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Minnesota Orchestra Performs Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem with the Gauteng Choristers, 29:11 and the Minnesota Chorale; Plus a U.S. Premiere, Nov. 14-16

Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra in the first Orchestra Hall performances of Dona Nobis Pacem; choirs from Minnesota and South Africa join together onstage

Cellist Alban Gerhardt returns to play the U.S. premiere of Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto

The Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä perform concerts on November 14, 15 and 16 that include a choral-orchestral masterwork bringing together vocalists from across the globe, a U.S. premiere, and the only opportunity to hear Vänskä conduct the music of Sibelius at Orchestra Hall this season. The concert opens with The Swan of Tuonela, a beautiful and haunting song by Sibelius which features Orchestra musician Marni J. Hougham as the English horn soloist. Cellist Alban Gerhardt returns to the Minnesota Orchestra to perform the U.S. premiere of Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto, a work both wild and wistful that was written for Gerhardt and co-commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra. For the second half of the program, the Orchestra, along with guest soloists and three choirs, performs Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace), a stunning choral-orchestral cantata that has not been performed by the Orchestra since 1973 at its prior home, Northrop.

Joining the Orchestra onstage for Dona Nobis Pacem are South African soprano Goitsemang Lehobye, who inspired audiences during the Orchestra’s 2018 Music for Mandela concerts and subsequent South Africa tour; bass-baritone Dashon Burton in his Minnesota Orchestra debut; and a combined choir comprising members of the Minnesota Chorale and two South African choirs: the Gauteng Choristers and 29:11.

The Gauteng Choristers performed with the Orchestra on its 2018 South Africa tour, and now they and the members of 29:11 are traveling from South Africa to Minneapolis to perform again with the Orchestra in these concerts. While in Minnesota, they will be staying with host families from the Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Orchestra. The 30 singers that make up the Gauteng Choristers will also perform at Westminster Presbyterian Church and Shiloh Temple during their visit, which is the ensemble’s first-ever trip to Minnesota. The members of 29:11—who performed with the Orchestra in July 2018 at Orchestra Hall—will be in the U.S. for four months, performing and working with schools, churches and local organizations, as part of the work of South African organization New Hope International Exchange.

The Minnesota Orchestra concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, November 14, at 11 a.m., Friday, November 15, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, November 16, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $29 to $125. 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.

Sibelius, Dean and Vaughan Williams

In Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela, English horn portrays a swan singing mournfully on a mythical river, its surface shimmering with strings and harp.

Australian composer Brett Dean’s new Cello Concerto crackles with extremes, particularly of pitch and volume. The listener is brought from one colorful sound world to the next over the course of a single 25-minute movement until the music vanishes mysteriously into silence.

Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace) is an urgent cry for peace composed on the cusp of World War II, with text from the Bible, the poetry of Walt Whitman and a speech to British Parliament, each section flowing together without pause in a moving journey from darkness to light. 

About the featured artists

Alban Gerhardt, cello
Alban Gerhardt recently premiered Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto with the Sydney Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic and gives the work its first U.S. performance in these concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra. This season, he has solo engagements in North America with the New York Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. His collaboration with Deutsche Bahn, involving live performances on the main commuter routes in Germany, demonstrates his commitment to challenging traditional expectations about classical music. More:,

Marni Hougham, English horn
Marni J. Hougham joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1997 and has since been featured multiple times in performances of Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela under the baton of Osmo Vänskä; she also performed and recorded the work with the Orchestra and former Music Director Eiji Oue. In October 2008 she was a soloist in performances of Copland’s Quiet City under the direction of Sarah Hicks. She has often been a guest player with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; she has also served as assistant principal oboe/English horn of the San Antonio Symphony and was a member of the New World Symphony. More:

Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano
Minnesota Orchestra audiences heard Goitsemang Lehobye most recently as a soloist in two Sommerfest concerts in July 2019. In 2018 she performed the world premiere of Bongani Ndodana-Breen’s Harmonia Ubuntu with the Minnesota Orchestra, then joined the ensemble for its historic South Africa tour. A native of Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa, she joined the Black Tie Ensemble’s “Incubator” Scheme to train for a career as an opera singer. She subsequently won a scholarship to study singing at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. She often performs as soloist with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2015 she premiered a new song cycle by Ndodana-Breen.

Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
Bass-baritone Dashon Burton’s 2019-20 season includes returns to the Carmel Bach Festival and the Salzburg Festival in a reprise of Strauss’ Salome. He sings the world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s The Listeners, first with the Philharmonia Baroque and then with the North Carolina Symphony, with which he also sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. He returns to the Cleveland Orchestra to sing Michael Tilson Thomas’s Rilke Songs and to the San Francisco Symphony to perform Brahms’ A German Requiem. He is an original member of the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, which won a Grammy for its recording of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer-winning Partita for 8 Voices. More:

Minnesota Chorale
The Minnesota Chorale, principal chorus of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2004, has sung with the Orchestra for more than four decades. Founded in 1972 and led since 1995 by artistic director Kathy Saltzman Romey, the Chorale is Minnesota’s preeminent symphonic chorus and ranks among the foremost professional choruses in the U.S., best known for its work with the two major orchestras of the Twin Cities. Among the Chorale’s multi-generational initiatives are the acclaimed Bridges community engagement program, the Minneapolis Youth Chorus and Prelude Children’s Choir, the Voices of Experience choir for older adults, Men in Music for high-school boys, InChoir open rehearsals, and an Emerging Conductor training program. More:

Gauteng Choristers
Since its inception in 1988, the Gauteng Choristers have become a cornerstone in choral music and related genres in South Africa. The choir has performed with internationally-acclaimed artists such as the Afro-Tenors, the Bala Brothers, Andrea Bocelli, Renée Fleming, Sello Galane, Sibongile Khumalo, Aubrey Lodewyk, Siphokazi Maraqana, Sibongile Mngoma, Concord Nkabinde, Musa Nkuna, the Parlotones, Sally Silver, Pretty Yende and Karen Zoid, and in August 2018 it performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale in Soweto and Johannesburg, South Africa. The Gauteng Choristers were one of three South African choirs invited to sing at the memorial service of the late Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. 

29:11 / New Hope International Exchange
The members of vocal ensemble 29:11 come from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa. They have been trained by world-renowned musician Camillo Lombard and are currently under the direction of Brendon Adams, co-founder of New Hope International Exchange. The ensemble recently completed a four-month U.S. tour, sharing their musical talents and serving the community with stories of triumph and reconciliation. They performed at Orchestra Hall during the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018 Sommerfest. More:

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall
Friday, November 15, 2019, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Saturday, November 16, 2019, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Alban Gerhardt, cello
Marni J. Hougham, English horn
Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
Minnesota Chorale
Gauteng Choristers
Singers from 29:11 

SIBELIUS                                The Swan of Tuonela
DEAN                                      Cello Concerto [U.S. Premiere]
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS          Dona Nobis Pacem

Tickets: $29 to $125


Subscription packages and individual tickets 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 (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.

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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Communications Office

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

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