Drumroll, please, for the announcement of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2022-23 season. It’s a season that bursts onto the Orchestra Hall stage with Wynton Marsalis’ Swing Symphony and culminates in the sunshine of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Between these musical bookends, our musicians share with audiences music of vivid contrasts and colors—from the eternal beauty of Joseph Haydn’s The Creation to brea(d)th, an urgent 21st-century creation by composer Carlos Simon and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph. It’s a season in which we are focusing on great pianists and piano works, interesting pairings of historic and contemporary works, and the virtuosity of the Minnesota Orchestra itself.
Running from September 2022 to June 2023, the season encompasses Classical, Holiday, Live at Orchestra Hall, Chamber Music, Symphony in 60, Wellness and Relaxed Family Concerts, among others. Read on for highlights from each series.
Classical Concert Season Highlights
“This new season brings many outstanding artists to the Minnesota Orchestra and explores the great music of the past alongside thrilling new work by composers who are responding to our world today,” says violist Kenneth Freed, chair of the Musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee. “We look forward to sharing these voices, each of whom have something musically powerful to express.”
A Commission and a World Premiere
“One of the ways that we make sense of what is happening in the world is to see it through the creative lens of contemporary artists,” says President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns. “In the summer of 2020, in the days after George Floyd’s killing and the unrest that followed, the Orchestra was grappling with how to respond to these tragedies through music and how to use our artistic voice to join the call for change, and the idea of a new work was born—to commission a new composition that addresses broad social justice themes.”
That large-scale work, created by composer Carlos Simon and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, will receive its world premiere May 18-20, 2023, led by Jonathan Taylor Rush and featuring vocal soloists, the Orchestra, the Minnesota Chorale and Twin Cities Choral Partners. Titling their work brea(d)th, Simon and Joseph embrace what they call “the aspiration of racial equity through music-centered community healing” and will make visits to Minneapolis over the next year to create the composition in consultation with community members, aiming to lead audiences on a path of reflection, intention and organized hope. Simon, whose compositions range from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with jazz, gospel and neo-romantic influences, was named a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018 and currently serves as composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Orchestra will also perform his An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave in three October 2022 concerts led by Donald Runnicles. Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a 2017 TED Global Fellow, librettist for the works We Shall Not Be Moved and The Just and the Blind, and serves as vice president and artistic director of social impact at the Kennedy Center.
The Minnesota Orchestra’s classical season features 25 weeks of concerts, with numerous programs that feature Minnesota Orchestra musicians as soloists.
- Principal Cello Anthony Ross takes the spotlight in a September 2022 program featuring the Orchestra’s first-ever performances of Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway, as well as Johannes Brahms’ Second Symphony, led by French conductor Fabien Gabel.
- Concertmaster Erin Keefe interprets Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium” in three February 2023 concerts that also feature works by two other American composers: Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, led by Dalia Stasevska, the chief conductor of Finland’s Lahti Symphony.
- In June 2023, First Associate Concertmaster Susie Park and Associate Principal Cello Silver Ainomäe perform Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, in a program also featuring Dmitri Shostakovich’s First Symphony and led by British conductor Andrew Manze, who serves as the chief conductor of Hannover’s NDR Radio Philharmonic.
The season includes an emphasis on remarkable pianists and great works of the piano literature, spotlighting:
- November 2022 concerts that feature Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.
- Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto is performed by French pianist Alexandre Kantorow—described by Fanfare as “Liszt reincarnated”—in his February 2023 debut.
- On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Awadagin Pratt introduces Jessie Montgomery’s first piano concerto, Rounds, a work commissioned by Pratt that is inspired by T.S. Eliot’s epic poem, Four Quartets.
- In January 2023, Kirill Gerstein interprets Rachmaninoff’s powerful Third Piano Concerto.
- in February 2023, Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero plays her own Latin Piano Concerto in a program that also includes Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, Chavez’s Symphony No. 2 and Falla’s Suite from The Three-Cornered Hat, led by Carlos Miguel Prieto.
- Russian-American pianist Olga Kern—who made headlines in 2001 as the first woman to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 30 years—plays the Grieg Piano Concerto in March 2023.
- Garrick Ohlsson, a favorite who has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra in numerous performances dating back to 1971, offers Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto in April 2023 performances led by Juanjo Mena.
Musical Voices, Historic and New
The 2022-23 season features a wide-ranging mix of compositional voices interwoven throughout the season that span four centuries of music, come from highly divergent backgrounds and bear witness to remarkably different experiences and influences. Among the exhilarating works by composers of today, many of which have never been heard at Orchestra Hall, are American composer Adolphus Hailstork’s Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed (In memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.) (January 2023); Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Clarinet Concerto, D’OM LE VRAI SENS, featuring Kari Kriikku (March 2023); British composer Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers (March 2023) inspired by the Lemn Sissay poem of the same name; Finnish-born Outi Tarkiainen’s The Ring of Fire and Love (April 2023) in its U.S. premiere, and Jamaican-born British composer Eleanor Alberga’s Tower (June 2023), a work the Orchestra first performed in reading sessions last fall.
