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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Past Stories

Common Chords: North Minneapolis

Musicians in the Spotlight

First Timer's Guide to Orchestra Hall

Recent Articles:

A Brief Guide to Musical Eras

Are you curious about how the Baroque era differs from the Romantic one? And which composers wrote during the Classical time period? Writer Matthew Philion offers this brief history of how classical music has evolved through the agesalongside some Minnesota Orchestra recording suggestions to bring these soundscapes to life.

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Meet the Composer: Geoffrey Gordon

Geoffrey Gordon's Prometheus had its world premiere performance in London just three months ago. Gordon tells us a little bit about himself, his music and what has happened since the premiere, as he prepares to visit Minneapolis to hear the piece performed by the Minnesota Orchestra on April 24, 25 and 26.

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Announcing the first-ever tour by a U.S. orchestra to Antarctica

Minnesota Orchestra to embark on first-ever tour by a U.S. orchestra to Antarctica

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Meet the Composer: Sean Shepherd

Complete silence. A couch to nap on. A window with a view. What are other key elements for crafting a new piece of music? And what is it like to hear your music performed by the Minnesota Orchestra for the first time?

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Considering Amy Beach

By Emily Hogstad

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An Insider’s Look at Your Orchestra at Work

Assistant Conductor Akiko Fujimoto shares insider tips on what to watch for while attending a Minnesota Orchestra open rehearsal.
Live Webcast: Vänskä, Currie and Copland

Did you miss our recent concert webcast? Or maybe you just want to relive the experience? Watch the full performance, then explore the rest of this season's concerts!

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Marching Band

By Kevin Kling

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Meet Volunteer Usher Mark Carlson

If you’re lucky enough to know Mark Carlson, you know he’s a great volunteer lead usher: personable, dependable, thoughtful and kind.

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Meet a Musician: Erich Rieppel

Minnesota Orchestra member since: December 2018
Position: Principal Timpani
Hometown: born in Minneapolis; raised in Marshall, Minnesota
Education: Indiana University

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Martland Memorial for Percussion and Orchestra

At orchestra concerts, percussionists can usually be found in the back of the ensemble. But on March 14, 15 and 16, guest percussionist Colin Currie will be front and center on the Orchestra Hall stage for the U.S. premiere of Martland Memorial by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. You may have a few questions about this work, so let’s dive in.

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Meet the Composer: Missy Mazzoli

Missy Mazzoli's first big break as an orchestral composer took place right here with the Minnesota Orchestra with the same piece that the Orchestra plays in concerts on March 14 to 16. We asked Missy to tell us about that moment, what she is working on now and her thoughts on being a female composer in the classical music industry today.

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Meet the Annotator: Robert Markow

Who writes the Minnesota Orchestra’s program notes in our monthly Showcase magazine—and what goes into writing them? One of our favorite collaborators is Montreal-based writer Robert Markow, who answered a few questions for our “Meet the Annotator” Q&A series.

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Adventurous Voices, American Music

"American classical music is not an old-growth forest," says University of Minnesota Musicology Professor Peter Mercer-Taylor, who shares his thoughts on the many voices that comprise our country's unique classical music tradition.

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The Swingles at Orchestra Hall

On March 24, we welcome The Swingles to Orchestra Hall for one afternoon of incredible vocal music. Preview some of our favorite Swingles tunes, hear from two of the group's vocalists and then get your tickets!

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Symphony Ball 2019, “Northern Lights”

Plans are coming together for a spectacular 2019 Symphony Ball, “Northern Lights,” to be held on Saturday, June 8, at Orchestra Hall and the Hilton Hotel—and you can be among the first to get your tickets when they go on sale at the end of this month! This gala evening of music, dining, dancing and good company is for a great cause: your Minnesota Orchestra. The Orchestra’s largest annual fundraiser is chaired this year by Betsy Frost and Charlie Anderson, who share their thoughts on the Ball, its theme and their longtime love of music.

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Meet a Musician: Cecilia Belcher

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 2014
Position: Assistant Principal Second Violin
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Education: University of Michigan; Cleveland Institute of Music; Rice University 

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Meet the Composer: Mason Bates

The Minnesota Orchestra performs Garages of the Valley by American composer Mason Bates in concerts on February 22 and 23. It is the first time the Orchestra has performed the piece. We asked the composer to tell us more about it and to share his thoughts on new music, his current projects and a little bit about himself.

