Mark your calendars for an unforgettable evening of music, dining, dancing and good company: the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2020 Symphony Ball, “A Night at the Moulin Rouge,” will be held Saturday, June 6, at Orchestra Hall and the adjacent Hilton Hotel. The Orchestra’s largest annual fundraiser is chaired this year by Bill and Katie Miller, Anders Folk and Angela Pennington, who collectively shared their thoughts on the Ball, its theme and more.Read more
Minnesota Orchestra member since: January 2019
Hometown: Houston, TX
Education: Rice University; The Juilliard School
How Orchestra Hall became the first performing arts center in the country to achieve LEED v4 O+M certificationRead more
Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks has become a master of Movies and Music concerts. Watch how she brings it all together and find out why she says "it's like playing a demented video game."Read more
A new voice has taken over the airwaves for the Minnesota Orchestra live broadcasts on Classical Minnesota Public Radio. Melissa Ousley stepped into her new role for the Season Opening concerts and will return to the broadcast booth on October 11 to bring you the Orchestra's performance with pianist Inon Barnatan.Read more
Choral conductor Ahmed Anzaldua—who is preparing the Minnesota Chorale and the Border CrosSing choir for their August 2-3 performances of La Pasión with the Minnesota Orchestra—offers the following guide to this extraordinary work, which he describes as encapsulating truths about “human nature, emotion and history.”Read more
As the Minnesota Orchestra prepares to perform composer Osvaldo Golijov’s astonishing La Pasión según San Marcos (The Passion According to St. Mark), conductor Ahmed Anzaldúa writes about the power and genius of this work that he considers “one of humanity’s greatest musical achievements.” Anzaldúa, who is founder and conductor of the choir Border CrosSing, will prepare the choruses for the Orchestra’s August 2 and 3 performances of the epic work.Read more
Since 1996, 141 emerging composers have participated in the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute and its predecessor, Perfect Pitch. Many have since gone on to impressive careers, earning prestigious commissions and high honors. A growing number of them are also nurturing ties to the Twin Cities music community.Read more
Symphony Ball is the Minnesota Orchestra’s biggest fundraising event of the year. But it’s also an opportunity to get all our favorite people in one place, enjoy good food, drink, and company, and celebrate together our shared love of music and this wonderful, vibrant arts community.
But what IS Symphony Ball? What’s it like? Who’s going to be there? Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect when you get dressed to the nines and head out to the best party in town.
Minnesota Orchestra musician since: September 2017
Section: Second Violin
Hometown: Bryn Athyn, Pa.
Education: Cleveland Institute of Music, Rice University
The Minnesota Orchestra performs Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral on June 1, as part of an Inside the Classics concert titled Love That Dare Not Speak. Read about the story behind the music and learn all about Jennifer in this Meet the Composer Q&A.Read more
Join Principal and Assistant Principal Librarians Maureen Conroy and Valerie Little for "5 Things You Didn't Know About the MN Orch Library!"Read more
Geoffrey Gordon's Prometheus had its world premiere performance in London just three months ago. Gordon tells us a little bit about himself, his music and what has happened since the premiere, as he prepares to visit Minneapolis to hear the piece performed by the Minnesota Orchestra on April 24, 25 and 26.Read more
Complete silence. A couch to nap on. A window with a view. What are other key elements for crafting a new piece of music? And what is it like to hear your music performed by the Minnesota Orchestra for the first time?Read more
This season, six Minnesota Orchestra musicians take center stage as featured soloists! Take a moment to get to know each of them (including their favorite superheroes), then mark your calendar to hear their magnificent music at Orchestra Hall!Read more
Florence Beatrice Price was the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. During our American Expressions Festival this month, the Minnesota Orchestra performs her First Symphony, the piece that first put her on the map as a great American composer.Read more
In Minnesota Orchestra concerts November 15, 16 and 17, the Orchestra performs Inspiring Beethoven by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, who has also served as the director of Minnesota Orchestra's Composer Institute since 2014. This marks the Minnesota Orchestra premiere of this work. We asked Puts about how to approach new music, what inspired him to write Inspiring Beethoven and his role in the Minnesota music scene.Read more
For those looking to begin—or expand--a classical collection, audiophile Matthew Philion compiles this short list of Minnesota Orchestra recordings that should be in your music library.Read more
If you’re the type of person who seeks out unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, then this list is for you. Along with a series of new pieces this season, the Minnesota Orchestra will perform several works that are rarities here, having graced the Orchestra’s music stands only once or twice in its 115-year history. Here are a few of the highlights.Read more
