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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Friday Evening Full 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, No. 1

*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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Vänskä Conducts The Planets

About This Concert:

Drawing on cosmic, Cubist and cultural influences, this concert is both nuanced and mesmerizing, featuring work by the gifted Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom, as well as John Adams and the ever-inspiring Gustav Holst.

*ROUSTOM
Ramal

*ADAMS
Gnarly Buttons for Clarinet and Small Orchestra

HOLST
The Planets

Fun Facts:

  • Roustom’s Ramal, commissioned by Daniel Barenboim for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, was described by The New York Times as “propulsive, colorful and [an] immediately appealing creation.”
  • The Guardian praises Ramal as “arrestingly quirky and postmodern…music with lots of personality” and the Chicago Tribune has described Roustom as “a gifted and accomplished artist…one of the most prominent active Arab-American composers.”
  • Composer John Adams says the title of his work refers both to the “gnarly buttons” on trees, and the keys on a clarinet.
  • A fan of astrology, Holst based the narrative of The Planets in astrology, not astronomy, with each movement evoking the mythological characteristics of various planets.
  • Award-winning composer John Williams used rhythms and harmonies from the Mars movement as an inspiration for the soundtrack of Star Wars.

*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 28 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

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Fri Oct 12 8pm

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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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Fri Oct 19 8pm

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Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Seventh

About This Concert:

Under-appreciated in its own time, Mahler’s sumptuously structured Symphony No. 7 receives the brilliant interpretation it deserves from our own esteemed Osmo Vänskä.

MAHLER
Symphony No. 7

Fun Facts:

  • Leonard Bernstein viewed the Seventh as a comment on the breakdown of bourgeois society, praising it as “ironic and exciting and ultimately heartbreaking.”
  • Mahler conducted the premiere of his Symphony No. 7 in Prague in 1908.
  • In 1910, Mahler consulted just one time with renowned Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud, who diagnosed him with a “mother fixation.”
  • In the third movement, the composer gives the cellos and double basses a dynamic marking of fffff, instructing them to ‘pluck the string so hard that it hits the wood’.
  • While the Minnesota Orchestra's Mahler recordings under the direction of Osmo Vänskä are currently enjoying great acclaim, the Orchestra also won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for their recording of Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies on the BIS Records label.

Accessibility

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Fri Nov 2 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

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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

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Mon Dec 31 8:30pm

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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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Fri Jan 11 8pm

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Vänskä Conducts Future Classics: Emerging Composers Spotlight

About This Concert:

In this concert wholly devoted to deserving young artists, we introduce composers on a blazing path to create the next generation’s orchestral masterpieces.

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:

  • This concert is the final event of 16th Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, co-presented with the American Composers Forum, a nationally recognized program to support young composers.
  • Composers spend one week in the Orchestra's award-winning professional training program, under the direction of Kevin Puts, winner of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his opera Silent Night.
  • In 2006 Osmo Vänskä expanded the Composer Institute to include a Future Classics concert showcasing music by the composers who attend the program. In addition to rehearsing and conducting the concert, he meets individually with all seven composers for private mentoring.
  • The Composer Institute grew out of the Orchestra's Perfect Pitch program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers. Perfect Pitch was reformulated in 2001 as the Composer Institute.
  • This program’s works cover a range of musical styles; many will receive their first performance by a major American orchestra during the Future Classics concert.

Accessibility

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Fri Jan 18 8pm

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Bizet, Mozart and Vivaldi

About This Concert:

From the classical genius of Mozart to the flawless romanticism of Bizet, this concert features lush, intimate and sparkling works for small orchestra, perfectly calibrated by conductor Jane Glover in her Orchestra Hall debut.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Jane Glover, conductor
  • Karen Gomyo, violin
  • Roma Duncan, piccolo

RAVEL
Le Tombeau de Couperin

MOZART
Violin Concerto No. 5, Turkish

VIVALDI
Piccolo Concerto in C major

BIZET
Symphony No. 1 

Fun Facts:

