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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

Recent Articles:

Experience New Music With Us

The modern symphony orchestra has been built on centuries of musical traditions. Orchestral musicians have each trained for thousands of hours in classical techniques which have stood the test of time. Listeners might find familiarity and comfort in works by the great pillars of orchestral composing, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and—especially here in Minnesota lately—Sibelius and Mahler. However, in this art form, there will always be room for new ideas, new voices and new sounds. 

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Northrop's Historic Pipe Organ

About the Northrop organ

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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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The Piano Tuner Behind It All

As the Orchestra concludes its 2017-18 season at Orchestra Hall, it offers a big round of applause for someone who is not normally in the concert spotlight: retiring piano tuner Jerry Ouska, who served the Orchestra, its pianos and world-famous pianists for 34 years. By Dan Wascoe

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Akiko Fujimoto Named Associate Conductor

The Minnesota Orchestra announced this month that Akiko Fujimoto, who joined the Orchestra’s artistic roster as assistant conductor in 2017, has been named associate conductor for the 2018-19 season.

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A Sensory-Friendly Concert For All

The Minnesota Orchestra invites you to mark your calendar and spread the word about the Family Concert on the afternoon of Saturday, July 14. The concert, which features music by Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, John Williams and other favorite composers, will be the Orchestra’s first full-ensemble Sensory-Friendly Concert.

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Happy Fourth! A Classical Music Playlist

Happy Fourth!

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A Life with Music

By Dr. David Hilden

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“The Energy from the Orchestra was Palpable”

Roderick Cox remembers highlight moments of his Orchestra tenure (and we’ve got video!)

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Inside the Classics: Speaking Truth to Power

By Sam Bergman, viola and host of Inside the Classics

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Heartstrings

Guest blogger Mandy Meisner waited more than 20 years to hear her teenage idol in person.

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Meet a Musician: R. Douglas Wright

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 1995
Position: Principal Trombone
Hometown: Hopewell, VA
Education: New England Conservatory; Boston University

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"Sounds of the Cinema" - 2018 Symphony Ball

Thanks to the many community members and volunteers who generously invested their time, talents, energy, and financial support, the 2018 Symphony Ball was a spectacular success. More than 1,200 guests experienced the magic of music in the movies brought to life by your Minnesota Orchestra and special guest jeremy messersmith.

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Giving Back: Getting to Know Minnesota Orchestra's First Good Fellow

Orchestra Hall is quiet and tuba player Jason Tanksley sits alone on the stage, performing some of the most challenging passages in the tuba’s repertoire. He plays behind a large opaque screen; on the other side sits a committee of Minnesota Orchestra musicians, each of whom is listening carefully. It’s a typical set-up for an orchestral audition, but this one is out of the ordinary.

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Symphony Ball Q&A with Wendy Williams

“Sounds of the Cinema” is the theme of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2018 Symphony Ball gala fundraiser, which takes place on Saturday, May 12. Complete details of the Orchestra’s performance are being kept as a surprise for unveiling at Symphony Ball, but Orchestra flutist Wendy Williams gave us a few clues and background on how the music was selected, and details about special guest performer jeremy messersmith.

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Meet a Musician: Maureen Conroy

Minnesota Orchestra Member Since: 2017
Position: Principal Librarian
Hometown: Valencia, CA
Education: University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

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Audience spotlight: My unexpected connection with the Minnesota Orchestra

By audience member David Steinmeyer

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Minnesota Orchestra launches new Mauer recording project

The Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä on Sunday announced a brand-new initiative to record the music of Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer.

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Remember the Titans

by guest blogger Mandy Meisner

As the first tease of spring arrived with much anticipation, a friend and I spent the evening of March 16 at Orchestra Hall for a night of Weill and Mahler.

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“The Best Conversation I Ever Had”

Assistant Conductor Akiko Fujimoto shares thoughts on her new Minnesota Orchestra position, running a good rehearsal, and the best conversation she ever had.

By Dan Wascoe

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Silver Linings

by Adam Kuenzel

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I'm No Expert

Something funny has happened. People assume I know a lot about music.

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Meet a Musician: Fei Xie

Minnesota Orchestra member since: September 2017
Position/section: Principal Bassoon
Hometown:
Tang Shan, China
Education:  
M.M., Rice University, B.M., Oberlin College

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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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Meet the Annotator: Q&A with program note writer Eric Bromberger

When you attend a Minnesota Orchestra concert, you may start out by reading program notes. Learn more about who writes program notes and their unique backgrounds and perspectives in our new “Meet the Annotator” Q&A series. First up is Eric Bromberger, who most recently wrote program notes for our Tchaikovsky Marathon.

