Press Room

Minnesota Orchestra Announces 2018-19 Season Programming

Music Director Osmo Vänskä guides the Orchestra’s flagship classical series, September 2018 to June 2019, including a three-week January festival spotlighting American music

Download Complete 2018-19 Season Calendar (pdf) 
View Classical Season At-A-Glance (pdf)
Browse Online Schedule
See Season Brochure (pdf)

Guest soloists include violinist Gil Shaham; pianists Emanuel Ax and Stephen Hough; organist Paul Jacobs; clarinetist Michael Collins; and percussionist Colin Currie; Orchestra musicians Erin Keefe, Anthony Ross, Roma Duncan, Gabriel Campos Zamora, Timothy Zavadil and Charles Lazarus also perform major solo works

Classical season features 14 guest conductors including former Music Director Edo de Waart  

Vänskä and the Orchestra to record Mahler’s Seventh and Tenth Symphonies

Orchestra premieres new work by John Harbison, the season’s featured composer  

“Live at Orchestra Hall” headliners include Dessa, Kristin Chenoweth, Indigo Girls, Igudesman & Joo, and the United States Naval Academy Glee Club, with most concerts conducted by Sarah Hicks

Major movies are shown while the Orchestra plays the scores live onstage; films include Star Wars: A New Hope, Jurassic Park, Star Trek Into Darkness, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert

Inside the Classics, Chamber Music and Jazz in the Target Atrium series all return

Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra today unveiled plans for the ensemble’s 2018-19 season, which includes Classical, Inside the Classics, Holiday, Live at Orchestra Hall, Chamber Music, Jazz in the Target Atrium, and Young People’s and Family concerts.

“This season, we have so many voices we want to share. Some are well-known and some are new,” says Vänskä, “and they all have something musically powerful to express.”

The Classical season, which includes appearances by more than three dozen internationally-acclaimed guest soloists and conductors, spotlights many master composers with a particular emphasis on American music and the nation’s distinctly original composers. Led by Vänskä, the classical concert season features an American Expressions Festival; a dozen works new to the Minnesota Orchestra’s repertoire, including a world premiere and two U.S. premieres; a special concert celebrating Northrop’s restored pipe organ; John Harbison as the season’s featured composer; and Vänskä conducting Mahler’s Seventh and Tenth Symphonies, both of which will be recorded during the season as part of the Mahler Symphonies recording project.

Inside the Classics, the Orchestra’s series that combines conversation and performance, returns with three unique concerts led by host-violist Sam Bergman and conductor Sarah Hicks. The disparate programs feature works by Stravinsky, Amy Beach and LGBTQ composers.

The Holiday season features performances of the Orchestra’s newest holiday show, Home for the Holidays; plus Merry and Bright with Charles Lazarus; vocalist Gregory Porter singing the music of Nat “King” Cole; an evening with pianist George Winston; and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

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 those with Minnesota singer-rapper-writer Dessa, comedic violin-piano virtuosos Igudesman & Joo, and the folk duo Indigo Girls. Broadway, film and television star Kristin Chenoweth also performs with the Orchestra as part of the series. Movie screenings, featuring the Orchestra performing the film scores live, include Star Wars: A New Hope, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Chamber Music season presents an array of concerts in the Target Atrium with four programs designed and performed by small ensembles of Orchestra musicians. Musical selections include well-known chamber music favorites as well as several rarely-heard and newly-composed works. Orchestra Hall’s Jazz in the Target Atrium series (page 7) welcomes outstanding solo and combo artists to the stage for its fifth season under the direction of composer and local jazz impresario Jeremy Walker.

A new addition to the Minnesota Orchestra season is Yoga in the Orchestra Hall lobby. The 2018-19 Yoga at Orchestra Hall series offers three Sunday morning one-hour classes led by a certified yoga instructor, with live music performed by a chamber ensemble of Minnesota Orchestra musicians.


The classical season begins on September 21 and 22, with Osmo Vänskä conducting American composer Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1, followed by Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto, performed by piano superstar Emanuel Ax. Featuring 23 weeks of classical subscription concerts, the season includes music by more than 20 American composers in addition to symphonies by Beethoven, Bizet, Brahms, Bruckner, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Schubert and Shostakovich; concertos by Beethoven, Lutosławski, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schumann, Shostakovich, Tómasson and Vivaldi; and other classical favorites such as Holst’s The Planets and Verdi’s Requiem.

