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Impassioned with mission: to inspire and serve in new ways

Everything had to be re-imagined, re-envisioned. In the Minnesota Orchestra's 118th season, the time-tested ways of making music for audiences no longer held. Facing profound questions of survival in a pandemic, relevance amidst upheaval, and how best to live our mission as an orchestra recognized for its artistic excellence, the Minnesota Orchestra answered with courage, innovation and speed. One constant remained amidst all the change: the timeless joy of gorgeous music performed by a world-class ensemble. The Orchestra shared its performances in new ways and became in the words of one audience member, “a lifeline of humanity and beauty.” Sustained by passionate longtime and new donors, this season may be remembered as the Minnesota Orchestra's most important ever.

Full Orchestra standing in a group outside of Orchestra Hall
Gramophone Magazine’s

2021 Orchestra of the Year!

The prestigious U.K. classical music magazine asked its critics to scan the globe and nominate their Top 10 orchestras, based on each ensemble’s artistic merit and body of work over the past year. Minnesota Orchestra fans, many of them having newly discovered the livestreamed This Is Minnesota Orchestra broadcasts, gave the Orchestra nearly one-third of all votes!

It was an unexpected delight to have your music accessible to us during some of the darkest times of the pandemic. We continued to donate because our gifts support the beauty, kindness, compassion, and ongoing hope your orchestra continues to deliver.”

March 5, 2021 Livestream Viewer

Courtney Perry

Courage, innovation and speed: This Is Minnesota Orchestra

With Orchestra Hall closed to audiences, the Minnesota Orchestra quickly created a multi-channel media initiative more comprehensive than any symphony orchestra in the U.S. Partnering with Twin Cities PBS and YourClassical MPR, the Orchestra produced 19 live concerts for audiences across Minnesota and the world and distributed them free of charge by TV, digital livestream and radio. Viewers flocked to This Is Minnesota Orchestra—safely experiencing the beauty and inspiration of superbly performed live orchestral music again. Short videos shared on social media reached record audiences. Inspired and fueled by our donors, this was the Minnesota Orchestra’s bold and imaginative step forward to live our mission, despite the many obstacles of the pandemic in the performing arts.


2.3 million views of Minnesota Orchestra video content during the 2020–2021 season

42,000 average total views, for each episode—roughly 21 times Orchestra Hall’s seating capacity

17.3 million social media impressions

Programming: new expansiveness onstage

Nearly every concert this season held the music of at least one composer of African, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous or Asian descent as part of a newly energized commitment to program and center these voices as we move forward.

Musicians playing on stage

For Minnesota’s children & teachers: the mission deepens

When schools across the state closed, teachers and parents were keenly interested to find resources that kept learning alive. The Orchestra responded with inventive new programming: our Young People’s Concerts took bold leaps–into the Minnesota Zoo! This episode, Musical Menagerie, was nominated for an Upper Midwest Emmy! 

Courtney Perry

Summer at Orchestra Hall: audiences return in joy

The Minnesota Orchestra was among the first arts organizations locally to welcome audiences back to live indoor performances. Creative Partner for Summer Programming Jon Kimura Parker, guest soloists and conductors dazzled audiences throughout the summer. Keeping a close eye on state and national COVID-19 safety guidelines, the Orchestra initially opened the Hall to 25% capacity. With growing confidence, Hall capacity increased midsummer to 50%. And on Opening Night of the 2021–22 season, the full Orchestra walked onstage to a full and ecstatic house.

This is rated 5 out of 5 stars

The orchestra threw itself into its interpretation....It was a deliciously theatrical performance....It added up to an evening that was, of all things, fun.”

Review of Aug 27, 2021 Concert, Star Tribune
Audience members socially distanced in Hall

Community generosity: exceptional giving

In this challenging year, donors fueled the Orchestra’s mission with exceptional generosity totaling $11,855,137.

This generosity allowed the Orchestra’s musicians and full-time staff to remain employed and continue to create music and meaning for audiences in an uncertain time.

Thank you for your support!

The 2020–21 season brought challenges as well as exciting new chances to serve—deeply, movingly—with great music. Now, our community is asking the Minnesota Orchestra to make an even larger impact. Our joy and opportunity is to rise to that request—and exceed it.

Ahead, we will celebrate the monumental achievements of Osmo Vänskä and the Orchestra in his final season as music director, and prepare for the next chapter of a new artistic leader. We’ll create compelling digital programming for audiences near and far, including young learners, and continue to expand the ways a world-class orchestra can serve its community.

In this unparalleled season, we are profoundly grateful for you and your generosity!

Music inspires, yet soothes. We are particularly grateful for the agile and thoughtful way you continued to share exceptional performances with us through the pandemic. Thank you for that tremendous gift.”

Patron Tribute to Osmo, Fall 2021

Ensure A Vibrant Future

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Our Annual Report

Music holds things together. Explore the 2020-21 Season and Financial Report.

View Report