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Minnesota Orchestra Plays Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony; Pianist Kirill Gerstein Begins Rachmaninoff Project

Pianist Kirill Gerstein begins project to perform all five major Rachmaninoff piano-orchestral works in 2020

Juanjo Mena returns to conduct the Minnesota Orchestra in Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, March 13 through 15

In Minnesota Orchestra concerts on March 13, 14 and 15, pianist Kirill Gerstein embarks on a new project with the Orchestra that runs throughout 2020—with performances occurring in both the current season and the upcoming one—performing all of Rachmaninoff’s major piano-orchestral repertoire. The project commences with Rachmaninoff’s beloved Second Piano Concerto. Guest conductor Juanjo Mena also returns to the podium in these concerts, leading the ensemble through Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, a powerful 70-minute symphony created in response to the German invasion of Shostakovich’s home city during World War II.

Gerstein’s second program this season takes place at Orchestra Hall on May 14, 15 and 16, and will feature Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in concerts conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä. Additional performance dates for this project during the 2020-21 season will be announced in March.

The Minnesota Orchestra concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, March 13, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, March 15, at 2 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $26 to $131. 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.

Juanjo Mena, conductor
Juanjo Mena, one of Spain’s most distinguished international conductors, is currently principal conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival and associate conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra. He has been chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, artistic director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, chief guest conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, and principal guest conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with all the leading orchestras in North America, including the Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Montreal and Toronto symphony orchestras, the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as prestigious European orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Bavarian Radio Orchestra, along with all the major orchestras in Spain. He has made recordings with the BBC Philharmonic and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra to critical acclaim. More:,

Kirill Gerstein, piano

American pianist Kirill Gerstein’s solo and concerto engagements take him across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. An important focus of his last season was the world premiere of Thomas Adès’ Piano Concerto, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and composed especially for him. His 2019-20 season includes returns to the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Diego symphonies. His recent North American engagements include performances with the New York Philharmonic, as well as the Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, National, Detroit, Toronto and Cincinnati symphonies. In Europe he has played with such prominent orchestras as the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, the Munich, London and Oslo philharmonics and the Finnish Radio Orchestra. Keenly aware of the importance of working with young musicians, he taught at the Stuttgart Hochschule Musik from 2007-2017 and, since 2018, has taught at the Kronberg Academy’s newly-announced Sir András Schiff Performance Program for Young Artists. More:

Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich
The solo piano is heard almost continuously in Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. Deep chords in a hunting opening theme give way to a meditative second movement (flute, clarinet and strings carry the theme in turn), followed by a vigorous, aggressive march.

In June 1941 Hitler’s troops invaded the Soviet Union; Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was the composer’s direct response, dedicating the work to “our coming victory over the enemy” and to his besieged native city, Leningrad. Recurring throughout the symphony is a heroic theme introduced early in the massive first movement, before a jaunty marching tune signals the approach of an invading force and the destruction to follow. Nostalgic central movements depict a way of life now lost forever, and despite the tension in the finale, the heroic theme returns, heralding victory.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts

Friday, March 13, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Saturday, March 14, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Sunday, March 15, 2020, 2 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Minnesota Orchestra
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Kirill Gerstein, piano

RACHMANINOFF                   Piano Concerto No. 2
SHOSTAKOVICH                    Symphony No. 7, Leningrad

Tickets: $26 to $131; free tickets available for children ages 6 to 18 through the Hall Pass program.


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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