Highlights of the season include music by Pulitzer Prize-winner John Harbison, the Orchestra’s featured composer for 2018-19, who celebrates his 80th birthday during the season. Harbison’s music is performed on three programs, including Celebrating Northrop’s Restored Pipe Organ, a program designed to unveil the sounds of Northrop’s restored Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. Conducted by Vänskä, these concerts are co-presented by and held at Northrop at the University of Minnesota. The program includes the world premiere of Harbison’s organ concerto, What Do We Make of Bach?—jointly commissioned by Northrop, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony. Organist Paul Jacobs is the soloist for this program.

The Minnesota Orchestra also performs the U.S. premiere of two works during the 2018-19 season. First is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Martland Memorial for Percussion and Orchestra, with percussionist Colin Currie as soloist, in March 2019. Then, in April, Minnesota Orchestra musician Timothy Zavadil is the featured soloist, on bass clarinet, for Geoffrey Gordon’s Prometheus. In addition, an array of new music is performed in January at the Future Classics: Emerging Composers concert.

“I am very proud of the teamwork that brought together this season which balances the immortal voices of the past with imaginative and inspired American voices of hope and optimism,” says Kenneth Freed, Minnesota Orchestra violist and co-chair of the Artistic Advisory Committee.

American Expressions Festival
The American spirit runs through Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018-19 programming, as the season showcases a broad collection of American musical masterpieces, particularly during January’s American Expressions Festival. Beginning on New Year’s Eve, Osmo Vänskä conducts four programs comprising music by American composers. From a trumpet concerto by Minnesota-based Steve Heitzeg to classics by George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, from the music of Florence Price—who in 1933 became the first African American woman to have her music played by a major orchestra—to the fresh new works by participants in the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the American Expressions Festival shares a musical snapshot of the nation’s composers, past and present.

During the 2018-19 season, Vänskä and the Orchestra will perform and record Mahler’s Seventh and Tenth Symphonies, continuing a plan to record all of Mahler’s symphonies. Since June 2016, the Orchestra has recorded the Fifth, Sixth and Second Symphonies, with recordings of the First and Fourth Symphonies planned for March and June 2018. The recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony received a 2018 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance, and the Sixth Symphony was just released in March 2018. Recordings of Mahler symphonies will be continue to be released in future seasons on the BIS Records label.

Extending a longtime partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, the Orchestra’s Friday evening classical concerts will be broadcast regionally on Classical MPR stations.

In the Spotlight
Throughout the season, the Orchestra is joined by internationally-acclaimed soloists, featuring return performances with violinists Gil Shaham and Karen Gomyo; pianists Emanuel Ax, Stephen Hough, Orion Weiss and Till Fellner; percussionist Colin Currie; countertenor Robin Blaze; tenor Richard Croft; and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

For many guest soloists, this season’s concerts will mark a Minnesota Orchestra debut. Among those performing for the first time in Minnesota Orchestra concerts are organist Paul Jacobs; clarinetist Michael Collins; violinist Alina Ibragimova; cellist Johannes Moser; pianists Aaron Diehl, Nikolai Lugansky, Christina Naughton, Michelle Naughton and Vikingur Olafsson; soprano Sherezade Panthaki; tenor René Barbera; and baritone Christopher Edwards.

Six Minnesota Orchestra musicians will also be featured as soloists. In November Principal Cello Anthony Ross performs Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto, a work which was last performed by the Orchestra in 1970; and Concertmaster Erin Keefe plays Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium” in May 2019. On bass clarinet, Timothy Zavadil performs the U.S. premiere of Geoffrey Gordon’s Prometheus (April 2019); and Roma Duncan plays Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C major (January-February 2019). During the American Expressions festival, trumpet player Charles Lazarus takes the spotlight for Steve Heitzeg’s American Nomad, and Principal Clarinet Gabriel Campos Zamora is the soloist for two clarinet concertos in one program—Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and the Orchestra’s first performance of American clarinetist Artie Shaw’s Clarinet Concerto.

On the Podium
Several conductors make return appearances during 2018-19, including former Music Director Edo de Waart, who conducts music by Mozart, Respighi and Grammy-nominated American composer Mason Bates. Additional familiar faces on the podium include Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Nicholas Kraemer, Vasily Petrenko, Juanjo Mena, Edward Gardner and Kent Nagano. Debuting on the Orchestra Hall podium this season are Colorado Symphony music director Brett Mitchell; acclaimed British conductor and music scholar Jane Glover; Dima Slobodeniouk, principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony; Austrian conductor David Danzmayr, who leads Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony; conductor Han-Na Chang, who has previously appeared with the Orchestra as a cello soloist; Venezuelan-American conductor Ilyich Rivas; and Andrey Boreyko, who leads the Orchestra’s first-ever performances of music by Russian-born contemporary composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas in May 2019.

