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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Common Chords: Grand Rapids

“This is my song”

The Minnesota Orchestra’s Common Chords week in Grand Rapids, Minnesota culminated with a spine-tingling musical exchange that captured the spirit of the project:  when Sarah Hicks led the Orchestra in an unannounced encore of Sibelius’ Finlandia in a Saturday night concert at the Reif Center, singers from the Grand Rapids High School Choir stood up, two by two and then 74 singers strong, to sing along:  “This is my song, oh, God of all the nations. A song of peace for lands afar and wide.”


The top secret finale—students didn’t even tell their parents what they were up to—was the denouement of the Orchestra’s new Common Chords project, which featured more than 30 music-related exchanges over the past six days connecting the Minnesota Orchestra and the Grand Rapids community. Next up: the Orchestra partners with the Willmar community for a spring Common Chords residency.

Conductor Sarah Hicks joined Choir Director Scott Shrimpton’s Thursday morning choir practice at Grand Rapids High School to rehearse the singers in Sibelius’ Finlandia. The choir was given its “secret” instructions: they would be seated in small groups throughout the Reif Center auditorium for the Orchestra’s Saturday evening concert and would suddenly rise up to join the encore, surprising the audience. “Go for it,” Hicks encouraged the students. “Give it your all.”