
Clarinet Concerto

BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 4

Fun Facts:

  • Nathalie Stutzmann is a quadruple-threat musician: she plays piano and bassoon, and her gorgeous contralto voice has been heard in Carnegie Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, and the Proms in London. Lately her conducting career has exploded as she has formed her own orchestra, called Orfeo 55.
  • Prokofiev’s First Symphony embodies a light and buoyant 18th-century spirit, but his later works would inflame Soviet-era critics for decades with his brash composing style.
  • At the heart of the concert, FRIENDS competition winner Bixby Kennedy performs Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, his last completed work and undoubtedly one of the most poignant.

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About This Concert:

The Atrium Jazz Ensemble reveals how these ancient sounds have been brought up to the minute with music from Stephen Foster to Clifford Brown and beyond.

  • Jeremy Walker, piano and artistic director
  • John Raymond, trumpet
  • Kevin Washington, drums
  • Jeff Bailey, bass

Fun Facts:

  • Drums and horns are ancient and universal. Fundamental sounds of celebration and dance, a call to action and a reverie. In jazz, they can whisper and shout, cajole and soothe.
  • Kevin Washington is a master musician and has been featured in Modern Drummer Magazine. His dedication to drumming began as soon as he could hold the sticks.
  • For this concert, John Raymond returns from New York to his Twin Cities home. His music is renowned as "electrifyingly new and strangely familiar at the same time with his mix of modern sounds and old-fashioned feeling." —Downbeat Magazine
  • Of this series, Pioneer Press notes "Orchestra Hall's Target Atrium is the Twin Cities' answer to New York's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center—a smaller, more intimate venue where listeners can enjoy concert hall-quality jazz."

Media Partner:

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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About This Concert:

Action! Adventure! Snakes! Revisit the film that introduced us to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)—Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark—now with a live orchestra performance of John Williams’s original score.

Fun Facts:

  • Composer John Williams won a Grammy® for Raiders of the Lost Ark—his famous themes are the musical stars of hit films such as Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jurassic Park.
  • From the epic “Raiders of the Lost Ark” theme to the brassy fun of “Desert Chase,” the entire film score is performed in perfect sync with the action on screen.
  • For the Well of Souls sequence, producers acquired hundreds of snakes from English pet shops, but weren’t able to find enough to satisfy Steven Spielberg, who used cut-up hoses as reptile extras.
  • Actors Tom Selleck and Jeff Bridges were considered for the role of Indiana Jones before it was offered to Harrison Ford.
  • To add to the onscreen fun, some of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians will be in costume to celebrate Halloween. Audience costumes are welcome!

This film has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. © 1981 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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About This Concert:

Martin Luther’s hammer rang out 500 years ago as he pounded his declaration of faith to the Wittenberg church door, and we mark the anniversary of this occasion with music inspired by Luther’s revolution.

BACH
Orchestral Suite No. 2

MENDELSSOHN
Symphony No. 5, Reformation

CURRIER
Re-formation [World Premiere]

Fun Facts:

  • Theologian Martin Luther lit the spark of the Reformation, but he was also a passionate music-lover who wrote dozens of hymns. He said: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”
  • Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) is the best-known hymn by Luther, who also liked a good drinking song and asked, “why should the devil get all the best tunes?” You’ll hear this hymn late in the symphony, performed by a flute solo.
  • Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach went to the same school and sang in the same church choir—though Bach a century after Luther.
  • Sebastian Currier’s Re-formation reimagines the Reformation for today, with quotes from Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 and Luther’s sturdy old hymn forming a cry to save the planet.

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About This Concert:

A concert that changes lives and may change the course of music, as seven emerging composers share their most exciting new works with you.

SAAD HADDAD
Takht

ANDREW HSU
vale

CHARLES PECK
Mosaic

HILARY PURRINGTON
Likely Pictures in Haphazard Sky

DANIEL SCHLOSBERG
Small Talk

PETER S. SHIN
Relapse

NINA C. YOUNG
Agnosco Veteris

 

Fun Facts:

  • Haydn once said of the young Beethoven, “Keep your eye on him, as he’ll make a noise in the world someday.” The same could be said of the promising young composers on this concert.
  • This remarkable future-forward concert—the nation’s most comprehensive and highest-profile platform for emerging orchestral composers—is part of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, which celebrates its 15th birthday.
  • Vote for your favorite music of the concert on Twitter. The winner will receive an ultra-rare second performance the following night on the Orchestra’s November 11 live concert broadcast celebrating Minnesota Public Radio’s 50th anniversary!
  • Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts is the ideal director for the Composer Institute and Future Classics concert—having already mentored dozens of promising young composers.
  • Minnesota Public Radio’s Fred Child will host the concert onstage, interviewing each composer briefly before the downbeat of his or her piece.

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About this Concert:

Minnesota Public Radio celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and MPR’s Brian Newhouse steps out of the Orchestra Hall broadcast booth to emcee an evening of musical works that have made Minnesota Orchestra and MPR history.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Brian Newhouse, host

Fun Facts:

  • The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the few American orchestras that broadcasts each of its Classical season concerts live.
  • MPR began in 1967 as a single station based in St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. One of its early host remembers broadcasting “mostly to barn doors and lily pads.” It is now the nation’s leading classical music broadcaster.
  • The concert holds highlights from our live-broadcast history, including touchstone selections from the Orchestra’s 2015 Cuba tour, the 1974 Opening Night of Orchestra Hall, tours to Finland and The Netherlands, and in the vulnerable days immediately following 9/11.
  • During each Friday night subscription concert, MPR’s Brian Newhouse hosts the program from a small windowless broadcast room not much larger than a phone booth one floor above the stage, connected by audio and video monitors.
  • Our Friday night live broadcasts are shared globally online with listeners who stay up really late in Europe or get up early in Asia to listen to music made in Minneapolis.

