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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Thursday Morning Coffee Intermezzo Series


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Season Opening: Osmo Vänskä and André Watts

About This Concert

Exciting music from our time, a Nordic surprise or two and the audience-favorite Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar kick off the 2019-20 season.

Program

RAUTAVAARA
Requiem in Our Time, for Brass and Percussion / 10 min

GRIEG
Piano Concerto / 29 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

CARTER
Three Illusions for Orchestra / 15 min

ELGAR
Enigma Variations / 29 min

Artists

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • André Watts, piano

Fun Facts

  • Einojuhani Rautavaara, who passed away in 2016, remains one of Finland’s most well-known composers. After hearing Rautavaara’s A Requiem in Our Time (which had just won a composition contest), Jean Sibelius recommended him for a scholarship to study at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School.
  • Edvard Grieg took inspiration from Norwegian folk songs in his Piano Concerto, and he imitates the sounds of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle in the final movement.
  • André Watts first impressed the music world at age 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to debut with the New York Philharmonic.
  • Edward Elgar was playing the piano by age eight. According to Elgar biographer Michael Kennedy, Elgar’s father William worked as a piano tuner in some of the grand houses in Worcestershire and would often bring Elgar along to play for some of the important people who lived there.
  • Elliot Carter’s brilliant Three Illusions for Orchestra features three movements, each based on a great literary work: Thomas More’s Utopia, a tale from a Roman myth and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu Sep 19 11am

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Guarantors' Week: Keefe, Wagner and Brahms

About This Concert

The power of love weaves through all these works, and Nathalie Stutzmann sews them together with her radiant podium presence.

These concerts are dedicated to the generous donors, also called Guarantors, who have been at the heart of this Orchestra since its inception in 1903. During Guarantors' Week, we offer our deepest gratitude to the growing number of donors who ensure that the Orchestra can continue to achieve its mission to Enrich, Inspire and Serve the community. Thank you, donors!

Program

BRAHMS
Hungarian Dance Nos. 1, 4 and 5 / 10 min

DVOŘÁK
Romance for Violin and Orchestra / 12 min

WAGNER
Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde / 17 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

BRAHMS
Symphony No. 2 / 39 min

Artists

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
  • Erin Keefe, violin

Fun Facts

  • Violinist Erin Keefe, the Minnesota Orchestra’s concertmaster since 2011, earned degrees from the Juilliard School and Curtis Institute of Music and has been featured on Live from Lincoln Center.
  • Of guest conductor Nathalie Stutzmann, London Symphony Orchestra Music Director Sir Simon Rattle says: “So much love, intensity and sheer technique. We need more conductors like her.”
  • Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 was featured in Charlie Chaplin’s movie classic The Great Dictator.

Donors: please see your email or postcard for directions on how to access your complimentary tickets. Not yet a Guaranty Fund donor? Become a donor and support the music you love »

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu Nov 7 11am

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A New Year Celebration: Auld Lang Syne!

About This Concert

Bagpipes, bow-ties and brilliant music: You’re invited to a gala New Year’s celebration that pops as Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra in a sparkling countdown to 2020.

Program

ELGAR
Military March No. 1 from Pomp and Circumstance / 6 min

DAVIES
An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise / 13 min

WILLIAMS
Closing In, from Catch Me If You Can / 3 min

MILHAUD
Scaramouche / 9 min

RAUTAVAARA
A Tale of Love, from Book of Visions / 10 min

KENDALL
The Spark Catchers / 10 min

BRITTEN
The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra / 10 min

Artists

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Jess Gillam, alto saxophone

Fun Facts

  • Don’t miss the fabulous party after the New Year’s Eve concert in Orchestra Hall’s lobby, featuring local jazz band Belle Amour and much more countdown fun!
  • At 20 years of age, saxophonist Jess Gillam is committed to bringing new audiences to classical music and, in an interview with The Telegraph, lobbied for “…more dancing, cheering and clapping between movements.”
  • A prolific composer, Vaughan Williams wrote symphonies, songs, choral works and chamber music, as well as music for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
  • British composer Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers is a tribute to the grace and strength of London’s Match Girls, who went on strike in 1888 to protest deplorable working conditions.

