Press Room

Minnesota Orchestra's Sam and Sarah Concerts Explore "Music and the Mind" and "The Russian Century"

Casual music and conversation series at Orchestra Hall is led by conductor Sarah Hicks and hosted by Sam Bergman

February 7 concert focuses on how music engages the brain

March 7 concert features music by 20th- and 21st-century Russian composers

On Friday, February 7, the Minnesota Orchestra performs the first concert of its Sam and Sarah series, concerts that include curated conversation and musical examples focused on selected topics, in a program titled Music and the Mind. The programs for this series, which is the successor to the Orchestra’s Inside the Classics series, are designed and hosted by Orchestra violist Sam Bergman and Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks. Music and discussion featured in the February 7 concert will explore the connections between music and neuropsychology, examine the way humans respond to sound and rhythm, and delve into the lives of composers whose own mental conditions shaped the structure and sound of the music they wrote. Works performed will include selections by composers including Beethoven, Mozart, Bruckner, Sibelius, Schoenberg and Messiaen, among others.

On Saturday, March 7, the second concert of the series, The Russian Century, will highlight music by Russian composers from the 20th- and 21st- century, such as Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitry Kabalevsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Lera Auerbach, Sofia Gubaidulina and Polina Nazaykinskaya. Throughout the concert, Bergman and Hicks guide a historical look into the cultural forces that influenced and sometimes hindered the work of these composers.

Each concert also features a pre-concert happy hour, local craft brews and a reception with musicians onstage after the performance.

The Sam and Sarah concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis: Music and the Mind on Friday, February 7, 2020, at 8 p.m., and The Russian Century on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $32.75 to $78.75. 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.

Sarah Hicks, conductor
Conductor Sarah Hicks, the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, has led a broad range of programs since joining the Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006. During the 2019-20 season, she conducts the Orchestra in numerous programs including performances with Cloud Cult; a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald featuring Capathia Jenkins and Tony DeSare; and live performances of movie scores in the Movies and Music series including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and It’s a Wonderful Life. Away from Orchestra Hall, she recently conducted performances of Disney Pixar’s Coco at the Hollywood Bowl as well as the orchestra in ABC’s live televised production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. More:

Sam Bergman, host and viola
Sam Bergman joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2000. In addition to performing as violist, he serves as host and writer for the Orchestra’s Sam and Sarah concert series, and he also hosts the Orchestra’s Symphonic Adventures concerts for high school audiences. In recent years he has performed as a guest or substitute musician with ensembles including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. He appears in many Minnesota Orchestra chamber music concerts, including one on February 2, at which he performs Gabriella Smith’s string quartet Carrot Revolution with Orchestra colleagues. He has written often for the Orchestra’s website, including a series of posts about the historic Cuba tour in 2015. In December 2019 the Star Tribune named him as a runner-up for Artist of the Year. More:

with Sam and Sarah

Friday, February 7, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall 

Minnesota Orchestra
Sarah Hicks, conductor
Sam Bergman, host and viola

Program to include selections from:

BEETHOVEN             Symphony No. 9
MOZART                    Symphony No. 39, K. 543
SCHOENBERG          Accompaniment to a Cinematic Scene, Op. 34
MESSIAEN                 L’Ascension, Four Meditations for Orchestra
BRUCKNER               Symphony No. 4, Romantic
SCHUMANN              Symphony No. 2
REVUELTAS             Sensemaya
LEVIN                         Blur
SIBELIUS                   Symphony No. 2

Tickets: $32.75 to $78.75

with Sam and Sarah

Saturday, March 7, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Sarah Hicks, conductor
Sam Bergman, host and viola
Natalie Nowytski, mezzo

Program to include selections from:

MUSSORGSKY           Pictures at an Exhibition
KABALEVSKY            Overture to Colas Breugnon
GLIÈRE                       The Zaporozhy Cossacks
USTVOLSKAYA         Symphonic Poem No. 2
SHOSTAKOVCH         Symphony No. 10
SHOSTAKOVICH        Two Pieces for String Octet
PROKOFIEV                Symphony No. 5
GUBAIDULINA           Stimmen…verstummen
AUERBACH                Icarus
NAZAYKINSKAYA     My Soul Craves for the Sky

Tickets: $32.75 to $78.75


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.

# # #

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.