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Thursday September 28, 2023

In Minnesota Orchestra Debut, Ukrainian Violinist Valeriy Sokolov Performs Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto

Guest conductor Thomas Wilkins will lead the program, which features orchestral music by 20th- and 21st-century composers from the Americas

Regarded as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation, Valeriy Sokolov will make his long-awaited debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in October when he performs Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. In Barber’s concerto—which was premiered in Philadelphia in 1941—the violin sings passionate lines in the opening pair of movements, reflecting the Pennsylvania-born composer’s signature lyrical stylings. In contrast, the finale—set at a lightning-fast speed with many rapid notes—will allow Sokolov to showcase his virtuosity.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, October 20, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, October 21, at 7 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $31 to $106. Free tickets for both programs are available to young listeners under the age of 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. Choose Your Price tickets are available to all concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price) for the October 21 program. The October 20 performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

Thomas Wilkins, principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, will lead the program, which seeks to uncover the quintessential American sound. This sweeping, cinematic program will open with Roy Harris’ Third Symphony, which embodies the Oklahoma-raised composer’s aims to capture the American spirit. During his lifetime, the composer Aaron Copland praised Harris for the broad appeal of his works, and once remarked of his music, “I feel its American quality quite strongly, quite aside from any pioneer trappings.”

At the center of the program is Kauyumari, a work by contemporary Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz that was commissioned in 2021 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to mark that ensemble’s return to live performances after the most severe waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ortiz based the work on the Kauyumari, a blue deer that serves as a spiritual guide to indigenous Huichol people, who today inhabit several western states of both Mexico and the United States. Of the evocative piece, Ortiz noted: “Although life is filled with interruptions, Kauyumari is a comprehension and celebration of the fact that each of these rifts is also a new beginning.”

The concerts will conclude with Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2. The Orchestra’s brass section will propel the symphony, which the Nebraska-born composer described as “young in spirit, lyrical and Romantic in temperament, and simple and direct in expression.” While the piece begins slowly, evoking church music, the finale builds to a blaze of jubilant fanfares.


About Thomas Wilkins

Thomas Wilkins is principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Boston Symphony’s artistic advisor for education and community engagement, and principal guest conductor of the Virginia Symphony. In addition, he holds Indiana University’s Henry A. Upper Chair of Orchestral Conducting. In 2021 he completed a long and successful tenure as music director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. Devoted to promoting a lifelong enthusiasm for music, he brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages, and he is hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences. He has guest conducted orchestras throughout the U.S. and debuted with the Minnesota Orchestra in May 2022, leading a program that included Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. His many awards include the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Music from the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. Boston’s Longy School of Music awarded him the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, and Boston Conservatory conferred on him an honorary Doctorate of the Arts. More: kaylormanagement.com.

About Valeriy Sokolov

Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov works regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, from the Philharmonia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra to the Tokyo Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony. He has appeared in many major European festivals including the Verbier, Lockenhaus and Lucerne festivals, and regularly performs in major concert halls around the world. As a chamber musician he has collaborated regularly with Gary Hoffman, Gerard Causse, Lisa Batiashvili, Francois Leleux, Nelson Goerner and others. This month Sokolov is making his U.S. debut performing Barber’s Violin Concerto with both the Houston Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. In Europe this season he performs with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, among other ensembles. He has developed a varied catalog of recordings with Erato Records, including violin concertos of Bartók and Tchaikovsky. He is also featured on a DVD of the Sibelius Violin Concerto and in Bruno Monsaingeon’s film Natural Born Fiddler. He is a 2005 winner of the George Enescu International Violin Competition in Bucharest. More: askonasholt.com.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Friday, October 20, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, October 21, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Thomas Wilkins, conductor

Valeriy Sokolov, violin


HARRIS Symphony No. 3
BARBER Violin Concerto
ORTIZ Kauyumari
HANSON Symphony No. 2, Romantic


Tickets: $31 to $106 [Choose Your Price tickets are available to all concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price) for the October 21 program. Free tickets for both programs are available to young listeners under the age of 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program.]

* The performance on Friday, October 20, 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 at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

The 2023-2024 Classical Season is presented by Ameriprise Financial.

The Guest Conductor Fund is supported by Roma Calatayud-Stocks and Thomas Stocks, M.D.

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.