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12 Photos, 12 Months—Looking back on 2021

Travel back to see the most memorable Orchestra moments of 2021 and how the year changed the way we gather and celebrate music.

Stage hand adjusting music stand on stage

Courtney Perry


2021 begins amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—digital concerts remaining central to our work, reaching audiences near and far. Here, a glimpse into the staging protocols that keep musicians safe and allow concerts to continue via TV, radio and livestream.

Masked Sarah Hicks at the Minnesota Zoo


A fantastical partnership with the Minnesota Zoo brings together a delightful concert experience for young people (and the young at heart.) Musical Menagerie, hosted and conducted by Sarah Hicks, brought on-location interactions with some surprising stars and marked our first Young People’s Concert to be broadcast on TV.

Seats in Orchestra Hall with messages of gratitude and audience comments on them


Thousands of audience comments filled each seat in Orchestra Hall—bringing a renewed sense of light and life back into our concert space. Your words encouraged and uplifted musicians and staff—thank you!

Chamber musicians performing on stage in a spotlight


Musicians of the Orchestra shared composer Carlos Simon’s moving An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave in honor of lives wrongfully taken by oppressive powers.

Shot of musician, instruments and music stands and chairs on stage with a camera arm overhead


A peek backstage! The stage was set with some fascinating equipment to film our first-ever virtual Symphony Ball. Over a week of recording, musicians learned the ins and outs of filming for production.

Masked audience members clapping


A small, energetic, and very physically-distanced audience returns to Orchestra Hall for the first time since March of 2020.

Musicians and audience members talking outside on Peavey Plaza

Courtney Perry


On a beautiful summer evening, Orchestra Hall was filled with Minneapolis frontline workers to honor their ongoing work during the pandemic. Musicians supplied the tickets free of charge through their Bellwether Fund and joined the honored guests on the patio for summer socializing before the concert.

Osmo Vänskä with his hand on his chin, wearing a blue and white checkered shirt


We prepare for the year-long celebration of Osmo Vänskä’s final season as music director—hearing from him and others about how this partnership has sparked magic for so many years. In his final season, Osmo opened his home for a series of portraits, one shown here.

Black and white photo of sheet music on a music stand and the silhouette of a string player


In a unique collaboration, Minnesota Vikings fans enjoyed a bold new pregame video featuring the Orchestra performing “Symphony of the North” as the Vikings returned to U.S. Bank Stadium for a new season.

Group photo of orchestra musicians outside of Orchestra Hall



On a chilly October afternoon, the musicians gathered outside Orchestra Hall to capture the last full Orchestra photo with Osmo Vänskä as music director.

Orchestra musicians and Chorale singers performing on stage


The Minnesota Orchestra was joined by the Minnesota Chorale and four soloists for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in mid-November. This marked the return of a full choir onstage for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. A historic evening.

Orchestra musicians and Joyful Echoes vocalists on stage


The Orchestra’s annual holiday show was reimagined with new faces, voices and music taking the stage. Joyful Echoes celebrated traditions from a multitude of backgrounds—we look forward to continuing to celebrate music’s connecting power into 2022.