Press Room

Minnesota Orchestra Announces 2016-17 Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday and Jazz Series


“Live at Orchestra Hall” and Holiday seasons feature popular singers and instrumentalists, film music, jazz, Broadway, Bollywood and more; Sarah Hicks returns as principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall

Headliners include Twin Cities rap artist Dessa; Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth; Ray Charles’ protégé Ellis Hall; and a line-up of Grammy-winners including trumpeter-bandleader Chris Botti, R&B band Boyz II Men, trumpeter Doc Severinsen, pianist George Winston, and soprano Dawn Upshaw

Four major motion pictures are shown at Orchestra Hall while the Orchestra plays the score live onstage; Films include E.T., Ratatouille, Star Trek and It’s a Wonderful Life

Jazz in the Target Atrium’s third season, led by Jeremy Walker, showcases the music of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

Download a complete 2016-17 season calendar (pdf) / Browse Online Schedule

The Minnesota Orchestra today announced plans for the 2016-17 seasons of three widely varied series: Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday Concerts, and Jazz in the Target Atrium. Live at Orchestra Hall, a series of popular music, jazz, Broadway classics, movie scores, world music and other genres, is led by Sarah Hicks, principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall. She conducts many of the series’ concerts, including the Minnesota Orchestra debut of Twin Cities rapper-vocalist Dessa, R&B group Boyz II Men, and screenings of the films Ratatouille and Star Trek (2009), with scores performed live. Assistant Conductor Roderick Cox conducts several programs during the 2016-17 season, including two specially-designed matinee family concerts for audience members of all ages.

The Holiday season includes concerts between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day that range from the Orchestra’s ever-popular performances of Handel’s Messiah and “Jingle Bell Doc” to the return of “Merry and Bright,” a program starring Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus, which was first performed at Orchestra Hall in December 2015 to great acclaim. The grand finale of the Holiday season is a pair of concerts, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with Music Director Osmo Vänskä conducting the Orchestra, as legendary American soprano Dawn Upshaw sings music from Broadway and the American songbook.

Jazz in the Target Atrium returns for its third season under the direction of composer and local jazz impresario Jeremy Walker. The three-concert series features musicians of the Atrium Jazz Ensemble who, over the course of the season, celebrate the musical genius of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s 2016-17 Live at Orchestra Hall series presents a variety of exhilarating collaborations between the Orchestra and world-renowned artists—and each of these programs marks the artist’s debut performance with Minnesota Orchestra. Notably, a unique new program will feature the Twin Cities’ own rapper-vocalist Dessa (April 2017), internationally recognized for her beautiful alto voice and poetic style of communication, in a concert that will blur the boundaries between classical music and the hip-hop and rap genres. “Designing this show is one of the most exciting challenges of my career,” said Dessa. “It’s a chance to be bold, to buck expectations, and to work with players who have mastered their crafts. I am definitely buying new combat boots for this show!”

Also making appearances onstage with the Orchestra are Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth (March 2017); and the members of the Grammy-winning ’90s R&B band Boyz II Men (February 2017); vocalist Hilary Kole and pianist-vocalist Tony DeSare (February 2017) with masterful interpretations of classics from the Great American Songbook in a concert titled “With A Song in Our Heart”; and multi-instrumentalist and dynamic singer-songwriter Ellis Hall (October 2016), who brings the music of “Ray Charles, Motown and Beyond” to life. All of these programs are conducted by Sarah Hicks, principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, with the exception of the Kristin Chenoweth concert, which is conducted by Mary-Mitchell Campbell.    

Other guests appearing onstage at Orchestra Hall in the 2016-17 season include Chris Botti (November 2016), a Grammy-winning trumpeter and bandleader who covers many genres in a dazzling program; organist Cameron Carpenter (February 2017), a culture-defying master of the International Touring Organ, who performs a live soundtrack for classic silent films as they are projected above the stage on a large screen; and the touring production of Taj Express: The Bollywood Musical Revue (March 2017), which brings the electricity of traditional and modern Indian culture to Orchestra Hall through dance, live music and film for two dazzling evening programs. (Please note: the Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on these programs.)

