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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Past Stories

Meet A Musician: Peter McGuire

Arts Access: A musical collaboration across the Twin Cities

Meet a Musician: Gabriel Campos Zamora

The Live Radio Experience: “Making a Little Community for a Few Hours on a Friday night”

Recent Articles:

Campus Night: New World Symphony

We're giving a big thanks to our student ambassadors who brought nearly 500 students from the Twin Cities area and beyond to Orchestra Hall for the first campus night of the 2016-17 season! The evening featured Dvořák's New World Symphony, Copland's Lincoln Portrait and guest soloist Esther Yoo on Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, as well as a host of student-focused concert activities.

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Meet a Musician: Mark Kelley

Member since: 1982
Position: Co-Principal Bassoon, currently Acting Principal Bassoon
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska
Education: University of Nebraska

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Program Notes: Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Sixth

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, November 11 & 12, 2016

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Program Notes: New World Symphony

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, November 3,4 and 5

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Some Enchanted Evening

Last month we invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle in advance of her performance of Ginastera’s Harp Concerto—and we’re thrilled that Mandy has now written us this follow-up reflection on the October 1 performance of music by Bach, Ginastera and Paulus.

I am convinced that magic exists in the world. The kind that, as children, once washed our lives in wonder and possibility every day. It’s the same magic that, as we grew older, became harder and harder to find, until most of us stopped believing in it altogether. But in our hectic, digital, selfie-crazed time, in between the emails and the texts, the deadlines and the meetings, we still long for its return.

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Meet A Musician: Esther Yoo

This Fall, violinist Esther Yoo made her U.S. debut with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and then traveled north for her Canadian debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Her next stop is Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, where she will perform Bruch's First Violin Concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä. We had the chance to get to know a little bit about her, why she loves Bruch's Concerto and much more about her very full musical career.

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Osmo Vänskä on Sibelius

Our friends at the London Philharmonic Orchestra produced a series of wonderful interviews featuring Music Director Osmo Vänskä on his beloved Sibelius. He conducts the entire Sibelius cycle with the London Philharmonic later this month. Video: 

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On the Road With Gail Reich

Photo: Stage Manager Gail Reich with Technical Director Joel Mooney at Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland in August 2016.

Hours before and after a Minnesota Orchestra concert, Gail Reich is hard at work moving instruments and equipment, carefully handling the Orchestra’s precious belongings along with her fellow stagehands. A stage manager with the Minnesota Orchestra since 1992, she is retiring this fall. With the recent tour to Europe in mind, we’ve talked with her about what her job is like on the road.

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Skrowaczewski—Still Seeking the Infinite

We have invited Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s biographer and friend Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., to contribute the following essay about the legendary maestro’s remarkable career in celebration of his appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra this week.

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Program Notes: Josefowicz Performs John Adams

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, October 20-21, 2016

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Program Notes: Celebrating Skrowaczewski

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, October 14th and 15th

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Season Opening: Osmo Vänskä and Joshua Bell

Our 2016-17 Season launched this week with Joshua Bell performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Osmo Vänskä conducting Brahms' Symphony No. 2.

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Vikings Halftime Performance

The Minnesota Orchestra performed the music of Beethoven and Prince to more than 65,000 people at U.S. Bank Stadium yesterday. We'll post photos, press, and video here.

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Program Notes: Paulus Mass

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, September 29th, 30th, October 1st

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The Huberman Violin

My violin is over 300 years old.

Known as the Gibson ex Huberman, the revered instrument came into my life one fateful day during the summer of 2001.

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Wallflower: a Q&A with Kathy Kienzle

Photo: Stagehand Don Hughes captured this image of Kathy's harp in the airport x-ray machine at Glasgow, Scotland during our recent European Tour.

This month we’ve invited guest blogger and Minnesota Orchestra fan Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle in advance of her upcoming solo on Sept. 29-Oct. 1. As Mandy notes: “It’s always the quiet ones that can surprise us the most. And the harp is one of them.”

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Program Notes: Season Opening

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, September 22nd and 23rd

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Peace in Amsterdam

Our new Principal Clarinet, Gabriel Campos Zamora, returned from his first Minnesota Orchestra tour with a unique story to tell.

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See You Soon!

Saturday August 27, 2016
It’s a cloudless morning in Copenhagen, and we are heading home, tired, but buoyed by the music and each other. Outside the concert hall last night, the cacophony and confusion of the Tivoli amusement park seemed to sum up the complex challenges that our staff and stage crew navigate so calmly and miraculously.

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Our Musical Heritage

Friday, August 26
We have just arrived in Copenhagen. Another unusually warm day, and we are trying to get our bearings. Tivoli Hall is a new venue for us; this is the orchestra’s first time in Denmark.

