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The Sphinx Virtuosi Chamber Ensemble Collaborates in Concert with the Minnesota Orchestra, Apr. 2-4

Professional orchestra that champions diversity in classical music performs Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with the Minnesota Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä conducts

The Sphinx Virtuosi perform two works by South American composers Romero and Piazzolla

Percussionist Martin Grubinger makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut in Kalevi Aho’s Percussion Concerto Sieidi

Music Director Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra in special concerts on April 2, 3 and 4, featuring the Minnesota Orchestra debut of percussionist Martin Grubinger and performances with special guests the Sphinx Virtuosi—one of the nation’s most dynamic professional chamber ensembles, comprising 18 top Black and Latinx classical musicians. The program opens with two pieces by South American composers Aldemaro Romero and Astor Piazzolla, performed by the Sphinx Virtuosi alone. Then, Grubinger makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut in Kalevi Aho’s Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra, Sieidi. Following intermission, the Sphinx Virtuosi join the Orchestra for a collaborative performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, the classic musical tale of the triumphant Arabian princess and the stories she spins, featuring Concertmaster Erin Keefe.

The Sphinx Virtuosi and members of the Sphinx LEAD (Leaders in Excellence, Arts and Diversity) program will spend the week in Minneapolis, collaborating in a variety of rehearsals, performances and networking events with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and staff, and community organizations. Although the Sphinx Virtuosi features artists from around the country, it is an ensemble of the Sphinx Organization, an organization based in Detroit, Michigan, dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The Sphinx Virtuosi can also be heard locally in a concert on March 1, 2020, at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul as part of a special Ordway Events partnership.      

The concerts are performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, April 2, at 11 a.m.; Friday, April 3, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, April 4, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $40 to $141. 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.

Sphinx Virtuosi and Sphinx LEAD (Leaders in Excellence, Arts and Diversity)
Since its founding in 2004, the Sphinx Virtuosi has defined itself as the most diverse professional chamber orchestra in the country. Comprising 18 of our nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, the ensemble tours annually as cultural ambassadors to communities far and wide. At once a bridge between communities of color and the classical music establishment, the ensemble continues to garner critical acclaim during its annual national tours to many of the leading venues around the country, including annual performances at Carnegie Hall. Dedicated to new music and advancing the social impact of music upon our greater society, the Sphinx Virtuosi has pioneered the discovery of gems by composers of color, with the aim of expanding the canon and amplifying new and important voices. As individual artists, members of the Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with America’s major orchestras and hold professional orchestral positions, and several have been named Laureates of prestigious international competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth and Yehudi Menuhin competitions.

Sphinx LEAD is a two-year professional empowerment program designed to evolve the landscape of arts leadership. Ten arts leaders of color are selected annually to participate in a curriculum including mentorship, networking and leadership retreats at top institutions nationwide. The program has recently included retreats hosted by Carnegie Hall, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Interlochen Center for the Arts, New Jersey Symphony and New World Symphony.

Martin Grubinger, percussion
Percussionist Martin Grubinger possesses a broad repertoire ranging from solo works to chamber music with his Percussive Planet Ensemble to orchestral percussion concertos. This season he tours with both the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and debuts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra. He also returns to the WDR Symphonieorchester and the Brucknerorchester Linz, among many other ensembles. Alongside his ongoing residency at the Wiener Konzerthaus, he is currently an artist in residence at the Bodenseefestival. Among the numerous works written for him are Avner Dorman’s Frozen in Time, Friedrich Cerha’s Percussion Concerto and Tan Dun’s Tears of Nature. More:,

Romero, Piazzolla, Aho and Rimsky-Korsakov
Pajarillo, a diminutive of the Spanish word for bird, is also the name of a popular Venezuelan and Colombian dance in triple meter, which inspired the Fuga con Pajarillo from a Suite for Strings by Venezuelan Aldemaro Romero.

In Fuga y misterio, Piazzolla’s complex fugue subject flirts with chromaticism and dissonance, using both Baroque traditions and jazz influences to speak in a new musical language.

An imaginative tour de force for both soloist and orchestra, Aho’s Sieidi calls for a virtuoso percussionist playing hand-beaten drums, wooden mallet instruments and metal instruments, carefully set up to create both an audio and visual progression for the audience. The orchestra is tasked with such an important role that Aho has described the work as something of a concerto for orchestra as well as a concerto for percussion.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade brings to life a fairy-tale world of palace romances, jubilant festivities and danger on the high seas. Solo violin portrays the title character in one of the most colorfully-orchestrated scores ever composed.

Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts


Thursday, April 2, 2020, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall
Friday, April 3, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall
Saturday, April 4, 2020, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall 

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Martin Grubinger, percussion
Sphinx Virtuosi, chamber ensemble

ROMERO                                 Fuga con Pajarillo from Suite No.1 for Strings
PIAZZOLLA                            Fuga y misterio
AHO                                        Sieidi, Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV            Scheherazade

Tickets: $40 to $141; 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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