Turning the concert hall into a cinema with live musical performances is one of the fastest-growing trends in orchestral concert experiences. Sarah Hicks is a master of these programs, conducting the Orchestra in perfect synchronization while the films play on the large screen. The 2016-17 Live at Orchestra Hall series features four different films, with Hicks on the podium for two of them: Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille (November 2017), a modern animated masterpiece that is a treat for all ages, and the 2009 Star Trek (July 2017) movie; the scores to both of these films were composed by Michael Giacchino. Also presented in cinematic style next season at Orchestra Hall is E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (October 2016), conducted by Steven Reineke, with music by John Williams; and led by conductor Justin Freer during the holiday series, the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life (December 2016), featuring music by Dimitri Tiomkin.

During the holiday season, the Orchestra welcomes back legendary trumpeter and conductor Doc Severinsen for his annual performances of “Jingle Bell Doc” with the Minnesota Orchestra. Also returning to celebrate the holidays this year is Orchestra trumpet player Charles Lazarus, with a reprise of last season’s brilliant performance of “Merry and Bright: A Big Brassy Christmas,” which features members of the Lazarus Brass, guest vocalists and Lazarus’ own rhythm section. Grammy-winning pianist George Winston will also return to the stage for a solo performance of his signature folk music, stride piano favorites and seasonal selections. The holiday season closes with Osmo Vänskä on the podium and American soprano Dawn Upshaw singing favorites from Broadway and beyond to ring in 2017 at New Year’s Celebration concerts.

Assistant Conductor Roderick Cox leads the Orchestra in two matinee Family Concerts in the 2016-17 season. The first features the tale of Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev (December 2016), while the second brings the return of Minnesota favorites and bluegrass masters The Okee Dokee Brothers (March 2017). Both programs are designed for audience members of all ages. 

Orchestra Hall’s popular Jazz in the Target Atrium series returns in 2016-17 with three concerts inspired by the music of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. The concerts feature the Atrium Jazz Ensemble, a collective of local and regional jazz musicians, with the complement of musicians shifting to fit the varying themes and instrumentations of each program. Directed for the third season by jazz impresario, pianist and composer Jeremy Walker, the series begins on October 21, 2016, with “Ballads,” a program drawing inspiration from two of John Coltrane’s greatest albums and featuring Walker on piano and Rodolfo Nieto as vocalist. On February 17, 2017, in “Money Jungle (Revisited)” the Atrium Jazz Ensemble and pianist Bryan Nichols take on a legendary recording of jazz icons Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. In the season finale on April 28, 2017, Walker and saxophone player Chris Thomson lead the Atrium Jazz Ensemble to tie the season together with “When Duke Met Coltrane”—a program which presents the foundations of jazz and is motivated by the bold creativity of Ellington and Coltrane. Thanks to the Orchestra’s continued partnership with JAZZ88, a one-hour version of each Jazz in the Target Atrium concert will be broadcast on KBEM (88.5 FM) in the weeks following the concert.

The Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday and Jazz in the Target Atrium series are part of a larger 2016-17 concert season that also includes separately-announced Classical, Inside the Classics, Symphony in 60 and Chamber Music in the Target Atrium series, as well as Young People’s Concerts for school groups and homeschool students.


Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday, Family and Jazz in the Target Atrium performances are all available as part of a Minnesota Orchestra Create Your Own package available to the general public beginning June 13, 2016. Current Minnesota Orchestra Create Your Own subscribers will be contacted in phases in June with an invitation to renew. Flexible packages are available with an Easy Pass Package (six flexible vouchers) available for use now for the rest of the current 2015-16 Minnesota Orchestra season and 2016 Sommerfest, and redeemable for next season’s concerts beginning on July 20, 2016. Individual tickets go on sale to the general public on July 29, 2016.
Packages and tickets can be purchased online at; by calling 612-371-5656 (612-371-5642 for subscriptions) or 800-292-4141 (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on performance Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.); in person at the Orchestra Hall Box Office, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and beginning two hours before all ticketed performances); and in person at the Minnesota Orchestra Administrative Office, International Centre, 5th floor, 920 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).  For more information, call 612-371-5656, or visit For packages, call 612-371-5642 or visit For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.

The Star Tribune is the Minnesota Orchestra’s media partner for the 2016-17 season.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant,
thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations 
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Emma Plehal, Public Relations Writer and Coordinator
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Gwen Pappas

Director of Communications
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Communications Office

Minnesota Orchestra
1111 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone: 612.371.5600
Fax: 612.371.7170

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