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Thursday January 26, 2023

Erin Keefe Takes Solo Spotlight in Minnesota Orchestra's All-American Program, February 23-25

Guest conductor Dalia Stasevska makes Orchestra debut in concerts that feature music of the past and present: Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium” and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony

Erin Keefe, who has served as the Minnesota Orchestra’s concertmaster since 2011, headlines these concerts with her interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium.The work, which Bernstein wrote to replicate the Greek philosopher Plato’s dinner-table conversation on the nature of love, includes the solo violin in emotional and nostalgic dialogue with a reduced orchestra comprising only strings, harp and percussion. The Serenade has only been featured six times in the Orchestra's past, and on four of those occasions, the concertmaster has served as soloist—Norman Carol in 1966, Lea Foli in 1983 and Jorja Fleezanis in 2006 and 2013. With her trademark virtuosity, Keefe will follow in this tradition.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, February 23 at 11 a.m., Friday, February 24 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 25 at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $99. Free tickets are available for young listeners under the age of 18, thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass. The Friday night performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

Ukrainian-born, Finland-based conductor Dalia Stasevska will take the podium at Orchestra Hall for the first time in these concerts. A conductor “who can elicit the finest nuances with her precise directing” according to Bachtrack, Stasevska currently serves as chief guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony—a role that Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä held for two decades from 1988 to 2008.

The concerts open with Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), an energetic piece that the composer defines as music “in the shape of a solar system.” Though the 12-minute work will be performed here for the first time by the Minnesota Orchestra, Mazzoli is a familiar presence at Orchestra Hall; in 2006—eight years before she composed Sinfonia—she participated in the Orchestra’s Composer Institute, an initiative for emerging composers. The rural Pennsylvania-born composer has since established herself as a leading voice in contemporary classical music and was nominated in 2019 for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Another work receiving its first performance at Orchestra Hall is William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, which concludes the program. Despite the great acclaim it received upon its 1934 premiere by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dawson’s symphony was not performed widely in subsequent decades due to the unwillingness of major orchestras to feature music by Black composers. The themes of the piece’s three movements are taken from African American spirituals in an effort by Dawson to bring this foundational American musical form into the symphonic world. In his own program note, he explained that, “the themes are taken from what are popularly known as Negro spirituals. In this composition, the composer has employed three themes taken from typical melodies over which he has brooded since childhood, having learned them at his mother’s knee.”

For more information on the historical context in which Dawson wrote Negro Folk Symphony, view this video with Dr. Louise Toppin, the founder of the African Diaspora Music Project.


About Dalia Stasevska

Ukrainian-born conductor Dalia Stasevska is chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and artistic director to the International Sibelius Festival, as well as principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The 2022-23 season sees her conducting major American orchestras such as the Chicago, National and San Francisco symphonies, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, as well as ensembles abroad such as the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Stasevska has made several major festival appearances, including opening the 2021 Edinburgh International Festival and had been scheduled to lead the high-profile Last Night of the Proms in 2022 with the BBC Symphony until the passing of Queen Elizabeth II necessitated the event’s cancellation. Her career also includes conducting opera with companies the world over. Her many honors include being bestowed with the Order of Princess Olga of the III degree by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in October 2020 for her significant personal contribution to the development of international cooperation, the prestige of Ukraine internationally and the popularization of its historical and cultural heritage. More: harrisonparrott.com, daliastasevska.com.

About Erin Keefe

Erin Keefe has established a reputation as a violinist who combines exhilarating temperament and fierce integrity. As a soloist with the Orchestra, she has played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, two concertos by Mendelssohn—the Violin Concerto and the Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra—as well as the violin concertos of Brahms, Kurt Weill and Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra. A dedicated educator, she joined the violin faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in fall 2022.

Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Pro Musicis International Award, Keefe has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the world. She is also a highly sought-after chamber musician who has been an Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and plays locally with the Accordo chamber ensemble. As a guest concertmaster, she has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she and Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä recorded many violin-and-clarinet works and shared them with audiences around the world. More: minnesotaorchestra.org.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Thursday, February 23, 2023, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, February 24, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, February 25, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Dalia Stasevska, conductor

Erin Keefe, violin


MAZZOLI  Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)
BERNSTEIN Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium”
DAWSON Negro Folk Symphony


Tickets: $25 to $99 [Free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to our Hall Pass program.]

* The Friday night performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.



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

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

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.

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.

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


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