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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

2016 Sommerfest Opens with Pianists Zhang Zuo and André Watts, Andrew Litton and Two Chamber Music Programs, July 8 to 10

Andrew Litton leads the Minnesota Orchestra in a program of music inspired by dance; André Watts returns to perform MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto; two chamber music concerts feature Orchestra musicians alongside Andrew Litton; and Broadway vocalists Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana perform Broadway love songs

presented by U.S. Bank

The Minnesota Orchestra presents the first full weekend of Sommerfest 2016 from July 8 to 10, with Andrew Litton, Sommerfest artistic director, conducting two full Orchestra concerts and performing with musicians at the piano in two chamber programs. Young Chinese pianist Zhang Zuo debuts with the Orchestra on July 8, at 8 p.m., in an orchestral program of dance-themed music. On July 9, André Watts, a seasoned veteran of the Orchestra Hall stage, performs MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in a program that also showcases the Orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. That same evening (July 9) Litton joins Orchestra string players in a 6 O’Clock Serenade concert before the main program, performing Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque No. 1 and Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1. On Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m., a matinee chamber music program will feature members of nearly every instrument section in the music of Poulenc, Harbison and del Aguila.

In addition, Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana perform Broadway favorites in a cabaret-style concert, “A Broadway Romance,” on Sunday, July 10, at 7 p.m. Award-winning music director and pianist Ted Sperling joins them onstage. Please note that the Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

All Sommerfest concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall, the Minnesota Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis; ticket price ranges can be found in the concert information sections below. Tickets are available online at and by phone at 612-371-5656. For further purchasing details, see the information section at the conclusion of this press release.

Sommerfest Refreshments    
Over the course of Sommerfest, audiences are invited to enjoy an array of food and beverage items, available for purchase both inside and outside Orchestra Hall. Featured food vendors include Kramarczuk’s, Northern Fires Pizza, Blue Moon, T-Rex Cookie Company, Cavalcade Creamery and Design Cuisine Catering. In addition, a Happy Hour featuring 50% off wine, beer and house liquor will be offered at all lobby bars. See for complete happy hour schedule.

Extra Entertainment and Experience Cafés
Free entertainment will be offered in the Target Atrium and throughout the lobby of Orchestra Hall before and after most concerts. Entertainers for the July 8 to 10 concerts include the Reuben Ristrom Trio, the Jeremy Walker Trio, Patty and the Buttons and pianist Chris Lomheim. In addition, two local DJs will provide post-concert music on the upper level of the Orchestra Hall lobby: teenage superstar Mickey Breeze on Friday, July 8 and DJ Michel.Be on Saturday, July 9.

New at this year’s Sommerfest, patrons and the community are invited to participate in a variety of Experience Cafés. These stations will be arranged throughout the lobby of Orchestra Hall and on Peavey Plaza, providing pre- and post-concert interactive experiences at every concert for the duration of Sommerfest 2016. The Experience Cafés include a library of books curated by the Minnesota Orchestra’s music librarians, a sketching corner with artists from Mia, a selection of vinyl records with listening stations provided by Hymie’s Vintage Records, a bird-watching experience with Audubon Minnesota, and an interactive music and fitness game created by Glitch.

A Conversation Café will also be held in the lobby at each concert, at which Sommerfest attendees may chat with individuals who are there to speak to the theme or repertoire of that evening’s performance. At performances July 8 to 10, the Conversation Café will host dancers from the Saint Paul Ballet Company, local actors and theater professionals, and Shakespeare expert Amy Bolis.  

More details and a complete schedule of these and all Sommerfest activities are available at All activities in the Target Atrium, Orchestra Hall lobby areas and outside are open to the public; a concert ticket is not required.


Let’s Dance: Copland, Liszt and Ravel                       
Andrew Litton conducts the Minnesota Orchestra in a concert that explores symphonic music composed for and inspired by dance. The evening features the Minnesota Orchestra debut of Chinese pianist Zhang Zuo, who has been recognized for her electrifying and ambitious performances. Zuo performs Franz Liszt’s Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra, a dark and dramatic work inspired in part by Gregorian chant. Other works on the program include American composer Aaron Copland’s beloved Rodeo, music from Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson and Delilah, Alberto Ginastera’s lively ballet Estancia, and Maurice Ravel’s poetic and graceful La Valse.