  • The Chicago Tribune has praised guest conductor Jane Glover’s “crisp and hearty authority” as well as her “wit and warmth.”
  • Jane Glover studied at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, holds a professorship at the University of London, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. She was a Commander of the British Empire in 2003.
  • Ravel served as a WWI truck driver stationed at the Verdun front, after which he completed Le Tombeau de Couperin, with each movement dedicated to a friend who died in the war.
  • Though performed here by our own Roma Duncan on piccolo, the Vivaldi concerto can be played on a recorder or flute. The flautino, the instrument originally specified by Vivaldi, was a Baroque instrument similar to a recorder.
  • While given the nickname Turkish for its Eastern-sounding influences, Mozart used Hungarian music as well as a ballet tune from one of his own operas for inspiration while composing this concerto.

Accessibility

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Fri Feb 1 8pm

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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

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Fri Feb 8 8pm

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Mozart's Double Piano Concerto

About This Concert:

Renowned twin pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton sparkle in Mozart’s lyrical conversation between two pianos while former Minnesota Orchestra director Edo de Waart returns to the stage with a triumphant Respighi reprise.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Edo de Waart, conductor
  • Christina Naughton, piano
  • Michelle Naughton, piano

*BATES
Garages of the Valley 

MOZART
Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos and Orchestra 

RESPIGHI
Church Windows

Fun Facts:

  • This performance is a homecoming of sorts for Dutch conductor Edo de Waart. He was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1986 to 1995.
  • 30-year old composer Mason Bates was inspired by the garages of Silicon Valley that served as incubators for some of the most successful tech businesses of the Digital Age.
  • According to Revue, “The Naughton twins bring esoteric unity to their art form in a way only identical twins can.”
  • The San Francisco Examiner celebrates the Naughtons for their “stellar musicianship, technical mastery, and awe-inspiring artistry.”
  • Born in Princeton, NJ, Christina and Michelle are graduates of The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. They are Steinway Artists who currently reside in New York City.
  • Mozart’s concerto was originally scored for the two pianos together with two oboes, two bassoons; two horns; and strings; he later expanded the score with pairs of clarinets, trumpets and timpani in E flat and B flat.

*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 Feb 22 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
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

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Fri Mar 1 8pm

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Vänskä, Currie and Copland

About This Concert:

Join us for the U.S. premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s homage to composer Steve Martland, performed hypnotically by Colin Currie, and Missy Mazzoli’s darkly evocative work inspired by James Tate’s poem The Lost Pilot.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Colin Currie, percussion

*MAZZOLI
These Worlds in Us 

TURNAGE
Martland Memorial for Percussion and Orchestra [U.S. Premiere]

*COPLAND
Symphony No. 3

Fun Facts:

  • Composer Missy Mazzoli, called “Brooklyn's post-millennial Mozart” by Timeout New York, won the Best Opera of 2016 award from the Music Critics Association of North America for her work Breaking the Waves.
  • Given its U.S. premiere at these concerts, Martland Memorial is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s concerto-style musical tribute to his friend and fellow composer Steve Martland, and was composed especially to showcase the percussion genius of Colin Currie.
  • A dynamic performer, Colin Currie has been named “The world’s finest and most daring percussionist” by The Spectator.
  • Written at the end of World War I, Copland’s No. 3 combined European symphonic tradition with the iconic folksong-infused style he developed in his ballets to craft one of the most exuberantly majestic American symphonies ever written.
  • Copland’s famous Fanfare for the Common Man was originally written as a stand-alone piece, but he later incorporated as the main theme of the fourth movement of his Third Symphony.

*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 Mar 15 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

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Fri Mar 22 8pm

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Stephen Hough Plays Mendelssohn

About This Concert:

Join the Minnesota Orchestra for world-renowned British pianist Stephen Hough’s precisely attuned and poetic translation of Mendelssohn’s opulent concerto as well as guest conductor Han-Na Chang’s dynamic handling of Beethoven’s towering Eroica symphony.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Han-Na Chang, conductor
  • Stephen Hough, piano

*SHEPHERD 
Silvery Rills

MENDELSSOHN
Piano Concerto No. 1 

BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 3, Eroica

Fun Facts:

