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Tuesday September 12, 2023

The Minnesota Orchestra Welcomes Conductor Juraj Valčuha Back to Orchestra Hall, October 13-14

Valčuha leads a program that includes works by Betsy Jolas, James MacMillan and Dmitri Shostakovich

Jörgen van Rijen makes Orchestra Hall debut as the soloist featured in MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto

One of the most sought-after conductors of his generation and a frequent guest of the Minnesota Orchestra, Juraj Valčuha will return to Orchestra Hall to lead Dmitri Shostakovich’s monumental Fifth Symphony. Described by the composer as a “lengthy spiritual battle, crowned by victory,” the symphony shifts between mourning, rejoicing and tranquility. The music’s lyricism and drama, as well as the many ways the symphony could be interpreted—some listeners believe the work contains subversive responses to Joseph Stalin’s authoritarian regime—led critics and audiences in both the Soviet Union and abroad to celebrate the work after its 1937 premiere.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, October 13, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, October 14, at 7 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $31 to $106. Choose Your Price tickets are available to all concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price) for the October 14 program. Free tickets are available for young listeners under the age of 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass. The Friday night performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

Valčuha brings with him Jörgen van Rijen, principal trombone of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, who will perform as soloist in the Minnesota Orchestra’s first presentation of Scottish composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto. Dedicated to van Rijen and composed in memory of MacMillan’s late granddaughter Sara, the heartfelt concerto navigates moods and styles ranging from deep expression to dance-like and hymnal music, “subliminally...haunted,” the composer explains, by his thoughts of Sara. Debuted at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Iván Fischer at The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, in 2017, the concerto has received international attention as major contribution to the trombone repertoire, with one Dutch critic calling it “a concerto for eternity.”

The concerts open with A Little Summer Suite, a composition by Franco-American composer Betsy Jolas that was commissioned and premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2016. This marks the first time the Minnesota Orchestra performs the music of the 97-year-old Jolas, who succeeded Olivier Messiaen as professor of music at the Paris Conservatory and taught at numerous American universities such as Yale, Harvard, Berkeley and the University of Michigan. Of A Little Summer Suite, Jolas writes, “I've been toying lately, in much of my work, with the notion of ‘wandering music’; in other words, music which seems aimless and could land anywhere at any time.” The seamless structure of the piece, with its overlapping rhythms and textures, takes audiences on a sonic jaunt that alternates between strolling music and more stable moments, a format the composer herself compares to Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.


About Juraj Valčuha

Conductor Juraj Valčuha is recognized for the effortless expressiveness and the depth of his musicianship. Since June 2022 he has been music director of the Houston Symphony. He was previously music director of the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, first guest conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and chief conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai. He led the Minnesota Orchestra most recently in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in November 2021. His guest engagements in 2023 and 2024 take him to the Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Chicago symphonies as well as Tokyo’s Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra. On the opera stage he conducts Fanciulla del West and Tristan and Isolde at the Bavarian State Opera and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Jenufa at the Opera di Roma and Salomê at the Semperoper in Dresden. He also leads concerts with the RAI Orchestra, Orchestra dell´Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, and the NDR, SWR and Bamberg symphonies, among others. A champion of living composers, he has premiered major works by Christopher Rouse and Steven Mackey. More: jurajvalcuha.com.

About Jörgen van Rijen

Dutch trombonist Jörgen van Rijen is much in demand as a soloist with a special commitment to promoting his instrument, developing new repertoire for the trombone and bringing the existing repertoire to a broader audience. He is a specialist on both the modern and Baroque trombone and has performed as a soloist in most European countries, as well as the U.S., Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Singapore and Australia. He has performed concertos with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (of which he is the principal trombonist), Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Taiwan Philharmonic, Nagoya Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Antwerp Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. In 2004 he was awarded the Netherlands Music Prize—the country’s highest distinction in the field of music—by the Dutch Ministry of Culture. He teaches at the Amsterdam Conservatory and has been appointed International Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He is also an active chamber musician in ensembles such as the New Trombone Collective, RCO Brass and Brass United. More: rayfieldallied.com, jorgenvanrijen.com.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts



Friday, October 13, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*

Saturday, October 14, 2023, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Juraj Valčuha, conductor

Jörgen van Rijen, trombone


JOLAS   A Little Summer Suite
MACMILLAN  Trombone Concerto
SHOSTAKOVICH  Symphony No. 5


Tickets: $31 to $106 [Choose Your Price tickets ($5 minimum ticket price) are available for select seating sections for the October 14 concert. Free tickets available for young listeners under age 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program.]

* The performance on Friday, October 13, 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.