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Tuesday January 30, 2024

Osmo Vänskä’s Return to Orchestra Hall Includes Two Minnesota Orchestra Commissions and Two Bass Concertos

Vänskä, who led the Minnesota Orchestra as its music director for 19 years, began his role as the ensemble’s conductor laureate in September 2022

Double bassist Nina Bernat will perform two concertos written across two centuries that revolutionized her instrument’s repertory

Renowned for his skillful interpretation of wide-ranging repertoire, Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä is a champion of both new music and rising soloists. He will revisit the orchestra he led for 19 years in concerts February 22-24 that include the Minnesota premieres of works by composers Anders Hillborg and Kevin Puts that the Minnesota Orchestra commissioned during Vänskä’s tenure as music director. Bassist Nina Bernat, the 2022 FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artist Competition winner, will also make her debut with the ensemble, performing bass concertos of Giovanni Bottesini and Eduard Tubin.

The program will take place at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, February 22, at 11 a.m., Friday, February 23, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 24, at 7 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $30 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 23 program.

The works of two 19th-century Italian composers will open the program, with the Orchestra first performing Gioachino Rossini’s overture to The Barber of Seville—one of the most popular parts of the comedic opera. Bernat will then take the stage for Bottesini’s Bass Concerto No. 2, a hallmark of the bass repertory with lyrical melodies and virtuosic writing that allow the soloist to demonstrate their full skill set. Premiered in 1957, more than a century after the premiere of Bottesini’s concerto, Tubin’s Concerto for Bass and Orchestra has also become a staple in the instrument’s repertoire. Of special note is the concerto’s cadenza, praised by bassist Ludvig Juth—for whom the concerto was written—as “unprecedented for the bass” in its employment of the instrument’s full range of technical and expressive capability. Emerging onto the world stage in recent years, the 23-year-old Bernat is a winner of the prestigious 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant.

At the center of the program is Hillborg’s Through Lost Landscapes, a Minnesota Orchestra c0-commission that premiered with the Spanish Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León in 2020. This performance at Orchestra Hall marks the work’s United States premiere. Evoking the disaster-struck state of the planet today, the greatly varied scoring of Through Lost Landscapes includes dense tone clusters, jazz-style piano, solo passages for soprano saxophone and haunting imitations of bird calls.

Also rooted in contemporary concerns is the final piece on the program: Kevin Puts’ Concerto for Orchestra, which the St. Louis Symphony premiered in January 2023. Puts’ varied inspirations for the concerto include a Mozart opera, the caccia—an animated 14th-century Italian musical form—and Amanda Gorman’s poem “Hymn for the Hurting” about the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The music of the St. Louis-born Puts is familiar to Minnesota audiences: the composer won the 2012 Pulitzer Price for Music for his opera Silent Night, which was commissioned and premiered by Minnesota Opera, and he served as director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute for eight years.


About Osmo Vänskä

Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä, whose 19-year tenure as the Orchestra’s music director concluded in summer 2022, is renowned internationally for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. His multi-year recording project with the ensemble to record all ten of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies concluded in November 2022 with sessions of the Third Symphony. Vänskä’s previous recordings with the Orchestra include all of the Sibelius and Beethoven symphonies, which included discs that earned a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performances and two additional Grammy nominations. Vänskä also led the ensemble on major tours to Cuba, Europe and South Africa. As a guest conductor, he has received extraordinary praise for his work with many of the world’s leading orchestras. He previously served as music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Finland’s Lahti Symphony. He began his music career as a clarinetist and continues to perform on that instrument. This season he conducts the orchestras of Atlanta, Bergen, Detroit, Netherlands Radio, Antwerp, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tokyo Metropolitan, Sydney, Adelaide and Toronto, among other ensembles. More: minnesotaorchestra.org, harrisonparrott.com.

About Nina Bernat

Double bassist Nina Bernat, acclaimed for her interpretive maturity, expressive depth and technical clarity, has emerged onto the world stage with many awards and accolades to her credit. In 2023 she was honored as a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and winner of the Concert Artists Guild Elmaleh Competition. Recent awards include first prizes in the Barbash J.S. Bach String Competition, the FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artist Competition, the Juilliard Double Bass Competition and the 2019 International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. She has been invited to perform as guest principal bass with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic, serving under the batons of conductors such as András Schiff and Osmo Vänskä. Bernat is in demand as a passionate chamber musician. She begins her involvement with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as a member of the Bowers Program in 2024. Among her notable chamber performances are appearances with the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Series and Mostly Music. She performs on an instrument passed down from her father, Mark Bernat, attributed to Giovanni Battista Guadagnini. More: ninabernat.com.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Thursday, February 22, 2024, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, February 23, 2024, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, February 24, 2024, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Nina Bernat, bass


ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
BOTTESINI Bass Concerto No. 2
HILLBORG  Through Lost Landscapes
TUBIN  Bass Concerto
PUTS  Concerto for Orchestra


Tickets: $30 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 23 concert.]

* The performance on Friday, February 23, 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.