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Winter Dreaming

Guest blogger Mandy Meisner rings in 2018 at Orchestra Hall.

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Chopin, the Piano and Me

by Al Sicherman

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Meet A Musician: Peter McGuire

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 2003-2012, 2016-current
Position:
Principal Second Violin
Hometown:
Mankato, Minnesota

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Hope Never Sounded So Good

On October 7th, guest blogger Mandy Meisner went to the “Send Me Hope” concert conducted by Roderick Cox. How was this concert different than the usual fare? Read on to find out.

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Arts Access: A musical collaboration across the Twin Cities

Young musicians from two local organizations will perform before Minnesota Orchestra concerts at Orchestra Hall Thursday and Friday.

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Meet a Musician: Gabriel Campos Zamora

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 2016
Position:
Principal Clarinet
Hometown:
San José, Costa Rica
Education:  
The Colburn Conservatory, Los Angeles, CA   

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The Live Radio Experience: “Making a Little Community for a Few Hours on a Friday night”

By Brian Newhouse

I remember that night so well because I’d never kicked in a door before. I was a few months out of college and living alone in a rented farmhouse. The cornfields that stretched for miles around the house were buried in snow. A northwest wind had drifted the roads shut and badgered the house all day. Just after dinner the bathtub pipes burst. It sounded like two small firecrackers. Twin roostertails of water sprouted from the pipes and sprayed the walls.

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Dissection: Observing a Rehearsal at Orchestra Hall

Earlier this month, we invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to observe a Minnesota Orchestra rehearsal led by Associate Conductor Roderick Cox. What happens to get the music ready for an audience? Read on to find out.

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Bach, Mendelssohn, Luther and Leipzig: Musical Echoes of the Reformation

Carla Waldemar shares her thoughts on music and the Reformation, inspired by her recent travels to Leipzig, just in time for the Minnesota Orchestra’s Reformation-themed concerts from November 2 to 4.

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Meet A Musician: Sarah Grimes

Minnesota Orchestra member since: 2016
Section: First Violin
Hometown: Shoreview, MN
Education: Northwestern University

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Meet a Musician: Alessio Bax

Pianist Alessio Bax performs Grieg's Piano Concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra in concerts on October 5 and 6. We asked him a few questions about where he finds inspiration, what he likes to do for fun on tour and about the concerto he performs in Minneapolis this weekend.

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Meet A Musician: Silver Ainomäe

Member since: 2016
Position: 
Associate Principal Cello   
Hometown:
Tallinn, Estonia
Education:
Sibelius Academy, Guildhall School of Music and Drama   

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Fan Club

Our guest blogger Mandy Meisner has generously shared her thoughts on being inspired to become a Minnesota Orchestra subscriber for the first time.

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Retired musician spotlight: Q&A with Mina Fisher

It’s our pleasure to check in with retired Minnesota Orchestra cellist Mina Fisher, a member of the Orchestra from 1979 to 2012. Fisher is the Producing Artistic Director of the Bakken Trio, which this month presents the premiere of NADIA, Fisher’s original play about 20th-century composition teacher and renaissance woman Nadia Boulanger. We spoke with her about Boulanger, her new play and what else she’s been up to since retiring.

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A Night on the Silk Road: A journey worth taking

Earlier this summer, our guest blogger Mandy Meisner attended the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2017 Symphony Ball, titled “A Night on the Silk Road.” Six weeks later, we’ve invited her to write about that evening of music, festivities and camaraderie—and reflect on what she calls “a respite from my usual route.”

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Camping with Strings Attached—Plus Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion

For many Minnesotans, summer camp means mosquitos, al fresco cooking, fishing, and fireside singalongs of old-time camp tunes. Few campers, however, can report learning to play the boisterous Roman Carnival Overture by Hector Berlioz. Or performing it in a sold-out concert hall alongside world-class members of the Minnesota Orchestra led by Osmo Vänskä. Or earning a standing ovation.

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Meet the Audience - Sig and Marti Reckdahl

Sig and Marti Reckdahl are living proof that you don’t need to play an instrument to foster a lifelong love of classical music.

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Cycling to the Symphony: A Noteworthy Experience

This article originally appeared on the streets.mn website.

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A New Symphonic Fantasy at Symphony Ball

Symphony Ball is less than a month away! The Minnesota Orchestra’s gala fundraiser, “A Night on the Silk Road,” will be held on June 24 and will feature a very special performance by the Minnesota Orchestra. We caught up with Kenneth Huber, Chair of the Symphony Ball’s Music/Entertainment Committee, for a Q&A session to learn more.

