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 six Friday night concerts in Orchestra Hall featuring smaller ensembles of Minnesota Orchestra musicians performing for TV, radio and online audiences.
At Home Video Collection
Sarah Hicks, 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. This fall she has served as host of the “This Is Minnesota Orchestra” series of Friday night live concert broadcasts. Her other 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.
Peter Rothstein, stage director
Peter Rothstein works extensively as a director of theater, musical theater and opera. He is the founding artistic director of Theater Latté Da, where he has directed 76 main-stage productions, including 11 world premieres. For the past three years he has directed the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual Home for the Holidays performances. His other collaborations include productions with the Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Minnesota Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Madison Opera, Ten Thousand Things Theater, Utah Shakespeare Festival, 5th Avenue Theatre, Zach Theatre and Asolo Repertory Theatre. He is the creator of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, the winner of a New York Drama Desk Award. He was named the 2015 Minnesota Artist of the Year by the Star Tribune, Theater Artist of the Year by Lavender and Best Director by City Pages. He received nine Ivey Awards and has been awarded grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, Minnesota State Arts Board and McKnight Foundation.
Kevin Kling, storyteller
Storyteller, author and playwright Kevin Kling has written and narrated the Minnesota Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays performances for the past three years, and in 2019 he joined the Orchestra to perform his own original narration for Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. His plays have been performed locally, in regional theaters throughout the country, and off-Broadway at Westside Arts and Second Stage Theater. He takes great pride in his work with Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts. A frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, he also collaborated with Minnesota Public Radio on three original productions featuring Chastity Brown, Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar and Steve Kramer. He appears often on TPT’s Almanac and was featured in the Regional Emmy Award-winning documentary Kevin Kling: Lost and Found. In 2014 he was named Minneapolis Story Laureate by then-Mayor R.T. Rybak. Kling grew up in Osseo, Minnesota, and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College.
JuCoby Johnson, guest artist
Actor and playwright JuCoby Johnson grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, then moved to the Twin Cities in 2011 and has been creating here ever since. He has been seen onstage at the Guthrie Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Jungle Theater, Theater Latté Da, Theater Mu and Ten Thousand Things Theater, among many other companies and ensembles. His plays include How It’s Gon’ Be at Underdog Theater in 2019; ...but you could’ve held my hand, a 2020 O’Neill NPC Finalist; and I'll Be Seeing You Again with the Jungle Theater Audio Series in 2021. He is a 2020-21 Many Voices Mentee at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis and a recipient of the 2020 New Now Commissions.
Isabella Star LaBlanc, guest artist
Isabella Star LaBlanc is a Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota actress and writer who was born and raised in the Twin Cities. She has been seen at theaters across the state and country, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Jungle Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company and Minnesota History Theatre. Her writing has been featured at the American Players Theatre, Guthrie Theater and Penumbra Theatre Company, and has also been featured in the Minnesota Women’s Press. Currently, she can be seen virtually in A Tlingit Christmas Carol at Perseverance Theatre, and in Is Edward Snowden Single? at the Jungle Theater.
Ifrah Mansour, guest artist
Ifrah Mansour is a Minnesota-based multimedia artist and educator, and a Somali, refugee and Muslim. She creates artwork that explores trauma through the eyes of children to uncover the resiliencies of blacks, Muslims and refugees. Her work interweaves poetry, puppetry, films and installations. She has been featured in Middle East Eye, Vice, OkayAfrica, the Star Tribune and City Pages, as well as on the BBC. Her critically-acclaimed one-act, one-woman show, How to Have Fun in a Civil War, premiered at the Guthrie Theater in 2018 and toured to cities in Greater Minnesota. Her first national museum exhibition, Can I Touch It, premiered at Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2017. Her visual poem, I am a Refugee, is part of PBS’s short film festival, and her mixed-media art, My Aqal, banned and blessed, premiered at the Queens Museum in New York in 2018.
Kao Kalia Yang, guest artist
Kao Kalia Yang is an award-winning Hmong-American writer. She is the author of the memoirs The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, The Song Poet and Somewhere in the Unknown World, as well as the children’s books A Map Into the World, The Shared Room and The Most Beautiful Thing. She co-edited What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color. Her literary nonfiction work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA literary awards and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, and garnered three Minnesota Book awards. Her children’s books have been listed as an American Library Association Notable Book, a Zolotow Honor, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, winner of a Minnesota Book Award in Children’s Literature and the Heartland Bookseller’s Award in the Picture Book Category. She is a recipient of the McKnight Fellowship in Prose, the International Institute of Minnesota’s Olga Zoltai Award for her community leadership and service to New Americans, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’ 2019 Sally Award for Social Impact.
Border CrosSing, chorus
Border CrosSing is a choral organization founded in 2017 with the mission of integrating choral music repertoire, audiences and musicians that have been historically segregated. Border CrosSing envisions a landscape where singers, programs and audiences of choral music more closely reflect the racial and cultural reality of our communities. Border CrosSing has gained local and international recognition mainly through the concert series “Puentes,” now in its fourth year and focused on music and stories of Latin America. This group’s programming also includes numerous community singing events in solidarity with the Twin Cities’ immigrant communities; the commissioning of new choral works and world premieres; and extensive educational outreach at K-12 schools and colleges in the Midwest. Border CrosSing was the recipient of the 2020 Adventurous Programming Award from Chorus America and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Members of Border CrosSing performing at this concert are sopranos Bethany Battafarano, Andrea Leap, Natalia Romero Arbeláez and Carrie Henneman Shaw; altos Stephanie Broussard, Kris Kautzman, Gabriela Estephanie Solis and Jack Vishneski; tenors Samuel Baker, Juan Carlos Mendoza, Matthew Valverde and
Adan Varela; and basses Jake Endres, Ryan LaBoy, Bob Peskin and Justin Staebell.
Ahmed Anzaldúa, conductor
Ahmed Anzaldúa is a Mexican choral conductor, classical pianist and music educator of Egyptian descent. He is an active musician, performing in Mexico and the U.S. frequently as a soloist and conductor with choirs, orchestras, in recitals, and as a collaborative pianist. Anzaldúa prepared the combined chorus for the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2019 performances of Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión según San Marcos. He currently lives in Minneapolis, and is the director and founder of Border CrosSing. He is also a co-editor of the Justice Choir songbook and director of music ministries at Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul.