Common Chords

The Minnesota Orchestra's innovative community engagement program, Common Chords, features weeklong residencies in Minnesota cities. The program has included residencies in Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Willmar, Hibbing and Bemidji.

During each Common Chords week, Minnesota Orchestra musicians participate in nearly two dozen activities including chamber music performances, jazz performances, coaching and demonstrations at area schools, and work with community musicians. The full Orchestra also performs a concert for local students as well as a classical concert for the community.

Musical activities take place in both traditional and non-traditional settings, ranging from concert halls and schools to coffee shops and gyms. These varied settings provide opportunities to see a “typical” Orchestra concert, experience classical music in surprising venues, or simply “happen upon” a musical performance.

In each community, Orchestra staff works with a steering committee of community volunteers – including business owners, civic representatives, educators, and nonprofit leaders – to develop goals and activities during the week in residence.

Common Chords

Common Chords

Common Chords


Common Chords background & sponsors

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Additional support is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Minnesota State Arts BoardClean Water Land and Legacy Amendment National Endowment for the Arts

The Minnesota Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its initial investment in Common Chords. The Common Chords program has also received generous support from Mardag Foundation and The McKnight Foundation.

Sibelius in Bemidji

Five days of performances and events by nearly 30 musicians at more than 25 Bemidji locations—from schools to pubs, the Paul Bunyan statue to Sanford Hospital—drew to a close Saturday night in a dramatic Minnesota Orchestra concert at the Bemidji High School auditorium.

Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Orchestra in three Sibelius Symphonies, the Third, Sixth and Seventh, with dynamic ranges spanning between the softest pianissimos to thundering fortes—a fervor matched only be the cheers of the standing-room-only audience. That’s a wrap for Bemidji Common Chords 2014.

The Orchestra offers its thanks to this arts-friendly community for a warm welcome and wonderful week of shared music.

Jazz hijinks at the Green Mill

Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus and fellow jazz musicians entertained late-night guests at the Bemidji Green Mill on Friday—and eventually were joined by Music Director Osmo Vänskä on clarinet. Tomorrow Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra in an all Sibelius concert at the Bemidji High School.

Final Bemidji Rehearsal

In the middle of an afternoon thunderstorm, Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra rehearsed for two hours at Bemidji High School, fine tuning Sibelius for Saturday night’s performance.

Inside the Classics

Conductor Sarah Hicks and host/violist Sam Bergman brought Bemidji audiences inside the world of Felix Mendelssohn at Friday night’s Inside the Classics concert, touching on the composer’s life as a child prodigy, his talented sister and the elements that make his Italian Symphony extraordinarily beautiful. Held at the Bemidji High School auditorium, the concert is the second-to-last performance of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2014 Common Chords initiative in this first city on the Mississippi.

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