Press Room

Minnesota Orchestra New Year's Celebration Concerts Feature Saxophonist Jess Gillam

Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra in New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day concerts

Kevin Kling narrates Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, featuring his own original text

To celebrate the New Year, Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra perform concerts on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, ringing in 2020 together at Orchestra Hall. The program takes inspiration from the Last Night of the Proms, the popular finale concert of London’s annual BBC Proms classical music festival, which is known for delivering unexpected gems, frivolity and beloved British traditions. Debuting with the Orchestra is 20-year-old BBC Young Artist Jess Gillam—who has taken the orchestral stage by storm as an alto saxophone soloist—in Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche and a John Williams selection from the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. A newly-announced addition to the program features Minnesota’s own Kevin Kling, who will narrate Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, with his own new version of the spoken narration, specially created for these Minnesota Orchestra concerts.

The performance on December 31 is followed by a post-concert party in the Orchestra Hall lobby with live vintage jazz music from Belle Amour, a complimentary Champagne toast and a countdown to the New Year.  

The concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, at 8:30 p.m., and Wednesday, January 1, 2020, at 2 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $29 to $155. 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.

Jess Gillam, alto saxophone
After performing at the prestigious Last Night of the Proms in 2018, saxophonist Jess Gillam has continued to grow her international career. This season, she performs at the Last Night of the BBC Proms Japan, at the Lucerne Festival, and with Deutsches Symphony Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. She also continues to perform throughout the U.K. in recital as well as with the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and European Union Chamber Orchestra. She is the first-ever saxophonist to be signed to Decca Classics and recently released her debut album ​Rise, which shot to No. 1 in the official U.K. Classical Charts. More:

Kevin Kling, writer and narrator              
Kevin Kling, whose plays have been produced in the Twin Cities and around the world, is also the writer and narrator of the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual Home for the Holidays production. His collaborations with composer Victor Zupanc include For the Birds for Zeitgeist, Best Summer Ever for Children’s Theatre Company, and The Burning Wisdom of Finn McCool performed by the Dakota Valley Symphony, Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, St. Olaf Orchestra and Wilmar Area Symphonic Orchestra. Kling and Zupanc recently premiered their The Twelve Dancing Princesses with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. A frequent commentator for TPT’s Almanac, Kling was named the Minneapolis Story Laureate by then-Mayor R.T. Rybak in 2014. More:

Music for a grand celebration
Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance—known around the world as the “Graduation March”— has been part of British regal ceremony since its use as the coronation anthem of King Edward VII. Continuing the British theme, Davies’ jovial An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise depicts a Scottish wedding celebration, complete with drunken brass, dancing woodwinds and a solo bagpiper representing the rising morning sun. Next come two works for alto saxophone and orchestra: Closing In, from John Williams’ jazz-influenced score for the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, and Milhaud’s jaunty, toe-tapping Scaramouche. Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers is titled after the Irish immigrant workers who caught flying sparks to guard against factory fires and who went on strike over factory conditions in London in 1888. Then comes the lyrical, tender Tale of Love movement from Rautavaara’s Book of Visions. The celebration nears its end with Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, the classic instrumental roll call that has introduced the orchestra to generations of listeners, followed by one last Proms tradition: the anthem Rule, Britannia!

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts

Tuesday, December 31, 2019, 8:30 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Wednesday, January 1, 2020, 2 p.m. / Orchestra Hall 

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Jess Gillam, alto saxophone
Kevin Kling, writer and narrator

ELGAR                       Military March No. 1 from Pomp and Circumstance
DAVIES                     An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise
WILLIAMS                Closing In, from Catch Me If You Can
MILHAUD                 Scaramouche
KENDALL                 The Spark Catchers 
RAUTAVAARA           A Tale of Love, from Book of Visions 
BRITTEN                    The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
ARNE/Sargent            Rule, Brittania! 

Tickets: $29 to $155


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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