MPR 50

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About This Concert:

Venezuela’s young conductor Rafael Payare makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut with Ravel’s gorgeous Shéhérazade and Brahms’ towering final symphony, the Fourth.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Rafael Payare, conductor
  • Virginie Verrez, mezzo

DUKAS
The Sorcerer's Apprentice

RAVEL
Shéhérazade

BRAHMS
Symphony No. 4

Fun Facts:

  • The Fourth is Brahms at his best: moments of tender melancholy woven through passionate, rhythmic, life-affirming music.
  • Unlike many composers, Brahms knew the Fourth would be his final symphony, and he poured everything into its yearlong creation.
  • Conductor Rafael Payare was born in 1980 and grew up as a horn player in the famed Venezuelan music education program called El Sistema (The System).
  • El Sistema began in the ʼ70s in a Venezuelan parking garage, and has since served hundreds of thousands of impoverished children around the world with rigorous and free after-school music education.
  • Composer Maurice Ravel had an obsession with the character Shéhérazade, who is both the narrator and the heroine of The Arabian Nights.
  • Ravel wrote an early orchestral piece called Shéhérazade, but it bombed; one critic called Ravel “a mediocrely gifted debutant who will perhaps become something in about ten years, if he works hard.”
  • Ravel’s second Shéhérazade came six years later and was a hit—the set of three lush and evocative songs showed just how hard the young man had been working.
  • The work on this program is not to be confused with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade based on the same tale, written a generation earlier.

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About This Concert:

Celebrated screen actor, musician and winner of a 2016 Best Actor Tony Award for his role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, Leslie Odom, Jr. joins the Minnesota Orchestra for an exhilarating evening of jazz standards and Broadway hits.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Leslie Odom, Jr., vocalist

Fun Facts:

  • Odom, Jr. credits speechwriting and oratory for getting him into the arts. He made his Broadway debut at age 17 in Rent.
  • He has a passion for horror movies, vintage '80s TV shows and ordering dessert first.
  • His TV appearances have included roles on NBC’s Smash, Law & Order: SVU, Gotham, Grey’s Anatomy, and House of Lies.
  • His self-titled 2014 debut album was partially funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign.

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About This Concert:

Dive “under the sea” into Disney’s 1989 full-length film complete with spirited musical numbers, a delightful young mermaid named Ariel and the Academy award-winning® score performed live by the Minnesota Orchestra!

Fun Facts:

  • The Little Mermaid was composer Alan Menken’s first score for Disney. (He went on to score Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tangled and more.) The movie gave him his first Oscar win: Best Song for “Under the Sea.” Menken also won the 1989 Academy Award® for best score.
  • In the movie’s opening scene with King Triton, you can spot Disney superstars Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck in the crowd.
  • The character of Ariel was based in part on actress Alyssa Milano, who at the time was starring in the popular ABC sitcom Who’s The Boss.
  • One of the film’s best-loved songs, “Under the Sea,” draws on Caribbean Calypso influences.
  • The Little Mermaid marked the start the “Disney Renaissance” during which the studio regained its status as an animation powerhouse.

Tickets for children (age 6-17) are 25% off for price sections 1-4. Select “child” instead of ‘adult” when choosing seats. This film has been rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America.

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About This Concert:

Beethoven’s final and most elegant piano trio and two unusual combinations of wind instruments (plus one violin!) adding a bit of early 20th-century musical energy.

STRAVINSKY
Pastorale

Janáček
Mládí, Sextet for Winds

BEETHOVEN
Piano Trio in B-flat major, Archduke

Fun Facts:

  • Beethoven’s Seventh and final piano trio was composed at an unusual time in his life when he was in relatively good spirits–which comes across beautifully in his sweeping, singing and smooth melodies.
  • Stravinsky’s Pastorale was originally composed for voice and piano. Only Stravinsky could take that combination and rewrite the piece for this unusual set of instruments: violin, oboe, English horn, clarinet and bassoon.
  • The original version of Pastorale was written for Rimsky-Korsakov’s daughter, Nadia, while Stravinsky was still his student.

Photos © Joel Larson and Josh Kohanek Photography

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About This Concert:

Put extra fa-la-la in your holidays as trumpeter Charles Lazarus and friends fill Orchestra Hall with the sounds of the season from Latin, jazz and lounge to gospel and caroling classics.

  • Charles Lazarus, trumpet
  • Tommy Barbarella, keyboard
  • Jeff Bailey, bass
  • David Schmalenberger, drums and percussion
  • The Lazarus Brass

Fun Facts:

  • Orchestra Hall’s newest holiday tradition is returning for a third season and includes a fresh take on beloved holiday classics such as "We Three Kings" and "Christmas Time is Here."
  • Charles Lazarus was a member of the world-famous Canadian Brass, and he’s also opened for the legendary Tony Bennett.
  • His 2016 Valentine’s Day concert, Fly Me to the Moon, sold out Orchestra Hall.
  • Lazarus has performed and taught in every U.S. state as well as Canada, Europe and Asia.
  • Members of the Lazarus Brass are also members of the Minnesota Orchestra.
  • Newsday raves "Lazarus could have tumbled the walls of Jericho" (Washington Post)

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

Media Partner:

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About This Concert:

Make a date with Wainwright and the Minnesota Orchestra for a sparkling performance that celebrates both the intimate power and operatic grandeur of Wainwright’s music.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Rufus Wainwright, piano and vocals

Fun Facts:

  • Wainwright’s admirers include The New York Times which loves his "genuine originality," and Elton John, who calls him "the greatest songwriter on the planet."
  • His album Rufus Does Judy is a recreation of Judy Garland’s entire 1961 concert performance at Carnegie Hall.
  • Wainwright has been featured on movie soundtracks including Shrek, Moulin Rouge and Brokeback Mountain. He has performed with stars such as Elton John, David Byrne, Boy George and Joni Mitchell.
  • Following the success of his first opera Prima Donna, Wainwright is currently working on his second, based on the story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, which has been commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company and will premier in the fall of 2018.
  • Wainwright worked for a short time as a waiter at the now-defunct New French Cafe in Minneapolis.