Choral Collaborations
The Minnesota Chorale, the Orchestra’s principal chorus, will collaborate four times with the Orchestra in the 2018-19 season. The first of these collaborations occurs at the end of September, with the Chorale’s women featured in performances of Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Then, after last season’s successful performances of the first half of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, the Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale join forces again to perform the final three cantatas of the grand work, led by conductor Nicholas Kraemer. In May, conductor Edward Gardner leads the Orchestra and Chorale, plus soloists, in performances of Verdi’s Requiem. The Chorale also performs at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium this season as part of the live screenings of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third and final film in the series that was scored by John Williams. The Chorale is prepared by its Artistic Director Kathy Saltzman Romey, who also serves as the Orchestra’s choral advisor.


Inside the Classics is a Minnesota Orchestra concert series that explores great musical works through performances and enlightening conversation. The programs for this series are designed by Orchestra violist Sam Bergman and Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks, who also serve as the host and conductor, respectively. The first of this season’s programs takes a closer look at Stravinsky’s Petrushka in a program titled The Puppet Master (February 2019). A concert in April 2019, Amy Beach: American Pioneer, features Beach’s Gaelic Symphony, the first symphony ever composed or published by an American woman. Love That Dare Not Speak (June 2019) looks back through musical history at LGBTQ composers, musicians and others who ignored social conventions of their times and made a lasting impact on classical music.


Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Gregory Porter opens the Minnesota Orchestra’s Holiday season performing music by American jazz vocalist-pianist Nat “King” Cole—featuring arrangements by Vincent Mendoza, who also conducts the Orchestra in this concert. The centerpiece of the season is the Orchestra’s newest December tradition, Home for the Holidays—a concert led by Sarah Hicks, written by playwright-storyteller Kevin Kling, and conceived and directed by Twin Cities-based theater director Peter Rothstein—that wowed audiences in December 2017. The program returns in December 2018 with the addition of several new stories and musical selections.

The Holiday season also features the audience favorite Merry and Bright: A Big, Brassy Christmas with Charles Lazarus, now in its fourth year at Orchestra Hall; and a return visit by pianist-composer George Winston, who performs his “Winter Show.” In December subscription concerts, the final three cantatas of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio are performed by the Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale, under the baton of Nicholas Kraemer.


The Live at Orchestra Hall series presents performances and collaborations with great artists from across the world and some directly from Minnesota, as well as live performances of recent and classic film scores while the major motion pictures are shown in high definition on a large screen above the stage.

“The 2018-19 Live at Orchestra Hall series is a tribute to the vitality and diversity of American music. From the genre-bending lyricism of Dessa, to the unique Minnesotan sounds and themes of Home for the Holidays, to some of the greatest film scores of a generation, it’s a chance for our audience to experience the Minnesota Orchestra perform a huge variety of music,” says Sarah Hicks, principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall.

Highlights of the season include Minnesota Orchestra performances with rapper-singer-essayist Dessa, whose sold-out Orchestra Hall debut performances in April 2016 inspired a quick return to the stage for a collaboration with the Orchestra that includes music from her new album Chime (October 2018). The United States Naval Academy Glee Club will make its Minnesota Orchestra debut in a special Veterans Day concert (November 2018); and Grammy Award-winning folk duo Indigo Girls makes their Orchestra Hall debut in a concert featuring a selection of their Billboard Top 40 hits (February 2019). Each of these concerts, plus an appearance by virtuoso musical satirists Igudesman & Joo (May 2019), are performed with the Orchestra and conducted by Sarah Hicks. The Minnesota Orchestra also performs with Emmy and Tony Award-winning Broadway, film and television star Kristin Chenoweth (January 2019); and shares music from The Beatles in a performance of Revolution: The Beatles Symphonic Experience, a concert conducted by Grammy Award-winner Jeff Tyzik (June 2019).

Additional performances at Orchestra Hall in the 2018-19 season include The Julian Bliss Septet, performing their interpretations of Tin Pan Alley’s best known works, with a spotlight on the music of George Gershwin (February 2019), and an exuberant concert by London-based a cappella ensemble The Swingles (March 2019). (Please note: the Minnesota Orchestra does not perform on these two programs.)