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Inside the Classics: The Puppet Master

By Sam Bergman, viola and host of Inside the Classics

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Common Chords: North Minneapolis

From January 21 through 27, 2019, Minnesota Orchestra musicians participated in approximately 25 events throughout North Minneapolis in the Orchestra’s first-ever Twin Cities-area Common Chords residency week.

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Free Tickets for Federal Employees

Free ticket offer is good for two tickets to select Minnesota Orchestra Classical concerts through June 2019

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New Website Functionality

A Generous Policy, Now Even Easier for You

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Common Chords in North Minneapolis

From January 21 through 27, 2019, Minnesota Orchestra musicians will participate in approximately 25 events throughout North Minneapolis in the Orchestra’s first-ever Twin Cities-area Common Chords residency week.

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A Celebration of Heritage

As part of the American Expressions festival, we are celebrating how our Orchestra and community have been enriched by people with roots all over the world.

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Meet a Musician: Kathryn Greenbank

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 2018
Position: Associate Principal Oboe
Hometown: Quincy, IL
Education: Curtis institute of Music 

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An Auld Lang Syne

by Dan Chouinard

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Meet Ever-Young Volunteer Usher Barb Holmes

We’ve all heard the term, “evergreen,” but Barb Holmes’ life inspires another term: “ever-young.” That’s because Barb, despite retiring in 2001 from a 35-year career in education, is always taking on new tasks and challenges to learn and grow.

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Happy Holidays!

From all of us at the Minnesota Orchestra, we wish you a wonderful, musical holiday season!

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Musicians in the Spotlight

This season, six Minnesota Orchestra musicians take center stage as featured soloists! Take a moment to get to know each of them (including their favorite superheroes), then mark your calendar to hear their magnificent music at Orchestra Hall!

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Osmo Vänskä Shares News

At the 2017-18 annual meeting, major news was shared on two fronts. We highlighted the artistic and financial milestones of the Orchestra’s 2017-18 season and Osmo Vänskä announced plans to conclude his tenure as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra in August 2022.

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Three Memories

By Kevin Kling

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Welcoming Two New Orchestra Musicians

We are excited to welcome two new musicians to the Minnesota Orchestra this winter. Felicity James has been appointed associate concertmaster and Erich Rieppel has been appointed principal timpani. We look forward to seeing them onstage at Orchestra Hall soon!

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Young People's Concerts: Teacher Reviews

The Young People’s concert season kicked off on October 23rd with Watch the Orchestra Grow. Over the course of two days, more than 6,000 students filled Orchestra Hall to enjoy the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and more. Check out what the teachers and parents had to say!
Musical Perspectives

Students from the South African National Youth Orchestra reflect on their August 2018 Immersion Experience with the Minnesota Orchestra and what is next in their musical lives.

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First Timer's Guide to Orchestra Hall

We know what you're thinking. An orchestra concert. Audiences formally clad in tuxes and gowns. A light smattering of polite applause. An uncomfortable seat with lots of shushing. Not an ideal way to spend your Saturday night, right?

Forget about it.

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Music for All

Guest blogger Mandy Meisner learns how the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sensory-Friendly Concerts are making Orchestra Hall inclusive for all audiences. Sensory-Friendly Concerts at Orchestra Hall are designed for patrons of all ages and abilities, including individuals on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities. The 2018-19 series includes five concerts featuring the full Orchestra and three featuring solo instruments or small ensembles, beginning with a performance by cellist Katja Linfield in the Target Atrium on November 20.

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Donors are the Heart of the Minnesota Orchestra

For over a century, enthusiastic Orchestra patrons have made generous contributions to guarantee our ability to present awe-inspiring performances for the community each season. We are grateful for this outpouring of generosity that helps to sustain our remarkable Orchestra. Equally heartening are the unique Minnesota Orchestra stories these donors have shared through the years. Read some of their unforgettable experiences that have inspired such generous support at every level.

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A Resounding Resurgence: The Music of Florence Price

Florence Beatrice Price was the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. During our American Expressions Festival this month, the Minnesota Orchestra performs her First Symphony, the piece that first put her on the map as a great American composer.

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Q&A with Kevin Puts

In Minnesota Orchestra concerts November 15, 16 and 17, the Orchestra performs Inspiring Beethoven by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, who has also served as the director of Minnesota Orchestra's Composer Institute since 2014. This marks the Minnesota Orchestra premiere of this work. We asked Puts about how to approach new music, what inspired him to write Inspiring Beethoven and his role in the Minnesota music scene.

