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Thursday January 11, 2024

In Their Minnesota Orchestra Debuts, Saxophonist Steven Banks and Conductor Ruth Reinhardt Present Billy Childs’ "Diaspora"

In addition to Childs’ recently premiered Diaspora (Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra), the February 9-10 program includes selections from Smetana’s Má vlast and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite

The concert on Friday, February 9, will be broadcast on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2) and livestreamed through the Orchestra’s website and social media channels

Conductor Ruth Reinhardt and saxophonist Steven Banks, a 2022 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, will make their debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra to showcase Billy Childs’ recently premiered Diaspora (Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra). Composed in 2022 on a commission from a consortium of nine orchestras including the Minnesota Orchestra, Diaspora is a symphonic poem in three movements that highlights Black experiences in America. Inspired by the poetry of Nayyirah Waheed, Claude McKay and Maya Angelou, among others, the concerto represents a journey through African American histories and aesthetics through an instrument that is not typically heard in a symphony orchestra. Childs composed Diaspora for Banks, who is in the midst of touring the concerto nationally; its world premiere was given by the Kansas City Symphony in February 2023 under Reinhardt’s baton.

The program will take place at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, February 9, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 10, at 7 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $31 to $106. Free tickets for both programs are available to young listeners ages 6 to 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. Choose Your Price tickets are available to concertgoers for select seating sections ($10 minimum ticket price) for the February 10 program.

The concert on February 9 will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio. Additionally, it will be broadcast live on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2), and streamed for free 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.

The evening concerts open with another symphonic poem, this one of Bedřich Smetana. Inspired by the landscapes, legends and history of his native Bohemia, Smetana wrote a cycle of a half-dozen symphonic poems collectively known as Má vlast (My Homeland) between 1874-75. In this program, Reinhardt has selected Šárka, one of the cycle’s lesser-known movements, for the Orchestra to perform. The miniature orchestral drama is based on the tale of the legendary Amazon of Bohemian folklore, telling of the heroine Šárka and her romantic betrayal, rage and vengeance. 

A suite from Sergei Prokofiev’s gripping ballet score Romeo and Juliet comprises the second half of the program. Composed in 1938, Prokofiev’s massive score was deemed “undanceable” by the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow before the company backed out of the project. The suite from Romeo and Juliet to be performed in this program was compiled by Reinhardt herself; the eight movements she has chosen are nonchronological and conjure the vivid images of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. Reinhardt’s arrangement begins with The Montagues and the Capulets, one of the most famous and powerful excerpts from the ballet.


About Ruth Reinhardt

German conductor Ruth Reinhardt is building a reputation for a keen musical intelligence, programmatic imagination and elegant performances. In the 2023-24 season, she leads a production of La Traviata for the Royal Swedish Opera and makes debuts in Europe with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic and WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. In North America, she begins the season with the Nashville Symphony and makes debuts with the New Jersey Symphony and Grand Rapids Symphony, in addition to her first appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra. With significant emphasis on women composers of the late 20th century and early 21st century, Reinhardt brings new names and fresh faces to many orchestras for the first time. Among those whose works appear often in her programs are Grażyna Bacewicz, Kaija Saariaho, Lotta Wennäkoski, Daniel Bjarnason, Dai Fujikura and Thomas Adès. Reinhardt attended the Juilliard School, where she received her master’s degree. She was a Dudamel Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 2017-18 season, conducting fellow at both the Seattle Symphony in 2015-16 and the Tanglewood Music Center in 2015, and Taki Concordia associate conducting fellow from 2015 to 2017. More: opus3artists.com, ruth-reinhardt.com.

About Steven Banks

Saxophonist and composer Steven Banks is striving to bring his instrument to the heart of the classical music world. He is driven to program and write music that directly addresses aspects of the human experience and is an active and intentional supporter of diverse voices in the future of concert music. In 2022 he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and was a chosen artist for WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab. Ensembles he has appeared with include the Cleveland Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and Aspen Festival Orchestra. He has also appeared across the U.S. in recital and as a chamber musician, and he is a founding member of the all-saxophone Kenari Quartet. This season he is premiering and touring Billy Childs’ concerto Diaspora, which was co-commissioned by nine orchestras along with Young Concert Artists. As a composer, Banks has been commissioned by numerous organizations. His work for alto saxophone and string quartet, Cries, Sighs and Dreams, was premiered in 2022 at Carnegie Hall with the Borromeo Quartet, and his solo piano work Fantasy on Recurring Daydreams was premiered last year by Zhu Wang. More: imgartists.com, steven-banks.com.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Friday, February 9, 2024, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, February 10, 2024, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Ruth Reinhardt, conductor

Steven Banks, alto and soprano saxophones


SMETANA  Šárka, from Má vlast (My Homeland)
CHILDS  Diaspora (Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra)
PROKOFIEV  Romeo and Juliet Suite


Tickets: $31 to $106 [Free tickets for both concerts available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program. Choose Your Price tickets ($10 minimum ticket price) are available for select seating sections for the February 10 concert.]

* The performance on Friday, February 9, will be broadcast live on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2) and YourClassical MPR, and streamed for free 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.


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.

This concert program is generously sponsored by Huntington Bank.

The Minnesota Orchestra is grateful to Al and Kathy Lenzmeier for supporting Billy Childs’ Diaspora in this program.

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.