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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Thursday Morning Coffee Prelude Series


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Rouvali and Shaham

About This Concert:

Acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham meets up with guest conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali of the Gothenburg Symphony for a virtuoso take on Prokofiev’s dazzling First Concerto, followed by Brahms’ grandly imposing First Symphony.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Santtu-Matias Rouvali, conductor
  • Gil Shaham, violin

STRAUSS
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

PROKOFIEV
Violin Concerto No. 1

BRAHMS
Symphony No. 1

Fun Facts:

  • According to The Los Angeles Times, “Rouvali’s imaginative, often spectacular musicality is exceptional,” while the Times (U.K.) anoints him “the real thing.”
  • Gil Shaham received the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize in 2008, and was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America in 2012, which cited the “special kind of humanism” with which he performs.
  • A child prodigy, Prokofiev composed his first piano piece when he was 5 and his first opera at age 9. His friend and fellow composer Igor Stravinsky described Prokofiev as the greatest Russian composer of his day. (After himself, of course.)
  • The winner of multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or and Gramophone Editor’s Choice award, Shaham plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius.
  • With its dissonance, double and triple stops and fast pizzicato, Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto is the perfect piece for virtuoso violinists to showcase their talents.
  • The Guardian says Shaham’s playing evokes “eloquence and powerful expressivity,” and the Sydney Morning Herald praises his “ability to shape phrases with smiling warmth.”

Accessibility

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Thu Oct 18 11am

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Guarantors' Week: Anthony Ross Plays Shostakovich

About This Concert:

Kinetically joyful, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony represents the composer at the height of his powers, while Kevin Puts' contemporary work Imagining Beethoven brings new depth to Beethoven's creative process.

During the second week of November, the Minnesota Orchestra will celebrate its 7,000 + Guaranty Fund donors. This week's concert performances will be dedicated to all whose generous contributions ensure that the Minnesota Orchestra can continue to bring incredible music experiences to our community. In fact 80% of our overall budget – including generous gifts from the community - goes directly to support the Orchestra and its gorgeous music. With ticket sales only covering one quarter of the budget, donor support remains absolutely critical. To all of our donors – THANK YOU! You make this exciting season of music possible.

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

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Brett Mitchell, conductor
  • Anthony Ross, cello

*PUTS
Inspiring Beethoven

SHOSTAKOVICH
Cello Concerto No. 2

BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 7

Fun Facts:

  • The second movement of the Shostakovich concerto is built on a popular 1920s street song from Odessa that he loved, "Bubliki, kupite bubliki" loosely translated as “Pretzels, buy my pretzels.”
  • Shostakovich composed his Second Cello Concerto in the spring of 1966. It was first performed September 25, 1966 of that year, at a 60th birthday party for the composer.
  • The Allegretto from Symphony No. 7 is heard as George VI delivers his first wartime speech in the Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech.
  • Symphony No. 7 premiered in Vienna on December 8, 1813, at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau between Austro-Bavarian troops and Napoleon’s army.
  • Principal Cello Anthony Ross joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1988 and became principal cello in 1991. He was an award-winner in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, and a recipient of two McKnight Fellowships.

*This work is part of Minnesota Orchestra’s season-long exploration and celebration of American music. Learn more about our American Expressions festival in January 2019.

Accessibility

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

Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Thu Nov 15 11am

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Vänskä Conducts Barber, Copland and Shaw

About This Concert:

Experience the lyric beauty of Copland, Hanson, Shaw and Barber as the Minnesota Orchestra and Principal Clarinet Gabriel Campos Zamora explore the wild spirit and individualism of composers at the forefront of 20th century American music.

*BARBER
Symphony No. 1

*COPLAND
Clarinet Concerto

*SHAW
Clarinet Concerto

*HANSON
Symphony No. 2, Romantic

This program is part of Minnesota Orchestra's American Expressions festival, celebrating and exploring this country’s bold, imaginative and diverse classical music tradition.

Fun Facts:

  • Copland first knew he wanted to be a composer at age 15, so he began studying harmony, theory and composition with Rubin Goldmark, a teacher and composer who had briefly taught George Gershwin.
  • Copland influenced successive generations of composers, teaching and inspiring students such as Leonard Bernstein, Alberto Ginastera, Alvin Lucier, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
  • President Lyndon Johnson awarded Copland the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. In 1986, he earned the National Medal of Arts; in 1987 the United States Congress presented him with a special Congressional Gold Medal.
  • Composer Artie Shaw and his orchestra performed his concerto for clarinet in the Fred Astaire film Second Chorus, a biopic of Shaw’s life.
  • Samuel Barber’s last opera was Antony and Cleopatra (1966), a collaboration with filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli. It was a critical flop that had lasting staying power, thanks in part to Leontyne Price’s fabulous arias.

