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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

The New Standards To Make Their Minnesota Orchestra Debut, July 2

The minimalist, jazz-inspired Twin Cities super group The New Standards will make their debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in a single performance on Saturday, July 2, at Orchestra Hall.

The much-anticipated concert will combine one of the Twin Cities most inventive ensembles—featuring star performers Chan Poling, John Munson and Steve Roehm—with the power of the Minnesota Orchestra, led by Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks, in a performance of modern-day standards from “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “London Calling” to “Watching the Detectives.”

The concert—which will feature Orchestra Hall’s first-ever onstage cocktail bar—will be held at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, July 2, at 8 p.m., with tickets priced from $30 to $100. More information is available at and by phone at 612-371-5656.

The three core members of The New Standards each come from famed Twin Cities bands: Chan Poling (piano) founded the seminal Punk/New Wave band The Suburbs; John Munson (bass) was an original member of Trip Shakespeare and the chart-topping Semisonic, and Steve Roehm (vibraphone) started on drums in the Texas punk band Billygoat and the avant-jazz Electropolis. Combining forces in 2005, The New Standards have since created a new niche playing standards from every era―particularly post 1960s pop music—in a simple acoustic setting. Today, the super trio fills theaters and clubs around the world, has released four albums and performs a celebrated holiday show that is annually one of the hottest tickets in the Twin Cities.  

Merging Musical Worlds

The Twin Cities is home to such an exciting pop music scene,” says Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks. “We are interested in exploring what kind of magic might happen when these incredible pop artists share the Orchestra Hall stage and merge musical worlds with the Orchestra.”

The New Standards/ Minnesota Orchestra collaboration had a fortuitous start. When Grant Meachum, director of Live at Orchestra Hall, moved to Minneapolis and joined the Orchestra in 2015, he was eager to identify a list of local artists for Hicks to consider for concerts on the Live at Orchestra Hall series. “I asked my barber for recommendations about the local music scene, and he said that I had to hear The New Standards,” recalls Meachum. Just a few days later, Chan Poling reached out to Meachum to suggest The New Standards were interested in a collaboration. “We had a dream to play fully embedded in the Orchestra,” says Poling. “It was this desire to come with fully fleshed out interactive arrangements of our pop repertoire that intrigued Grant and Sarah Hicks.” 

Says Hicks, “The New Standards are a great match for the kind of musical mash-up we want to pursue; I was drawn to their ever-evolving musical curiosity, and they are such fabulous musicians. Their music and arrangements are going to make brilliant use of the full sound and color palette of a symphony orchestra.” 

Creating New Standards

The set list for the July 2 concert is wide-ranging—something that The New Standards fans have come to expect over the last decade. “We want to be true to our mission in this concert and be clear that we play new standards and not the old,” says Poling. With orchestral arrangements by Robert Elhai, the concert will include renditions of “Bizarre Love Triangle” from the English rock band New Order, David Bowie’s new wave “Ashes to Ashes” and The Suburbs’ “Love is the Law,” as well as “Toxic,” made famous by Britney Spears in 2003, the funk-inspired “Hey Ya!” by Outkast and Elvis Costello’s 1977 single “Watching the Detectives,” among others.

“We want the orchestral show to enrich and heighten what we do normally, which is to highlight and draw forth the beauty of our unique repertoire—and also have fun,” says John Munson. “As a community member I’m excited about what this collaboration suggests in terms of the orchestra opening its arms to the vibrant pop music scene that lives in this town. I think everyone will really benefit from the Orchestra’s openness to these sorts of collaborations.”

Creating Onstage Bar Seating

The performance will be the first at Orchestra Hall to feature onstage bar seating, offering an opportunity for a few audience members to enjoy the concert from an onstage seating area that includes a stocked and staffed cocktail bar. All ticketholders will be invited to enter a contest to win onstage seats; more details on the contest will be released to ticketholders in June. “We were trying to think of something that would be unique about this show because, honestly, The New Standards are not your typical concert hall group,” says Poling. “We thrive in situations that are loose and where the banter can flow freely.”

Sarah Hicks, conductor

Sarah Hicks joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2006, making history as the first woman to hold a titled conducting post with the Orchestra. In 2009, she succeeded Doc Severinsen as head of the Orchestra’s popular music series (now called Live at Orchestra Hall) and devoted herself to programming a wide spectrum of popular music for orchestra audiences, from collaborations with Ben Folds to Pink Martini. During the 2016-17 season, Hicks will lead the Minnesota Orchestra in concerts with Twin Cities hip hop artist Dessa and Boyz II Men, among other artists, as well as the Inside the Classics series and film music concerts of Star Trek and Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille. In 2011 she toured with British rock icon Sting, leading 31 concerts over two months in venues throughout Europe. Away from Orchestra Hall, this season Hicks made return visits to the National Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony. More:

Pre-Sommerfest Event
with the Minnesota Orchestra

Saturday, July 2, 2016, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Sarah Hicks, conductor
The New Standards, jazz trio
            Chan Poling, piano and vocals
            John Munson, bass and vocals
            Steve Roehm, vibraphone

Tickets: $30-$100


Individual tickets and subscription packages 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.

U.S. Bank is the sponsor of Sommerfest 2016

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.

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

Emma Plehal, Public Relations Writer and Coordinator
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Press Contacts

Gwen Pappas

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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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