  • The symphony was originally written in honor of Napoleon, who Beethoven believed to a champion of freedom. When Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804, Beethoven was disgusted and changed the name from "The Bonaparte Symphony" to "Eroica."
  • The Eroica premiered in Vienna on April 7, 1805, and was grander in scale than most symphonies at the time. It was Beethoven’s largest solely instrumental work.
  • Ambitious in both its scope and its emotional impact, Eroica shattered conventional audience expectations that music was mere entertainment, containing no larger message or mission.
  • The St. Louis Post Dispatch calls Han-Na Chang “one of the most exciting conductors to take the podium” and praised her “inspired control.”
  • Hough discovered his affinity for piano when he selected more than one hundred nursery rhymes on his aunt’s piano. He went on to become one of the youngest students at the Royal Northern College of Music before winning a scholarship to The Juilliard School.
  • Hough rocks: When he was a guest on BBC Radio 4's cult hit Desert Island Discs program, he chose Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven as one of his musical selections.

*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 Apr 5 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

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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.

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Fri Apr 26 8pm

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Erin Keefe Plays Bernstein's Serenade

About This Concert:

Immerse yourself in beauty of Leonard Bernstein’s mercurial Serenade, performed spectacularly by Concertmaster Erin Keefe, as well as stormily passionate minor-key symphonies from two towering classical composers who Bernstein cherished and championed.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Juanjo Mena, conductor
  • Erin Keefe, violin

HAYDN
Symphony No. 44, Mourning Symphony

*BERNSTEIN
Serenade, after Plato's "Symposium"

*BERNSTEIN
Divertimento

MOZART
Symphony No 40

Fun Facts:

  • Leonard Bernstein composed Divertimento for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's centenary, and also in honor of Boston itself, as he was graduate of Harvard University and The Boston Latin School. The piece is a series based on two notes, B for Boston and C for Centennial.
  • A frequent soloist with national and international symphonies, Erin Keefe earned degrees from The Curtis Institute for Music and Julliard. She performs on a Nicolo Gagliano violin made in 1732.
  • Haydn wrote his Symphony No. 44 around 1770, during a musical era known as “Sturm und Drang” that was inspired by Rousseau’s Enlightenment philosophies emphasizing heightened emotional expressiveness.
  • While nicknamed the Trauer or Mourning Symphony, the piece is not intended to be especially sad. Hayden simply wanted it to be played at his funeral.
  • Plato's Symposium was inspired, according to Bernstein, by ancient dialogues about the nature of love, though scholars now speculate it was also a coded reference to Bernstein's own homosexuality.

*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 May 3 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

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Fri May 17 8pm

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Gershwin Piano Concerto in F 

About This Concert:

A pair of symphonic poems, an audacious piano concerto, and a folkloric work by Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski combine to create the perfect musical menu for late spring: lush, impressionistic and shimmering.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Andrey Boreyko, conductor
  • Orion Weiss, piano

BORISOVA-OLLAS 
The Kingdom of Silence 

*GERSHWIN
Piano Concerto in F

DEBUSSY
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

LUTOSŁAWSKI
Concerto for Orchestra

Fun Facts:

  • The Baltimore Sun proclaims “Borisova-Ollas’ The Kingdom of Silence is beautifully structured…it begins and ends with exquisite subtleties.”
  • A performance of the Gershwin Concerto’s third movement appears in a humorous fantasy sequence in the film An American in Paris (1951).
  • Gershwin’s piano concerto premiered in 1925 with the New York Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Walter Damrosch, who described Gershwin as “the Prince who has taken Cinderella [jazz] by the hand and openly proclaimed her a princess to the astonished world.”
  • Debussy’s composition was inspired by the poem L’après-midi d’un faune by French Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé, and was later used as the foundation for the ballet Afternoon of a Faun, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky.
  • Guest pianist Orion Weiss is one of the most sought-after soloists in his generation and has performed with many major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic.
  • Our guest conductor Andrey Boreyko “brings a strong…presence and a clear and authentic musical vision to the podium” says The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

*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 May 31 8pm

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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

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Fri Jun 7 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

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Fri Jun 14 8pm