Past Stories

Minnesota Orchestra Restructures Rest of 2019-2020 Season

Musings from a Conductor at Home

A Conversation with John Snow, Principal Oboe

Surveying Rachmaninoff

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Midwest Tour: Indiana and Michigan

The Minnesota Orchestra is on a Midwestern U.S. tour that features an immersive residency at Indiana University, as well as the Orchestra's first performance at the University of Michigan since 1972. Follow along for updates including masterclasses, side-by-side rehearsals and other highlights in this blog from the road. 

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Announcing the first-ever tour by a U.S. orchestra to Antarctica

Minnesota Orchestra to embark on first-ever tour by a U.S. orchestra to Antarctica

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Johannesburg | Aug 18

On Saturday morning, August 18, the Minnesota Orchestra crew completed their final load-in of the tour at Johannesburg’s City Hall and the musicians boarded the buses for a short trek to the venue. Even the chilly winter morning couldn’t erase the afterglow of Friday night’s concert in Soweto!

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Soweto | Aug 17

Four musicians jumped on a bus in Johannesburg on Friday morning, August 17, headed to Soweto to attend a special Books for Africa event. Their day began with solo and chamber music performances for hundreds of students at Missourilaan Secondary School and ended with a grand Orchestra concert at one of South Africa's most historic venues.  

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Pretoria | Aug 16

On Thursday, August 16, the Orchestra performed their third concert of the South Africa tour, in the Aula Centre at the University of Pretoria. Before the performance, however, Minnesota Orchestra musicians fanned out around the campus, working with students from the University and from the South African National Youth Orchestra.

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His Sacrifice

By Ashidy Adams, a student at Missourilaan Secondary School

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Pretoria | Aug 15

The Orchestra headed to the University of Pretoria on Wednesday, August 15, for an afternoon side-by-side rehearsal with the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) and an evening rehearsal with the Minnesota Chorale and Gauteng Choristers.

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Durban and Johannesburg | Aug 13-14

Musicians enjoyed a free day on Monday. Some spent the time in sunny Durban, while others opted for a trek to Pilanesberg National Park, roughly three hours drive from Johannesburg, for a short and sweet safari experience at Bakubung Lodge, complete with lions, hippos and giraffes.

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Durban | Aug 12

The Orchestra landed in Durban on Saturday night, immediately feeling the more temperate weather of this busy port city known for expansive Indian Ocean beaches and a subtropical climate in the “garden province” of KwaZulu-Natal. A cheerful band of Orchestra wind players headed out first thing on Sunday morning to join the young musicians of the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band in rehearsal.

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Cape Town | Aug 10-11

The spirit of Nelson Mandela was alive as the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off its South Africa Tour with a performance at Cape Town City Hall on Friday evening, August 10.

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Cape Town | Aug 8-9

Minnesota Orchestra musicians arrived in bright and breezy Cape Town on Wednesday morning, and if any spirits were lagging after the 11-hour night flight, a welcome-to-the-city performance by a traditional, brassy Kaapse Klopse band—this one called Happy Sounds Youth Development and comprising students from 12 to 18—helped to revive them.

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BBC Proms | Aug 6

On August 6, the Minnesota Orchestra made a triumphant return to the BBC Proms, the world’s largest classical music festival, with an all-American program. Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Orchestra in a performance of Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, featuring Inon Barnatan as soloist, and Charles Ives’ visionary Symphony No. 2.

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Midwest Tour 2018: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Orchestra musicians and staff were warmly welcomed to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this week.

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Midwest Tour 2018: Chicago

The Midwest tour concluded on Sunday afternoon with a performance at the Chicago Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This concert marked the Orchestra’s first performance on Chicago’s Orchestra Hall stage in over 50 years; the last was in 1966 under then-Music Director Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

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Midwest Tour 2018: Indiana University

Just as the Minnesota Orchestra was scheduled to head off on its Midwest tour, a blizzard hit Minneapolis, leaving hundreds of flights grounded. Many of the musicians would have to wait another day to begin their journey to Indiana.

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Florida 2017: Miami

The Minnesota Orchestra concluded its three-city Florida tour with a performance at Miami's Arsht Center on Tuesday. All photos © Justin Namon.

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Florida 2017: Naples

The Minnesota Orchestra launched a three-city Florida tour on Sunday evening with a performance in Naples. Playing at Artis-Naples, the major venue for visual and performing arts in this southwestern Florida city, Music Director Osmo Vänskä led the Orchestra in Finnish composer Kalevi Aho’s Gejia and Sibelius’ masterful Fifth Symphony. MacArthur fellowship winner Alisa Weilerstein joined Osmo and the Orchestra for a performance of Dvořák’s beautiful Cello Concerto. If the program sounds appealing, you can hear it at Orchestra Hall this weekend. Before returning to Minneapolis though, the Orchestra will first perform for sun-belt audiences this week in Sarasota and Miami. All photos © Erik Kellar.