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Peak of Perfection: Recording a Musical Legacy

By Matthew Philion 

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Pick Six: Minnesota Orchestra Recordings

For those looking to begin—or expand--a classical collection, audiophile Matthew Philion compiles this short list of Minnesota Orchestra recordings that should be in your music library.

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Getting the Band Back Together: Orchestra Notes from Dessa

Fresh off a successful two-night collaboration, Dessa recaps her recent performances with the Minnesota Orchestra and tells us what it's like to collaborate with conductor Sarah Hicks and the Orchestra musicians. 

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Celebrate the Holidays at Orchestra Hall

The spirit that fills the stage at Minnesota Orchestra’s holiday concerts spreads throughout the entire building with a variety of additional performances and activities, making Orchestra Hall the perfect place to celebrate the season with your loved ones.

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“Sharing the Harvest” solo art exhibition

Minnesota Orchestra audiences were introduced to the artwork of Mary Pettis in June 2017, when the Orchestra hosted her Beyond the Surface solo exhibition through the OH+ program in conjunction with the Orchestra’s concert of French impressionistic music.

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Proud to Serve: Military Veterans in the Minnesota Orchestra

In honor of Veterans Day, we salute current and former members of our country's Armed Forces. The Minnesota Orchestra is fortunate to have a number of military veterans among our current and retired musicians and staff. We asked some of them to tell us about their military experience and how it contributed to their roles in the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Celebrating YPSCA, young talent and the Minnesota Orchestra

The Young People’s Symphony Concert Association (YPSCA) is excited to start a new season of activities that encourage a love of great music in young people. One particularly thrilling project is the annual Young People’s Concerto Competition (formerly called School Music Auditions).

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Mahler, Bernstein and Me

By C. C. Yager

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Revisiting Old Friends

If you’re the type of person who seeks out unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, then this list is for you. Along with a series of new pieces this season, the Minnesota Orchestra will perform several works that are rarities here, having graced the Orchestra’s music stands only once or twice in its 115-year history. Here are a few of the highlights.

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From Orchestra Hall to Ethiopia

In her first concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra in April 2017, Minneapolist native rapper-vocalist-writer Dessa shared with us an EnviroRider developed by the Minneapolis-based Effect Partners. When she returns on October 5 and 6 to perform again with the Orchestra, Dessa’s EnviroRider does, too. We are thrilled to partner with her for both the music onstage and in ways that reach far beyond Orchestra Hall. 

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Get to Know the OH+ Listening Station Composers

The Minnesota Orchestra’s upcoming season features the work of many great American composers, including Florence Price, Missy Mazzoli, Libby Larsen, and Amy Beach. Enjoy pieces by these four composers in our OH+ listening station, curated by Hymie’s Vintage Records, and read on to learn more about their lives and when you can hear the Orchestra perform their work during the 2018-2019 Season!

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Q&A with Composer Kareem Roustom

Minnesota Orchestra's 2018-19 season includes many works new to the Orchestra's repertoire, and the first of these is a work titled Ramal by Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom. Get to know the composer before his Minnesota Orchestra debut on September 27, 28 and 29.

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Meet President & CEO Michelle Miller Burns

As the Orchestra launches its season opening concerts, President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns welcomes audiences to the 2018-19 season.

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Welcome our Newest Musicians

The Minnesota Orchestra is excited to welcome three additional musicians to its roster this season. Violist Jenni Seo has been appointed Assistant Principal Viola, a position held since 2010 by recently-appointed Principal Viola Rebecca Albers; cellists Minji Choi and Erik Wheeler have been appointed to section positions.

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A Moment with Emanuel Ax

Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax joins us on September 21 and 22 to open the season with Brahms’ exquisite Second Piano Concerto. We spoke with him about the challenges and joys of this extremely difficult piece, and about his 44-year relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Experience New Music With Us

The modern symphony orchestra has been built on centuries of musical traditions. Orchestral musicians have each trained for thousands of hours in classical techniques which have stood the test of time. Listeners might find familiarity and comfort in works by the great pillars of orchestral composing, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and—especially here in Minnesota lately—Sibelius and Mahler. However, in this art form, there will always be room for new ideas, new voices and new sounds. 

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Northrop's Historic Pipe Organ

About the Northrop organ

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Johannesburg | Aug 18

On Saturday morning, August 18, the Minnesota Orchestra crew completed their final load-in of the tour at Johannesburg’s City Hall and the musicians boarded the buses for a short trek to the venue. Even the chilly winter morning couldn’t erase the afterglow of Friday night’s concert in Soweto!