The Minnesota Orchestra’s movie concerts bring feature films into the concert hall, where the movies are shown on a large screen above the stage while the Orchestra performs every note to the corresponding scores. Next season Sarah Hicks conducts Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert, featuring American film composer John Williams’ Oscar-winning score to the original 1977 film Star Wars; the iconic music of Jurassic Park in Concert (November 2018), also composed by John Williams; and Michael Giacchino’s award-winning score to Star Trek Into Darkness (March 2019). Continuing for the third installment of the beloved Harry Potter series, the Orchestra performs Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert (October 2018), another Williams’ score, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.


The Orchestra’s popular Chamber Music series continues with Sunday afternoon concerts programmed and performed by musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium. The four concerts in the 2018-19 season are scheduled for December 9, 2018, and February 10, April 28 and June 2, 2019. Featured musicians include members of every section of the Orchestra, and highlights of the repertoire—all selected by Orchestra musicians—include Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds; Beethoven’s Septet, Six American Painters by 2018-19 featured composer John Harbison; a new work written for English horn player Marni J. Hougham by American composer John Desby; and Schuller’s Quartet for Four Basses, in addition to other works. See 2018-19 Season Calendar for a complete listing of Chamber Music programs.


Orchestra Hall’s Jazz in the Target Atrium series, directed by jazz impresario, pianist and composer Jeremy Walker, features three unique Friday night concerts during its fifth season. The 2018-19 season opens on October 19, with a solo performance by New York guitarist Peter Bernstein. In a program on February 8, titled One for All: Walker, Osowski, Cox and Washington, Walker presents original music, including a world premiere work, for piano, bass, drums and vocals, sung by acclaimed mezzo Clara Osowski. Closing the season on April 12, master pianist, improviser and composer Myra Melford performs an expressive solo piano concert. 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 each concert. See 2018-19 Season Calendar for a complete listing of Jazz in the Target Atrium programs.


The Minnesota Orchestra also designs and performs a variety of educational and family concerts throughout the season, including Young People’s Concerts, Symphonic Adventures, Sensory-Friendly Family Concerts and free outdoor performances.

The Orchestra will present its seventh Common Chords partnership from January 21 to 27, 2019. Unlike previous Common Chords residencies which have involved week-long immersions in Greater Minnesota communities from Willmar to Bemidji, Common Chords 2019 will focus on a partnership with the North Minneapolis community, with performances and activities to occur throughout the season leading up to and following the January immersion week. A planning committee comprised of North Minneapolis artists, business owners, school partners and community leaders is currently planning activities.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s newest series, Yoga at Orchestra Hall, features a unique intersection of yoga and classical music. Three individual one-hour yoga classes will take place in the lobby of Orchestra Hall on November 18, 2018, and February 10 and March 24, 2019, with musicians from the Orchestra performing music live throughout each session. No prior yoga experience is required.

Full schedule, programs and ticketing information for all of these concerts will be announced in future communications.

  • For a chronological listing of all Minnesota Orchestra events for the 2018-19 season, please see separate Season Calendar.
  • Press Contacts:
    Gwen Pappas, Director of Communications, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Emma Plehal, Writer and Communications Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Subscription packages for 2018-19 Classical series are available to the general public online starting on Monday, April 2 (and by phone beginning Monday, April 9). Classical subscription packages include three to 24 concerts featuring the same seat location for every concert. Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday, Chamber Music, Jazz in the Target Atrium and Family performances are all available as part of a Minnesota Orchestra Create Your Own package available to the general public beginning April 23, 2018. Current Minnesota Orchestra subscribers will be contacted in March with an invitation to renew their specific seats and series. Flexible packages are available with an Easy Pass Package (six flexible vouchers) available for use now for the rest of the current 2017-18 Minnesota Orchestra season and 2018 Sommerfest, and redeemable for next season’s concerts beginning on July 25, 2018. Individual tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 3, 2018.

Packages and tickets can be purchased 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 performance Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.); in person at Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the box office 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 2018-19 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 
(612) 371-5628 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Emma Plehal, Public Relations Writer and Coordinator
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Press Contacts

Gwen Pappas

Director of Communications
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Carl Schroeder

Publications Editor
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Emma Plehal

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Isaac Risseeuw

Social Media and Content Manager
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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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