Accessibility

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Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Thu Jan 10 11am

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Beethoven and Strauss

About This Concert:

Beginning with the mysterious opening of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto and culminating with the heroic brass fanfare of Strauss’ tone poem, the Minnesota Orchestra illuminates the symphonic wizardry of these legendary composers.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Vasily Petrenko, conductor
  • Nikolai Lugansky, piano

BEETHOVEN
Piano Concerto No. 4

STRAUSS
Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life)

Fun Facts:

  • Beethoven finished his Fourth Piano Concerto in 1806, but had trouble finding anyone willing to perform it until two years later on December 22, 1808.
  • Beethoven’s prodigious rate of composition somewhat eclipsed this concerto, and he has Felix Mendelssohn to thank for popularizing it through performances at multiple concert halls across Europe.
  • Ein Heldenleben was initially viewed by critics as proof of Strauss’s artistic egotism, with its hero standing for the composer himself. Later critics believed the work to be a response to Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophies and their focus on the struggle between the inner and outer lives of the individual.
  • The Daily Telegraph praises pianist Nikolai Lugansky’s performances for “the way they dig so deeply into the substance beneath the surface.”
  • According to The Guardian, Lugansky is “assertive in articulation” and “forthright yet darkly poetic in his approach.”

Accessibility

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

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Thu Feb 7 11am

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Schubert's Unfinished Symphony

About This Concert:

There’s no better way to celebrate the start of spring than with rush of beautiful music, including Libby Larsen’s poetically lush Symphony: Water Music, Strauss’ lyrical Unfinished Symphony and Strauss’ ode to Vienna’s majestic Danube River.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • David Danzmayr, conductor
  • Alina Ibragimova, violin

*LARSEN 
Symphony: Water Music  

SCHUMANN
Violin Concerto 

SCHUBERT
Symphony in B minor, Unfinished

J. STRAUSS, Jr.
On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Fun Facts:

  • In 1983, Larsen was one of the Minnesota Orchestra’s two composers-in-residence, making her the first woman to serve as a resident composer with a major American orchestra. She composed her first symphony, Water Music, for the Minnesota Orchestra, which premiered in 1985 under the direction of Sir Neville Marriner.
  • A chain of five interlinked waltz themes, Blue Danube is Austria’s unofficial national anthem and is played every New Year’s Day in Vienna.
  • Johann Strauss, Jr., made his U.S. debut at the World Peace Jubilee in Boston, where he conducted a 2,000-member orchestra in a performance of Blue Danube.
  • When Schubert died at age 31, he had composed more than 1,000 pieces of music. Like many young artists, he had to make the choice between music and a “serious” profession; fortunately for fans, he dropped out of law school.

*This work is part of Minnesota Orchestra's season-long exploration and celebration of American music. Learn more about our American Expressions festival in January 2019.

Accessibility

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

Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Thu Mar 21 11am

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Vänskä Conducts Beethoven and Sibelius

About This Concert:

Nordic forest spirits meet Greek gods in a performance that combines ethereal expressiveness with glittering Romanticism as Vänskä conducts Tómasson, Siblelius, Beethoven, and the U.S. premiere of composer Geoffrey Gordon’s Prometheus.

BEETHOVEN
Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus

*GORDON
Prometheus [U.S. Premiere]

TÓMASSON
Piano Concerto No. 2

SIBELIUS
Tapiola

Fun Facts:

  • According to Greek mythology, Prometheus created man from clay, then defied the gods to give man the gift of fire.
  • In the Romantic era during which Beethoven composed, Prometheus was viewed as symbol of lone genius whose attempts to improve human existence could lead to tragedy, as reflected in the sub-title for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus.
  • Composed in 1801, The Creatures of Prometheus is a two-act ballet for which Beethoven wrote an overture, an introduction, fifteen numbers, and a finale.
  • Tapiola was Sibelius's last major work, a tone poem, inspired by the wanderings of a forest spirit in the The Kalevala, a nineteenth century epic poem based on Finnish folklore and mythology.
  • Pianist Vikingur Ólafsson gave the world premiere of fellow Icelander Haukur Tómasson’s Concerto No. 2 and is an avid fan of the composer. He’s praised Tómasson’s “bulletproof structures and “unique flair for orchestration.”
  • The young composer has earned serious acclaim for his work. “Gordon writes wonderfully idiomatic music, while earmarking his scores with an individual voice” writes the Salt Lake City Tribune. 
“Few musicians match Olafsson for creative flair,” says BBC Music Magazine and the New York Times anoints him “Iceland’s Glenn Gould.”

*This work is part of Minnesota Orchestra's season-long exploration and celebration of American music. Learn more about our American Expressions festival in January 2019.

Accessibility

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

Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Thu Apr 25 11am

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Nagano Conducts Bruckner

About This Concert:

Layering expressive understanding with elegant technique, both Montreal Symphony music director Kent Nagano and Austrian pianist Till Fellner shine in this concert of Mozart and Bruckner that truly reveals the range of their luminous talents.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Kent Nagano, conductor
  • Till Fellner, piano

MOZART
Piano Concerto No. 20 

BRUCKNER
Symphony No. 6

Fun Facts:

  • The Chicago Classical Review praises Fellner’s “easy fluency,” “pearly tone” and “singing way with a phrase.”
  • The Los Angeles Times lauds Kent Nagano as “one of world's most imaginative and important conductors” and praises his ability to take an orchestra to “ethereal realms.”
  • A late bloomer, Anton Bruckner only began composing music at age 37.
  • During his lifetime, Anton Bruckner was well-known for his organ playing; when he died he was buried, according to his wishes, in the vault underneath his beloved organ at St Florian in Linz.
  • The Chicago Tribune applauds Fellner’s brilliant style, including his “sparkling runs, pearly tone and diamond-edged articulation.”
  • Frank Zappa personally chose Nagano to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra for his recording called London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1  that included "Sad Jane," "Pedro's Dowry," "Envelopes," and "Mo 'n Herb's Vacation.”

Accessibility

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

Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Thu Jun 6 11am