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Soweto | Aug 17

Four musicians jumped on a bus in Johannesburg on Friday morning, August 17, headed to Soweto to attend a special Books for Africa event. Their day began with solo and chamber music performances for hundreds of students at Missourilaan Secondary School and ended with a grand Orchestra concert at one of South Africa's most historic venues.  

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Pretoria | Aug 16

On Thursday, August 16, the Orchestra performed their third concert of the South Africa tour, in the Aula Centre at the University of Pretoria. Before the performance, however, Minnesota Orchestra musicians fanned out around the campus, working with students from the University and from the South African National Youth Orchestra.

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His Sacrifice

By Ashidy Adams, a student at Missourilaan Secondary School

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Pretoria | Aug 15

The Orchestra headed to the University of Pretoria on Wednesday, August 15, for an afternoon side-by-side rehearsal with the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) and an evening rehearsal with the Minnesota Chorale and Gauteng Choristers.

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Durban and Johannesburg | Aug 13-14

Musicians enjoyed a free day on Monday. Some spent the time in sunny Durban, while others opted for a trek to Pilanesberg National Park, roughly three hours drive from Johannesburg, for a short and sweet safari experience at Bakubung Lodge, complete with lions, hippos and giraffes.

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Durban | Aug 12

The Orchestra landed in Durban on Saturday night, immediately feeling the more temperate weather of this busy port city known for expansive Indian Ocean beaches and a subtropical climate in the “garden province” of KwaZulu-Natal. A cheerful band of Orchestra wind players headed out first thing on Sunday morning to join the young musicians of the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band in rehearsal.

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Cape Town | Aug 10-11

The spirit of Nelson Mandela was alive as the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off its South Africa Tour with a performance at Cape Town City Hall on Friday evening, August 10.

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Cape Town | Aug 8-9

Minnesota Orchestra musicians arrived in bright and breezy Cape Town on Wednesday morning, and if any spirits were lagging after the 11-hour night flight, a welcome-to-the-city performance by a traditional, brassy Kaapse Klopse band—this one called Happy Sounds Youth Development and comprising students from 12 to 18—helped to revive them.

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BBC Proms | Aug 6

On August 6, the Minnesota Orchestra made a triumphant return to the BBC Proms, the world’s largest classical music festival, with an all-American program. Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Orchestra in a performance of Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, featuring Inon Barnatan as soloist, and Charles Ives’ visionary Symphony No. 2.

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The Piano Tuner Behind It All

As the Orchestra concludes its 2017-18 season at Orchestra Hall, it offers a big round of applause for someone who is not normally in the concert spotlight: retiring piano tuner Jerry Ouska, who served the Orchestra, its pianos and world-famous pianists for 34 years. By Dan Wascoe

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Performing at the Proms: a Q&A with Inon Barnatan

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation," according to The New York Times, pianist Inon Barnatan recently played with the Minnesota Orchestra in January for the Tchaikovsky Marathon and the Midwest Tour. Last year, he debuted at the world's largest classical music festival, the BBC Proms; he returns to the prestigious venue next month with the Orchestra to perform Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F.

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Beat the road construction blues and enjoy the music!

We totally agree with you: road construction in the Twin Cities is making it tough to get around right now! The Minnesota Orchestra is still here and working hard to create world class performances for you at Orchestra Hall, and we don’t want traffic cones and detours to spoil your summer concert experience.

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Akiko Fujimoto Named Associate Conductor

The Minnesota Orchestra announced this month that Akiko Fujimoto, who joined the Orchestra’s artistic roster as assistant conductor in 2017, has been named associate conductor for the 2018-19 season.

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Harmonia Ubuntu

Bongani Ndodana-Breen

Born: August 1975, Queenstown, South Africa; now living in Cape Town, South Africa

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Q&A with Associate Concertmaster Roger Frisch

Associate Concertmaster Roger Frisch's retirement at the end of August 2018 marks the end of a memorable 44-year career. Congratulations, Roger!

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A Sensory-Friendly Concert For All

The Minnesota Orchestra invites you to mark your calendar and spread the word about the Family Concert on the afternoon of Saturday, July 14. The concert, which features music by Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, John Williams and other favorite composers, will be the Orchestra’s first full-ensemble Sensory-Friendly Concert.

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Celebrating Kevin Smith

When Kevin Smith joined the Minnesota Orchestra as interim President and CEO in July 2014, the Orchestra was emerging from a 16-month lockout, with questions lingering about its ability to raise donations, sell subscriptions and re-establish relationships.

