Press Room

Vänskä Conducts New Music by Emerging Composers at 2018-19 "Future Classics" Concert, Jan. 18

The 16th annual Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute takes place at Orchestra Hall, January 14 through 18

 “Future Classics” performance features new orchestral music by seven emerging composers, conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä; violinist Rui Du and pianist Tengku Irfan featured as soloists; concert hosted by Fred Child of Performance Today

Composers spend one week in Orchestra’s award-winning professional training program under the direction of Kevin Puts, winner of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize

The Minnesota Orchestra performs new orchestral works by seven of today’s top emerging composers in its annual Future Classics concert, played under the baton of Music Director Osmo Vänskä. For the first time, the concert will feature two soloists: the Orchestra’s Assistant Concertmaster Rui Du and pianist Tengku Irfan. The performance, held on Friday, January 18, at 8 p.m., is the capstone of the 16th annual Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, presented in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. Returning for his fifth year as the director of the Composer Institute is Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts.

“This year's winners were chosen from an incredibly deep pool of talented composers. All seven write for the orchestra with great confidence and imagination,” said Puts. All seven featured composers will be present to introduce their music onstage at the concert, which will be emceed by Fred Child, who hosts American Public Media’s Performance Today. The participating composers are TJ Cole, Viet Cuong, Jonathan Cziner, Will Healy, Matthew Ricketts, Connor Elias Way and Alyssa Weinberg.

The concert is performed at the Minnesota Orchestra’s home venue in downtown Minneapolis, Orchestra Hall, on Friday, January 18, at 8 p.m., with tickets priced from $20 to $40. Individual tickets and subscription packages for all 2018-19 season concerts are available at and by phone at 612-371-5656. For further purchasing details, see the information section at the conclusion of this press release.

The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is co-presented by the American Composers Forum. It is generously supported by the Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the late Hella Mears Hueg and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Emerging Composers
Collectively, the program’s seven featured composers have studied at some of the nation’s top universities and conservatories including the Curtis Institute of Music, Vanderbilt University, Princeton University, Georgia State University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, New York University, the Juilliard School, McGill University and Columbia University. In addition, the composers have garnered numerous awards, grants and fellowships from prestigious organizations such as Chamber Music America, the Barnes Foundation, the League of Composers/ICSM, Yale’s Norfolk New Music Workshop, the Academy of Arts and Letters, the SOCAN Foundation, ASCAP, Copland House, Theodore Presser Foundation and the American Composers Forum.

TJ Cole’s Nightscape is inspired by a night of summer stargazing, while Viet Cuong’s piece Moxie explores how the simplest things can be quite complex. Resonant Bells by Jonathan Cziner examines the sound of ringing bells and the emotions and warnings that come with them. A Namibian ghost town inspired the landscape of Will Healy’s new work, Kolmanskop. Matthew Ricketts’ Melodia, an in-depth exploration of the basic concept of melody, is the first work for solo piano and orchestra ever selected for the Composer Institute. A poem by Georg Trakl lends its name to Connor Elias Way’s Over Collapsing Cities of Steel, and Alyssa Weinberg’s in somnis for violin and orchestra features the Minnesota Orchestra’s Assistant Concertmaster Rui Du as soloist, in a work that ventures into the dream-like state of the subconscious.

Violinist Rui Du was appointed assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2015, after serving as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was previously the concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony, associate concertmaster of the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra and concertmaster of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. In addition, he has served as guest concertmaster of the Qingdao and Hebei symphony orchestras in China.

Tengku Irfan, a 20-year-old Malaysian pianist, composer and conductor, has performed as soloist with orchestras worldwide under conductors such as Neeme Järvi, Kristjan Järvi, Robert Spano, George Stelluto and Jeffrey Milarsky. He won the 2013 Aspen Music Festival Prokofiev Piano Concerto Competition and served four consecutive years as pianist for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. He is a double major in piano and composition at Juilliard and was recently appointed Youth Ambassador of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute History
The Composer Institute, widely recognized as a leading professional training program for emerging symphonic composers, is presented by the Minnesota Orchestra in collaboration with the American Composers Forum. Now in its fifth year under the direction of Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, the Institute was founded in 2002 as an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s Perfect Pitch program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers launched during the 1995-96 season. Many of the 134 composers who have previously taken part in Perfect Pitch and the Composer Institute have gone on to receive major commissions, awards, grants and additional performances of their works; most recently, 2016 Composer Institute participant Michael Gilbertson and 2008 Composer Institute participant Ted Hearne were the two finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music. Composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who was the Pulitzer Prize recipient in 1998, was the Composer Institute’s founder and directed it for 11 seasons.

The Institute’s seminars bring composers directly in contact with professionals who can offer guidance in areas not typically explored in classroom settings, including aspects of building a career as a composer, legal issues, public speaking and self-publishing music. Presenters this year include Minnesota Orchestra Principal Librarian Maureen Conroy; Orchestra staff members Rob Nygaard and Sarah Blain Chaplin; Frank J. Oteri of New Music USA; music publisher Bill Holab of Bill Holab Music and American composer John Mackey. In addition, Minnesota Orchestra musicians will offer practical guidance on writing for specific instruments and sections of the orchestra, and Music Director Osmo Vänskä offers mentoring sessions with each composer. Full Orchestra rehearsals for the Future Classics concert are open to the public.

A complete schedule of events is available for the media upon request.

Minnesota Orchestra American Expressions Festival

Friday, January 18, 2019, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Kevin Puts, Composer Institute director
Rui Du, violin
Tengku Irfan, piano
Fred Child, host 

TJ COLE                                          Nightscape
VIET CUONG                                  Moxie
JONATHAN CZINER                     Resonant Bells
WILL HEALY                                 Kolmanskop
MATTHEW RICKETTS                  Melodia, for Piano and Orchestra
CONNOR ELIAS WAY                  Over Collapsing Cities of Steel
ALYSSA WEINBERG                    in somnis for violin and orchestra

Tickets: $20 to $40


Tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling 612-371-5656 or 800-292-4141. Tickets can be purchased 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 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 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.

The Composer Institute is generously sponsored by The Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the late Hella Mears Hueg and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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.







Press Contacts

Gwen Pappas

Director of Communications
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carl Schroeder

Publications Editor
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Emma Plehal

Communications Manager and Assistant Editor
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Isaac Risseeuw

Social Media and Content Manager
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Communications Office

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

Download Showcase PDFs

Showcase Concert Magazine, April 2020   

For information on advertising in Showcase, contact:
Marilyn A. Miller
952-942-7355 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.