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A Season of Farewell. A Season of Hello.

It was a season of emotion and rafter-shaking cheers.

Audiences eager for the thrill of live music returned to Orchestra Hall to witness a capstone of historic artistic achievements and a launch pad for what’s next. An innovative new strategic plan, a visible commitment to deeper community impact, and summer programming that made downtown Minneapolis sparkle—it was truly a season of consequence.

Gifts from more than 14,000 generous and passionate donors made all this possible and ensure the best is still to come.

Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Vänskä

Thank You and Farewell

After two decades of galvanizing artistic leadership, we bade thank you and farewell to Music Director Osmo Vänskä, who now becomes our conductor laureate. Acclaimed recordings, headline-making tours of South Africa and Cuba, Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year accolades for courage and creativity amidst a global pandemic, the Orchestra’s first Grammy—this is the stuff of a golden age. Small wonder that, in June 2022, at the end of Osmo’s final concert, with curtain call after curtain call following Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, tears flowed freely in the audience and onstage.

Music director designate Thomas Søndergård
Thomas Søndergård

Hello and Welcome!

The sustained generosity of Orchestra donors allowed a team of musicians, board, staff and community members to undertake an intense yet quiet search for Osmo’s successor–and take the time to get it right. Their charge was to identify a visionary leader who understood what an American orchestra committed to its community could be and become, and who could start at the Orchestra’s current peak level of performance and aim still higher. Among the many talented guest artists who led the Orchestra in recent seasons, Denmark’s Thomas Søndergård–from his first visit in December 2021—immediately astonished both the Orchestra and our audiences alike. In July 2022, President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns announced him as the Minnesota Orchestra’s 11th music director.

We connected with his conducting style—which showed a generosity of spirit that was very much about ‘us’ and what we can do together.

- Minnesota Orchestra Principal Trombone R. Douglas Wright

Donor Support Drives Access

Your gifts support the artistic excellence of the Minnesota Orchestra, and its powerful performances of traditional and new repertoire. Donors make the Minnesota Orchestra more accessible and relevant to more people than ever. Through your generosity, the Orchestra is introducing audiences to new music and creating exciting collaborations with artists addressing issues of our day. 

Lunar New Year

In January 2022, audiences filled Orchestra Hall to experience a joyful concert dedicated to one of the most widely celebrated holidays across Asian countries and cultures, the Lunar New Year.

Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

In May 2022, the Orchestra performed one of the most moving pieces of 21st-century concert music. Inspired by artist Shirin Barghi’s #lastwordsproject, composer Joel Thompson compiled a text from the final words of seven Black men killed by police and other authority figures in the U.S. for his cantata Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.

This is rated 5 out of 5 stars

The Lunar New Year concert was a peak musical experience for me. Gao Hong’s Guangxi Impression was a masterpiece and her pipa playing was spellbinding! 

- Lunar New Year Concert Viewer

Young People’s Concerts

With field trips still paused for many school districts, the Orchestra’s generous donors kept young minds sparked by supporting our innovative online Young People’s Concerts. The fun, fascinating Science of Sound program, a partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota and Twin Cities PBS, let students experience how our brains, like magic, turn sound waves into music that moves us. Musicians partnered with Science Museum instructors to learn and demonstrate timbre, frequency and amplitude, all brought gloriously to life through the music of Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Zhou Tian, led by Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks. So far, it and our other Young People's Concerts have been viewed more than 11,000 times by students across Minnesota!

Operations center for live broadcast

This Is Minnesota Orchestra

Orchestra Hall’s doors opened wider than ever this season, as new audiences came to experience the in-person thrill of the Orchestra for the first time, while thousands of others watched our captivating livestreams from miles away—and felt as though they had the best seat in the house. Your gifts supported a new state-of-the-art digital production studio fully integrated with our longstanding broadcast partner, Minnesota Public Radio, and led the Orchestra to its first Upper Midwest Emmy Award in the best “long form entertainment” category for our broadcast and livestream with Minnesota-based indie rock band Cloud Cult. In total, this series received 301,000 digital and broadcast views in the 2021–22 season.

Newly widowed and living 130 miles from Minneapolis, these streamed concerts are an answer to my prayers! Thank you.

- This Is Minnesota Orchestra Viewer

301,000 digital and broadcast views in the 2021–2022 season

11,000 Young People's Concert viewers across Minnesota and beyond

Lift Up Minneapolis

Your gifts are inspiring us with a new call to make our beautiful hometown as vibrant as possible. We celebrate the ways that donors are helping to bring energy and vitality back to downtown Minneapolis.

New Partnerships

During the 2021–22 season, donors helped connect the Minnesota Orchestra to the incredible well of Minneapolis-based artists. We broadened and deepened those relationships, partnering with more than 50 local artists, arts organizations, and other community groups to create panel discussions, performances, displays, and interactive exhibits before and after nearly every concert. In turn we shared the city’s cultural riches with the world— onstage, on-air and online.

Summer at Orchestra Hall

For four fun-filled weeks more than 25,000 people came downtown to celebrate Minnesota’s sweetest season with family, food and the excitement of live music during Summer at Orchestra Hall. Curated by Creative Partner and pianist Jon Kimura Parker, the programming illuminated "The Beethoven Influence" and celebrated the spirit of fresh musical invention with partners like BRKFST Dance Company, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and The Moving Company.

International Day of Music

During our International Day of Music, July 16, fans flocked to hear free performances by 20 different ensembles on four stages in and around the Hall, celebrating all types of music. Our youngest friends got up-close-and-personal with instruments, and in the day’s conclusion the full Orchestra performed outside on a packed Peavey Plaza for the first time since 2008. As the concert drew to its finish, five downtown churches rang their bells in joyous coordination, resounding throughout this beloved city.

Mother and Toddler at Orchestra Hall

Hall Pass

As audiences returned to Orchestra Hall this season, donors ensured that families got a special welcome. Our community-funded Hall Pass program made free tickets available for all kids under 18 for select concerts to make certain these young people are able to experience firsthand the thrill of live music.

Thomas Søndergård

Poised for What is Ahead

The history book of the Minnesota Orchestra is, so far, 119 pages long—one for every year of its storied past. Inspired by your generosity, commitment and passion, we have now stitched a new page into the book. With gratitude for all that has come before, the Minnesota Orchestra is confidently looking to the future—this new page excitingly open.

Join us as we write this next chapter, together.

Ensure A Vibrant Future

Renew your gift or become a donor today.

PHOTOS: Tony Nelson, Travis Anderson, Chase Hentges, Courtney Perry and Scott Streble.