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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

Minnesota Orchestra Performs "Russian Nights" Concerts, Feb. 16 to 18

Santtu-Matias Rouvali makes his conducting debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in the music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov performs Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

In mid-February at Orchestra Hall, the Minnesota Orchestra performs a program comprising music by three great Russian composers, led by rising-star Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, who makes his debut with the ensemble in these performances. The concerts open with Tchaikovsky’s rich and evocative Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture. Then, Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov, also making his Minnesota Orchestra debut, plays Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. After intermission, the Orchestra performs Shostakovich’s poignant Sixth Symphony.

The concerts are performed at the Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis, Orchestra Hall, on Thursday, February 16, at 11 a.m.; Friday, February 17, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, February 18, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $29 to $96. Tickets are available online at and by phone at 612-371-5656. For further purchasing details, refer to the section at the conclusion of this press release.

Santtu-Matias Rouvali, conductor
Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali is currently chief conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Copenhagen Philharmonic. He will begin as chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in the 2017-18 season. He regularly works with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. This season, he debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra as well as the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony. As an opera conductor, this season he has led Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart's The Magic Flute with West Coast Kokkola Opera, and Verdi’s La forza del destino with Tampere Opera. His latest recording release features the Nielsen and Sibelius Violin Concertos with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Baiba Skride, released in summer 2015 on ORFEO. More:

Behzod Abduraimov, piano
Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov has performed with leading orchestras worldwide such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Münchner Philharmoniker, NHK Symphony and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Highlights of his 2016-17 season include performances in North America with the Houston and Pittsburgh symphonies and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and his debut at the Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall. In 2017 he also tours to Asia for performances with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and will embark upon a recital tour of Australia. An award-winning recording artist, he released his first concerto disc in 2014 on Decca Classics which features Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai under Juraj Valčuha. More:,

Masterpieces from Russian composers
Drawing inspiration from Shakespeare’s tragic romance, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture introduces Romeo’s friar with a chorale tune and depicts the feuding families with darker music. Finally, a soaring melody portrays the young lovers.

A twisting Paganini melody is the basis for Rachmaninoff’s ingenious set of 24 variations for piano and orchestra. The famous 18th variation turns Paganini’s theme upside down, transforming it into a gorgeous, moonlit lovesong.

Shostakovich’s Sixth Symphony shuns convention from the start: a slow movement takes the place of the conventional opening sonata. The ensuing Allegro shrieks with color, building to an exuberant rondo finale.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 11 a.m./ Orchestra Hall
Friday, February 17, 2017, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Santtu-Matias Rouvali
, conductor
Behzod Abduraimov, piano

TCHAIKOVSKY            Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture                              
RACHMANINOFF             Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
SHOSTAKOVICH              Symphony No. 6

Tickets: $29 to $96

OH+ Events
Free Concert Preview hosted by Phillip Gainsley and featuring guest ethnomusicologist Dr. Paul Kuivinen, in the Auditorium on Thursday, February 16, at 10:15 a.m., and in the Mezzanine on Friday, February 17, at 7:15 p.m., and Saturday, February 18, at 7:15 p.m.

For more information on this and other OH+ Events:


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 2016-17 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.

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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

Director of Communications
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Carl Schroeder

Publications Editor
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Emma Plehal

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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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