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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

Holiday Season at Orchestra Hall Begins with Trumpeter Charles Lazarus, Plus Performances of Swingin' Nutcracker

The first weekend of December features “Merry and Bright: A Big, Brassy Christmas with Charles Lazarus,” Dec. 4

The Minnesota Orchestra combines jazz stylings and a holiday classic for family concerts of Swingin’ Nutcracker, featuring Minnesota Dance Theatre, Dec. 5

Orchestra Hall’s holiday season begins on December 4 with Merry and Bright, an evening of brilliant holiday music performed by Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus, along with vocalists, a rhythm section and a brass ensemble. The concert will feature timeless holiday classics in a variety of styles from groove to gospel. The next day, Assistant Conductor Roderick Cox leads two performances of Swingin’ Nutcracker, combining music from Tchaikovsky’s original Nutcracker Suite with arrangements from a jazz version by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Onstage, dancers from Minnesota Dance Theatre perform for both classic and jazz selections.

The performance of Merry and Bright: A Big Brassy Christmas with Charles Lazarus takes place on Friday, December 4, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $60. The two concerts of Swingin’ Nutcracker are held on Saturday, December 5, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., with ticket prices at $12. All performances take place at Orchestra Hall, the Minnesota Orchestra’s home in downtown Minneapolis.

More information is available at and by phone at 612-371-5656. For further purchasing details, refer to the information section at the conclusion of this press release.

Charles Lazarus and the Musicians of Merry and Bright

Charles Lazarus, a member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2000, has masterminded several original productions with the Orchestra, serving as soloist, composer and bandleader. For this performance, he is joined by his own seasoned rhythm section; esteemed vocal soloists Tonia Hughes and Bruce A. Henry; and the Lazarus Brass—including many members of the Minnesota Orchestra brass section—to kick off the season with fresh takes on holiday classics. Selections include a Latin-tinged version of Veni, Veni Emanuel, a high-energy arrangement of We Three Kings and a sassy, soulful rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Lazarus performed this inventive holiday show last season at

St. Joan of Arc Church and Wayzata Community Church, and it was enthusiastically received at both locations; this year it moves to the larger venue of Orchestra Hall. More: or


Holiday Concert

Friday, December 4, 2015, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Charles Lazarus, trumpet
Tommy Barbarella, piano
Jeff Bailey, bass
David Schmalenberger, percussion
Bruce A. Henry, vocals
Tonia Hughes, vocals
The Lazarus Brass

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

Tickets: $25-$60

Swingin’ and Dancin’ Nutcracker

The Minnesota Orchestra’s innovative Swingin’ Nutcracker performances combine music and movement, bringing Minnesota Dance Theatre to the stage alongside the Minnesota Orchestra. The concerts feature traditional choreography to music from Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker, paired with creative movement to arrangements by legendary jazz greats Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Swingin’ Nutcracker offers an opportunity for families to hear music from one of the world’s best-loved ballets and arrangements from some of the greatest jazz artists, while experiencing one of the Twin Cities’ premiere dance ensembles, all in one program. Minnesota Dance Theatre performs on this one-hour program at Orchestra Hall, led by Roderick Cox, the Minnesota Orchestra’s assistant conductor. More:

Minnesota Dance Theatre

The Minnesota Dance Theatre and School has been a leader in performing, teaching and celebrating the art of dance for more than five decades. Since its founding in 1962, it has collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra more than 250 times. Now under the direction of Lise Houlton, a former member of the American Ballet Theatre and Stuttgart Ballet, the Minnesota Dance Theatre and School fosters talent in the Twin Cities by providing a comprehensive classical and contemporary training curriculum. More:


Family Concerts                                                                   

Saturday, December 5, 2015, 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Roderick Cox
, conductor
Minnesota Dance Theatre, dance ensemble

Tickets: $12


Subscription packages and individual tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling 612-371-5656 (612-371-5642 for subscriptions) or 800-292-4141. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Orchestra Hall Box Office, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and beginning two hours before all ticketed performances); and at the Minnesota Orchestra Administrative Office, International Centre, 5th floor, 920 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For more information, call 612-371-5656, or visit For subscriptions, call 612-371-5642 or visit For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change. 

The Star Tribune is the Minnesota Orchestra’s media partner for the 2015-16 season.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. 


Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations 
(612) 371-5628 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Press Contacts

Gwen Pappas

Director of Communications
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Carl Schroeder

Publications Editor
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Emma Plehal

Communications Manager and Assistant Editor
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Isaac Risseeuw

Social Media and Content Coordinator
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Communications Office

Minnesota Orchestra
1111 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone: 612.371.5600
Fax: 612.371.7170

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