Musical Menagerie

Young People's Concert Experience | FEB 12


Go on a musical journey to meet animals! Presented in partnership with the Minnesota Zoo and Twin Cities PBS (TPT), this Minnesota Orchestra concert for grades 1-6 presents a variety of composers and styles of music as well as unique film elements and guests from the Zoo. Accompanying the concert experience are activities from the Zoo and other partners, a music education curriculum, and instrument demonstrations.

Watch Performance


  • Animal Activities

    Meet the Minnesota Zoo animals featured in Musical Menagerie!

    Meet Animals
  • Become a Swan with Ballet Co.Laboratory

    Learn to make elegant "swan arms" from the Dying Swan variation with Ballet Co.Laboratory.

    Discover your swan arms
  • The Zoo Friends Mural with Mentoring Peace Through Art

    Create your very own Zoo Friends for a mural project with artist Jimmy Longoria.

    Make Zoo Friends
  • Teacher Activities

    Download our concert guide designed for teachers. Explore activities, flashcards and other worksheets to use in the classroom.



Sarah Hicks, host

Conductor Sarah Hicks, the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, has led a broad range of programs since joining the Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006. Her notable projects with the Orchestra have included co-creating the Inside the Classics and Sam & Sarah series with Orchestra violist Sam Bergman; conducting a live-in-concert recording with singer-rapper Dessa released in 2019 on the Doomtree Records label; leading numerous original Orchestra programs including Home for the Holidays, A Musical Feast and A Scandinavian Christmas; and conducting many of the Orchestra's Movies & Music concerts. Away from Orchestra Hall, she recently conducted performances of Disney Pixar’s Coco at the Hollywood Bowl as well as the orchestra in ABC’s live televised production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

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Minnesota Orchestra

The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 and led since its centennial by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. The Orchestra tours regularly throughout Minnesota and nationally, and has also toured abroad in Australia, Canada, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa. It performs a wide variety of music at nearly 175 concerts in a typical year, primarily at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. It is beginning its 2020-21 concert season with a series of Friday night concerts in Orchestra Hall featuring smaller ensembles of Minnesota Orchestra musicians performing for TV, radio and online audiences.

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Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination providing a window into the natural world. With nearly 500 species of animals, worldwide conservation efforts, and acres of scenic beauty, the Minnesota Zoo is a resource to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

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Erin Keefe, violin

Erin Keefe, the Minnesota Orchestra’s concertmaster since 2011, is a highly-regarded soloist, chamber musician and festival artist. Her recent solos with the Orchestra have included performances of Dvořák’s Romance, Weill’s Violin Concerto, and Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante with violist Matthew Lipman. She has been awarded many major distinctions, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Pro Musicis International Award, and the Grand Prize in the Valsesia Musica International Violin Competition, Torun International Violin Competition, Schadt Competition and Corpus Christi International String Competition. An active chamber musician, she is an Artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and performs with the Accordo ensemble in Minneapolis. As a guest concertmaster, she has appeared in recent seasons with the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

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Felicity James, violin

American-Australian violinist Felicity James, who joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2018 as associate concertmaster, previously served as concertmaster of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, Colburn Orchestra and Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also played with the Seattle Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist, she has appeared with orchestras across the U.S., including the Seattle Symphony. She has also competed in numerous international violin competitions, and she is an enthusiastic chamber musician, having performed frequently in ensembles at the Verbier, Sarasota and Aspen music festivals, as well as the Colburn Chamber Music Society, the Los Angeles Da Camera Society and the Minnesota Orchestra’s chamber music series. She has also served on the faculty of the Prague Summer Nights Music Festival.

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  • Holberg Suite, I. Praeludium

    Edvard Grieg

    • Born
      June 15, 1843
      Bergen, Norway
    • Death
      September 4, 1907


    Edvard Grieg was not only a famous composer, but also a concert pianist. His first piano teacher was his mother, who taught him to play when he was six. Grieg was a champion of Norwegian culture, using Norwegian folk songs in his music and working with Norwegian writers and poets on plays and songs.

