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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Friday Evening Fanfare Series


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Season Opening: Osmo Vänskä and Emanuel Ax

About This Concert:

The first concert of the season showcases the vibrant talent of composers Aaron Copland and Joan Tower and pianist virtuoso Emanuel Ax in a celebration of American innovation, originality and creative vision.

*TOWER
Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman

*COPLAND
Appalachian Spring

BRAHMS
Piano Concerto No. 2

Fun Facts:

  • Tower’s Fanfare, a tribute to risk-taking, adventurous women everywhere, has been performed worldwide by over 500 ensembles.
  • In 2008, Tower's Made in America won three Grammys: Best Orchestral Performance, Best Classical Album and best Classical Contemporary Composition.
  • A trailblazer in the world of female American composers and conductors, Joan Tower began her musical career in the 1960’s and went on to become, in the words of the New Yorker, "one of the most successful woman composers of all time.”
  • Ax has received Grammys for two volumes of his cycle of Haydn piano sonatas, and for his recordings of Beethoven and Brahms sonatas with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
  • Appalachian Spring is part of a trilogy of dance interpretations of the American frontier spirit that also includes Billy the Kid (1938) and Rodeo (1942).
  • Echoing the “high lonesome” bluegrass sound popular at the time, Copland’s open chords and minimal textures used traditional American music as an inspiration.
  • Created as the score for a ballet by the legendary Martha Graham, Appalachian Spring takes its title from a poem by modernist American poet Hart Crane.

*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

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Fri Sep 21 8pm

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Celebrating Northrop's Restored Pipe Organ

About This Concert:

Celebrate the restoration of Northrop’s prized organ with music of contemporary composer John Harbison and Saint-Saëns that showcases its rich sound and tremendous resonance.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Paul Jacobs, organ

BACH/Hubay
Chaconne from Partita No. 2

*HARBISON
What Do We Make of Bach? for Orchestra and Obbligato Organ [World Premiere]

SAINT SAËNS
Symphony No. 3, Organ Symphony

Please note: This concert will be performed at Northrop at the University of Minnesota.

Fun Facts:

  • This concert is presented in collaboration with Northrop, University of Minnesota.
  • With 7068 pipes that vary from straw-sized to 32 feet, the organ takes up a space roughly equal to the width of Northrop's stage.
  • In 1999, the Organ Historical Society named Northrop’s organ an “exceptional historic merit worth of preservation.”
  • Harbison, the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018-19 Featured Composer, is celebrating his 80th birthday in 2018.
  • In 1998, John Harbison won the Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities. He has also received a Kennedy Center Friedheim First Prize for his Piano Concerto as well as a MacArthur Fellowship.
  • A rockstar of the organ world, Paul Jacobs played Bach’s complete organ works in an 18-hour marathon performance on the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.
  • Saint-Saëns’ beloved Organ Symphony was the third and final of his symphonies.
  • Historians speculate that Bach composed the Chaconne between 1718 and 1720, after returning from a trip to find his wife Maria Barbara had died.

*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.

Fri Oct 12 8pm

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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

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Fri Nov 16 8pm

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A New Year Celebration: Vänskä Conducts Bernstein, Copland and Gershwin

About This Concert:

From Gershwin’s Tin Pan Alley and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age to Aaron Copland’s folk music- inflected ballet, this concert celebrates the dynamic voices, vision, and talents of iconic American composers. And it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without a party: after the concert, we’ll have some fun in the lobby including local jazz band Belle Amour and you can help us count down to midnight!

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Aaron Diehl, piano

*COPLAND
Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo

*GERSHWIN
Rhapsody in Blue

*BERNSTEIN
Three Dances from On the Town

*HARBISON
Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra

*PAULUS
Impassioned, from Symphony in Three Movements

*GERSHWIN
An American in Paris

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 often incorporated echoes of American folk tunes into his work, but for Rodeo, he left the songs largely intact. Hoe-Down is based on Bonaparte's Retreat, played by Kentucky fiddler William Hamilton Stepp, and recorded 1937 by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress.
  • Copland’s Hoe-Down has made pop culture appearances in the 1980’s “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner” commercials, a Simpsons episode, and in the blockbuster movie Titanic.
  • After the premiere of Rodeo in 1942, Copland’s choreographer Agnes de Mille was approached by Rodgers and Hammerstein, who wanted her to choreograph their production of Oklahoma.
  • Harbison, the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018-19 Featured Composer, is celebrating his 80th birthday in 2018.
  • The New Yorker praises the late Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus' music for its “impeccable technique and well-honed audience appeal,” while The New York Times says “His scoring is invariably expert and exceptionally imaginative in textures and use of instruments.”
  • Paulus wrote over 600 works for chorus, orchestra, opera, piano and organ, and his music has been performed by leading orchestras, at two presidential funerals, and by many musicians including Doc Severinsen and Leo Kottke.

*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.