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About This Concert:

Helmuth Rilling, an internationally-acclaimed master of choral music, leads the Orchestra’s first-ever performance at Orchestra Hall of Johann Sebastian Bach’s inspired and inspiring Christmas Oratorio.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Helmuth Rilling, conductor
  • Julia Sophie Wagner, soprano
  • Olivia Vermeulen, mezzo
  • Nicholas Phan, tenor
  • Tyler Duncan, baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

BACH
Christmas Oratorio, Cantatas I, II and III

Fun Facts:

  • Oh, if we had time! Bach’s complete Christmas Oratorio has six parts and usually lasts well over three hours. The Minnesota Orchestra will perform the beautiful first half of this extended masterwork, which describes the birth of Jesus.
  • Conductor Helmuth Rilling has recorded all of Bach’s choral works—a staggering 1,000 pieces on 170 CDs.
  • This performance is an international affair with our wonderful Minnesota Orchestra musicians joined by soloists from Holland, Germany, Canada and the U.S.

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About This Concert:

The Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series continues with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™. John Williams’ legendary score will be performed with a live symphony orchestra as the film is projected simultaneously on the big screen.

Please note: This concert will be performed at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium.

Fun Facts:

  • The Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series, which is another magical experience from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, kicked off in June 2016 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ and is scheduled to include hundreds of performances across more than 35 countries around the world through 2018.
  • In December 2016, Minnesota Orchestra sold out three performances of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium—that’s over 10,000 tickets!
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ is the 45th highest-grossing film of all time.

Tickets for children (age 6-17) are 25% off for price sections 1-4. Select “child” instead of "adult” when choosing seats. This film has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. J.K. ROWLING`S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s17)

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About This Concert:

The magic of the season comes to life in this heartwarming show of songs and stories featuring a new work by Minneapolis’ own storyteller laureate Kevin Kling and director/co-writer Peter Rothstein.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Conceived and directed by Peter Rothstein
  • Written by Kevin Kling

Fun Facts:

  • You don’t have to wait until Christmas morning to be surprised, this concert line-up will include a roster of talented Twin Cities favorites—to be announced!
  • Kevin Kling is nationally known for his commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered. He grew up in Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove, Minnesota, and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College. Astrologically speaking, Kling refers to his zodiac sign as “Minnesota with Iowa rising.”
  • Peter Rothstein is the Artistic Director of Theatre Latte Da and has directed plays, operas and musical theater for the Guthrie, the Children’s Theatre Company, the Minnesota Opera and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
  • Principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, Sarah Hicks has been involved in the creation of many original Minnesota Orchestra productions including A Scandinavian Christmas, A Musical Feast, That’s Amore and Springtime in Paris.

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About This Concert:

Pianist George Winston brings his impressionistic style to Orchestra Hall for an evening of winter songs and shimmering holiday favorites.

  • George Winston, piano

Fun Facts:

  • An eclectic artist, Winston cites Fats Waller, The Doors, Professor Longhair, John Coltrane and Vince Guaraldi as influences.
  • He has also recorded soundtracks for audio children’s books narrated by Meryl Streep, Danny Glover and Lily Tomlin.
  • An aficionado of the Hawaiian Slack Key guitar, Winston is recording a series of albums featuring this unique finger style guitar tradition.
  • His concerts are a popular event for Orchestra Hall audiences during the holiday season, and always include a collection for a local food bank—a longtime cause of Winston’s.
  • Minnesota Public Radio praises him as "a true original with an inimitable style."

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

Media Partner:

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About This Concert:

The New Year sweeps in with two weeks of treasures from Russia’s Romantic master, Tchaikovsky, beginning with his beloved winter-themed Piano Concerto No. 1.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Inon Barnatan, piano
  • Minnesota Dance Theatre

TCHAIKOVSKY
Symphony No. 1, Winter Dreams
Serenade for Strings
Piano Concerto No. 1

Fun Facts:

  • Israeli-born pianist Inon Barnatan comes to Minneapolis from the Big Apple where he is the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever artist-in-association.
  • Barnatan performed Rachmaninoff with the Minnesota Orchestra last season and was quickly welcomed back for another performance.
  • Audiences love the Barnatan Blend: amazing technical virtuosity and deep insight—perfectly suited to the power and lyricism of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto.
  • A late holiday surprise for you: Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings isn’t as well known as his symphonies but the melodies are beautiful!
  • And it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without a party: after the December 31 concert, we’ll have some fun in the lobby and you can help us count down to midnight!

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About This Concert:

Our Tchaikovsky Marathon warms up January with blazing crowd-pleasers like the composer’s Capriccio italien alongside his beautiful but rarely-heard Piano Concerto No. 2, and the most beloved of the composer's symphonies, his Fourth.

TCHAIKOVSKY
Capriccio italien
Piano Concerto No. 2
Symphony No. 4

Fun Facts:

  • Watch Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artist Competition winner pianist Kyle Orth make his Orchestra Hall debut.
  • Tchaikovsky fled to Italy after a disastrous marriage and soaked up the sun, street dances and folk songs of Rome–pouring all of these into his Capriccio italien.
  • Tchaikovsky once said that he’d never write for piano with orchestra because he couldn’t stand the sound of them together but his Piano Concerto No. 1 was such a success that he decided to write a second.
  • Written for Russia’s reigning piano virtuoso of the day Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto was actually premiered in New York City by an American conductor and an English soloist.

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About This Concert:

Our star principal cellist, Anthony Ross, steps into the Tchaikovsky Marathon spotlight to spin one gorgeous melody after another in the Rococo Variations, in between performances of two Tchaikovsky symphonies in one night.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Anthony Ross, cello

TCHAIKOVSKY
Symphony No. 2
Variations on a Rococo Theme
Symphony No. 5

Fun Facts:

  • The inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 came from his sister’s butler, who sang Ukrainian folksongs around the house while Tchaikovsky worked.
  • Tchaikovsky’s Rococo theme doesn’t come from the Rococo era (late-18th century), but his own imagination inspired by his hero Mozart, and is followed by eight variations, each more ornate and beautiful than the one before.
  • The word rococo comes from the French word rocaille, which means rock-and-shell garden ornamentation; the style created intricate and whimsical shell-like curves in statues, architecture and design of all kinds.
  • Ten years had passed since Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony when–full of doubt–he started work on his Fifth. After its premiere he said, “I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure.” Today it is his most often-performed symphony.

