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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Press Room: Press Releases

Minnesota Orchestra adds two concerts to Fall line-up

Music Director Osmo Vänskä will lead a free performance at The Commons in Minneapolis, Tuesday, September 19;

Associate Conductor Roderick Cox will conduct the Orchestra in “Send Me Hope,” a collaboration with African American artists and choirs, at Orchestra Hall, Saturday, October 7.

The Minnesota Orchestra has added two unique community performances to its fall concert schedule. On Tuesday, September 19, at 6 p.m., Music Director Osmo Vänskä will lead the Orchestra in a celebratory one-hour performance on The Commons, marking the Orchestra’s first concert at the public green space located across from U.S. Bank Stadium. The concert is free and open to the public.

On Saturday, October 7, at 7 p.m., Associate Conductor Roderick Cox will lead the Orchestra in “Send Me Hope,” a concert collaboration showcasing powerful works for orchestra and chorus, including Dr. Henry Panion, III’s Here We Are―a gospel work commemorating the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four young girls―and Send Me Hope, conceived by Panion as a hopeful bookend to Here We Are. The Orchestra will be joined by a combined choir featuring singers from Shiloh Temple International Ministries Choir, Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Choir and Minnesota State Baptist Convention Choir. The wide-ranging program will also feature cellist Nygel Witherspoon, vocalist Tonia Hughes, trumpeter Charles Lazarus and writer Taiyon J. Coleman. The concert will be performed at the Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis, Orchestra Hall, with ticket prices ranging from $30 to $50. Tickets will be available online at and by phone at 612-371-5656, beginning Friday, July 28. For further purchasing details, refer to the section at the conclusion of this press release. 


“We are thrilled to be invited to perform at The Commons this fall by Green Minneapolis,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Kevin Smith. “It is a beautiful, vibrant park that is proving to be an excellent concert venue. September marks the opening of the Orchestra’s 115th concert season and we are proud to celebrate it with this free concert led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä.” Vänskä will lead the Orchestra in a mix of classical works, including Smetana’s The Moldau, a series of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Sibelius’ Finlandia and John Williams’ March from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Spanning two city blocks, The Commons is a new 4.2 acre public green space in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Green Minneapolis, the non-profit multi-project conservancy that manages The Commons, announced earlier this spring an inaugural summer season of free public events in the park. “All summer we have encouraged people from all communities to come together to enjoy the lineup of happenings at The Commons,” said Beth Shogren, Executive Director of Green Minneapolis. “The Minnesota Orchestra concert offers another excellent reason to visit the park and enjoy a beautiful fall evening of music.”


The “Send Me Hope” concert grew out of a December 2016 concert experience at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis that concluded with the Minnesota Orchestra and Shiloh Temple Choir offering an exuberant performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”

“That was such a magical moment and overall positive experience that we all wanted to keep the collaborative flame alive,” said Associate Conductor Roderick Cox, who led the concert at Shiloh Temple. “Our Shiloh partners loved the idea of expanding the experience to include additional choirs and performers and bringing the performance to Orchestra Hall.”

Cox will lead the October 7 program which, in addition to Here We Are and Send Me Hope, will feature other chorus-and-orchestra gospel works composed or arranged by Henry Panion, including Order My Steps and Total Praise. Vocalist Tonia Hughes and Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus will perform an arrangement of Amazing Grace; writer and St. Catherine University Professor Taiyon J. Coleman—a featured essayist in A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota—will offer a spoken word performance; and cellist Nygel Witherspoon, the top prize winner of the 2017 Young People’s Symphony Concert Association School Music Auditions competition, will make his Minnesota Orchestra debut performing the first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. American Idol contestant Paris Bennett will be a featured soloist in Here We Are. Also making an Orchestra Hall debut: the Shiloh Temple Drummer Boys, who will perform on bucket drums in collaboration with a Minnesota Orchestra brass ensemble.

Henry Panion is a composer, arranger, producer, conductor and educator who is known for his work as a conductor/arranger for Stevie Wonder. A Grammy Award-winner, Panion was commissioned by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to compose Here We Are and Send Me Hope, the latter of which he co-wrote with Maquita Anthony, Clinton Green and Marc Raby, as part of a 2013 concert led by Roderick Cox to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 6 p.m. / The Commons, Minneapolis 

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor 

Presented by Green Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra offers a one-hour free concert at The Commons, the vibrant green space located across from U.S. Bank Stadium. Music Director Osmo Vänskä will lead the performance of powerful symphonic works—from Sibelius’ Finlandia to John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark—marking the Orchestra’s debut in Minneapolis’ newest park.

TICKETS: FREE, no ticket required


Saturday, October 7, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis

Minnesota Orchestra
Roderick Cox, conductor
Nygel Witherspoon, cello
Charles Lazarus, trumpet
Tonia Hughes, vocalist
Paris Bennett, vocalist
William Schimmel, accordion
Taiyon J. Coleman, writer
Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Choir
Minnesota State Baptist Convention Choir
Shiloh Temple International Ministries Choir
Shiloh Temple Drummer Boys 

Program to include: 

COLERIDGE-TAYLOR          Ballade in A minor
DVOŘÁK                                Cello Concerto: Allegro (mvt.1)
COLEMAN                              Spoken word performance by Taiyon J. Coleman
PANION                                  Here We Are
GREEN/RABY                              Send Me Hope
NEWTON/arr. Lazarus            Amazing Grace
PANION                                  Order My Steps
ARGENTO                              Valentino Dances
GERSHWIN/arr. Lazarus         Summertime
COLEMAN                              Spoken word performance by Taiyon J. Coleman
CLARK                                   A Praying Spirit
SMALLWOOD/arr. Panion      Total Praise 

In this collaborative concert led by Roderick Cox, African American gospel choirs and artists perform with the Minnesota Orchestra to celebrate the power of music to unite and inspire.

Tickets: $30 - $50, children (ages 6-17) $12


 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 Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (Stage Door ticketing is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Box Office ticketing begins two hours before all ticketed performances); and at the Skyway accessible 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.

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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