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Wed Jan 1 2pm

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Beethoven, Bach and Britten

About This Concert

Strings take center stage as noted cellist and conductor Paul Watkins joins us for a luminous cello concerto, Britten’s idyllic musical portrait and Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.

Program

BRITTEN
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge / 25 min

C.P.E. BACH
Cello Concerto in A major / 20 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 4 / 32 min

Artists

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Paul Watkins, conductor and cello

Fun Facts

  • The Fourth Symphony represents a lighter, more relaxed version of Beethoven’s music, as it falls in between his bold Third (Eroica) and Fifth Symphonies. Robert Schumann described the Fourth as “a slender Greek maiden between two Nordic giants.”
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was Johann’s son and held a 30-year job as harpsichord accompanist to King Frederick the Great.
  • Britten’s Variations pay tribute to his teacher Frank Bridge, with each variation representing one facet of Bridge’s character.

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu Jan 30 11am

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Vänskä Conducts Scheherazade

About This Concert

Prepare to be stunned by the percussive journey of Aho’s concerto, then enchanted by the ornamental wonder of Rimsky-Korsakov’s universally-revered Scheherazade.

Program

PÄRT
Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten / 6 min

AHO
Sieidi, Percussion Concerto / 36 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
Scheherazade / 47 min

Artists

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Martin Grubinger, percussion

Fun Facts

  • For Aho’s propulsive percussion concerto, the soloist moves from drums to marimba to vibraphone to tamtam.
  • The New York Times has praised soloist Martin Grubinger’s “monstrous fluency” and “ambidextrous talent.”
  • Rimsky-Korsakov’s masterpiece Scheherazade is an orchestral suite based on the Middle Eastern folk tale collection One Thousand and One Nights, or Arabian Nights.
  • Pärt composed his evocative and cinematic tribute to British composer Benjamin Britten in 1976.

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu Apr 2 11am

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Gerstein Plays Rachmaninoff: Paganini Rhapsody

About This Concert

Virtuosic both in technique and emotion, this performance features powerhouse pianist Kirill Gerstein’s Rachmaninoff homage and Stravinsky’s visceral and moving choral work.

Program

RACHMANINOFF
Three Russian Songs / 14 min
Piano Concerto No. 1 / 26 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

RACHMANINOFF
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / 23 min

STRAVINSKY
Symphony of Psalms / 22 min

Artists

Fun Facts

  • In 1929, Stravinsky composed Symphony of Psalms as a commission to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • The New York Times cites Gerstein’s background in jazz as influencing his ability to perform classically with both “uncanny delicacy” and “gnashing power.”
  • Rachmaninoff’s friend Stravinsky once characterized him as a “six-and-a-half-foot-scowl.”

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu May 14 11am

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Fei Xie Plays Mozart

About This Concert

Mozart’s only bassoon concerto highlights the instrument’s rich versatility in a concert that showcases the talent of the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal bassoonist, Fei Xie.

Program

FAGERLUND
Water Atlas / 18 min

MOZART
Bassoon Concerto / 18 min

INTERMISSION / 20 min

SAARIAHO
Ciel d’hiver / 10 min

ENESCU
Symphony No. 1 / 32 min

Artists

Fun Facts

  • Fei Xie began playing the bassoon at the age of twelve. Both of his parents are Peking Opera musicians and his uncle is a composer who introduced him to classical music at the age of three.
  • Originally created to reinforce an orchestra’s bass line, the bassoon has developed into an instrument with a distinctive, warm tone that allows it to create unique textures when paired with other instruments as well as sing out as a soloist.
  • In April 2018, the Orchestra’s Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in the world premiere of Water Atlas.
  • Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho received the 2017 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for her contributions in “breaking down the divisions between acoustic and electronic music.”

Accessibility at Orchestra Hall

Assisted listening devices available Large print program available Wheelchair seating availableService dogs welcomePlease refrain from using strong perfumes and colognes

Thu Jun 4 11am