Prominent works of past centuries include Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose complete ballet and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, conducted by Thomas Søndergård (October 2022); Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, led by Scott Yoo (November 2022), in a program that also includes Ulysses Kay’s Concerto for Orchestra; Pablo Heras-Casado conducting Felix Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony (January 2023); Kazuki Yamada leading Toru Takemitsu’s How Slow the Wind and Dvořák’s New World Symphony (February 2023); Robert Schumann’s Third Symphony, subtitled the Rhenish, conducted by Christoph König (March 2023); Claude Debussy’s La Mer and Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, led by David Afkham (April 2023); and conductor and violinist Leonidas Kavakos leading Brahms’ First Symphony and serving as conductor and soloist in a Bach Violin Concerto in D minor (May 2023).
Concluding the Mahler Recordings Project
Osmo Vänskä will return to the Minnesota Orchestra podium for three November 2022 concerts featuring Mahler’s Third Symphony that spotlight mezzo Jennifer Johnston, the Women of the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir. In the week following the performances, Vänskä and the Orchestra will record the work, marking the final installment in the Orchestra’s initiative, which was delayed by the pandemic, to record all the Mahler Symphonies for the BIS Records label. (With all the symphonies recorded by November 2022, BIS will release the remaining albums through 2024.)
Minnesota Chorale and The Creation
The Minnesota Chorale will be prominently featured in March 2023 performances of Haydn’s The Creation. Last performed by the Minnesota Orchestra in 1999, the work is a three-part oratorio depicting the Judeo-Christian origin story, including the chaos that preceded creation, the six days of creation and the story of Adam and Eve. Led by Paul McCreesh, the performances also feature soprano Joélle Harvey, tenor Robert Murray and bass-baritone Kevin Deas.
More to Hear: The Listening Project
The Listening Project is part of ongoing initiative to share the music of composers who have been historically sidelined due to race and gender and to collaborate with a broader group of composers living today. Conductor Kensho Watanabe leads a performance of these canon-expanding works in October 2022 that will also be recorded, with all concertgoers receiving a complimentary digital recording of each piece on the program. (Specific works will be announced at a later date.)
Milestone Celebrations: Lunar New Year and Juneteenth
Junping Qian returns to lead a Lunar New Year performance in January 2023 that welcomes the Year of the Rabbit, with Principal Bassoon Fei Xie reprising his role as artistic consultant for the program as he did in 2022. The concert is presented as part of The Great Northern. In June 2023 the Orchestra offers its first Juneteenth Celebration. Led by American conductor André Raphel, the program will feature music by African American composers across three centuries.
Symphony in 60 Concerts
Symphony in 60 concerts feature interestingly paired musical works offered in a shorter one-hour format that begins at 6 p.m. and features a pre-concert happy hour and post-concert onstage reception with musicians. The 2022-23 season includes two of these casual format concerts:
- The first, on Saturday, January 7, 2023, features works by two composers born in the 19th century, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Solemn Prelude) and Modest Mussorgsky (Pictures at an Exhibition), led by Los Angeles-born conductor Ryan Bancroft, who is the principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales;
- The second, on March 18, 2023, pairs contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery’s vivid Strum—described as a salute to “American folk idioms and the spirt of dance and movement” —with Wolfgang Amadè Mozart’s 41st and final symphony, Jupiter, conducted by Michael Francis, music director of the Florida Orchestra.
The Holiday season opens with a new-to-Orchestra Hall offering, performances of El Mesías with conductor Ahmed Anzaldúa leading the Minnesota Orchestra, Border CrosSing, which comprises a chorus, vocal soloists and an Andean ensemble. Developed by Anzaldúa, El Mesías is a bilingual Spanish-English cross-cultural combination of the Christmas portion of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah (plus the Hallelujah chorus) interwoven with Navidad Nuestra, a Christmas cantata by Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez that blurs the lines between Western classical and South American folk traditions. In addition to two performances at Orchestra Hall (December 9-10, 2022), El Mesías will also be performed in a version at Minneapolis’ Church of the Ascension (December 11, 2022).
