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Thursday February 23, 2023

In Her Minnesota Orchestra Debut, Olga Kern Plays Grieg's Piano Concerto

Guest conductor Christoph König makes his first appearance at Orchestra Hall, leading the ensemble in a program that also features Hannah Kendall’s 2017 work The Spark Catchers and Robert Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony

Virtuoso pianist Olga Kern will make her Minnesota Orchestra debut performing Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto, one of the most popular ever composed for the instrument. Written when Grieg was just 25 years old, the concerto was inspired by the composer's interest in Norwegian folk music. Containing a wealth of themes and dramatic gestures, Kern’s power and musicianship will be on full display throughout the work.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, March 23, at 11 a.m., and Friday, March 24, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $35 to $114. Free tickets are available for young listeners ages 6 to 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.

Christopher König, chief conductor designate of the Spanish Radio Symphony Orchestra, will also make his debut in this program. From the podium, he will open the concerts leading the ensemble in Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers. A colorful 21st-century classic that premiered at the BBC Proms in 2017, the London-born composer’s work was inspired by a poem of the same name by British poet Lemn Sissay, which commemorates the lives of the women who worked at a 19th-century match factory.

The program will close with Robert Schumann’s evocative Rhenish Symphony. The five-moment work was inspired by the composer’s move to Germany’s Rhineland region and his visits to the Cologne Cathedral. It features a joyful opening, melodic second and third movements that prominently feature the Orchestra’s clarinet and viola sections, and a solemn fourth movement followed by an energetic finale.


About Christoph König

Celebrated for his clarity, precision and elegant approach, Christoph König is in high demand as a guest conductor all over the world. He has been principal conductor and music director of the Solistes Européens Luxembourg since 2010. Since his U.S. debut in 2010, he has conducted many major North American symphony orchestra including those of Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Houston, Oregon and Toronto, as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Other past and future highlights include concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre de Paris and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, whom he led on a highly successful tour of China in 2008.

König previously held conducting positions with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and l’Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria, and has been affiliated with many of the world’s leading opera houses. A recent highlight of his extensive discography is his 2020 recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies on the British label RUBICON. Born in Dresden, König sang in the famous Kreuzchoi and studied conducting, piano and singing at the Musikhochschule Dresden. More: arabella-arts.com, christophkoenigconductor.com.

About Olga Kern

With a vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship and extraordinary technique, Olga Kern is widely recognized as one of the great pianists of her generation. She appears this season with numerous orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony, National Philharmonic Orchestra in Hungary, Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria in Spain and Orquestra de São Paolo in Brazil. Additional highlights of recent seasons include tours with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of China, and serving as artist in residence with the San Antonio Symphony.

Kern is also an active recitalist and chamber musician. Her many accolades include first prize at the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001—when she became the first woman in more than 30 years to take the honor—a 2008 Grammy nomination for her disc of Rachmaninoff’s Corelli Variations and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2017. Born in Moscow and now an American citizen, she is artistic director of the Olga Kern International Piano Competition, founded in 2016. In 2012 she and her brother Vladimir Kern co-founded the Aspiration Foundation, which provides assistance to musicians throughout the world. More: olgakern.com.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



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

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


Minnesota Orchestra

Christoph König, conductor

Olga Kern, piano


KENDALL The Spark Catchers
GRIEG  Piano Concerto
SCHUMANN   Symphony No. 3, Rhenish


Tickets: $35 to $104 [Free tickets available for young listeners under age 18, thanks to the 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.

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.

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

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


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