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Thursday November 10, 2022

Choral Ensemble Border CrosSing Joins Minnesota Orchestra for Bilingual Holiday Program December 9-11

Featuring Handel’s Messiah and Ramírez’s Navidad Nuestra, the El Mesías (The Messiah) program blends two treasured holiday pieces for voices and instruments from across centuries and cultures

The performance on December 9 will be broadcast on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2) and streamed live through the Minnesota Orchestra’s website and social media channels

A pay-what-you-wish concert will be held at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis on December 11

On December 9 to 11, choral ensemble Border CrosSing will join the Minnesota Orchestra for a bilingual Spanish-English program that celebrates the Christmas season. Ahmed Anzaldúa—the Saint Paul-based choral conductor, pianist and artistic director of Border CrosSing—will make his conducting debut with the Orchestra in performances that include portions of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah sung in both English and Spanish alongside all six movements of Navidad Nuestra, a Christmas cantata by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez. Vocal soloists and instrumentalists from Border CrosSing will be featured throughout the concert. 

The performances on Friday, December 9, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, December 10, at 8 p.m., will take place at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis, with ticket prices ranging from $27 to $104. The concert on Sunday, December 11, at 4 p.m., will be held at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis, and concertgoers may pay what they wish to attend. The December 9 and 10 concerts are free to attend through the Hall Pass program for young listeners ages 6 to 18; visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass for details.

Additionally, the performance on Friday, December 9, will be broadcast on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2), and streamed live for free on TPT.org and through the Orchestra’s website and social media channels. The broadcast will subsequently be released for on-demand viewing with a digital subscription to the Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall.

Handel’s Messiah has become a fixture in the holiday season repertories of choirs and orchestras across the Western world. After its premiere in 1742, the oratorio would become the Baroque-era composer’s best-known composition. These December concerts will feature Part I of Messiah—which chronicles the events surrounding the birth of Jesus—in addition to the well-loved Hallelujah Chorus. Ramírez’s Navidad Nuestra occupies a role similar to Handel’s Messiah in much of the Spanish-speaking world, particularly in Argentina, where Ramírez made a career that included the creation of more than 300 compositions; many of these works were inspired by Latin American folk music traditions. In this presentation of Navidad Nuestra, local Andean musicians will be featured alongside the ensembles. Taken together, the compositions combine traditional Andean instrumentation and Baroque-era music, blurring the lines between Latin American folk and Western classical traditions.

Founded by Anzaldúa in 2017, Border CrosSing is a Minnesota-based choral ensemble that envisions a landscape where singers and audiences more closely reflect the racial and cultural composition of the Twin Cities; according to Anzaldúa, approximately 40 percent of Border CrosSing’s audiences self-identify as Latinx, and about 20 percent speak Spanish as a first language. The ensemble first performed their El Mesías program at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis and the concert on Sunday, December 11, will continue this community-centered tradition. Church of the Ascension is located at 1723 North Bryant Avenue in Minneapolis.

El Mesías is part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s upcoming schedule of holiday programming. These offerings include the return of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with vocalist Dianne Reeves on November 30; another iteration of the popular annual Merry & Bright concert on December 11 featuring Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus with his brass band and special guests; the film Elf performed live-in-concert December 17-18; world-renowned pianist George Winston’s return on December 19; and a pair of New Year’s celebration concerts led by conductor Marin Alsop with pianist Awadagin Pratt, to be performed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The holiday offerings conclude with a Lunar New Year concert on January 28, 2023.


About Ahmed Anzaldúa

Ahmed Anzaldúa is a Mexican conductor and pianist of Egyptian descent, and the founder and artistic director of Border CrosSing. He is an active musician, performing in Mexico and the United States frequently as a soloist and conductor with choirs and orchestras, in recitals and as a collaborative pianist. He is a recognized authority in Latin American and Spanish music, particularly the compositions of Federico Mompou and Miguel Bernal Jiménez, and he collaborates regularly with composers to premiere new works, including music by Helmut Lachenmann, Paul Lansky and Arturo Márquez. His most recent recordings include Carteles, recorded for FMM, and Contemplating Weather on Bridge Records.

Anzaldúa holds master’s degrees in piano performance and choral conducting from Western Michigan University, and carried out postgraduate work at the Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid, Spain. He received a doctorate in music conducting at the University of Minnesota under the mentorship of Kathy Saltzman Romey. Early in his career, he was awarded first prize at the María Clara Cullel International Piano Competition. Apart from his work with Border CrosSing, he is co-editor of the Justice Choir Songbook and is director of music ministries at Unity Church-Unitarian in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


About Border CrosSing

Twin Cities choral ensemble Border CrosSing was founded in 2017 by Mexican-Egyptian conductor Ahmed Anzaldúa as a response to a lack of representation of Latin American culture in choral music in the United States. Since its founding, Border CrosSing has grown into a vibrant organization with several programs and expanded beyond Latin American repertoire, with the mission “to integrate historically-segregated audiences and musicians through the performance of choral music.”

Border CrosSing received international recognition as a recipient of the 2020 Adventurous Programming Award from Chorus America and ASCAP following a historic performance of La Pasión según San Marcos (The Passion According to Saint Mark) with the Minnesota Orchestra. Border CrosSing has five main areas of programming: “Puentes,” a concert series centered on Latin American culture and history; community singing events and workshops; educational concerts at schools and colleges throughout Minnesota; “Heritage Choir,” a community chorus centered on exploring cultural heritage; and a sheet music series distributed by Graphite Publishing. Border CrosSing recently released their first album, Un Milagro de Fe (A Miracle of Faith) on the Bridge Records label.


Holiday Concerts



Friday, December 9, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, December 10, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Sunday, December 11, 2022, 4 p.m. / Church of the Ascension, Minneapolis**


HANDEL Messiah (Part I and Hallelujah Chorus)
RAMÍREZ Navidad Nuestra


Minnesota Orchestra

Ahmed Anzaldúa, conductor

Border CrosSing, chorus and Andean ensemble


Tickets: $27 to $104 [Free tickets for December 9 and 10 concerts available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program.]

* The performance on Friday, December 9, will be broadcast on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2), and streamed live for free on TPT.org and through the Orchestra’s website and social media channels. The concert will subsequently be released for on-demand viewing with a digital subscription through the Minnesota Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall.

** The Sunday afternoon concert on December 11 will be hosted at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis. All concertgoers may pay what they wish to attend this performance.


For More Context: Watch this short video featuring Ahmed Anzaldúa.



Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

The Hall Pass program makes free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18 for select Classical and Symphony in 60 concerts, and all kids under 18 for Family concerts. This program is sponsored by Cynthia and Jay Ihlenfeld. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass

Details around COVID safety protocols can be found at minnesotaorchestra.org/safety 

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change. 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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