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About This Concert:

Here are hidden jewels from Tchaikovsky’s treasure box that dazzle like sunlight on fresh snow, plus his beloved, sweeping ballet score crafted into a new suite by Osmo Vänskä.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Adam Neiman, piano

TCHAIKOVSKY
Symphony No. 3, Polish
Piano Concerto No. 3
Swan Lake Suite

Fun Facts:

  • Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 went through more birth pains than any of his compositions, starting out as a symphony (most of which he ripped up) before he turned it into a piano concerto (most of which he ripped up)—leaving only this beautiful single-movement work.
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 was the last work he performed before his sudden death in 1893, but the Piano Concerto No. 3 was the last music he wrote.
  • Swan Lake, like all of Tchaikovsky’s ballets, holds dozens of short numbers and a performance runs for hours. In this performance Osmo Vänskä has compiled his own suite that tells the old Russian tale of the swan that turns into the beautiful girl, Odette.

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About This Concert:

The Tchaikovsky Marathon swirls to a brilliant close with this season’s featured artist, James Ehnes, in perhaps the most beloved concerto of the entire violin repertoire.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • James Ehnes, violin

TCHAIKOVSKY
Marche Slave
Violin Concerto
Symphony No. 6, Pathétique

Fun Facts:

  • Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto today is the most frequently performed and universally adored concerto in the repertoire.
  • Unlike many young violinists, Ehnes says he never practices scales from books, but rather focuses solely on the score he’s working on at the moment. “That’s always been my philosophy, although maybe it’s just laziness masquerading as practicality.”
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 is subtitled Pathétique, mistranslated into French from Tchaikovsky’s Russian original which meant passion.
  • For sheer toxicity, no critic has ever surpassed the sourpuss who said at the 1881 premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto that he’d found “music which stinks in the ear.”
  • Stay after for a NightCap Chamber performance featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor.

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About This Concert:

Extend your Tchaikovsky marathon experience and take in a Nightcap performance of Tchaikovsky’s one and only piano trio, featuring two of the Orchestra’s principal players.

TCHAIKOVSKY
Piano Trio in A minor

Fun Facts:

  • Tchaikovsky dedicated this piano trio to his close friend and mentor, Nikolai Rubinstein, who had passed away a few months before the work was composed. It was premiered on the first anniversary of his death.
  • Tchaikovsky turned down requests from his benefactress to compose a trio. He said: “I simply cannot endure the combination of piano with violin or cello. To my mind the timbre of these instruments will not blend.” He changed his mind not much later and composed his one and only piano trio.

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This performance adds the Orchestra’s talent to Ben Folds‘ vocals and piano for an evening of quirky melodies, impromptu creation, and an epic love-fest between audience and musicians.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Ben Folds, piano and vocals

Fun Facts:

  • Ben Folds hearts the Minnesota Orchestra—this will be their fourth concert together!
  • He has recorded multiple solo rock albums, as well as collaborations with Regina Spektor, Weird Al and William Shatner.
  • An avid photographer, Folds is a member of the distinguished Sony Artisans of Imagery.
  • Folds was also a judge on NBC’s The Sing-Off, a show that started the careers of many a cappella groups.
  • According to Paste Magazine, “Ben Folds meshes the classical and pop music worlds in ways that few mainstream contemporary artists can hope to achieve.”

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The spirit of Paris runs like the Seine through this program with two 18th-century symphonies dedicated to the City of Light and a hauntingly beautiful 19th-century religious work by one of Paris’ most treasured composers, Fauré.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Bernard Labadie, conductor
  • Hélène Guilmette, soprano
  • Philippe Sly, bass-baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

RIGEL
Symphony No. 4

MOZART
Symphony No. 31, Paris

FAURÉ
Requiem

Fun Facts:

  • Both Mozart and Rigel were born in German-speaking countries and came as young men to Paris hoping for fame; Rigel found it, but Mozart didn’t and returned home to Austria.
  • Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 was premiered in Paris by a larger orchestra than the composer had ever heard, prompting his father to quip that the French must like noisy symphonies.
  • Fauré’s Requiem is filled with a quiet beauty, “dominated from beginning to end,” said the composer, “by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”

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Three incredible works for strings written by three then-young composers deeply inspired by life and love, featuring three string quartets formed from the Minnesota Orchestra string musicians and a guest pianist.

SCHULHOFF
Five pieces for String Quartet

MENDELSSOHN
String Quartet No. 2

FAURÉ
Quartet No. 1 for Piano and Strings

Fun Facts:

  • Mendelssohn began work on his quartet right around the time that Beethoven died. He makes several vivid references to Beethoven’s string quartets throughout the piece.
  • The nickname for Mendelssohn’s quartet is “Frage,” meaning “Question” in German.
  • Gabriel Fauré’s Quartet No. 1 contains an abundance of warmth and optimism, despite its key of C minor. It is full of quirks and colors, particularly in the piano melodies.
  • Fauré was engaged to Marianne Viardot in 1877, while he was writing this quartet, but the engagement was suddenly broken off. His grief can be heard in the Adagio movement, but the lightness and positivity throughout the rest of the quartet suggests that he knew he had ultimately taken the right path.
  • Erwin Schulhoff dedicated his Five Pieces for String Quartet to composer Darius Milhaud. Born to German Jewish parents, he died in a concentration camp in 1942, at age 48.

Photos © Joel Larson and Josh Kohanek Photography

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The Minnesota Orchestra performs Leonard Bernstein's electrifying score live while the remastered film West Side Story is shown in glorious high definition on the big screen.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • David Newman, conductor

Fun Facts:

  • West Side Story re-imagines Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York City, as a bitter rivalry between two teenage street gangs—the American-born Jets and the Puerto Rican immigrant Sharks—is forever altered by a forbidden love affair between the young couple Tony and Maria.
  • Since its debut on Broadway in 1957 and the 1961 film adaptation, West Side Story has become a favorite to generations of audiences, and many of its songs have become pop culture touchstones, including “Maria,” “Tonight,” “Somewhere” and “America.” 
  • Rita Moreno (Anita) and George Chakiris (Bernardo) won Oscars® for their performances, among the 10 bestowed on the film—the most ever for a movie musical at that time.
  • Although the original musical materials for the movie arrangements were lost, 14 months of research by The Leonard Bernstein Office brought to light a trove of important finds in private collections and library archives around the country.
  • Bernstein himself conducted the Minnesota Orchestra (then Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) twice in 1945 and 1947. He was a good friend of the Orchestra’s fourth music director, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and mentored its ninth music director, Eiji Oue.

