Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 16

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MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA SHOWCASE
Andrew Litton
, who was named
Sommerfest Artistic Director in 2003, has
extended his leadership of the popular
summer festival for another three years,
through
2017. It was
in 1984, early
in his career,
when he took
the podium
for his first
Sommerfest
concert, and
ever since,
he notes,
he has admired the festival’s “spirit
of playfulness, its urban setting and
adventurous audiences—and the great
Minnesota Orchestra musicians with whom
I have been fortunate to collaborate.”
Litton is our longest-tenured Sommerfest
director and certainly one of our busiest:
he has often delivered superb piano solos,
conducting from the keyboard—and he
has infused the beloved traditions of
Sommerfest with great American jazz.
This summer, for instance, he soloed with
the Orchestra in Gershwin’s
Rhapsody in
Blue
and offered a solo recital, a tribute
to Oscar Peterson, in the Target Atrium.
Litton also leads subscription concerts
each year, including a program of Strauss
masterpieces this October.
Sarah Hicks
has signed a new three-
year contract to continue as Principal
Conductor for the Live at Orchestra Hall
series, leading the broad-spectrum lineup
of concerts
celebrating
popular
music, jazz,
Broadway
classics,
great film
scores and
world music.
Hicks made
history when
she took the Assistant Conductor post
here in 2006, as the first woman to hold a
titled conducting post with the Minnesota
Orchestra; three years later she succeeded
Doc Severinsen as Principal Conductor of
Pops and Presentations. She now oversees
artistic planning for the entire Live series,
in addition to conducting concerts featuring
artists as varied as Chris Botti, Rosanne
Cash and Idina Menzel; conducting film
scores synced to the films being screened;
and producing and leading such eclectic
programs as a concert of iconic ’80s
music and the Orchestra’s “Scandinavian
Christmas” concerts. Hicks is also the
genial conductor of the Orchestra’s
informal and informative Inside the Classics
concert series.
Kevin Puts
has been appointed
Director of the Minnesota Orchestra
Composer Institute, the Orchestra’s
acclaimed professional composer training
program
offered
annually in
conjunction
with the
American
Composers
Forum.
Puts, whose
contract
extends for
three seasons, is already well known to
local audiences. His Symphony No. 4,
From Mission San Juan,
was performed
by the Minnesota Orchestra last June;
the Minnesota Opera commissioned and
premiered his opera
Silent Night,
which
won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music;
the Minnesota Orchestra commissioned
his Sinfonia concertante and premiered
it in April 2006. His works are performed
regularly by major orchestras and artists,
and he is a seasoned educator, a member
of the Peabody Institute’s composition
faculty. Puts, who is busy planning the
next Composer Institute, to be held in
January 2015, succeeds composer Aaron
Jay Kernis, the Institute’s founder and
first director.
news
Minnesota Orchestra
Litton, Hicks, Puts:
artistic roster
update
This past summer brought welcome news that two members of the
Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic roster were extending their contracts,
while another major post was filled.
Kurt Suzuki and Glen Perkins weren’t
the only local heroes among the baseball
All-Stars at Target Field on July 15: a
brass quintet largely from the Minnesota
Orchestra was also in the limelight, playing
“O Canada!,” the national anthem of our
neighbor to the north. Shown, from left,
are Orchestra trumpeters Douglas C.
Carls
e
n, Robert Dorer and Manny Laureano,
trombonist R. Douglas Wright and, obscured,
guest tuba player Steve Skov.
all-star
brass
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