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Music Brings Us Together: Introducing Our 2023-24 Season

A group image of the Minnesota Orchestra, 85 individuals standing in the lobby of a concert hall, many holding their instruments. Everyone is wearing a black suit and smiling at the camera.

The Orchestra's instruments are tuned, and Thomas Søndergård has just taken his place on the podium. The auditorium's lights are dimmed, and the only thing missing is you. Søndergård's first season as music director is bursting with grand symphonies, new repertoire, and some of the biggest names in music. We invite you to explore the season for yourself, and plan ahead for the concerts you don’t want to miss. 

Running from September 2023 to June 2024, the season ahead includes programs designed for concertgoers of all ages and interests, including Classical, Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday, Chamber Music, Young People's Concerts, Relaxed Family Concerts, Sensory-Friendly Concerts and Wellness offerings. The season is yours, and we can't wait to get started. 

Classical Concert Highlights

When long-cherished pieces like the violin concerto of Johannes Brahms and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations share our stage with seldom-heard and new pieces like Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung and John Adams' Doctor Atomic Symphony, we believe your time with us will leave you emotionally revitalized and fulfilled.

— Valerie Little, assistant principal librarian and chair of the Orchestra’s Artistic Advisory Committee 

Søndergård's Inaugural Season

It’s not every season that we get to welcome a new music director. In fact, Søndergård will only be the 11th music director in the Minnesota Orchestra's 120-year history. The Danish conductor brings his trademark cooperative spirit and democratic approach to Orchestra Hall, opening the season with the two weeks of powerful inaugural concerts. From September 21 to 23 Søndergård will lead two epic works by Richard Strauss as well as Mozart's Oboe Concerto, which will feature the Orchestra’s newest section leader, Principal Oboe Nathan Hughes. Concerts September 28 to 30 see Søndergård's first collaboration with the Minnesota Chorale in an enchanting interpretation of Maurice Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. 

"The thing I’m most looking forward to with Thomas leading the Orchestra is really his personality," says Concertmaster Erin Keefe. "I think he connects so well with the musicians, with the audience and with whatever music he’s conducting." Søndergård and Keefe will headline an April program in which Keefe will play Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 (April 2024). Søndergård will also be joined in concerts by a number of renowned guest artists, including Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich (January 2024) and pianists Sir Stephen Hough (December 2023)Kirill Gerstein (May 2024) and Francesco Piemontesi (June 2024). And from June 20 to 22, the final program of the 2023-24 season, Søndergård will bring Pride Month festivities to Orchestra Hall in celebratory concerts with music by composers from the LGBTQ+ community. From the first note to its final encore, Søndergård's inaugural season will surely be one to remember.

Astounding Artistry 

The season will be punctuated by debut performances and much-anticipated returns from many leading artists in classical music, including piano sensation Yuja Wang, who will make her first-ever appearance at Orchestra Hall when she plays Béla Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2 March 29 and 30Yefim Bronfman—who last played with the Orchestra in 2005—will again take the stage June 7 and 8 for a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. 

Stirring string soloists to make their Orchestra debuts this season include Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov (October 2023) and cellist Sterling Elliott (April 2024), one of the fastest-rising stars of his instrument. Violinists Benjamin Beilman and Christian Tetzlaff will make their returns in May 2024, respectively performing violin concertos by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Johannes Brahms. Representing the virtuosity of the Minnesota Orchestra’s own musicians, Principal Cello Anthony Ross will deliver Antonín Dvořák's passionate Cello Concerto in concerts January 12 and 13. 

Instruments less frequently featured in concertos will also take centerstage, with accomplished guest artists introducing works that have never before been shared with Minnesota audiences. First, Jörgen van Rijen will deliver the Minnesota Orchestra's first performance of James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto (October 2023). Then, together with guest conductor Ruth Reinhardt and saxophonist Steven Banks, the Orchestra will showcase composer Billy Childs' recently premiered Saxophone Concerto, which the Orchestra co-commissioned (February 2024). Finally, trumpeter Pacho Flores will perform Pablo de Sarasate's Gypsy Airs and Arturo Márquez's Concierto de Otoño (March 2024). 

World-class guest conductors will occupy the podium from September to June, including Juraj Valčuha, Thomas Wilkins, Christopher Warren-Green, Jun Märkl, Hannu Lintu, David Afkham and David Robertson. Eun Sun Kim—named a 2021 Breakout Star in Classical Music by The New York TimesDomingo Hindoyan and Elim Chan will bring their unique styles and repertoires to the ensemble for the very first time. In the middle of the season, Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä will revisit his beloved Minnesota Orchestra to premiere commissions by Anders Hillborg and Kevin Puts. 

On November 9 and 10, the Orchestra will perform without a conductor, as Erin Keefe leads the ensemble from her concertmaster chair. Of the unique program which was brought to the Orchestra by their new leader, Søndergård says, "Musicians have long educations and loads of ideas about how music-making can be done. This concert will present them in a new light." 

New Ideas. Unique Voices.