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Photos: Copenhagen, Denmark

One week, four countries, five appearances—and now the Minnesota Orchestra’s fifth European tour with Music Director Osmo Vӓnskӓ is a wrap. Landing in Denmark on Friday afternoon, musicians wound their way through the carnival-like atmosphere of the Tivoli Gardens amusement park to enter Tivoli Concert Hall for the tour’s final concert. “There is nothing better than playing great music with a great orchestra,” said Principal Horn Michael Gast. “We’ve loved sharing concerts with these international audiences.”

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Putting Our Best Foot Forward

Having joined the Minnesota Orchestra just two seasons ago, major international touring is a new thing to me. Last season's historic trip to Cuba was an unforgettable experience, but a tour of four different countries is very different. 

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Photos: Amsterdam

It is impossible to visit Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw without thinking of the musical greats who have performed in this space—Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Louis Armstrong. On Wednesday, it was Osmo Vӓnskӓ and the Minnesota Orchestra who had their turn on the famous stage, performing Beethoven’s Fifth in what Osmo called “one of the best, best halls in the world.”

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Photos: Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday was time to push forward to Scotland. Following a 90-minute bus ride to Helsinki, a two-and-a half-hour flight to Edinburgh and a slow line through customs, the Orchestra arrived in this capital city with barely two hours to spare before a 6:30pm touch-up rehearsal and an 8pm concert. The performance was part of the Edinburgh International Festival, generally considered one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world.

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Photos: Lahti, Finland Side-by-Side Rehearsal

On Monday morning Minnesota Orchestra musicians met and mentored student players from Finland’s VIVO Symphony Orchestra, a training orchestra that is made up of talented young players from all corners of Finland. Osmo conducted Dvořák's New World Symphony during the two hour session, encouraging students to focus on articulation, phrasing and playing ever-softer dynamics.

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Shining Bright in Finland

Saturday, August 20
On the flight over I found myself casually discussing jet-lag with Wendy Williams and Marni Hougham. “Oh, it never hits me hard travelling in this direction,” I said blithely in the Amsterdam airport, quite certain that I would not be the only person in Helsinki electrifyingly awake at 4am. And now, positively drugged, trying to wake up from a nap at 4 in the afternoon.

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Photos: Lahti, Finland

The Orchestra arrived in Lahti, Finland early on Sunday afternoon with just two hours to warm-up, rehearse and acclimate to the striking wood-and-glass Sibelius Hall before a 4pm concert. Our ensemble last played a concert in this city—located about 60 miles northeast of Helsinki on the shores of Lake Vesi—in 2004, just six months into Osmo Vänskä’s first Minnesota season. Now, after 12 years, Osmo and Orchestra demonstrated how they’ve grown together. All photos © Greg Helgeson.

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Photos: traveling to Helsinki, Finland

Photo: Principal Percussion Brian Mount settles in for the overseas flight.

We've arrived in Helsinki, Finland—all 115 of us! Most photos © Greg Helgeson.

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Readying My Cello for Departure

It's a little after ten. I've just come offstage following the Tour Send-Off concert. I change clothes and pack my concert attire in the orchestra wardrobe trunks, with extra shoes, a spare outfit, and a supply of strings. Just in case. (Thankfully, I'm not as prone to breaking a string as Tony is.) I don't want any emergencies!

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Perseid and Prokofiev

Photo: Pekka Kuusisto, who will perform Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Minnesota Orchestra on our European tour.

I don't know about you, but I fully intended to get out of bed at 3:30 am last week to see the Perseid meteor showers. How well did I do? Well, two or three shooting stars after dinner one night, and perhaps one more through my bedroom window when a car horn went off at 4am.

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Europe 2016: Photos, Press, and more

One week, four countries, five appearances—and now the Minnesota Orchestra’s fifth European tour with Music Director Osmo Vӓnskӓ is a wrap. Find videos, photos, press, and other information from our tour right here.

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Introducing Experience Cafés

Great music, sumptuous refreshments, the incomparable Andrew Litton on the podium and at the piano—what more could you want from Sommerfest? We have the answer: new this summer are “Experience Cafés,” a variety of interactive events and exhibits held at stations throughout the Orchestra Hall lobby and adjoining outdoor spaces at all Sommerfest performances.

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Program Notes: Otello

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, July 23

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Program Notes: Beethoven Triple Concerto

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, July 16

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Program Notes: Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, July 15

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Program Notes: Beethoven and Rachmaninoff

Please note: this program has changed. Read the press release for full details.

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, July 9

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Program Notes: Let's Dance

Download program page (pdf) | Buy tickets to this performance, July 8

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Meet The New Standards

The New Standards, the versatile piano-bass-vibraphone trio that has won a global following since its formation in the Twin Cities a decade ago, will take the stage for a first-time collaboration with the Minnesota Orchestra on Saturday, July 2. As they prepped for this musical mash-up, band members Chan Poling (piano) and John Munson (bass) talked to us about the Minneapolis music scene, Orchestra Hall’s first onstage bar and the joy of sharing music with fans. Complete concert details »

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Recording Mahler 5

We're recording Mahler's Fifth Symphony with BIS records this week! Here are some scenes from today's recording sessions.