West Side Story © 1961 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

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André Watts brings a fearless virtuosity to the piano, exactly what Beethoven asks for in his Emperor Concerto—where master composer and master performer meet.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • John Storgårds, conductor
  • André Watts, piano

BEETHOVEN
Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor

SHOSTAKOVICH
Symphony No. 10

Fun Facts:

  • Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 may have gotten its nickname at the 1812 Vienna premiere when an excited French officer exclaimed, “C’est l’Empereur!”
  • Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 quotes his own song “What’s in My Name?” and throughout the Tenth, Shostakovich uses the notes D, E flat, C, B (D, S, C, H in German spelling) for his own initials—a survivor’s rebuke to Stalin who had terrorized the composer.
  • At 16, André Watts filled in at the last minute with the New York Philharmonic. At his performance of Liszt’s concerto, Leonard Bernstein and the orchestra joined the audience in a standing ovation for the young man.
  • John Storgårds is as accomplished with a violin bow as a conductor’s baton, having served as concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony for several seasons.

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Four singular pianists take turns at the keyboard with classics from the American songbook along with original music—hear camaraderie and competition in this intimate performance.

  • Jeremy Walker, piano and artistic director
  • Chris Lomheim, piano
  • Bryan Nichols, piano
  • Javier Santiago, piano

Fun Facts:

  • The keyboard has long been at the center of music. From Bach to Joplin, Chopin to Ellington, the forefront of compositional thought has been at the piano.
  • The piano is an orchestra in a box—percussive, thundering, shimmering and clarion. Pianists coax a world of emotion from our most mechanized instrument.
  • The four pianists in this program are widely divergent in style and approach, but all are united in unearthing new expressive territory at the piano.
  • Chris Lomheim is a pianist whose rich harmony is always accompanied by swinging, bluesy improvisation. Bryan Nichols possesses formidable technique expressed through adventurous modernism. Javier Santiago is a hard-driving virtuoso versed in the jazz tradition. Jeremy Walker's pianism is quirky and expressive, with a restless imagination.
  • Of this series, Pioneer Press notes "Orchestra Hall's Target Atrium is the Twin Cities' answer to New York's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center—a smaller, more intimate venue where listeners can enjoy concert hall-quality jazz."

Media Partner:

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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Juraj Valčuha returns to conduct Rachmaninoff’s powerful Third Piano Concerto and Debussy’s shape-shifting picture of the sea, La mer.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Juraj Valčuha, conductor
  • Kirill Gerstein, piano

LYADOV
The Enchanted Lake

RACHMANINOFF
Piano Concerto No. 3

RESPIGHI
The Fountains of Rome

DEBUSSY
La mer

Fun Facts:

  • At six-foot-six, Rachmaninoff had hands that could span three notes farther than most pianists—one of the reasons his Concerto No. 3 is the most daunting in all the pianist’s literature.
  • The Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parent’s record collection and came to the US when he was only 14 to focus on jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • Gerstein won the prestigious (and slightly mysterious) Gilmore Award in 2010, bestowed every four years on an unsuspecting pianist anywhere in the world in recognition of exceptional artistry.
  • Debussy’s parents had plans for their son to join the navy, but Debussy rarely got close to large bodies of water and instead let his imagination set sail when he created his vivid orchestration of the sea in La mer.

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Join us for a family concert sure to delight audiences of all ages!

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Akiko Fujimoto, conductor

More Details:

  • This concert will feature two of the Minnesota Orchestra’s very own—Steven Campbell (tuba) and Roma Duncan (piccolo)—as we explore music that tells a story of bumblebees, rivers, elephants and more!
  • Listen to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, two pieces of music inspired by the Mississippi River—Kevin Puts’ River’s Rush and Michael Daugherty’s Reflections on the Mississippi—and a special surprise duet for tuba and piccolo.
  • The Orchestra will then perform the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but with a special, sporty twist thanks to the hilarious antics of composer P.D.Q Bach.

Join us at 12:45pm for Learning in the Lobby activities sponsored by Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra

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You’re invited! Pink Martini mixes a fabulous cocktail of swoon-worthy music and multilingual flourishes for a performance that will be the talk of the town.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • China Forbes, lead vocals
  • Pink Martini, ensemble

Fun Facts:

  • Pianist Thomas Lauderdale formed Pink Martini in 1994 in Portland to play at fundraisers for civil rights, environmental and educational causes.
  • Lauderdale describes Pink Martini as “a rollicking around-the-world musical adventure…if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we’d be that band.”
  • Pink Martini albums feature a wide range of guest singers such as the Von Trapps (yes, the actual great-grandchildren of The Sound of Music’s Captain and Maria von Trapp), the late Phyllis Diller and Rufus Wainwright.
  • They’ve recorded in dozens of languages as varied as Turkish, Japanese, Romanian and Xhosa.
  • Lead singer China Forbes graduated cum laude from Harvard and her original songs have been featured in The Sopranos, The West Wing, Weeds, The L Word, Felicity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
  • NPR describes Pink Martini’s songs as “a globetrotting victory lap…all tackled with cosmopolitan sophistication and the playfulness of pop.”

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No first symphony has ever rocked the world like Mahler’s stunning Titan—joyous and bold, the composer’s audacious wish to embrace all of humanity in a single piece of music.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Erin Keefe, violin

WEILL
Violin Concerto

MAHLER
Symphony No. 1, Titan

Fun Facts:

  • Gustav Mahler wrote his Symphony No. 1 on the inspiration of simple German folk tunes and poetry, and turned that into a fabulously colorful tapestry for brass, strings, winds and percussion, and perhaps the most daring first symphony of any composer.
  • Kurt Weill, who composed Broadway superhits like “Mack the Knife,” also wrote dozens of concert works as a young man in his native Germany.
  • Weill shed no tears when he left Germany for America, and said, “The moment I landed here I felt as though I’d come home.”
  • When Erin Keefe was young, her father wanted her to study piano, but the front door of their house wasn’t big enough to move a piano in, so violin it was.