The Minnesota Orchestra’s upcoming season features the work of many great American composers, including Florence Price, Missy Mazzoli, Libby Larsen, and Amy Beach. Enjoy pieces by these four composers in our OH+ listening station, curated by Hymie’s Vintage Records, and read on to learn more about their lives and when you can hear the Orchestra perform their work during the 2018-2019 Season!Read more
The modern symphony orchestra has been built on centuries of musical traditions. Orchestral musicians have each trained for thousands of hours in classical techniques which have stood the test of time. Listeners might find familiarity and comfort in works by the great pillars of orchestral composing, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and—especially here in Minnesota lately—Sibelius and Mahler. However, in this art form, there will always be room for new ideas, new voices and new sounds.Read more
On Saturday morning, August 18, the Minnesota Orchestra crew completed their final load-in of the tour at Johannesburg’s City Hall and the musicians boarded the buses for a short trek to the venue. Even the chilly winter morning couldn’t erase the afterglow of Friday night’s concert in Soweto!Read more
Four musicians jumped on a bus in Johannesburg on Friday morning, August 17, headed to Soweto to attend a special Books for Africa event. Their day began with solo and chamber music performances for hundreds of students at Missourilaan Secondary School and ended with a grand Orchestra concert at one of South Africa's most historic venues.Read more
On Thursday, August 16, the Orchestra performed their third concert of the South Africa tour, in the Aula Centre at the University of Pretoria. Before the performance, however, Minnesota Orchestra musicians fanned out around the campus, working with students from the University and from the South African National Youth Orchestra.Read more
The Orchestra headed to the University of Pretoria on Wednesday, August 15, for an afternoon side-by-side rehearsal with the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) and an evening rehearsal with the Minnesota Chorale and Gauteng Choristers.Read more
Musicians enjoyed a free day on Monday. Some spent the time in sunny Durban, while others opted for a trek to Pilanesberg National Park, roughly three hours drive from Johannesburg, for a short and sweet safari experience at Bakubung Lodge, complete with lions, hippos and giraffes.Read more
The Orchestra landed in Durban on Saturday night, immediately feeling the more temperate weather of this busy port city known for expansive Indian Ocean beaches and a subtropical climate in the “garden province” of KwaZulu-Natal. A cheerful band of Orchestra wind players headed out first thing on Sunday morning to join the young musicians of the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band in rehearsal.Read more
The spirit of Nelson Mandela was alive as the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off its South Africa Tour with a performance at Cape Town City Hall on Friday evening, August 10.Read more
Minnesota Orchestra musicians arrived in bright and breezy Cape Town on Wednesday morning, and if any spirits were lagging after the 11-hour night flight, a welcome-to-the-city performance by a traditional, brassy Kaapse Klopse band—this one called Happy Sounds Youth Development and comprising students from 12 to 18—helped to revive them.Read more
On August 6, the Minnesota Orchestra made a triumphant return to the BBC Proms, the world’s largest classical music festival, with an all-American program. Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Orchestra in a performance of Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, featuring Inon Barnatan as soloist, and Charles Ives’ visionary Symphony No. 2.Read more
As the Orchestra concludes its 2017-18 season at Orchestra Hall, it offers a big round of applause for someone who is not normally in the concert spotlight: retiring piano tuner Jerry Ouska, who served the Orchestra, its pianos and world-famous pianists for 34 years. By Dan WascoeRead more
Born: August 1975, Queenstown, South Africa; now living in Cape Town, South AfricaRead more
The Minnesota Orchestra invites you to mark your calendar and spread the word about the Family Concert on the afternoon of Saturday, July 14. The concert, which features music by Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, John Williams and other favorite composers, will be the Orchestra’s first full-ensemble Sensory-Friendly Concert.Read more
Jeff Beal may be best known as a composer of music for films and television, but his newly-written Flute Concerto has its origins not in Hollywood—nor the Washington D.C. of his Emmy Award-winning score for Netflix’s House of Cards. Instead the genesis came in Stockholm, Sweden, where Beal worked out the basic parameters of the concerto over coffee and conversation with flutist Sharon Bezaly in June 2015.Read more
Tchaikovsky Marathon: Music by a (mostly) young composer
Some composers achieve success effortlessly. Others struggle for years. Tchaikovsky was in the latter camp. He made his first attempt at composition at age 4, but his apprenticeship was long and difficult. Compounding the problem was Tchaikovsky’s sensitivity to criticism, both from others and from continual self-doubt. Yet even as a young composer he produced some radiant scores, and this concert offers two pieces that had to overcome much opposition. The First Symphony attracted so much criticism while still in manuscript that Tchaikovsky could get only individual movements performed and had to wait years for a complete performance. The First Piano Concerto provoked the most destructive criticism the composer ever faced. But it also revealed a tough confidence beneath his perpetual self-doubt: Tchaikovsky refused to make any changes, and the concerto went on to become one of his best-loved works.