Friday, July 8, 2016, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Andrew Litton
, conductor
Zhang Zuo, piano      

COPLAND                  Rodeo
LISZT                          Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra
SAINT-SAËNS              Bacchanale, from Samson and Delilah
GINASTERA               Estancia
RAVEL                        La Valse

Tickets: $30 to $70

6 O’Clock Serenade: Rachmaninoff and Brahms

Before he steps onto the conductor’s podium for the 8 p.m. concert on July 9, Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton takes a seat at the piano keyboard to perform two great chamber works of the Romantic era. First, Litton joins violinist Kenneth Freed and cellist Eugena Chang for the elegant yet pensive Trio élégiaque No. 1 by Rachmaninoff. Then, he performs with Principal Cello Anthony Ross playing Brahms’ Sonata No. 1, a work that showcases an incredible partnership between the cello and piano. This concert takes place on the main stage in Orchestra Hall at 6 p.m. Tickets are required, but are available for free for those patrons also attending the evening’s 8 p.m. concert.

Saturday, July 9, 2016, 6 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Andrew Litton
, piano
Kenneth Freed, violin
Eugena Chang, cello
Anthony Ross, cello

BRAHMS                      Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano                  
RACHMANINOFF      Trio élégiaque No. 1

Tickets: $20or free for patrons with tickets to the evening’s 8 p.m. concert. Separate tickets are required in either case. Please note: performance time is approximately 45 minutes.


Andrew Litton and André Watts

Piano legend André Watts, who celebrates his 70th birthday this summer, has performed many times with the Minnesota Orchestra since his debut here in 1964. He returns this year to Sommerfest to perform Edward MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a work filled with unconventional character and personality. Andrew Litton conducts this program, which opens with another work by MacDowell—his tone poem Hamlet & Ophelia—and concludes with Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, which offers Minnesota Orchestra audiences gorgeous musical textures and adventurous melodies.

Saturday, July 9, 2016, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Andrew Litton
, conductor
André Watts, piano

MACDOWELL                        Hamlet & Ophelia
MACDOWELL                        Piano Concerto No. 2
RACHMANINOFF                  Symphony No. 2

Tickets: $30 to $80

Chamber Music with Andrew Litton

In this Sunday afternoon concert, members of the Minnesota Orchestra perform a delightful program of chamber music on the main stage at Orchestra Hall. The program opens with John Harbison’s Fourteen Fabled Folk Songs, fourteen miniatures featuring an unlikely duo of violin and marimba. Then, Orchestra musicians perform the passionate, dance-inspired music of South America in Miguel del Aguila’s Salón Buenos Aires. Finally, Litton and a wind quintet from the Orchestra perform Francis Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Winds, a whimsical work perfect for a summer afternoon.

Sunday, July 10, 2016, 2 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Andrew Litton, piano
Cecilia Belcher, violin
Kenneth Freed, viola
Arek Tesarczyk, cello
Adam Kuenzel, flute
Wendy Williams
, flute
John Snow, oboe
David Pharris, clarinet
Tim Zavadil, clarinet
J. Christopher Marshall, bassoon
Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, horn
Kevin Watkins, marimba
Mary Jo Gothmann, piano

HARBISON                 Fourteen Fabled Folk Songs
DEL AGUILA             Salón Buenos Aires
POULENC                   Sextet for Piano and Winds

Tickets: $30; Children/Students $12


A Broadway Romance: A New York Cabaret  

Minnesota’s own Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana, with music director and pianist Ted Sperling, return to Minneapolis to present a cabaret-style version of A Broadway Romance, an acclaimed revue comprising the greatest hits from Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and more. Osnes is a two-time Tony Award-nominee who grew up in Eagan, Minnesota, and has appeared on Broadway in Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde, South Pacific and Grease. Santino Fontana completed the U of MN/Guthrie Theater BFA program and has since appeared in Billy Elliot and Cinderella on Broadway, voiced the character of Hans in the Disney movie Frozen and is currently on television in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Joining Osnes and Fontana for this performance is Tony Award-winning arranger, music director and pianist Ted Sperling. Please note: the Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on this program.

Sunday, July 10, 2016, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Laura Osnes, vocals
Santino Fontana, vocals
Ted Sperling, music director and pianist

Tickets: $30 to $60; Students $12


can be purchased online at, or by calling 612-371-5656 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 groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

Published prices include a non-discountable facility fee of $5 per ticket. For single ticket purchases, there are no service charges for in-person transactions. There is a $6 service charge per transaction for all phone, fax or mail orders. Save $1 by purchasing tickets online or by having the Orchestra e-mail your tickets. (This charge is waived for subscribers and group purchasers ordering by phone, mail or in person.) No refunds. Some fees and restrictions may apply to ticket exchanges. All sales are final.

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

Sommerfest is presented by U.S. Bank.

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 
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Emma Plehal, Public Relations Writer and 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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