Update browser for a secure Minnesota Orchestra experience

It looks like you may be using a web browser version that we don't support. Make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser, or try using of these supported browsers, to get the full Minnesota Orchestra experience: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

Thursday April 11, 2024

Pianist Kirill Gerstein Joins Music Director Thomas Søndergård for Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1

Taking place May 2-3, the program also includes Qigang Chen's evocative The Five Elements and Richard Strauss' tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra

Virtuoso pianist Kirill Gerstein will return to Orchestra Hall to perform another of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s piano concertos, this time interpreting his youthful and exuberant First Piano Concerto. Gerstein will team up with Thomas Søndergård for the first time during the conductor’s tenure as music director—the two musical powerhouses have previously collaborated in performances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. A favorite composer of Søndergård’s, Rachmaninoff wrote his First Piano Concerto when he was just 18 years old, and later reworked the piece in 1917 once he had reached his artistic maturity. A leading contemporary interpreter of Rachmaninoff’s music, Gerstein has performed the composer’s Second and Third Piano Concertos with the Orchestra—and these concerts mark his first time performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Minnesota.

The program will take place at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, May 2, at 11 a.m., and Friday, May 3, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $45 to $116. Free tickets for all programs are available to young listeners ages 6 to 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. The performance on Friday, May 3, will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.

Søndergård and the Orchestra will open the program with Qigang Chen’s The Five Elements, the first time the richly symbolic work will be heard at Orchestra Hall since it premiered 25 years ago. The China-born, French-based composer fuses Chinese and Western classical traditions throughout his works. The Five Elements comprises five two-minute movements, each representing a universal element: earth, fire, metal, water and wood.

The program will close with another work that reflects on the nature of the universe: Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra. The mighty tone poem evokes the eight stages of human development as defined by Strauss and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Also sprach Zarathustra traverses from the dawn of time—heralded by trumpets’ rising sounds—to an expressive waltz featuring a solo violin, before culminating in a mysterious fade into silence. The immersive work has featured in numerous film soundtracks, from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to the 2023 film Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig.


About Thomas Søndergård

Thomas Søndergård began his tenure as the Minnesota Orchestra’s 11th music director in September 2023. He has earned a reputation for incisive interpretations of works by composers from his native Denmark, a great versatility in a broad range of standard and modern repertoire, and a collaborative approach with the musicians he leads. Since 2018 Søndergård has been music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), a role he continues alongside his Minnesota appointment. Prior to joining the RSNO, he served as principal conductor and musical advisor to the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and then as principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW). As a guest conductor he has led major European and North American orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Houston Symphony, London Philharmonic and the symphonies of London, Montreal and Toronto. More: minnesotaorchestra.org.

About Kirill Gerstein

Kirill Gerstein’s playing is distinguished by a ferocious technique and discernment, matched with an energetic, imaginative musical presence. His solo and concerto engagements take him from Europe to the U.S., East Asia and Australia. In the current season, he is a Spotlight Artist with the London Symphony, performing in London and on tour. Elsewhere he returns to orchestras such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Boston Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among many others. He also appears in recital with violinist Christian Tetzlaff, performing a Thomas Adès suite written for them. In recent seasons he has premiered concertos by Adès and Thomas Larcher, and his 2020 recording of the Adès’ concerto with the Boston Symphony was nominated for three Grammy Awards. His newest recording will pair music by Debussy with that of Armenian priest, musicologist and composer Komitas. In 2023 he released a Rachmaninoff album in honor of the composer’s 150th birthday. An avid educator, he is professor of piano at Berlin’s Hanns Eisler Hochschule and serves on the faculty of Kronberg Academy. In 2021 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music. Born in Russia, he is now an American citizen based in Germany. More: kirillgerstein.com.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Thursday, May 2, 2024, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, May 3, 2024, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*


Minnesota Orchestra

Thomas Søndergård, conductor

Kirill Gerstein, piano


CHEN The Five Elements
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 1
STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra


Tickets: $45 to $116 [Free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program.]

* The performance on Friday, May 3, 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.