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Thomas Wilkins
Thomas Wilkins, conductor | Photo Courtesy of Omaha Symphony

Hope and Humanity

Thu May 19 — Sat May 21, 2022

Orchestra Hall

~1.5 hrs including a 20 min intermission

Thomas Wilkins makes his Minnesota Orchestra conducting debut in a soul-stirring performance that centers around Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a multi-movement choral work that presents the final spoken words of seven African American men who were each killed by the police or authority figures. The Minnesota Chorale, Twin Cities Choral Partners and 29:11 International Exchange join the Orchestra onstage in this concert that also features Franz Liszt’s poetic Les Préludes and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s triumphant Fifth Symphony.

A Few Things to Know

  • Seven Last Words of the Unarmed remembers the lives of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Amadou Diallo and John Crawford. Learn more about this work on our blog.
  • The audience is invited to reflect on Seven Last Words of the Unarmed during the performance and intermission. A program insert includes questions for audience reflection that were compiled in part from resources on the Seven Last Words of the Unarmed website; also included in the insert is information on the George Floyd Global Memorial Exhibit Everything is Somebody’s Offering: A Rememory Experience” hosted at Orchestra Hall from May 19 to 21.
  • Bass singer Marcus Simmons is the soloist in the third movement of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, titled “Mom, I’m going to college.
  • Liszt indicated that Les Préludes was his depiction of a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine that begins: “What is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown song whose first solemn note is tolled by death?”
  • Tchaikovsky’s very popular Fifth Symphony—which journeys from minor to major and darkness to hope—is filled with wonderful mottos, orchestral color, balletic beauty and high drama. An entire decade elapsed between the composition of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth symphonies, a creative dry spell that followed the composer’s personal crisis of a short-lived marriage.

Date & Time

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Program

  • LISZT

    Les Préludes

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    Finding inspiration in many sources, and written in a form new to the orchestral repertoire, Franz Liszt’s Les Préludes is the work that laid the foundation for many great symphonic poems.

  • THOMPSON

    Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed speaks of the grief, sadness and horror that the composer and the world have felt after witnessing recent killings of Black men by police and other authority figures in the U.S. The final words of seven of these unarmed men—Kenneth Chamberlain, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, John Crawford and Eric Garner—serve as the text of each of the cantata’s seven movements, in a structure inspired by Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ.

  • INTERMISSION
  • TCHAIKOVSKY

    Symphony No. 5

    1 min note

    One Minute Note

    Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s very popular Fifth Symphony—which journeys from minor to major and darkness to hope—is filled with wonderful mottos, orchestral color, balletic beauty and high drama. Watch for the finale’s false conclusion, a great climax that tricks many listeners into thinking the performance is complete.

Artists

Minnesota Orchestra

Thomas Wilkins

conductor

Minnesota Chorale

Twin Cities Choral Partners

29:11 International Exchange

choir

Your Concert Experience

Join us for Q&A’s, hosted discussions, exhibits and more. All free with your concert ticket!

Everything is Somebody's Offering

exhibit by the George Floyd Global Memorial

When: Thu May 19 | 9:30am - 5:00pm
Where: Orchestra Hall

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was lynched by the Minneapolis Police at the corner of 38th & Chicago.  In response, people from Minneapolis and the world came together to offer expressions of pain and hope, as protest and public grief.  As you experience this selection of offerings from George Floyd Square, allow yourself to feel, remember, and be moved to continue the work of racial justice.

Pre-Concert Interview with composer Joel Thompson

When: Thu May 19 | 10:15am
Where: Auditorium

Join Minnesota Orchestra musician Sam Bergman for an on-stage interview with Seven Last Words of the Unarmed composer Joel Thompson about the creation and impact of this powerful piece.

Everything is Somebody's Offering 

exhibit by the George Floyd Global Memorial

When: Fri May 20 & Sat May 21 | 9:30am - 10:00pm
Where: Orchestra Hall

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was lynched by the Minneapolis Police at the corner of 38th & Chicago.  In response, people from Minneapolis and the world came together to offer expressions of pain and hope, as protest and public grief.  As you experience this selection of offerings from George Floyd Square, allow yourself to feel, remember, and be moved to continue the work of racial justice.

Pre-Concert Panel Discussion

When: Fri May 20 & Sat May 21 | 7:00pm
Where: Target Atrium

Jeanelle Austin, executive director of the George Floyd Global Memorial, moderates a discussion with Seven Last Words of the Unarmed composer Joel Thompson and other special guests about Thompson's powerful composition, how the issues it highlights have impacted our local community, and where we go from here.

Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

Reflection Walls

When: May 19-21 | Pre-Concert & Intermission
Where: Roberta Mann Grand Foyer

Listening to Seven Last Words of the Unarmed may make you feel uncomfortable, emotional, or empathetic. The work prompts a range of reactions about race and the systems of racial injustice in American society. We invite you to share your thoughts on our reflection walls throughout the Orchestra Hall lobby.

Video: Joel Thompson's Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

Accessibility Services

  • Assistive Listening Devices
  • Large Print Programs
  • Service Animals
  • Wheelchair & Accessible Seating

Additional services are available upon request.

Sponsored By

MSAB
Delta
Target
United Way
UBS
With these concerts we honor the memory of Dr. Marvin E. Goldberg in appreciation of his generous estate gift to the Minnesota Orchestra.
This concert is co-sponsored by Trudi Anderson and Joseph Green.