    The Holberg Suite, written in 1884, is a suite of five movements written to celebrate the 200th anniversary of playwright Ludvig Holberg's birth. Since Holberg was from the 1700s, Grieg based the piece on dance forms from that era. Grieg originally wrote this piece for piano and later adapted it for string orchestra. The eighth-note, two sixteenth-note “skipping” pattern that runs throughout gives the Praeludium a high-energy feel that sets the stage for this concert.

  • Spring, No. 1 from The Four Seasons, I. Allegro

    Antonio Vivaldi

    • Born
      March 4, 1678
      Venice, Italy
    • Death
      July 28, 1741


    Antonio Vivaldi was a composer, violinist and devout Catholic priest. His father, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Vivaldi to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. He was ordained at age 25 and was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest," because of his red hair. That same year Vivaldi became maestro di violino (master of violin) at an orphanage in Venice. Vivaldi’s output was enormous, writing more than 500 concertos, about 46 operas and a large body of sacred choral music, not to mention other works like sinfonias, sonatas and chamber music.

    The Four Seasons is Vivaldi’s best-known work. This is a set of four concertos, each concerto having three movements. Each movement is associated with a sonnet that describes the musical picture being painted. He was one of the first composers to try and represent specific images with his music; in the first movement of Spring there are birds, the murmuring of streams and thunderstorms.

  • Sea Sketches for String Orchestra, V. Calm Sea in Summer 

    Grace Williams

    • Born
      February 19, 1906
      Barry, Wales
    • Death
      February 10, 1977


    Grace Williams is generally regarded as Wales' most notable female composer, and the first British woman to score a feature film. As a girl, she learned piano and violin, playing piano trios with her father and her brother, and accompanying her father's choir. In 1926 she began attending the Royal College of Music in London, where she studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams. In 1932 Williams began teaching at Camden Girls' School and the Southlands College of Education. During World War II, the students were evacuated, and Williams began composing. In 1945, she returned to her hometown, remaining there for the rest of her life, dedicating herself full-time to composition.

    Sea Sketches is a suite of five movements for string orchestra and dedicated to her parents. The last movement, Calm Sea in the Summer, evokes strong imagery by using slow, luscious harmonies to create a sense of calmness, swaying step-wise motion to give a sense of the sway of the sea, and the occasional upward leap like a wave coming up to the shore. It is a phenomenal example of musical imagery.

  • Flight of the Bumblebee (arr. Holcombe) 

    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    • Born
      March 18, 1844
      Tikhvin, Russia
    • Death
      June 21, 1908


    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer famous for his orchestration (arranging music for an ensemble). His textbook on orchestration is still used by many colleges to this day. He was one of the “Mighty Five”—a group of five Russian composers who worked to combine traditional elements of Russian music with Western compositional style, often using Russian folk melodies. As a teacher and mentor, Rimsky-Korsakov worked with many young Russian composers including Igor Stravinsky.

    Flight of the Bumblebee was composed for the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, based on a Russian fairy tale. Flight of the Bumblebee is part of Act 3 in the opera, when the Prince is turned into a bee so he can fly away to visit his father (the Tsar) without being noticed. Korsakov uses fast, chromatic patterns in the melody to sound like a bee buzzing around in the air.

  •  Le Tombeau de Couperin, IV. Rigaudon (arr. Schuller) 

    Maurice Ravel

    • Born
      March 7, 1875
      Ciboure, France
    • Death
      December 28, 1937


    In the 1920s and '30s, Ravel was regarded as France's greatest living composer, developing a unique voice and incorporating elements of different genres and styles into his works. During World War I, Ravel tried to join the French Air Force but was rejected because of his age and a minor heart complaint. After several unsuccessful attempts to enlist, Ravel finally joined the Thirteenth Artillery Regiment as a lorry driver in March 1915. The war took a heavy toll on Ravel’s physical and emotional health.