The Holiday season also features:
- Trumpeter Charles Lazarus’ Merry & Bright, a brass-studded staple of the holiday calendar that features a nine-piece brass band and many special guests joining Lazarus for jazzy twists on holiday classics (December 11, 2022);
- Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth in a one-night-only performance with the full Orchestra featuring new arrangements of holiday favorites and Broadway showstoppers (December 13, 2022);
- The first Minnesota Orchestra screening of the beloved holiday film Elf starring Will Ferrell, with the Orchestra playing John Debney’s score while the full film plays on an overhead screen (December 17-18, 2022);
- A return visit by pianist-composer George Winston, performing music from his “Winter Show” in addition to several new selections from his new album NIGHT on RCA Records (December 19, 2022).
The Orchestra rings in 2023 with a New Year’s celebration featuring Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Jessie Montgomery’s first piano concerto, Rounds, written for and performed by Awadagin Pratt, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s thrilling Scheherazade. It’s all led by conductor Marin Alsop, who returns to Orchestra Hall for the first time since 2011.
Live at Orchestra Hall Concerts
The Live at Orchestra Hall series presents performances and collaborations with great artists from across the world and directly from Minnesota, as well as live performances of film scores while the major motion pictures are shown in high definition on a large screen above the stage. Most of these concerts are conducted by Sarah Hicks, the Orchestra’s principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall.
The season takes off with a succession of remarkable films, part of the U.S. Bank Movies & Music series, featuring:
- Tim Burton’s macabre The Nightmare Before Christmas that features a strikingly original score by Danny Elfman (October 2022);
- The Princess Bride on Thanksgiving weekend with music by British singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler (November 2022);
- The next installment of the beloved Harry Potter Film Concert Series with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ In Concert, featuring the music of composer Nicholas Hooper (February 2023);
- Three performances of Star Wars: The Force Awakens featuring a score composed by the legendary John Williams (April 2023).
Additional highlights of the Live at Orchestra Hall season include National Geographic Live: Symphony for our World, a concert that combines breathtaking National Geographic imagery of wildlife and wild spaces set to music by the Emmy-nominated Bleeding Fingers Music (March 2023); A Night in the Tropics with Charles Lazarus, featuring the trumpeter playing evocative rhythms and melodies of Brazil, Cuba and Hawaii with the full Orchestra (June 2023); and two performances with singer, rapper and writer Dessa, in her latest collaboration with Sarah Hicks and the Minnesota Orchestra (August 2023).
Chamber Music Concerts
The Orchestra’s Chamber Music in the Target Atrium series presents three Sunday afternoon concerts—offered in January, March and June 2023—that are designed by the musicians and showcase small ensembles made up of Orchestra members. The music selected for these concerts includes well-known chamber works such as Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 1 and Octet for Strings, Dvořák’s Third String Quintet and Brahms’ String Quartet No. 2, as well as new repertoire by living composers including Tattooed in Snow by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun, Javier Iha Rodríguez’s Pilgrim Tales for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, and Minnesota composer Reinaldo Moya’s Violin 3.0.
Relaxed Family Concerts are one hour in length and are sensory-friendly experiences designed for audiences of all ages and abilities, including individuals on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities. These concerts feature the full Minnesota Orchestra along with guest soloists and in 2022-23 include:
- “Symphony Spooktacular” (October 2022)
- “Winter Wonderland” (January 2023)
- “Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom” (June 2023)
The Orchestra’s Wellness offerings include a series of three Yoga Classes and three Music & Mindfulness sessions, offered at regular intervals throughout the season. Introduced in 2018, “Musical Flow” Yoga Classes are one-hour morning sessions in the Orchestra Hall lobby, each led by a certified yoga instructor and featuring live music performed by a Minnesota Orchestra musician or duo (November 6, 2022; February 5 and May 14, 2023).
Music & Mindfulness Guided Sessions are presented in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. Each one-hour session features an exploration of music and mindfulness through performances by an Orchestra musician or small ensemble and engaging dialogue led by a University of Minnesota faculty member (March 16, April 13 and May 11, 2023).
Livestreams and Radio Broadcasts
The Orchestra will continue to offer a regular series of livestreamed This Is Minnesota Orchestra performances on its website and social media channels, including Søndergård Conducts The Rite of Spring (October 21, 2022), El Mesías (December 9, 2022); Gerstein Plays Rachmaninoff (January 6, 2023); Rapsodie Espagnole (Feb 3, 2023); American Riffs Young People’s Concert (March 9, 2023) Afkham and Pieczonka (April 14, 2023); brea(d)th (May 19, 2023), Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom (June 23, 2023); and Dessa with the Minnesota Orchestra (August 4, 2023). Most livestreamed concerts will be available to audiences at no cost as they debut live and for up to a week afterward on the Orchestra’s website; subsequent on-demand access will be available for purchase. Further details, as well as concerts that will be broadcast on Twin Cities PBS, will be shared this summer.
Extending a longtime partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, the Orchestra’s Friday evening classical concerts will be broadcast regionally on YourClassical MPR stations.
Single tickets for the 2022-23 season go on sale July 18, 2022.