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Season Finale: Vänskä Conducts Mahler's Fifth

In a season that opened with Mahler's 4th Symphony, Friday's performance of Mahler's 5th Symphony concluded the season in a blaze of orchestral glory. Christian Tetzlaff's reading of Berg's Violin Concerto was both energetic and refined. Photos by Greg Helgeson.

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Bike to Orchestra Hall

This summer the Minnesota Orchestra is inviting the entire Twin Cities bicycling community to Bike to Orchestra Hall! Starting with the launch of Sommerfest 2016 on July 8th, show your bike helmet or gear at out Box Office when you bike to Orchestra Hall and get 50 percent off tickets to select concerts (see eligible concerts).

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Erin Keefe Plays Brahms

In this string-spotlighting program, star concertmaster Erin Keefe beams brightly as program soloist. Photos by Greg Helgeson.

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Cirque de la Symphonie

The magic of the Big Top was at Orchestra Hall this weekend! Were you there? Which part was your favorite? All photos by Courtney Perry.

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Inside the Classics: The Evolution of Opera

This Inside the Classics concert explored the evolution of opera from Monteverdi and Mozart to Bizet and Puccini. Photos © Greg Helgeson.

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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 21 and 22, 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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A Horn for Havana

The Minnesota Orchestra’s historic trip to Cuba is (already!) a year in the past—but its impact is still being felt near and far.

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Carnegie Hall

The Minnesota Orchestra and Hilary Hahn performed Sibelius at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Photos © Stephanie Berger.

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Composer Institute 2016

Top photo, L to R: the 2016 Composer Institute participants! Michael Gilbertson, Emily Cooley, Kirsten Broberg, Anthony Vine, Nick DiBerardino, Joshua Cerdenia, and Matthew Browne.

The Composer Institute 2016 came to its conclusion last night with Future Classics conducted by Osmo Vänskä. We present these photos from the performance:

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Beethoven Symphonies 8 & 3 (Eroica), Third Piano Concerto

The Eroica is almost a concert unto itself. Pair it with Symphony No. 8 and Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring soloist Yevgeny Sudbin, and you've got one incredible night of Beethoven! Photos by Courtney Perry.

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A Joyous New Year: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

All photos © Greg Helgeson

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Merry and Bright

From an intimate version of Christmas Time is Here to a New Orleans-style Frosty the Snowman, acclaimed soloists and Charles Lazarus’ seasoned rhythm section and the Lazarus Brass— stellar Minnesota Orchestra brass players—brought energy and excitement to everyone’s holiday favorites. Photos by Courtney Perry.

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Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto

Natasha Paremski performed Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, conducted by Andrew Litton. The program also included Rimsky-Korsakov and Vaughan Williams. Photos by Greg Helgeson.

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Young People's: The Color of Music

Our 2015-16 Young People's season kicked off this week! We've got some great photos from our first concert, The Color of Music. Special thanks to students from Hilltop Elementary in Inver Grove Heights for letting us photograph their concert experience!

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A Musical Feast

A night of food and music at Orchestra Hall. Photos by Courtney Perry.

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Common Chords Detroit Lakes: Day 5

After five and a half years of brainstorming, planning and re-planning, the Minnesota Orchestra at last performed Saturday night at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes.

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Common Chords Detroit Lakes: Day 4

With the arrival of the full orchestra on Thursday night, Friday was a big day in Detroit Lakes!

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Common Chords Detroit Lakes: Day 3

We performed for our biggest audiences yet on Thursday in in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota--some 600 students from Detroit Lakes Middle School.

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Common Chords Detroit Lakes: Day 2

Our second day in in Detroit Lakes included visits to nursing homes, schools, and even the local jail.

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Common Chords Detroit Lakes: Day 1

Our Brass Quintet and String Quartet have arrived in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota! Their busy day on Tuesday included a visit to Detroit Lakes High School, the library, and a Silver Sneakers fitness class.

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The Best Piece

By my count, I’ve played on a couple of dozen Minnesota Orchestra recordings in the 15-plus years I’ve been employed here, and there are more than a few CDs in that stack that I’m quite proud to have been a part of. But it’s no hyperbole to say that I had been waiting my entire career to sit down and make the CD that we recorded in the spring of 2011.

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Common Chords: Detroit Lakes

The Minnesota Orchestra continues its Common Chords outreach project with a weeklong residency in Detroit Lakes as the Orchestra and conductor Sarah Hicks travel to the western Minnesota city September 22-26 for a week of concerts and more than 25 events tailored to the Detroit Lakes community. Common Chords Home »

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Season Opening: Osmo Vänskä and Audra McDonald

Photos by Courtney Perry

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