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Enthralling legions of audiences in sold-out halls throughout the world, TAO: Drum Heart brings a fusion of explosive Japanese Taiko drumming, contemporary costumes and eye-popping choreography to Orchestra Hall.

Fun Facts:

  • "Taiko" is the general term for the type of drumming featured in TAO: Drum Heart; in Japanese, the word literally means "fat drum."
  • Since their first appearance in 2004, TAO: Drum Heart has played in more than 22 countries and 400 cities around the world, with 7 million spectators to date.
  • After performing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, TAO: Drum Heart sold out every show of its first North American tour.
  • TAO: Drum Heart includes performances by both male and female Taiko drummers..
  • The Chicago Tribune applauds TAO: Drum Heart as “extraordinarily talented percussion artists, and seductive, alluring performers.”

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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Join Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus and Minneapolis family quintet The Steeles for an era-spanning journey through the New American Songbook from Gershwin and Ellington to Stevie Wonder and Prince.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Charles Lazarus, trumpet / The Steeles, vocalists
  • Tommy Barbarella, piano
  • Cory Wong, guitar
  • Jeff Bailey, bass
  • David Schmalenberger, drums

Fun Facts:

  • Opening with the music of Gershwin and closing with an encore of Prince’s Purple Rain as performed before 65,000 roaring fans at the Minnesota Vikings 2016 season opener, this is a can’t-miss performance.
  • The Steeles appeared on 5 albums with Prince (Graffiti Bridge, Diamonds and Pearls, 1-800-New Funk, The Gold Experience and The Love Symbol Album) and starred in the Broadway hit The Gospel at Colonus.
  • A Minnesota Orchestra member since 2000, Charles Lazarus has helmed original productions for the Orchestra as soloist, composer and bandleader. A versatile virtuoso, he was a member of the Canadian Brass, opened for Tony Bennett, and has performed with Barry White and Joe Williams.
  • New York Newsday hails Lazarus's "bedazzling technique and refined sense of musicianship," and the Washington Post says, "Lazarus could have tumbled the walls of Jericho."

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Soul-searching indie rockers Cloud Cult make their first appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra for a kaleidoscope of color and sound.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Sarah Hicks, conductor
  • Cloud Cult

Fun Facts:

  • Joined by local musicians as well as artists who paint to the music live during the performance, this concert will thrill longtime fans and enchant new ones.
  • One of the Cloud Cult painters is Connie Minowa, whose husband is Craig Minowa, lead singer and founder. The paintings created during Cloud Cult concerts are auctioned off at the end of their set.
  • They lean green: their recording studio (that houses their record company Earthology) is 100% solar powered, and they tour in a solar-powered van.
  • Their last album, The Seeker, was accompanied by an award-winning feature-length film of the same name.
  • Rolling Stone praises their “instrumental arsenal” and the Los Angeles Times raves they are “deserving of loud, boisterous cheers.”

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Wagner’s beautiful chamber work Siegfried Idyll, Liszt’s glittering Piano Concerto No. 1 and the soaring Symphony No. 2 by Schumann.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Markus Stenz, conductor
  • Louis Lortie, piano

WAGNER
Siegfried Idyll

LISZT
Piano Concerto No. 1

SCHUMANN
Symphony No. 2

Fun Facts:

  • Richard Wagner surprised his wife at Christmas long ago with Siegfried Idyll, and her standards were awfully high, as she was also the daughter of Franz Liszt.
  • Of course the piano is the most important instrument in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, but the tiny solo triangle comes in a surprisingly close second.
  • Canada’s Louis Lortie knows his Liszt, and his recent Liszt recording won a “Ten Best” citation from The New Yorker.
  • Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 was a triumph against all odds, written while the composer weathered debilitating mental-health challenges and a constant ringing in his ears.

 

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The Atrium Jazz Ensemble reflects on the timeless, profound and personal raising of the voice performing folk songs, spirituals, blues and standards with vocalist Bruce A. Henry.

  • Jeremy Walker, piano and artistic director
  • Bruce A. Henry, vocals
  • Jeff Bailey, bass
  • Kevin Washington, drums

Fun Facts:

  • In jazz, the singularity of a mother’s lullaby, the high rhetorical intent of a preacher, and the freedom of expression of the blues meet in the timeless, profound and personal raising of the voice.
  • Jazz singing brings all the varied timbres and phrasing of the natural human voice to the highest levels of artistic mastery. Bruce A. Henry continues in the tradition of the great singers of jazz—broadcasting this sound in a universal expression of joy and beauty.
  • Of Henry, Jazz Police raved “His voice is his horn, and he can swing like Goodman, spin and spiral like Parker, or levitate like Coltrane.”
  • Henry’s award-winning talent and music have taken him to five continents, garnering a large following in France and the Far East. He has performed in locales such as Manila, Israel, Paris, London, Miami, New York City, Maui, Saipan and Tanzania.
  • Of this series, Pioneer Press notes "Orchestra Hall's Target Atrium is the Twin Cities' answer to New York's Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center—a smaller, more intimate venue where listeners can enjoy concert hall-quality jazz."

Media Partner:

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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About This Concert:

Recognized as royalty of the choral music world, The King’s Singers bring their vocal virtuosity and British wit to a performance that celebrates 50 years of making gorgeous music.

Fun Facts:

  • The King’s Singers, a British a cappella vocal ensemble founded in 1968, is named after King's College in Cambridge, England, where the group originally formed.
  • The group always consists of six singers, with membership changing over the years. Although none of the original members remain with the group, performances often feature collaborations with past members.
  • The King’s Singers album Simple Gifts won the Grammy® for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2009, and their contribution to Eric Whitacre’s album Light and Gold won the Grammy® for Best Choral Performance in 2012. In 2013, the group was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.
  • The London Times has praised The King’s Singers for their “Pinpoint precision, total rapport, crisp diction, faultless tuning and a seemingly effortless ability to switch between different stylistic requirements.” “The King’s Singers are out-and-out entertainers,” raves The Edmonton Journal.
  • This concert features beloved classics and newly commissioned works by New York-based composer Nico Muhly, British composer Toby Hession, former King’s Singer and internationally-celebrated composer Bob Chilcott, frequent King’s Singers composer Alexander L’Estrange and choral legend John Rutter.
  • The Twin Cities loves The King’s Singers—their Orchestra Hall performances are known to sell out.

