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Tuesday October 17, 2023

Minnesota Orchestra to Perform Unique Concert Program Without a Conductor, November 9-10

Unusual for an ensemble of its large size, the conductor-less program was the idea of Music Director Thomas Søndergård with the intention of highlighting the talents of each musical section

In a concert showcasing the talents of the Minnesota Orchestra’s musicians, Concertmaster Erin Keefe will be the primary leader of a conductor-less program. “While I will be leading several of the pieces from my concertmaster chair,” says Keefe, “this type of orchestral experience allows all the members of the ensemble the opportunity to be more active participants in the rehearsal process and to join in crafting our collective interpretation of these pieces.” The idea for the unusual program originated from Music Director Thomas Søndergård, who describes it as an opportunity for more interaction and engagement between musicians—and a chance for audiences to hear the Orchestra in a new light.

The program will be presented at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, November 9, at 11 a.m., and Friday, November 10, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $30 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 November 10 program. The November 10 performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

Featured repertoire spotlights each section of the Orchestra, with the opening piece—Richard Strauss’ Feierlicher Einzug—composed for brass ensemble. Strauss’ solemn and ceremonious work opens with a fanfare that begins in the lowest voices of the brass ensemble before building upwards into the higher, brighter tones of the trumpets. The following work—Anthony Barfield’s Invictus—also highlights the full colors of the brass section. The contemporary New York-based composer premiered the work in 2020 in a socially-distanced outdoor performance at Lincoln Center that was broadcast live online; the performance shined a light on the city’s enduring hope and courage through both the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice. Invictus will be heard at Orchestra Hall for the first time with these concerts.

The talents of the Orchestra’s strings will next be emphasized in Béla Bartók’s lively Divertimento for String Orchestra, a work that demonstrates the 20th-century composer’s unique blend of Eastern European folk music with visionary musical techniques. Bartók’s Divertimento takes the form of the concerto grosso—a style popular during the 17th and early 18th century in which a small group of soloists share the primary melody while a smaller orchestra accompanies them. The strings will be joined by the Orchestra’s harp, woodwinds and horns in the following piece, Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, which begins the second half of the concert; modeled after a 16th-century Spanish court dance, Ravel’s timeless composition is both graceful and haunting.

The Orchestra will then present two works by Gabriel Fauré, beginning first with a selection from his incidental music for Maurice Maeterlinck’s tragic play Pelléas and Mélisande. Also composed for the theater, Fauré’s standalone composition Pavane will then be presented; the work contains the elegance of the Rococo, the early-18th century artistic movement marked by its ornamental and theatrical flair.

The concerts conclude with a uniquely scored suite of music arranged from George Bizet’s opera Carmen that will feature nearly 50 different percussion instruments. While Bizet’s four act opera was premiered in 1875, the Carmen Suite for Percussion and Strings was arranged by Rodion Shchedrin in 1967 for a ballet at the Bolshoi Ballet. Eight of the suite’s 13 movements will be performed.

About the Minnesota Orchestra

The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, led by Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings and broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. Founded in 1903, the Orchestra has an extensive history of touring throughout Minnesota, nationally and abroad, including high-profile visits in recent years to Cuba, Europe and South Africa. Recording projects undertaken in the past two decades include complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Sibelius and Mahler, all recorded under Osmo Vänskä, who is now the Orchestra’s conductor laureate. More: minnesotaorchestra.org.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Thursday, November 9, 2023, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, November 10, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*


Minnesota Orchestra


STRAUSS Feierlicher Einzug
BARTÓK Divertimento for String Orchestra
RAVEL Pavane for a Dead Princess
FAURÉ Sicilienne from Pelléas and Mélisande
FAURÉ Pavane
BIZET/Shchedrin Carmen Suite for Percussion and Strings

Tickets: $30 to $106 [Choose Your Price tickets are available to all concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price) for the November 10 program. Free tickets are available to young listeners under the age of 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program.]

* The Friday evening 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 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 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.