Saturday Evening Presto Series

James Ehnes, violin | Photo © Benjamin Ealovega

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

About This Concert:

The Tchaikovsky Marathon swirls to a brilliant close with this season’s featured artist, James Ehnes, in perhaps the most beloved concerto of the entire violin repertoire.

Marche Slave
Violin Concerto
Symphony No. 6, Pathétique

Fun Facts:

  • Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto today is the most frequently performed and universally adored concerto in the repertoire.
  • Unlike many young violinists, Ehnes says he never practices scales from books, but rather focuses solely on the score he’s working on at the moment. “That’s always been my philosophy, although maybe it’s just laziness masquerading as practicality.”
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 is subtitled Pathétique, mistranslated into French from Tchaikovsky’s Russian original which meant passion.
  • For sheer toxicity, no critic has ever surpassed the sourpuss who said at the 1881 premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto that he’d found “music which stinks in the ear.”
  • Stay after for a NightCap Chamber performance featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor.
Fauré Requiem

Fauré Requiem

About This Concert:

Casual Concert = FUN, COMFORTABLE and a little DIFFERENT than what you might expect.


  • $5 Happy Hour
  • Local craft brews
  • Meet the musicians onstage

The spirit of Paris runs like the Seine through this program with two 18th-century symphonies dedicated to the City of Light and a hauntingly beautiful 19th-century religious work by one of Paris’ most treasured composers, Fauré.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Bernard Labadie, conductor
  • Hélène Guilmette, soprano
  • Philippe Sly, bass-baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

Symphony No. 4

Symphony No. 31, Paris



Fun Facts:

  • Both Mozart and Rigel were born in German-speaking countries and came as young men to Paris hoping for fame; Rigel found it, but Mozart didn’t and returned home to Austria.
  • Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 was premiered in Paris by a larger orchestra than the composer had ever heard, prompting his father to quip that the French must like noisy symphonies.
  • Fauré’s Requiem is filled with a quiet beauty, “dominated from beginning to end,” said the composer, “by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.”
  • Casual Concerts include: $5 pre-concert happy hour, local craft brew, and an opportunity to meet musicians onstage after the performance.
La Mer

Debussy's La Mer

About This Concert:

Juraj Valčuha returns to conduct Rachmaninoff’s powerful Third Piano Concerto and Debussy’s shape-shifting picture of the sea, La mer.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Juraj Valčuha, conductor
  • Kirill Gerstein, piano

The Enchanted Lake

Piano Concerto No. 3

The Fountains of Rome

La mer

Fun Facts:

  • At six-foot-six, Rachmaninoff had hands that could span three notes farther than most pianists—one of the reasons his Concerto No. 3 is the most daunting in all the pianist’s literature.
  • The Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parent’s record collection and came to the US when he was only 14 to focus on jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • Gerstein won the prestigious (and slightly mysterious) Gilmore Award in 2010, bestowed every four years on an unsuspecting pianist anywhere in the world in recognition of exceptional artistry.
  • Debussy’s parents had plans for their son to join the navy, but Debussy rarely got close to large bodies of water and instead let his imagination set sail when he created his vivid orchestration of the sea in La mer.
American Voices

American Voices: Copland and Bernstein

About This Concert:

An all-American tour-de-force program including Bernstein’s first film score On the Waterfront, the suite from Copland’s ever-popular ballet Billy the Kid and a world premiere by House of Cards composer Jeff Beal.

Suite from Billy the Kid

Flute Concerto [World Premiere]

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

On the Waterfront

Fun Facts:

  • Bernstein centennial celebrations are starting up all over the world, and we launch ours with this early masterpiece for Hollywood.
  • Bernstein was chosen to write the score for On the Waterfront largely because of his celebrity in the early 1950s and the producers wanted “a big name” on the posters to help sell tickets to the film.
  • Today, Waterfront is remembered for the power of Marlon Brando’s performance and Bernstein’s score, both of which shocked audiences with a blend of tenderness and violence.
  • Copland’s Billy the Kid contains a gunfight (tricky percussion!)—written so convincingly that few composers have attempted it since.
  • Jeff Beal has four Emmys for his film and television scores, including Netflix’s House of Cards.
  • Stay after for a NightCap chamber performance featuring Eeyore Has a Birthday.

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