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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

Minnesota Orchestra's 2016 Sommerfest Closes with a Night in the Tropics and Verdi's Otello, July 22 and 23


Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton leads festival’s final two concerts; first program features Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus in a tropically-themed concert; Sommerfest finale is Verdi’s Shakespeare-inspired opera Otello, performed in concert with singers including Carl Tanner, Barbara Shirvis and Stephen Powell

presented by U.S. Bank

In the final weekend of Sommerfest 2016 conductor Andrew Litton and the Minnesota Orchestra present a pair of exciting and varied concerts on July 22 and 23 at Orchestra Hall that highlight the ensemble’s great artistic range. On Friday night, trumpeter Charles Lazarus performs his program A Night in the Tropics, joined by both the Orchestra and Lazarus’ own band comprising piano, bass and percussion. In addition to his regular role in the Orchestra’s trumpet section, Lazarus has been the featured soloist in several concerts at Orchestra Hall, most recently in February 2016 (Fly Me to the Moon) and December 2015 (Merry and Bright). Sommerfest’s finale falls on July 23, as the Orchestra continues its beloved tradition of presenting a grand opera to cap the festival—this year, Verdi’s Otello, performed in concert with vocal soloists including Carl Tanner in the title role, plus the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir. The most recent Minnesota Orchestra performance of this opera was more than two decades ago, conducted by Edo de Waart in the final concert of his tenure as music director of the Orchestra.

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 percent 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 all concerts. Pre- and post-concert performers for the July 22 and 23 concerts include Malamanya, the Jeremy Walker Trio, and pianists Mary Louise Knutson and Chris Lomheim. In addition, two local DJs will provide post-concert music on the upper level of the Orchestra Hall lobby: teenage star DJ Mickey Breeze on Friday, July 22 and DJ Michel.Be on Saturday, July 23.

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 interactive pre- and post-concert 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 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 share their art and can speak to the theme or repertoire of that evening’s performance. On Friday, July 22, the Conversation Café will host brewers from Boom Island Brewery and distillers from Tattersall Distillery who will share insight into their craft of creating some of Minneapolis’ most-loved beverages. On July 23, prior to the performance of Otello, University of Minnesota lecturer Amy Bolis will join Phillip Gainsley for a discussion of historic performance elements in both Shakespeare’s Othello and Verdi’s opera.

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.


A Night in the Tropics
Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus is joined by his own jazz quartet and the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton, in a concert inspired by the sultry melodies and evocative rhythms of Brazil, Cuba, Hawaii and more. The program features originals by Lazarus, a tribute to Brazilian composer Antonio Carlo Jobim, Duke Ellington’s Caravan and other selections.

Friday, July 22, 2016, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Andrew Litton
, conductor
Charles Lazarus, trumpet
Mary Louise Knutson, piano
Jeff Bailey, bass
David Schmalenberger, drums
Ken Chastain, percussion

Tickets: $30 to $70

Opera Finale: Verdi’s Otello
Andrew Litton leads the Minnesota Orchestra, an all-star cast of vocal soloists, the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir in a concert performance of Verdi’s Otello—an opera based on the classic Shakespearean tragedy and wrought with drama, romance and jealousy. Returning to Orchestra Hall for this performance are tenor Carl Tanner as Otello, soprano Barbara Shirvis as Desdemona, baritone Stephen Powell as Iago, tenor Eric Barry as Cassio, mezzo Victoria Vargas as Emilia and bass Michael Schmidt as the Herald. Making their Minnesota Orchestra debuts are tenor David Blalock as Roderigo and basses Adam Lau as Lodovico and Benjamin Sieverding as Montano.

Saturday, July 23, 2016, 7:30 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Andrew Litton
, conductor
Carl Tanner, Otello
Barbara Shirvis, Desdemona
Stephen Powell, Iago
Eric Barry, Cassio
Victoria Vargas, Emilia
Adam Lau, Lodovico
David Blalock, Roderigo
Benjamin Sieverding, Montano
Michael Schmidt, Herald
Minnesota Boychoir
Minnesota Chorale

VERDI                   Otello (concert performance)

Tickets: $30 to $80

OH+ Event
Music Up Close:
Free concert preview with Phillip Gainsley and Shakespeare expert Amy Bolis in Balcony A on Saturday, July 23, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. This event is free, but a ticket to the evening’s performance of Otello is required for entry.


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 
(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
(612) 371-5625 • 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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