Osmo Vänskä conducts the Orchestra in performances that will be recorded live in concert, featuring vocalists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala, and the YL Male Voice Choir of Finland
The Orchestra presents a world premiere performance of Migrations by Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas
Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra enter the month of February with concerts celebrating Vänskä’s homeland of Finland and the 150th anniversary of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s birth. The concerts begin with Migrations, a world premiere by Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas, featuring the poetry of Minnesota poet Sheila Packa. Then, the Orchestra performs Kullervo, a moving and beautiful early work of Sibelius. Following the Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall performance of Sibelius’ Kullervo in 2010, Alex Ross of The New Yorker said the Orchestra sounded like “the greatest orchestra in the world.” These concerts culminate with a performance of Sibelius’ famous Finlandia. The Orchestra is joined by esteemed vocalists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala, and the YL Male Voice Choir of Finland, one of the world’s finest men’s choirs.
Please note that these performances will be recorded live in concert for a future release on the BIS Records label. During the performances, English translations of the text will be projected above the stage.
The concert is performed at the Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis, Orchestra Hall, on Thursday, February 4, at 11 a.m., Friday, February 5, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 6, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $96. Tickets are available online at minnesotaorchestra.org and by phone at 612-371-5656. For purchasing details, refer to the section at the conclusion of this press release.
A collection of Finland’s finest
Migrations, a work commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Finnish migration to North America. Setting poetry by Duluth poet Sheila Packa, it tells tales of identity, transformation and hope. Then, Sibelius’s five-part symphonic poem tells the dark Finnish folk tale of Kullervo, whose shocking encounter with his long-lost sister ultimately leads him to take his own life. Singers join the Orchestra in the third and fifth movements, the bleakest moments of Kullervo’s life; elsewhere we hear great arching string themes, folk-like melodies and spirited battle music. Finally, Sibelius’ treasured Finlandia represents the awakening of his homeland’s national consciousness. The famous hymn-theme has become so familiar that some thought Sibelius adapted an existing folk tune. Not at all; as he wrote: “The themes on which it is built came to me directly. Pure inspiration.”
All works on this program will be recorded live in concert by BIS Records, as part of an ongoing Sibelius collaboration. BIS has previously recorded all of the Sibelius Symphonies with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra. The final disc in that cycle—featuring Symphonies 3, 6, and 7—is set for release later in 2016.
Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo
Lilli Paasikivi, now welcomed for her Minnesota Orchestra debut, is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Mahler’s song cycles and symphonies. She has performed the music of Mahler with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, New World Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestra. She debuted with the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer under Lorin Maazel. This season she also performs with Osmo Vänskä and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Sibelius’ The Tempest. She has served as the artistic director of the Finnish National Opera since 2013, where she is also a principal soloist.
Tommi Hakala, baritone
Finnish baritone Tommi Hakala makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut in these concerts, performing on Sibelius’ Kullervo. He is a regular guest of the Finnish National Opera and Savonlinna Opera Festival, and he recently performed with the Metropolitan and San Francisco Operas. He can be heard on many recordings, including a highly-acclaimed recording of Sibelius’ Kullervo with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Among his honors, he is the 2003 winner of the BBC Singer of the World in Carniff Competition. He graduated from the Sibelius Academy with special distinction and has been recognized for many leading roles with the Nuremberg and Leipzig Operas.
YL Male Voice Choir
The YL Male Voice Choir is an internationally renowned choir that performs symphonic repertoire with the most prominent orchestras and conductors of the world. Founded in 1883, it is Finland’s oldest Finnish language choir. Many of Sibelius’ most famous works for male choir were written for this ensemble, and the choir’s recordings have received several international prizes. Pasi Hyökki has served as the conductor of the YL Male Voice Choir since 2010. He is also the conductor of the Tapiola Choir, the EMO Ensemble and the Talla Vocal Ensemble. He has been recognized as the best conductor in several competitions including the Harald Andersén Chamber Choir Competition in 2003.
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra’s tenth music director, is renowned internationally for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. His recording projects with the Minnesota Orchestra have met with great success, including the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for their recording of Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies on the BIS Records label. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org.
Olli Kortekangas, composer
Olli Kortekangas studied at the Sibelius Academy as a pupil of Eero Hämeenniemi and Einojuhani Rautavaara and completed his studies in West Berlin with Dieter Schnebel. He has held teaching positions at the Sibelius Academy and the National Theater Academy, and he served as composer in residence with the Oulu Sinfonia from 1997 to 2007. Kortekangas has composed about 140 works, ranging from choral works and instrumental miniatures to orchestral music and operas. His output also includes a number of chamber and solo instrumental works, among them a cello sonata, three organ sonatas and chamber music with voice. Kortekangas has received numerous awards, including the Salzburg Opera Prize, the Special Prize of the Prix Italia Competition and the prestigious Teosto Prize.
Sheila Packa, poet
Sheila Packa lives in northern Minnesota near Lake Superior, where she writes poetry and prose and teaches English at Lake Superior College in Duluth. She has published four volumes of poetry: The Mother Tongue, Echo & Lightning, Cloud Birds, and Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range. She has received a McKnight/ACHF/ARAC Individual Artist Fellowship Grant in 2012 and two Arrowhead Regional Arts Council fellowships for poetry, an ARAC Career Opportunity grant, two Loft McKnight Awards, a Loft Mentor Award in poetry, and a Community Arts Learning Grant.
Orchestra Classical Concerts/Sibelius 150-Year Jubilee Celebration
VÄNSKÄ CONDUCTS KULLERVO
Recorded Live in Concert
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo
Tommi Hakala, baritone
YL Male Voice Choir of Finland, chorus
KORTEKANGAS Migrations, Cantata for Mezzo, Male Chorus and Orchestra
SIBELIUS Kullervo, Symphonic Poem for Singers, Men’s Chorus and Orchestra
Music Up Close: Free concert preview in the Target Atrium on Thursday, February 4 at 10:15 a.m. and on Friday, February 5 and Saturday, February 6 at 7:15 p.m.
TICKET PURCHASING INFORMATION
Subscription packages and individual tickets can be purchased online at minnesotaorchestra.org, 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 minnesotaorchestra.org. For subscriptions, call 612-371-5642 or visit minnesotaorchestra.org/subscribe. 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