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Happy Fourth! A Classical Music Playlist

Happy Fourth!

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A Life with Music

By Dr. David Hilden

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“The Energy from the Orchestra was Palpable”

Roderick Cox remembers highlight moments of his Orchestra tenure (and we’ve got video!)

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Inside the Classics: Speaking Truth to Power

By Sam Bergman, viola and host of Inside the Classics

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Just added for the 18-19 season

Live at Orchestra Hall

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Heartstrings

Guest blogger Mandy Meisner waited more than 20 years to hear her teenage idol in person.

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Program Notes: Bernstein and Walton

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance

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Program Notes: Beethoven and Berlioz

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance

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Program Notes: Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Fourth

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Meet a Musician: R. Douglas Wright

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 1995
Position: Principal Trombone
Hometown: Hopewell, VA
Education: New England Conservatory; Boston University

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"Sounds of the Cinema" - 2018 Symphony Ball

Thanks to the many community members and volunteers who generously invested their time, talents, energy, and financial support, the 2018 Symphony Ball was a spectacular success. More than 1,200 guests experienced the magic of music in the movies brought to life by your Minnesota Orchestra and special guest jeremy messersmith.

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Meet a Musician: Augustin Hadelich

Violinist Augustin Hadelich performs Beethoven's Violin Concerto in concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra on June 8 and 9, under the direction of German conductor Jun Märkl. We asked Hadelich to tell us about his favorite moments in this concerto, and about his greatest influences, travels and recent projects (including an animated short film). 

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Meet a Guest Artist: Christine Van Loo

Christine Van Loo has performed with the acrobatic troupe Cirque de la Symphonie for a decade and is considered a legend in the sport of acrobatic gymnastics. On May 18 and 19, she performs onstage, above stage and flying through the air at Orchestra Hall in concerts with Cirque de la Symphonie, the Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Sarah Hicks. The Minnesota Orchestra musicians may be acrobats on their instruments, but having an aerialist like Christine in Orchestra Hall is a rare treat, and we wanted to learn more about her before these upcoming shows.

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Andrew Litton Prepares a June Triple Bill

By Dan Wascoe

When Andrew Litton returns to lead the Minnesota Orchestra June 1 and 2, he’ll bring to the podium three old friends—pieces he knows well but that seldom get performed in Orchestra Hall.

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Common Chords: Mankato

Take a look back at the Minnesota Orchestra's recent stop in Mankato from April 25-27. This visit to the Minnesota River Valley is all part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Common Chords program, which establishes partnerships between the Orchestra and Greater Minnesota cities, each culminating in its own unique residency.

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Giving Back: Getting to Know Minnesota Orchestra's First Good Fellow

Orchestra Hall is quiet and tuba player Jason Tanksley sits alone on the stage, performing some of the most challenging passages in the tuba’s repertoire. He plays behind a large opaque screen; on the other side sits a committee of Minnesota Orchestra musicians, each of whom is listening carefully. It’s a typical set-up for an orchestral audition, but this one is out of the ordinary.

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Program Notes: Britten and Schumann

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance

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Program Notes: American Voices

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Symphony Ball Q&A with Wendy Williams

“Sounds of the Cinema” is the theme of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018 Symphony Ball gala fundraiser, which takes place on Saturday, May 12. Complete details of the Orchestra’s performance are being kept as a surprise for unveiling at Symphony Ball, but Orchestra flutist Wendy Williams gave us a few clues and background on how the music was selected, and details about special guest performer jeremy messersmith.

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Jeff Beal's Concerto for Flute and Orchestra

Jeff Beal may be best known as a composer of music for films and television, but his newly-written Flute Concerto has its origins not in Hollywood—nor the Washington D.C. of his Emmy Award-winning score for Netflix’s House of Cards. Instead the genesis came in Stockholm, Sweden, where Beal worked out the basic parameters of the concerto over coffee and conversation with flutist Sharon Bezaly in June 2015.

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Meet a Musician: Maureen Conroy

Minnesota Orchestra Member Since: 2017
Position: Principal Librarian
Hometown: Valencia, CA
Education: University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

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Program Notes: Cameron Carpenter Plays Rachmaninoff

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance

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Program Notes: Osmo Vänskä and Joshua Bell

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Audience spotlight: My unexpected connection with the Minnesota Orchestra

By audience member David Steinmeyer

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Program Notes: Liszt Piano Concerto

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance

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Minnesota Orchestra launches new Mauer recording project

The Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä on Sunday announced a brand-new initiative to record the music of Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer.

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