Saturday Evening Vivace 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.
Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe | Photo © Travis Anderson

Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Titan Symphony

About This Concert:

No first symphony has ever rocked the world like Mahler’s stunning Titan—joyous and bold, the composer’s audacious wish to embrace all of humanity in a single piece of music.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Erin Keefe, violin

Violin Concerto

Symphony No. 1, Titan

Fun Facts:

  • Gustav Mahler wrote his Symphony No. 1 on the inspiration of simple German folk tunes and poetry, and turned that into a fabulously colorful tapestry for brass, strings, winds and percussion, and perhaps the most daring first symphony of any composer.
  • Kurt Weill, who composed Broadway superhits like “Mack the Knife,” also wrote dozens of concert works as a young man in his native Germany.
  • Weill shed no tears when he left Germany for America, and said, “The moment I landed here I felt as though I’d come home.”
  • When Erin Keefe was young, her father wanted her to study piano, but the front door of their house wasn’t big enough to move a piano in, so violin it was.
Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter Plays Rachmaninoff

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

There are revolutionaries in music—and then there’s Cameron Carpenter, who tours globally with an astonishing electric organ of his own design and amazes audiences with his jaw-dropping virtuosity.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Klaus Mäkelä, conductor
  • Cameron Carpenter, organ

Prelude to Khovanshchina

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for organ and orchestra

Symphony No. 5

Fun Facts:

  • This program offers the best of Russia’s musical riches, from lush Romantic melodies and rich harmonies to triumphant cries of survival in the face of oppression.
  • Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody is one of the most recognizable pieces of Romantic keyboard music, newly adapted for organ from its piano original by Carpenter.
  • Carpenter’s signature International Touring Organ uses sophisticated technology to reproduce the sounds of many different American pipe organs at the touch of a button.
  • Carpenter’s recent Washington concert drew praise from the Post for his “blazing technique, wit and enthusiasm for the organ [that is] nothing short of contagious.”
  • Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 dates from the height of the Soviet Union’s Stalinist terror. Writing in fear for his life, Shostakovich created his most powerful music, and the ovation at the premiere lasted half an hour.
  • Casual Concerts include: $5 pre-concert happy hour, local craft brew, and an opportunity to meet musicians onstage after the performance.
Augustin Hadelich, violin

Beethoven and Berlioz

About This Concert:

Augustin Hadelich brings his crystalline tone to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, then Orchestra Hall lights up with Berlioz’s brilliant Symphonie fantastique.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Jun Märkl, conductor
  • Augustin Hadelich, violin

Violin Concerto

Symphonie fantastique

Fun Facts:

  • Is it too easy or too hard? The Beethoven Concerto isn’t every violinist’s cup of tea because the emphasis here is on lyricism and elegance, not technical fireworks.
  • When Hadelich was a boy, he suffered severe burns and couldn’t play violin for a year. He said, “Because I had this moment where I wasn’t sure if I would ever play the violin again, I appreciate my life more. It made me realize how important music was to me.”
  • Berlioz wrote his Symphonie fantastique when he was only 27 (and most likely experimenting with opium).
  • Leonard Bernstein said, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.”
  • The fifth movement of Symphonie fantastique contains the iconic funeral chant, the Dies Irae.

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