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Peace in Amsterdam

Our new Principal Clarinet, Gabriel Campos Zamora, returned from his first Minnesota Orchestra tour with a unique story to tell.

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See You Soon!

Saturday August 27, 2016
It’s a cloudless morning in Copenhagen, and we are heading home, tired, but buoyed by the music and each other. Outside the concert hall last night, the cacophony and confusion of the Tivoli amusement park seemed to sum up the complex challenges that our staff and stage crew navigate so calmly and miraculously.

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Our Musical Heritage

Friday, August 26
We have just arrived in Copenhagen. Another unusually warm day, and we are trying to get our bearings. Tivoli Hall is a new venue for us; this is the orchestra’s first time in Denmark.

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Photos: Copenhagen, Denmark

One week, four countries, five appearances—and now the Minnesota Orchestra’s fifth European tour with Music Director Osmo Vӓnskӓ is a wrap. Landing in Denmark on Friday afternoon, musicians wound their way through the carnival-like atmosphere of the Tivoli Gardens amusement park to enter Tivoli Concert Hall for the tour’s final concert. “There is nothing better than playing great music with a great orchestra,” said Principal Horn Michael Gast. “We’ve loved sharing concerts with these international audiences.”

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Putting Our Best Foot Forward

Having joined the Minnesota Orchestra just two seasons ago, major international touring is a new thing to me. Last season's historic trip to Cuba was an unforgettable experience, but a tour of four different countries is very different. 

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Photos: Amsterdam

It is impossible to visit Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw without thinking of the musical greats who have performed in this space—Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Louis Armstrong. On Wednesday, it was Osmo Vӓnskӓ and the Minnesota Orchestra who had their turn on the famous stage, performing Beethoven’s Fifth in what Osmo called “one of the best, best halls in the world.”

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Photos: Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday was time to push forward to Scotland. Following a 90-minute bus ride to Helsinki, a two-and-a half-hour flight to Edinburgh and a slow line through customs, the Orchestra arrived in this capital city with barely two hours to spare before a 6:30pm touch-up rehearsal and an 8pm concert. The performance was part of the Edinburgh International Festival, generally considered one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world.

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Photos: Lahti, Finland Side-by-Side Rehearsal

On Monday morning Minnesota Orchestra musicians met and mentored student players from Finland’s VIVO Symphony Orchestra, a training orchestra that is made up of talented young players from all corners of Finland. Osmo conducted Dvořák's New World Symphony during the two hour session, encouraging students to focus on articulation, phrasing and playing ever-softer dynamics.

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Shining Bright in Finland

Saturday, August 20
On the flight over I found myself casually discussing jet-lag with Wendy Williams and Marni Hougham. “Oh, it never hits me hard travelling in this direction,” I said blithely in the Amsterdam airport, quite certain that I would not be the only person in Helsinki electrifyingly awake at 4am. And now, positively drugged, trying to wake up from a nap at 4 in the afternoon.

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Photos: Lahti, Finland

The Orchestra arrived in Lahti, Finland early on Sunday afternoon with just two hours to warm-up, rehearse and acclimate to the striking wood-and-glass Sibelius Hall before a 4pm concert. Our ensemble last played a concert in this city—located about 60 miles northeast of Helsinki on the shores of Lake Vesi—in 2004, just six months into Osmo Vänskä’s first Minnesota season. Now, after 12 years, Osmo and Orchestra demonstrated how they’ve grown together. All photos © Greg Helgeson.

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Photos: traveling to Helsinki, Finland

Photo: Principal Percussion Brian Mount settles in for the overseas flight.

We've arrived in Helsinki, Finland—all 115 of us! Most photos © Greg Helgeson.

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Readying My Cello for Departure

It's a little after ten. I've just come offstage following the Tour Send-Off concert. I change clothes and pack my concert attire in the orchestra wardrobe trunks, with extra shoes, a spare outfit, and a supply of strings. Just in case. (Thankfully, I'm not as prone to breaking a string as Tony is.) I don't want any emergencies!

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Perseid and Prokofiev

Photo: Pekka Kuusisto, who will perform Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Minnesota Orchestra on our European tour.

I don't know about you, but I fully intended to get out of bed at 3:30 am last week to see the Perseid meteor showers. How well did I do? Well, two or three shooting stars after dinner one night, and perhaps one more through my bedroom window when a car horn went off at 4am.

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Europe 2016: Photos, Press, and more

One week, four countries, five appearances—and now the Minnesota Orchestra’s fifth European tour with Music Director Osmo Vӓnskӓ is a wrap. Find videos, photos, press, and other information from our tour right here.

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