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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A chamber concert filled with listening experiences that are hard to find: ensemble music for the Orchestra’s entire cello section, a delectable duo for bassoon and harp, and one of Mozart’s rich viola quintets.

ANDRÉS
Chants d’arrièie-saison

MUSIC FOR CELLO ENSEMBLE

MOZART
String Quintet in G minor

Fun Facts:

  • Bernard Andrès is a harpist, pianist and composer who writes most of his music for harp. This piece was originally a duet with horn, but Andrès captured the expressive capabilities of the bassoon effortlessly when he rewrote the work for this pair of instruments.
  • Andrès could read music before he could read books.
  • The harp-bassoon duet is the only work by Bernard Andrés that has ever been performed at Orchestra Hall.
  • Mozart’s Quintet in G minor was written one month apart from his Quintet in C major. Stylistically, the two quintets are complete opposites of each other. The same thing happened when he wrote his Symphonies No. 40 and 41, which are also in G minor and C major, respectively.

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There are revolutionaries in music—and then there’s Cameron Carpenter, who tours globally with an astonishing electric organ of his own design and amazes audiences with his jaw-dropping virtuosity.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Klaus Mäkelä, conductor
  • Cameron Carpenter, organ

MUSSORGSKY
Prelude to Khovanshchina

RACHMANINOFF
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for organ and orchestra

SHOSTAKOVICH
Symphony No. 5

Fun Facts:

  • This program offers the best of Russia’s musical riches, from lush Romantic melodies and rich harmonies to triumphant cries of survival in the face of oppression.
  • Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody is one of the most recognizable pieces of Romantic keyboard music, newly adapted for organ from its piano original by Carpenter.
  • Carpenter’s signature International Touring Organ uses sophisticated technology to reproduce the sounds of many different American pipe organs at the touch of a button.
  • Carpenter’s recent Washington concert drew praise from the Post for his “blazing technique, wit and enthusiasm for the organ [that is] nothing short of contagious.”
  • Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 dates from the height of the Soviet Union’s Stalinist terror. Writing in fear for his life, Shostakovich created his most powerful music, and the ovation at the premiere lasted half an hour.

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An all-American tour-de-force program including Bernstein’s first film score On the Waterfront, the suite from Copland’s ever-popular ballet Billy the Kid and a world premiere by House of Cards composer Jeff Beal.

COPLAND
Suite from Billy the Kid

BEAL
Flute Concerto [World Premiere]

BARBER
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

BERNSTEIN

On the Waterfront

Fun Facts:

  • Bernstein centennial celebrations are starting up all over the world, and we launch ours with this early masterpiece for Hollywood.
  • Bernstein was chosen to write the score for On the Waterfront largely because of his celebrity in the early 1950s and the producers wanted “a big name” on the posters to help sell tickets to the film.
  • Today, Waterfront is remembered for the power of Marlon Brando’s performance and Bernstein’s score, both of which shocked audiences with a blend of tenderness and violence.
  • Copland’s Billy the Kid contains a gunfight (tricky percussion!)—written so convincingly that few composers have attempted it since.
  • Jeff Beal has four Emmys for his film and television scores, including Netflix’s House of Cards.

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A Minnesota original for violin and piano, plus an unlikely trio performs music (and storytelling!) about everyone’s favorite gloomy storybook character.

DAVID EVAN THOMAS
Greetings and Farewell

JON DEAK
Eeyore Has a Birthday

Fun Facts:

  • Orchestra violinist Michael Sutton performed the premiere of Greetings and a Farewell in 1997.
  • David Evan Thomas’ work has been commissioned by both the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
  • Eeyore is known for his pessimistic, gloomy personality, but also for loyalty to his friends

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Schumann painted the human soul at its most noble and lyrical in his beautiful Cello Concerto, while a century later during World War II, Britten created his touching Sinfonia as an impassioned cry for peace.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Michael Francis, conductor
  • Daniel Müller-Schott, cello

BRITTEN
Sinfonia da Requiem

SCHUMANN
Cello Concerto

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Symphony No. 6

Fun Facts:

  • Music in response to war: Benjamin Britten was a passionate pacifist and Ralph Vaughan Williams saw the horrors of war first-hand–each created powerful music against it.
  • Britten risked his career in declaring conscientious objector status at the beginning of WWII, and he left his beloved England for the States where his brand new Sinfonia was premiered.
  • Vaughan Williams was a close eyewitness to WWI’s senseless carnage as an ambulance driver to and from the front lines.
  • Daniel Müller-Schott was only three or four years old when he went with his mother to an orchestral rehearsal to hear the Schumann Concerto. When they got back home, he asked her if he could start cello lessons.
  • Daniel Müller-Schott shocked the music world in 1992, winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition at age 15.
  • When not practicing cello, Müller-Schott is often found on a soccer field.

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World-class musicians onstage create the perfect soundscape, while (all around them and flying over their heads!) the internationally-acclaimed artists—aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and strong men—make the most astounding feats look easy.

Fun Facts:

  • Each of the acts performed by the acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, strongmen, ribbon dancers and aerialists are choreographed to movie scores that are performed live by the Minnesota Orchestra!
  • Musical highlights include instantly recognizable selections from Star Wars, Chariots of Fire, Titanic and many more.
  • From the sidewalk to the stage—Cirque began in 1984 as a group of 20 Québec street performers who went on to perform in theaters and arenas, winning millions of fans.
  • Praising its magical combination of symphonic music and precision acrobatics, The Seattle Post Intelligencer called it “a show unlike any other…astonishing.”