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Sound of the Cello

From the first time I heard a cello, I have loved this instrument whose lush golden sounds are the closest to the human voice.

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The Violin in Greater Minnesota

Walt Whitman, the great music lover among our poets, says this wise line in “A Song of Occupations”: All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments.

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Meet a Musician: Dessa

Rapper-singer-writer Dessa’s upcoming debut with the Minnesota Orchestra is one of the most-anticipated programs of the season. The indie music star, a member of the Minneapolis-based Doomtree hip hop collective, answered a few questions about her music, kites, Broadway musicals and what’s in store for the April 14 and 15 concerts conducted by Sarah Hicks.

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Stanislaw Skrowaczewski: Reflections from the Minnesota Orchestra Family

The classical music world lost a legend on February 21, 2017, when Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, the Minnesota Orchestra’s music director from 1960 to 1979, died at age 93. Musicians, staff, board members, audiences and other members of the Orchestra family shared their memories of Skrowaczewski.

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The stakes are high: it’s Game 163 of the 2009 baseball season, we’re in extra innings and the score is tied. We need the runner now on second base to score the winning run—a trip to the playoffs is on the line! It’s the most important game of the season, and I’m hard at work playing for the Minnesota Twins—playing organ, that is.

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Dessa, an EnviroRider and a greener Orchestra Hall

Minnesota-based rapper-singer-essayist Dessa is known for her incredible performances onstage and in recordings, including her recent single on the Billboard chart-topping Hamilton Mixtape released last fall. On or off the stage, though, Dessa is also a passionate advocate for our planet, encouraging all of her partners (including the Minnesota Orchestra!) to be as environmentally conscious as possible. 

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Still Crazy After All These Years

It was a disappointing move-in day. My new dorm at DePaul University in Chicago was not only a dismal, un-air-conditioned, cinderblock eyesore, but it was spitting distance from the Fullerton “L” stop. And it was eye level with the trains. I was bombarded by constant rumbles and screeches of trains, punctuated by the barking of a conductor: “FULLERTON...THIS IS FULLERTON....NEXT STOP... BELMONT!” On hot nights I had to keep my windows open, and the noise was even louder. I might as well have tried sleeping directly on the Fullerton platform. My first night in that building, I angrily counted trains instead of sheep.

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A Night with the Minnesota Orchestra

Student Ambassador Alexa Sorenson shared this wonderful account of her evening out at the Orchestra this winter.

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Meet A Musician: Rebecca Albers

Member since: 2010
Position: 
Assistant Principal Viola
Hometown: 
Longmont, CO
Education: 
The Juilliard School

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A Sunday Kind of Love

Last month we invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Flute Adam Kuenzel in advance of his performance of a Bach Flute Partita at the January 22 Chamber Music in the Target Atrium concert. We’re delighted that Mandy has written us this follow-up reflection on the performance. 

Of all the days of the week, Sunday remains one of my favorite.

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A Night at the Museum

Although I play viola in the Minnesota Orchestra, I also work in a wonderful museum—one of amazing historic musical treasures that I get to marvel at every day. I’m talking about the rare stringed instruments played by my colleagues. Assembled in front of you is a remarkable collection of violins, cellos and basses of antique vintage, a few of which date back to the late 1600s. (You might notice that I didn’t mention violas. More on that later.) The point is, much of the “lumber” you are listening to is of coveted Italian ancestry and centuries old.

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Composer Institute Blog: Post #3

I’ve just returned to my room after a brief breakfast with Mike Boyman and Michael Foumai before they head to the airport. Judy was supposed to join us, but I hope she is sleeping and having an awesome dream about tigers. Mike and I both looked a bit scraggly because we could barely sleep last night after the concert–our minds were still spinning. After such an intense and amazing week, we are all happy and exhausted. 

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Composer Institute Blog: Post #2

It is Tuesday evening and I am back in my hotel room after the second long day of presentations, meetings and fun conversations. Everyone is excited and jittery about the first rehearsals, which will finally take place tomorrow afternoon. We’ve talked a lot about our pieces and their potential issues, but no one has actually heard anything yet! Since the rehearsals alone will shift the week into an entirely different gear, I’d like to write a bit about what we’ve covered so far. 

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Composer Institute Blog: Post No. 1

My name is Tonia Ko, and I will be writing about the 2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute as it happens. I’m looking forward to seeing the other six composers on Sunday after my short flight from Kansas City to Minneapolis. (No winter weather joke here, because it is only a little bit colder). Starting Monday, I anticipate many mind- and ear-opening sessions with Kevin Puts, Osmo Vänskä, and the orchestra.

