March 16, 2021
Concert Season Update: April Through August 2021
The Minnesota Orchestra will conclude its 2020-21 Classical season with concerts in June that will re-introduce in-person audiences to Orchestra Hall, after nine months of performances that have been designed solely for at-home viewing and listening.
The Orchestra’s Friday night concerts between April and August 2021, including the summer season in July and August, will continue to be televised live on Twin Cities PBS’s MN Channel; broadcast live on Classical Minnesota Public Radio (with exception of April 2, which will be recorded for broadcast at a later date); and streamed live online for free. Limited-in-size audiences will also be invited back to Orchestra Hall beginning in June for two concerts led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä. The ensuing July and August summer calendar—featuring the Orchestra and Creative Partner for Summer at Orchestra Hall Jon Kimura Parker—will include a slight increase in number of performances to accommodate more in-person audience members.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time, and it means a lot that we will be able to conclude the Classical season by welcoming audiences back to Orchestra Hall,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “Our aim this year has been to give people choices around how they can connect with the Orchestra, and soon they will be able to decide if they’d like to experience a concert by watching on television or online, listening on the radio or attending in person. Those June performances will be very emotional.”
April Through June Concerts
For the remainder of the Classical season between April and June, the Orchestra will share seven Friday night concerts, offered every other week, with Vänskä conducting four programs and the others led by Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks, Marc Albrecht and Fabien Gabel. Soloists will include Concertmaster Erin Keefe, Associate Concertmaster Felicity James and violinist Karen Gomyo, as well as pianists Juho Pohjonen and Simon Trpčeski.
Throughout the 2020-21 season, the Minnesota Orchestra has committed to building concert programs that feature more works by composers of color living today and throughout history. All concerts through June continue this initiative by featuring music by composers such as Miguel del Aguila, Eleanor Alberga, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Yaz Lancaster, Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Carlos Simon.
These varied programs will include chamber ensembles of all sizes and full orchestra works, exploring themes of curious and mythological characters, whimsical tales, deep emotion and great celebration, music in memoriam and music of action.
The first of these newly-announced concerts takes place on Friday, April 2, with a unique program that pairs musical selections from around the world with travel reflections from Orchestra musicians, featuring a special introduction by travel writer and television host Rick Steves.
From Spring to Summer
“Our approach is to offer a gradual, phased return to live concert performances with in-person audiences,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns. “In June that means we will be ready to open Orchestra Hall to audiences with appropriate safety measures in place, such as staggered entries and departures, required masking and physical distancing. By July and August, we will increase the number of concerts the Orchestra is offering each performance week and potentially expand audience size, in alignment with Stay Safe MN guidelines. Safety and flexibility will continue to be our priorities as we enter this new and exciting phase of concert presentation.”
The summer season in July and August will feature pairs of concerts offered every other week inside Orchestra Hall, with Friday night performances presented for TV, radio, streaming and in-person audiences, and Saturday nights presented for in-person audiences. Creative Partner and pianist Jon Kimura Parker will play a featured role in many of the concerts and contribute his innovative take on summer programming; specific artists, programs and other details for summer will be announced in May. The “Summer at Orchestra Hall” experience that was originally announced for July and August 2020 will now be revised and presented in the summer of 2022.
“As musicians, performing is a vital way that we connect with other people,” said Susie Park, first associate concertmaster and chair of the Musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee. “We are grateful for all of the connections we’ve been able to make through our livestream concerts this year, but it will be incredibly powerful to reconnect inside Orchestra Hall with all of our friends and family. We also have some exciting new music to share!”
Minnesota Orchestra subscribers are being directly notified of changes to the 2020-21 concert season, with many of their originally-scheduled concerts now cancelled. Subscribers will receive the first opportunity to reserve in-person tickets. Tickets for the general public will be available on May 18.
Safety Protocols in Orchestra Hall
Beginning in June, the Orchestra will introduce a limited capacity, physically distanced seating chart with seats spread throughout sections of the auditorium (households will be seated together) in alignment with Stay Safe MN guidance for indoor entertainment venues. All concerts will be shorter in length, without intermission, to reduce gathering and lines.
Arrival and departure from the Hall will be staggered to limit congestion. Face masks are required for everyone in the building, and all attendees will complete a short symptom screening in advance of the event. The ticketing process will be entirely digital and contactless. Increased cleaning regimens are in place throughout Orchestra Hall, and ventilation standards continue to meet or exceed CDC guidelines.
Every employee of the Minnesota Orchestra has received, reviewed, and adheres to a strict Workplace Preparedness Plan.
Television, Radio, Streaming
Minnesota Orchestra concerts are currently presented through a unique three-way partnership between TPT, Classical MPR and the Orchestra. The TV broadcast and online livestream, hosted by conductor Sarah Hicks, introduces audiences to the music, musicians and venue of the Minnesota Orchestra, while featuring Classical MPR’s high-quality audio mix. Hicks has served as the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor for Live at Orchestra Hall since the series was founded in 2014 and has been on the Orchestra’s artistic roster since 2006.