    Le Tombeau de Couperin is a suite, originally written for solo piano, based on traditional Baroque suites. Each movement is dedicated to a friend of Ravel’s who died in the war. Rigaudon is in memory of Pierre and Pascal Gaudin—two brothers and childhood friends of Ravel who were killed by the same shell. The movement is in ABA form, with a softer middle section. Instead of being mournful, this movement captures the bright youthful energy of the two brothers.

  • Eagles on Red Cedar Lake for Brass Quintet 

    Jack Stamp

    • Born
      March 5, 1954
      College Park, Maryland


    Jack Stamp is currently serving as International Composer in Association to the world-renowned Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band. He spent the prior three years as adjunct faculty at UW-River Falls. He is active as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and composer throughout North America and Great Britain. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by leading military and university bands across the United States.

    Red Cedar Lake is in Wisconsin, and the piece Eagles on Red Cedar Lake was written for the Uptown Brass, whose members are Minnesota Orchestra musicians. Stamp takes advantage of the triumphant sound of the brass quintet to create a majestic soundscape. The opening theme is developed in different ways during this short piece that ends with bold chords and a driving rhythm in the tuba.

  • Fire Dance for Brass Quintet  

    Anthony DiLorenzo

    • Born
      August 8, 1967
      Stoughton, Massachusetts


    Anthony DiLorenzo is an Emmy-winning composer, trumpet soloist and Grammy-nominated recording artist. His career began growing in popularity in the 1990s with his original compositions written for brass. In addition to DiLorenzo’s original works for the concert stage, his work in film and television spans 30 years, writing music for film trailers and themes for sports shows such as ABC network’s college football.

    Since its premiere, Fire Dance has become part of the standard brass quintet repertoire used in competitions, festivals and brass workshops worldwide. The piece is a showcase of brass musicality and technique. Featuring many key changes and rhythmic variety, this piece is playful, menacing and wild.

  • Duet for Two Solo Violins and String Orchestra  

    Steve Reich

    • Born
      October 3, 1936
      New York, New York


    Steve Reich is an American composer and major figure in minimalist music. By using limited musical material—such as repetitive patterns or pulses, steady drones or constant harmony—minimalist music attempts to get the listener to focus on the activity of listening itself and on the internal processes of the music.

    Duet for two violins features two violins passing short melodic segments back and forth, while a body of strings drones and pulses below; sometimes they finish each other's phrases or sing out in a quick call-and-response, while other times they overlap complementing each other.

  • Sinfonietta No. 1, III. Rondo: Allegro Furioso

    Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

    • Born
      June 14, 1932
      New York, New York
    • Death
      March 9, 2004


    Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, named after composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, was born in Manhattan. His mother was a piano teacher, church organist, and director of a theater company. Perkinson attended the Manhattan School of Music and later taught at Brooklyn College. Perkinson wrote a great deal of classical music but was equally well-versed in jazz and popular music. Alongside composing, Perkinson was also a conductor, cofounding the Symphony of the New World in New York in 1965 and later becoming its Music Director. Perkinson's music has a blend of Baroque counterpoint, American Romanticism, and other styles such as the blues and spirituals.

    Perkinson wrote his Sinfonietta No. 1 for Strings in 1954, when he was 22, but it was not performed until 1966. The Sinfonietta shows influence from many of the styles mentioned earlier, particularly the counterpoint of J.S. Bach and American Romanticism. It also features many characteristics that Perkinson would develop throughout his career, including dissonance and metrical ambiguity. .

  • Explore Additional Activities

    Looking for more ways to engage with music? Visit our blog for a science of sound activity created by the Bakken Museum, a make-your-own-instruments activity, and more family-friendly content.

    View Activities
  • Program Sponsors

    The Minnesota Orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts and music education initiatives are generously supported by a lead gift from the Mary Ann Feldman Music Education Fund.
    Additional support by Vi Victoria Deiro*