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A huge success at its 1930s premiere and beloved by orchestras and choirs since, Belshazzar’s Feast tells the ancient Hebrew story of lamentation and liberation.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Andrew Litton, conductor
  • Christopher Maltman, baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

BERNSTEIN
Fancy Free
Chichester Psalms

WALTON
Belshazzar's Feast

Fun Facts:

  • Leonard Bernstein, linked so strongly to Manhattan by his Broadway successes and his years leading the New York Philharmonic, was born 100 years ago—outside Boston.
  • Bernstein’s Fancy Free is a ballet set in WWII-era New York, the comic story of three sailors on leave and looking for love.
  • Belshazzar’s Feast sets Hebrew scripture about the overthrow of Babylonia’s King Belshazzar to sweeping music.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation commissioned Walton in 1929 to create a “small-scale” choral work, but instead he wrote Belshazzar’s Feast for a chorus and orchestra so large they couldn’t fit into BBC studios.
  • Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the premiere, and as he saw the work-in-progress getting larger and larger he said, “My dear boy, because no one will ever hear this piece again, why not throw in a couple of brass bands?”
  • After the huge success of its 1931 premiere, Belshazzar’s Feast became one of the most popular oratorios of the 20th century.
  • Since his last performance at Orchestra Hall in 2008, Christopher Maltman returns with the Minnesota Chorale.

It takes a larger-than-life talent to bring William Walton’s sweeping oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast to life, and Andrew Litton is just that talent–with a Grammy-winning® recording to prove it. Litton joins us in spring to lead this inspirational setting from the Hebrew scriptures about the liberation of the Jewish people.

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About This Concert:

A brilliant, sunny quartet and a Czech-inspired quintet, featuring Concertmaster Erin Keefe and her colleagues from each of our string sections.

Please note: this chamber music performance will be held in the Orchestra Hall auditorium.

MENDELSSOHN
String Quartet No. 4

DVOŘÁK
String Quintet in G major

Fun Facts:

  • Adding the double bass to the standard string quartet gave Dvořák a chamber ensemble that used each of the string instruments of a symphony orchestra.
  • Dvořák’s Quintet was originally 5 movements; one of these movements is now known on its own as his Nocturne for Strings (Opus 40).
  • The String Quartet No. 4 was composed while Mendelssohn was on his honeymoon in the Black Forest.
  • Mendelssohn’s Quartet has several moments that foreshadow his famous E-minor Violin Concerto—a piece that Concertmaster Erin Keefe performed with the Orchestra in 2014.

Photos © Joel Larson and Josh Kohanek Photography

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Augustin Hadelich brings his crystalline tone to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, then Orchestra Hall lights up with Berlioz’s brilliant Symphonie fantastique.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Jun Märkl, conductor
  • Augustin Hadelich, violin

BEETHOVEN
Violin Concerto

BERLIOZ
Symphonie fantastique

Fun Facts:

  • Is it too easy or too hard? The Beethoven Concerto isn’t every violinist’s cup of tea because the emphasis here is on lyricism and elegance, not technical fireworks.
  • When Hadelich was a boy, he suffered severe burns and couldn’t play violin for a year. He said, “Because I had this moment where I wasn’t sure if I would ever play the violin again, I appreciate my life more. It made me realize how important music was to me.”
  • Berlioz wrote his Symphonie fantastique when he was only 27 (and most likely experimenting with opium).
  • Leonard Bernstein said, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.”
  • The fifth movement of Symphonie fantastique contains the iconic funeral chant, the Dies Irae.

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About This Concert:

The luminous soprano Carolyn Sampson joins us to perform Mahler’s Fourth—a quiet version of heaven where a child’s every dream comes true.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Carolyn Sampson, soprano
  • R. Douglas Wright, trombone
  • Kari Sundström, trombone
  • Andrew Chappell, bass trombone
  • Steven Campbell, tuba

STEPHENSON
Low Brass Concerto [World Premiere]

MAHLER
Symphony No. 4

Fun Facts:

  • One of the powerful foundations of our Orchestra is our rockstar low-brass section; Hidden in plain sight, these four gents are the best in the biz!
  • Strauss’ contemporary Gustav Mahler wrote encouragingly for the brass in almost all of his 10 symphonies, giving glorious fanfares to them—though in his tender Symphony No. 4, Mahler gave pride of place to the strings and a solo soprano.
  • The soprano in Mahler’s Fourth sings every exasperated parent’s dinnertime fantasy, as a child describes “good greens of every sort grow in the heavenly vegetable patch, good asparagus, string beans, and whatever we want!”

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About This Concert:

The stellar local trio with a global following, The New Standards join special guests and a stage band for an evening of songs from cult classic films and cocktail culture jazz.

  • Chan Poling, piano and vocals
  • John Munson, bass and vocals
  • Steve Roehm, vibraphone
  • The New Standards Stage Band

Fun Facts:

  • For this concert, the trio puts its spin on gems by jazz greats like Bacharach and Mancini, riff on European film scores that embody the moody cool of the 60’s and 70’s, and use film clips and projections to channel the singular vibe.
  • The New Standards have roots in iconic Twin Cities bands The Suburbs (Chan Poling), Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic (John Munson), and Billygoat and Electropolis (Steve Roehm).
  • The Star Tribune praised The New Standards 2016 Orchestra Hall concert saying “There were moments in Saturday's performance that truly were revelatory.”
  • Stylish, groovy and endlessly inventive, The New Standards host a party you won’t want to miss.

Please note: The Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

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About This Concert:

Transforming classic Broadway songs into a performance entirely her own, six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald returns, bringing her power, artistry and passion to the Orchestra Hall stage.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Audra McDonald, soprano
  • Andy Einhorn, conductor

Fun Facts:

  • Audra McDonald’s two concerts at Orchestra Hall have both sold out, including Minnesota Orchestra’s 2015-16 season opening. The Star Tribune raved: “Versatile Audra McDonald’s Star Power lights up Orchestra Hall.”
  • She studied classical voice at Juilliard and has graced stages such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, and the Berlin Philharmonic.
  • McDonald has won six Tony Awards so far, and is the only person to date to have won in all four acting categories.
  • She first performed the role of Billie Holiday on Broadway in 2014 and later won her sixth Tony Award for her astounding portrayal which Broadway World called”… a tour de force.”
  • She is a passionate advocate for equal rights, LGBTQ causes and underprivileged youth. Audra is Mom to two girls—Zoe and Sally—and two shelter dogs—Butler and Georgia.

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