Mon Dec 31 8:30pm

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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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Fri Feb 8 8pm

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Prokofiev's Symphony No. 7

About This Concert:

Join us for two can’t-miss guests as Moscow-born guest conductor Dima Slobodeniouk takes the stage for a graceful rendering of Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony, and powerhouse cellist Johannes Moser performs folkloric Lutosławski’s concerto.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor
  • Johannes Moser, cello

PROKOFIEV
Suite from Love for Three Oranges

LUTOSŁAWSKI
The Cello Concerto

PROKOFIEV
Symphony No. 7 

Fun Facts:

  • Commissioned in 1954 for the nascent Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Lutosławski’s concerto draws on Oskar Kolberg's five-volume Mazowsze collection of Polish folk music from the Mazovian region for inspiration.
  • La Opinion applauds Slobodeniouk’s “exceptional sensitivity,” while BBC Music Magazine gives him “full marks…for putting across all this music with such power, intelligence, and refinement.”
  • Prokofiev died at the age of 61, on March 5, 1953, the same day Stalin's death was made public. For three days, hordes of Stalin’s mourners made it impossible to transfer Prokofiev for burial.
  • Johannes Moser is “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists” according to Gramophone magazine, and Mercury News cheers his “rare technical clarity and directness of expression.”

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.

Fri Mar 1 8pm

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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.

Fri Mar 22 8pm

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Rivas Conducts Dvořák

About This Concert:

We introduce a bright new talent in these concerts. Illyich Rivas made his professional conducting debut at just 16. Now in his mid-20s, the dynamic Venezuelan-American conductor has been described by The Guardian as a “phenomenon” who is “strikingly, almost disconcertingly good.” Hear for yourself what the excitement is about as Rivas makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut leading Dvořák’s bucolic Eighth Symphony and Ginastera’s colorful Ballet Suite. Dazzling American violinist Stefan Jackiw completes the program performing a masterwork: Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Illyich Rivas, conductor
  • Stefan Jackiw, violin

GINASTERA 
Ballet Suite from Estancia

MENDELSSOHN 
Violin Concerto

Dvořák 
Symphony No. 8

Fun Facts:

  • Born in 1985, Stefan Jackiw made his European debut at age 14, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, the same work he’ll play on our program. That debut performance was featured on the front page of London’s Times and The Strad reported, “A 14-year-old violinist took the London music world by storm.”
  • Ilyich Rivas comes from a distinguished musical family, studying conducting from an early age with his father Alejandro Rivas, who is also an orchestral conductor. Ilyich has been awarded the Bruno Walter Conducting Prize and the Prix Julius Baer in Switzerland, given by the Verbier Festival to a musician of exceptional talent.
  • Rivas has previously held positions with the London Philharmonic (Assistant Conductor) and Baltimore Symphony (BSO/Peabody Institute Conducting fellow). In 2011 he traveled to Australia at the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.

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.

Fri Apr 12 8pm

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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.

Fri Apr 26 8pm

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Verdi Requiem

About This Concert:

Fusing operatic drama, gorgeous solo moments and symphonic prowess, Verdi’s Requiem is a transcendent musical rollercoaster well suited to the gift of Edward Gardner, a wunderkind conductor of symphonies and operas worldwide.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Edward Gardner, conductor
  • Ailyn Pérez, soprano
  • Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo
  • René Barbera, tenor
  • Eric Owens, bass-baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

VERDI
Requiem

Fun Facts:

  • Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic since October 2015, Edward Gardner has already led the orchestra on multiple international tours, including acclaimed performances in London, Berlin, Munich and Amsterdam.
  • Verdi's Requiem Mass was first performed in the Milan Cathedral on May 22, 1874. He composed it to honor a famous novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, who died the previous year.
  • Perhaps best known for his operas, Verdi based La Traviata on the successful French novel The Lady of the Camellias, written by Alexandre Dumas, and Rigoletto on a novel by Victor Hugo.
  • Born months apart, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner are both considered among the greatest operatic composers of all time. Although they never met, they allegedly disliked each other, and Verdi denounced Wagner as a composer who “chooses, unnecessarily, the untrodden path, attempting to fly where a rational person would walk with better results.”
  • Gardner has recorded for EMI Classics, including collaborations with Alison Balsom and Kate Royal, as well as music by Witold Lutosławski and Benjamin Britten for Chandos Records.
  • A student at Eton, Cambridge, and the Royal Academy of Music, Gardner was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to music.

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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Fri May 17 8pm

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Season Finale: Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Tenth

About This Concert:

By turns turbulent, calm, and ecstatic, Mahler’s Tenth Symphony evokes both despair and hope and Osmo Vänskä skillfully teases out the extremes to revel in their emotional depth for the sweeping season finale.

MAHLER/Cooke
Symphony No. 10

Fun Facts:

  • In his lifetime, Mahler was better known as a conductor rather than a composer and is considered to be one of the most passionate and greatest conductors in music history.
  • Entranced by Austrian military and folk music he grew up hearing, Mahler started rearranging and composing music on the accordion and piano.
  • Born a Jew, Mahler experienced racial discrimination in his youth and converted to Catholicism in 1897 to land a job at the Vienna State Opera, which would not hire Jews.
  • During WWII Nazi Germany banned famous Jewish conductors Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter, who were known for their interpretations of Mahler’s work.
  • A Post-Romantic period composer, Mahler’s work foreshadowed the progressive tonality of the 20th century.
  • Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra’s newest major recording project of Mahler symphonies began with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony—which was nominated for a 2018 Grammy® Award.

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.

Fri Jun 14 8pm