Erin Keefe Plays Bernstein
Thu Feb 23 — Sat Feb 25, 2023
Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska makes her Minnesota Orchestra debut in an all-American program featuring the Orchestra’s own Concertmaster Erin Keefe. Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute alumna Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) opens the concert with enchanting music that churns and roils. Then, Keefe leads the way through a witty dinner table conversation set to music in Bernstein’s Serenade, after Plato’s “Symposium.” Finally, the Orchestra brings William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony—a remarkable work of art and story of true perseverance, inspired by African American spirituals—to the Orchestra Hall stage for the first time.
A Few Things To Know
- “Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) is music in the shape of a solar system, a collection of rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit,” says composer Missy Mazzoli.
- Raised in Finland, but born in Kyiv to Finnish and Ukrainian parents, Dalia Stasevska feels strongly connected to Ukrainian culture; one of her two brothers is currently on the ground in Ukraine documenting the ongoing war.
- Stasevska holds the positions of chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony and chief guest conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra.
- Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony received great critical acclaim after its premiere by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. Soon after, it dropped off the radar and wasn’t performed for decades; some claim this was due to poor readability of the parts, but many now credit it to a reluctance of orchestras to program music by a Black composer.
- Watch Dr. Louise Toppin, founder of the African Diaspora Music Project, discusses the historical context in which William Dawson wrote his Negro Folk Symphony.
Additional Weather Cancellation Information:
The Friday and Saturday performances of Keefe Plays Bernstein will be performed as scheduled.
Due to the inclement weather and snow removal efforts, for the Friday concert, valet service will not be available.
Date & Time
Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)1 min note
One Minute Note
Mazzoli’s Sinfonia is patterned after the loops of planets, with the orchestra pushed beyond its traditional orbit of sounds and technique to create surprising and vibrant textures. Pitches slide from one to the next, several players set down their instruments for harmonicas and a synthesized organ sound rings out to otherworldly effect.
Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium”1 min note
One Minute Note
The solo violin carries on a dialogue with strings, harp and percussion, speaking variously with wit and mystery, beauty and humor—as if to replicate the Greek philosopher Plato’s dinner-table conversation on the nature of love.
Negro Folk Symphony1 min note
One Minute Note
In the 1930s, Dawson composed Negro Folk Symphony as a musical link between African and American heritage—a symphony into which he poured his life’s experience. As he explained: “The themes are taken from what are popularly known as Negro spirituals. In this composition, the composer has employed three themes taken from typical melodies over which he has brooded since childhood, having learned them at his mother’s knee.”
The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, led by Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård—who is serving as music director designate during the 2022-23 season—is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings and broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. Founded in 1903, the Orchestra has an extensive history of touring throughout Minnesota, nationally and abroad, including high-profile visits in recent years to Cuba, Europe and South Africa. Recording projects undertaken in the past two decades include complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Sibelius and Mahler, all recorded under Osmo Vänskä, who is now the Orchestra’s conductor laureate.
American violinist Erin Keefe, who became concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2011, has established a reputation as an artist who combines exhilarating temperament and fierce integrity. At Sommerfest 2012 she made her concerto solo debut with the Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. She has since been featured as soloist in two concertos by Mendelssohn—the Violin Concerto and, in May 2022, the Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra—as well as the violin concertos of Brahms and Kurt Weill, and Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra. Keefe joined the violin faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2022.
Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Pro Musicis International Award as well as numerous international competitions, she has appeared as soloist in recent seasons with the Minnesota Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic, Sendai Philharmonic and the Gottingen Symphony and has given recitals throughout the United States, Austria, Italy, Germany, Korea, Poland, Finland, Japan and Denmark.
Plan your visit
- Pre-concert activities
- Valet Parking
- Pre-order Beverages
- Directions & Parking
- Helpful Tips
Pre-Concert Talk Hosted by Garrett McQueen
When: Thurs - Sat | 45 minutes prior to performance
Where: Target Atrium
Arts activism has opened conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in orchestral music, and this focus can help audiences identify through lines in programming that may not be seen otherwise. Through this lens, Garrett McQueen and Clara Elisabeth Sanders will discuss the historical and contemporary significance that the music of Mazzoli, Bernstein, and Dawson share and broader efforts to transform the orchestral experience.
Know Before You Go
An engaging performance awaits, and the fun doesn’t stop there. Make this visit your own with food and activity options. Browse these helpful tips, and when your concert date arrives, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.
Directions & Parking
All the information you need to know for getting to and from Orchestra Hall. Parking is just steps away from Orchestra Hall in the city-owned and skyway-connected 11th and Marquette Ramp.
Skip the lines at the bar! Pre-order your intermission beverage via the MN Orch App when you arrive at Orchestra Hall.
- Armless & Bariatric Chairs
- Assistive Listening Devices
- Large-Print Programs
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones
- Service Animals
- Wheelchair & Accessible Seating
Additional services are available upon request.