Tchaikovsky Marathon: Tchaikovsky and Italy
All three pieces on this program have a connection to Italy, and all three were at least partially composed there. The connection with Capriccio italien is clear: the music was inspired by Tchaikovsky’s visit to Rome in 1880. He fell in love with that great city and incorporated some of its music into the Capriccio. The other two works come from a less happy moment in Tchaikovsky’s life, the aftermath of his disastrous marriage, when the stunned composer left Moscow and fled to Western Europe. He did some of the work on the Second Piano Concerto in Rome and completed the Fourth Symphony in San Remo, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Italy is much less an “influence” on these two works than on the Capriccio, but the fact that Tchaikovsky—at a moment of great personal distress—would choose to live and work in Italy may tell us all we need to know about his feelings for that country.
Tchaikovsky Marathon: Slavic heritage
Like so many Russian composers, Tchaikovsky was proud of his Slavic heritage. “I love passionately the Russian character in all its expression,” he said, a sentiment that would be echoed by The Mighty Five—Cui, Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov—and by many other Russian composers. This program begins with two works, both written when Tchaikovsky was in his thirties, that make that passion clear. His Marche Slave (Slavic March) had a frankly political purpose: Tchaikovsky was enlisted to aid the effort to get the Russian government to intervene militarily to protect their Serbian cousins. The Violin Concerto had no such purpose, but this music—in a purely classical form—is infused with a Russian character all its own, as a hostile critic was quick to point out. Eduard Hanslick, doyen of the Viennese musical establishment, recoiled before the concerto’s “Russian-ness.” Today we value it precisely for that distinct character.
Tchaikovsky Marathon: Influences
We think of Tchaikovsky as so original, so unique, that it comes as a surprise to recognize that there were strong influences on his music. The first of these was Russian folk music. Like many other Russian composers of his generation, Tchaikovsky felt the charm of the music he heard sung around him on the streets and in the fields. His Second Symphony—which opens this program—incorporates a number of ancient folksongs from the Ukraine. Another (and quite unexpected) influence on Tchaikovsky was the music of Mozart. Those two may seem very different people and composers, but Tchaikovsky admired the clarity and emotional balance of Mozart’s music; the Rococo Variations represent his effort to write this kind of music. The Fifth Symphony, however, finds Tchaikovsky speaking in a voice that is very much his own.
Tchaikovsky Marathon: Hardly failures
At first glance, this program might seem to offer a collection of Tchaikovsky’s misfires. It opens with his least-familiar symphony, continues with a piano concerto he assembled from an abandoned symphony, and concludes with a ballet score that brought down on the poor composer the most painful failure he ever endured professionally. Though these three works were not immediate triumphs for Tchaikovsky, they clearly flow from the pen of a master, and are most worthy of listening.
It may seem incomprehensible that Tchaikovsky’s music for Swan Lake could have been attacked for its complexity or derided for being “too Wagnerian,” yet it was. Today it ranks as one of his most popular ballets (and in recent years, crossed paths with cinema through its central focus in the film Black Swan). The Third may be the least-played of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, but it offers distinct pleasures of its own: it is Tchaikovsky’s only symphony in a major key, and one senses its kinship with ballet throughout. Tchaikovsky composed a symphony in 1892, but abandoned it. Rather than burning his manuscript, though, he converted the symphony’s first movement into a piano concerto. This concerto is rarely played, so enjoy this performance—Tchaikovsky himself never heard it.Read more