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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Saturday Evening Presto Series


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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

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.

Sat Sep 29 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.

Sat Oct 13 8pm

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A Christmas Oratorio

About This Concert:

Join us for the grand finale of Bach’s six-part Oratorio as the Minnesota Chorale celebrates the naming and adoration of the Christ in the last three passionate cantatas of this soaring, sacred work.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Nicholas Kraemer, conductor
  • Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
  • Robin Blaze, countertenor
  • Richard Croft, tenor
  • Christopher Edwards, baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

BACH
Orchestral Suite No. 3 

BACH
Christmas Oratorio, Cantatas 4, 5 and 6

Fun Facts:

  • Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written with the intention of each cantata being performed a different night over the 12 days of Christmas.
  • The Christmas Oratorio, completed around Christmastime of 1734, is a set of six cantatas. Much like the passions of Matthew and John, it features a tenor Evangelist telling the story of Christ as it appears in the gospels of Luke and Matthew.
  • For the Oratorio, Bach borrowed his own music, adapting choruses and arias from earlier secular works for this large-scale endeavor.
  • A British conductor with a lifelong affinity for Bach and baroque music, Nicholas Kraemer “brings a zest and exuberance to even the most familiar works.” Chicago Classical Review

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.

Sat Dec 8 8pm

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Vänskä Conducts American Nomad

About This Concert:

Join the Minnesota Orchestra and our virtuoso trumpeter Charles Lazarus for a performance showcasing the multifaceted beauty, scope and originality of talented trailblazers in the landscape of contemporary American sound.

*SCHUMAN
New England Triptych

*HEITZEG
American Nomad, for Trumpet and Orchestra

*PRICE
Symphony No. 3

Fun Facts:

  • Composer Steve Heitzeg features the trumpet in his work as "a messenger or troubador." He says "it's a call and response. It's an alarm. It brings us together."
  • Steve Heitzeg grew up on his family’s dairy farm in south central Minnesota, and much of his work reflects his connection to the natural world. His compositions have been performed by the Atlanta Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, VocalEssence, Chanticleer and the Dale Warland Singers, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra.
  • As the title suggests, American Nomad is a road trip through the U.S., starting with the first movement Avenue of the Americas, New York City, wandering South, then through the Great Plains, the deserts of the Southwest and ending on the California coast.
  • Using a popular jazz technique, Lazarus taps into the emotion of Nomad with a plunger mute.
  • Florence Beatrice Price was an award-winning pianist and composer who became the first African-American woman to have her work performed by a major orchestra.
  • Marian Anderson sang Price's arrangement of the spiritual My Soul's Been Anchored in de Lord at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, and also perform Price’s musical arrangement of the Langston Hughes's poem, "Song to the Dark Virgin." Later, vocalists like Leontyne Price and William Warfield worked to champion Price’s work.

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.

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

Sat Jan 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.

Sat Apr 27 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

Read more about Accessibility at Orchestra Hall.

Sat May 18 8pm