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The Magic Flute: an interview with Adam Kuenzel

This month we’ve invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to interview the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal flute, Adam Kuenzel, in advance of the flute section’s performance at the January 22 Chamber Music in the Target Atrium concert. As Mandy notes in her introduction, a lifetime of music can often have the simplest of starts.

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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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Meet a Musician: David Pharris

Member since: 2005
Position: Clarinet
Hometown: Columbus, GA
Education: Northwestern University

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Touchdowns Beyond the End Zone

Photo: Osmo Vänskä perform Beethoven's Fifth at US Bank Stadium, © Travis Anderson 2016.

The day was Thursday, September 15: three days before the Minnesota Vikings home opener game against the Green Bay Packers at the new U.S. Bank Stadium. Late in the day I checked my email—and up popped a message from Kärsten Jensen, the Minnesota Orchestra’s events, personnel and volunteer manager, calling for more volunteers to help with the Orchestra’s performance at the halftime show for Sunday’s game. Volunteers were to report at the stadium for practice the next day, Friday, at 8 a.m. It would also require a good share of Saturday and, of course, game day.

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Essay: Be It Resolved

Photo: Violinist Céline Leathead at the conclusion of a concert in 2015.

Making New Year’s resolutions is a rite of, well, each new year.

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Campus Night: Student Ambassador Reflections

Photo: Student Ambassadors at our November 4 Campus Night, photo by Don Hughes

The first Campus Night on November 4 was a big success, as nearly 500 college students were part of the sold-out crowd that filled Orchestra Hall! All the credit goes to our Student Ambassadors who helped spread the word on their campuses about Minnesota Orchestra student ticket discounts.

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Osmo Vänskä: Recording Mahler's Sixth Symphony

The Minnesota Orchestra recorded Mahler's Sixth Symphony with BIS records this week! Listen as Music Director Osmo Vänskä describes Mahler's music and our recording process.

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Remembering Gifts

Audience member David Balto contributed this powerful essay after hearing Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conduct the Minnesota Orchestra in Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony recently.

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The Promise of the Blank Slate

Last summer, my almost-six-year-old learned how to swim. I sat at the edge of the pool, watching as he was launched forward by the instructor and managed only a few dog paddles before he was pulled aside for extra help. He tried not to cry; I peeked from behind a shrub. Later, when he stumbled, shivering, into his Stormtrooper towel, the only thing between him and quitting was the post-lesson reward from his teacher, a piece of candy clutched wetly in his hand.

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Meet a Musician: Mark Kelley

Member since: 1982
Position: Co-Principal Bassoon, currently Acting Principal Bassoon
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska
Education: University of Nebraska

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Some Enchanted Evening

Last month we invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle in advance of her performance of Ginastera’s Harp Concerto—and we’re thrilled that Mandy has now written us this follow-up reflection on the October 1 performance of music by Bach, Ginastera and Paulus.

I am convinced that magic exists in the world. The kind that, as children, once washed our lives in wonder and possibility every day. It’s the same magic that, as we grew older, became harder and harder to find, until most of us stopped believing in it altogether. But in our hectic, digital, selfie-crazed time, in between the emails and the texts, the deadlines and the meetings, we still long for its return.

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Osmo Vänskä on Sibelius

Our friends at the London Philharmonic Orchestra produced a series of wonderful interviews featuring Music Director Osmo Vänskä on his beloved Sibelius. He conducts the entire Sibelius cycle with the London Philharmonic later this month. Video: 

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Skrowaczewski—Still Seeking the Infinite

We have invited Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s biographer and friend Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., to contribute the following essay about the legendary maestro’s remarkable career in celebration of his appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra this week.

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Vikings Halftime Performance

The Minnesota Orchestra performed the music of Beethoven and Prince to more than 65,000 people at U.S. Bank Stadium yesterday. We'll post photos, press, and video here.

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Wallflower: a Q&A with Kathy Kienzle

Photo: Stagehand Don Hughes captured this image of Kathy's harp in the airport x-ray machine at Glasgow, Scotland during our recent European Tour.

This month we’ve invited guest blogger and Minnesota Orchestra fan Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle in advance of her upcoming solo on Sept. 29-Oct. 1. As Mandy notes: “It’s always the quiet ones that can surprise us the most. And the harp is one of them.”

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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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Bike to Orchestra Hall

This summer the Minnesota Orchestra is inviting the entire Twin Cities bicycling community to Bike to Orchestra Hall! Starting with the launch of Sommerfest 2016 on July 8th, show your bike helmet or gear at out Box Office when you bike to Orchestra Hall and get 50 percent off tickets to select concerts (see eligible concerts).

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