Every note that sounds from the stage is meaningful and important. And with each new season, we strive to bring new ideas and unique voices to the Orchestra Hall stage, making orchestral music meaningful and relevant to a broader audience. This season, we add a multitude of new works to the Minnesota Orchestra repertoire—and here’s just a sampling of what you’ll hear: 

  • The Sphinx Virtuosi share the stage with the Orchestra in a program that includes Carlos Simon’s meditative Breathe and Angélica Negrón’s immersive Marejada (February 2024) 
  • Dub-Sanjo, a work that reinterprets traditional Korean music with fresh harmonies and textures, written by Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute alumnus Texu Kim (March 2024)
  • The U.S. premiere of Eleanor Alberga’s Rise Up, O Sun! (April 2024) 
  • The Orchestra’s first performance of a symphony by American composer Adolphus Hailstork (June 2024) 

On November 3, the Orchestra will present the third iteration of the Listening Project, a concert program that expands the ensemble’s knowledge of orchestral works by historically underrepresented composers, while performing and recording these scores so that they may become more familiar to audiences and other orchestras alike. 

Symphony in 60 

The 2023-24 season includes three Symphony in 60 programs, which are one hour in duration, and include earlier start times, a pre-concert happy hour and post-concert onstage reception with musicians. The first, on October 4, will include a live-in-concert presentation of Marvel Studios' Werewolf by Night. On April 20, Kristiina Poska and Sterling Elliott will present the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Led by Elim Chan, a final presentation on May 11 will feature Unsuk Chin's subito con forzo and Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony. 

Live at Orchestra Hall 

Collaborations with great artists across genres from Minnesota and around the world. Live performances of film scores while the motion pictures are screened in high definition above the stage. Spearheaded by Principal Conductor for Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks, this series pushes the boundaries of what a symphony orchestra can do. 

The list of innovative artists collaborating with the Orchestra during the 2023-24 is headlined by Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Nur-D, who will partner with the Orchestra for a set of energetic debut concerts on April 5 and 6. In addition, singer-songwriter Ben Folds will again share his quirky sound and wit with Orchestra Hall audiences (October 2023); six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald joins the Orchestra to perform her signature mix of pop tunes and Broadway classics (November 2023); a week later, the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy Glee Club will present choral and operatic classics; and the Los-Angeles based circus-dance-theater group Troupe Vertigo will make their Orchestra Hall debut in visually and musically powerful performances (March 2024). 

A collection of pioneering and fan-favorite films will be shown throughout the new season. The week before Halloween, the Orchestra will perform Michael Abels' original score to writer-director Jordan Peele's Get Out. Thanksgiving weekend means Home Alone, while Frozen In Concert will be presented live at Orchestra Hall for the first time in DecemberHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 1 is set for January and Star Wars: The Last Jedi for May. 

Holiday Concerts 

The 2023-24 season is chock-full of moments to gather and celebrate—together. December offerings feature the Minnesota Chorale's presentation of Messiah with a divine cast of vocal soloists; trumpeter Charles Lazarus and special guests will re-interpret beloved holiday classics with their annual Merry & Bright program; the Emmy and Tony Award-winning Kristin Chenoweth will make her much-anticipated Minnesota Orchestra return on December 18. The slate of December concerts culminates in a New Year’s Celebration with Thomas Søndergård. 

Now in its third year, the Minnesota Orchestra will celebrate Lunar New Year with another program conducted by Junping Qian (February 2024). And in its second iteration, a concert commemorating Juneteenth will primarily feature music by African American composers (June 2024). 

Chamber Music 

The Orchestra’s Chamber Music series invites you to experience classical music up close and personal, with smaller ensembles of musicians performing in the Target Atrium—an intimate performance space within Orchestra Hall. The 2023-24 season encompasses three Sunday afternoon concerts that pair chamber works by well-known classical composers such as Zoltán Kodály, Gioacchino Rossini and Samuel Barber, with new repertoire by contemporary composers like Paul Wiancko, Wynton Marsalis and Hanna Havrylets. 

Meet Your Orchestra

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Education and Family Concerts 

A tradition since 1911, the Minnesota Orchestra's Young People's Concerts are designed for school groups of students in grades 1-6. Over the course of the 2023-24 season, the Orchestra will present five distinct programs encompassing 23 total performances. 

Relaxed Family Concerts are designed for audiences of all ages, including individuals with autism or sensory sensitivities; Sensory-Friendly Concerts occur in a more intimate setting and invite concertgoers of all ages, including those who are neurodivergent, to be who they are while enjoying music. See a full list of Yong People's Concerts, Relaxed Family Concerts and Sensory-Friendly Concerts below: 


Our wellness offerings explore how instrumental music can be paired with yoga, mindfulness and other practices to create a more present and grounded you. Three yoga classes will be hosted at Orchestra Hall throughout the season (February 2024, March 2024 and June 2024), in addition to three Music & Mindfulness sessions, which are led by University of Minnesota mindfulness and wellbeing instructor Mariann Johnson (February 2024, April 2024 and May 2024).

This Is Minnesota Orchestra 

Heading into its fifth year, the Emmy Award-winning This Is Minnesota Orchestra series returns with a new lineup of concerts to be livestreamed on the Orchestra’s own website and social media channels. Digital programs will include Daphnis and Chloe with the Minnesota Chorale (September 29, 2023), Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (February 9, 2024), Dvořák Symphony No. 8 (March 22, 2024) and Celebrating Pride with Thomas Søndergård (June 21, 2024), with more digital exclusives to come. 

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