Press Room

Minnesota Orchestra begins American Expressions Festival on New Year's Eve

Music Director Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra on December 31 in a concert that opens the three-week American Expressions Festival

Pianist Aaron Diehl performs Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue                                                      

Post-concert countdown party in lobby, including live music by Belle Amour and complimentary Champagne 

The Minnesota Orchestra’s American Expressions Festival begins on Monday, December 31, with a New Year’s Eve concert that showcases some of America’s master composers. Music Director Osmo Vänskä leads the Orchestra in iconic American music such as George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Aaron Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo and Leonard Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town. Also on the program is music by the late Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus, as well as this season’s featured composer, John Harbison. To ring in the new year, the concert concludes with Gershwin’s quintessential American composition, Rhapsody in Blue, performed by jazz pianist Aaron Diehl in his Minnesota Orchestra debut.

Following the concert, the audience is invited to count down to midnight at an After Party in Orchestra Hall’s lobby spaces, featuring complimentary Champagne, savories and sweets, and live music provided by vintage jazz ensemble Belle Amour.

The concert is performed at the Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis, Orchestra Hall, on Monday, December 31, 2018, at 8:30 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $50 to $136. More information is available at and by phone at 612-371-5656.  For further purchasing details, refer to the information section at the conclusion of this press release.

American Expressions Festival
The Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018-19 season-long commitment to American musical masterpieces is centered around January’s American Expressions Festival, running from December 31 to January 18. Over the course of the festival, 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.

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra’s tenth music director, is renowned internationally for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. He has led the Orchestra on five European tours, as well as an August 2018 visit to London’s BBC Proms, and on historic tours to Cuba in 2015 and South Africa in 2018. The Cuba tour was the first by an American orchestra since the thaw in Cuban-American diplomatic relations, while the five-city South Africa tour—the culmination of a Music for Mandela celebration of Nelson Mandela’s centennial—was the first-ever visit to the country by a professional U.S. orchestra. His recording projects with the Minnesota Orchestra have also met with great success, including the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for their recording of Sibelius’ First and Fourth Symphonies on the BIS Records label. More:

Aaron Diehl, piano
Pianist Aaron Diehl’s recent career highlights have included serving as music director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center New Orleans Songbook concert series, performing in the New York premiere of Philip Glass’ complete Etudes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, collaborating with the Spanish flamenco guitarist Dani De Morón in Flamenco Meets Jazz, and touring the U.S. and Europe with Grammy-nominated jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. As the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Commission Artist, he became one of the youngest artists to receive this honor and composed Three Streams of Expression, dedicated to pianist and composer John Lewis. He is also the 2013 recipient of the Jazz Journalists Associations Award for Up-And-Coming Artist and the 2012 Prix du Jazz Classique recipient for his album Live at the Players from the Académie du Jazz, and he is the winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship from the American Pianists Association. More:

After Party following the concert
Following the concert, the audience is invited to attend an After Party in the Orchestra Hall lobby, running until 1 a.m.  Entertainment offerings include live music in the lobby by Belle Amour. Complimentary food and drinks will be offered, including bubbly Champagne. At midnight, staff and musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra lead a countdown to ring in the New Year.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts

Monday, December 31, 2018, 8:30 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Aaron Diehl, piano 

GERSHWIN                       An American in Paris
COPLAND                         Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo
PAULUS                            Impassioned, from Symphony in Three Movements
BERNSTEIN                      Three Dance Episodes from On the Town
HARBISON                       Remembering Gatsby, Foxtrot for Orchestra
GERSHWIN                       Rhapsody in Blue

Tickets: $50 to $136


Individual tickets and subscription packages can be purchased online at, or by calling 612-371-5656 (612-371-5642 for subscriptions) or 800-292-4141. Tickets can be purchased in person at Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (Stage Door ticketing is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lobby Box Office ticketing begins two hours before all ticketed performances); and at the skyway accessible 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 subscriptions, 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, Communications Manager and Assistant Editor
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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

Communications Manager and Assistant Editor
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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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