Friday Evening Ovation Series

André Watts, piano | Photo © David Bazemore

André Watts Plays Beethoven's Emperor

About This Concert:

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.

Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor

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.
Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe | Photo © Travis Anderson

Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Titan Symphony

About This Concert:

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

Violin Concerto

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.
Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter Plays Rachmaninoff

About This Concert:

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

Prelude to Khovanshchina

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for organ and orchestra

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.
American Voices

American Voices: Copland and Bernstein

About This Concert:

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 U.S. premiere by House of Cards composer Jeff Beal.

Suite from Billy the Kid

Flute Concerto [U.S. Premiere]

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

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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