Free Outdoor Concerts, Sommerfest and More…

Summer is here! Add sparkle to these balmy summer nights with Minnesota Orchestra concerts – at Orchestra Hall or outdoors at venues around the Twin Cities.

Symphony for the Cities


Over 5,000 people are expected at the popular Lake Harriet concert on June 29.

Bring your picnic blanket and invite your friends and neighbors to join you at this summer’s free Minnesota Orchestra concert at the Lake Harriet Band Shell at 7:30 pm on June 29.   Over 5,000 people are expected to attend the popular annual event and this year some generous donors have stepped up to offer a $10,000 matching grant to help fund the concert.   The orchestra is within $2,000 of making the goal for that match; if you’d like to help, click here for more details. Donors who give $500 or more will be invited to a festive pre-concert cocktail party with musicians from the Lake Harriet neighborhood.

If you can’t make the concert on the 29th, there are more outdoor concerts to follow: July 1 in Plymouth, July 2 in Winona (presented by the Minnesota Beethoven Festival) and July 6 in Hudson, WI. Please alert family and friends in these locations. The outdoor concerts are a great opportunity to introduce our “world’s orchestra” to new local fans and invite them to hear further concerts at Orchestra Hall. All the concerts will be conducted by the Orchestra’s newly appointed assistant conductor, Roderick Cox.

Call for Volunteers: get a free Minnesota Orchestra t-shirt

Orchestrate Excellence will be looking for volunteers to hand out vouchers and season brochures at Lake Harriet and the other Symphony for the Cities concerts. If you would like to be on our email list to be notified about these and other volunteer opportunities with the orchestra, drop us a line at Volunteers for the outdoor concerts who sign up by June 22 will receive free blue Minnesota Orchestra t-shirts. There’s an immediate need for volunteers to distribute posters in the Lake Harriet neighborhood. If you can help with this, please contact Emma Smith,, by the end of this week (June 19) – these volunteers will also get t-shirts.


Sommerfest 2015

The Orchestra’s annual summer festival starts with a bang on July 5 with Coro Entrevoces, an amazingly versatile Cuban choir. Here’s your chance to be a part of the exciting musical exchange launched in May with the historic concerts in Havana.

Minnesotans listening to the Coro Entrevoces concert in Havana in May.

Minnesotans listening to the Coro Entrevoces concert in Havana in May.

This year’s Sommerfest celebration includes concerts for a variety of musical tastes, from Rachmaninoff to Viennese waltzes and from a nostalgic classic film score (Singin’ in the Rain) to Igudesman and Joo, a violin and piano duo whose hilarious musical antics have made them a current internet sensation. The grand finale on August 1 is Madame Butterfly, a complete opera in concert. Use the code EXCELLENCE16 to purchase a Create Your Own series of 3 or more Sommerfest concerts (or a combination of Sommerfest and 2015/16 season concerts), and you’ll save 25% off regular prices (not available in VIP section; Season Opening and New Year’s Eve concerts excluded).

Come early or stay after the Sommerfest concerts to enjoy free entertainment in the Target Atrium with food and drinks available for purchase.

Recording Sessions – Sibelius # 3, #6 and #7

BIS producer Rob Suff shares an inside perspective on recording with the Orchestra.

BIS producer Rob Suff shares an inside perspective on recording with the Orchestra.

If you heard Osmo Vänskä conducting the Sibelius Symphonies #3, #6 and #7 at recent concerts, you know the precision and passion the orchestra brings to these works, which the musicians and Osmo have just finished recording. Find out what these recording sessions were like from this interview with Producer Rob Suff of BIS Records and watch for the new Minnesota Orchestra CD – perhaps a candidate for another Grammy?

Osmo and Rob Suff applauding Minnesota Orchestra musicians as they finish the recording session. Photo courtesy Michael Pelton

Osmo and Rob Suff applauding Minnesota Orchestra musicians as they finish the recording session.
Photo courtesy Michael Pelton

2015-16 Season Renewals

Don’t forget to renew your subscription for next season! You can renew your Create Your Own series from now till July 10 and get priority seating for 2015-16. If you didn’t have a Create Your Own series last year, you can purchase a new one now. Both new and renewing subscribers can save 25% off individual ticket prices with the code EXCELLENCE16 (not available in VIP section; Season Opening and New Year’s Eve concerts excluded).

New Series: Saturdays at 6

If you’ve wished that orchestra concerts could be earlier so you could go out to eat dinner afterwards – or take children or grandchildren to a concert, try Saturdays at 6. This new three-concert series includes a variety of concerts, including Osmo Vänskä conducting Strauss and Mahler, Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto and A Scandinavian Christmas. Tickets for young listeners (ages 6-17) are available for only $12 with the purchase of an adult subscription.

Enjoy the warm weather – we hope to see you at a concert soon!

Posted in 2015-2016 Season, Sommerfest

New Contracts – Tremendous Encore to Transformative Cuba Tour

Bravo!  In a tremendous encore to their transformative Cuba tour, the Minnesota Orchestra announced contract extensions for Osmo Vänskä and the musicians shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday’s board meeting.

Minnesota Orchestra President Kevin Smith announcing contract extensions. L-R Kevin Smith, Board Chair Warren Mack, musicians’ negotiating committee members Tim Zavadil, Sam Bergman, Doug Wright and Kathy Kienzle. Photo by Ken Huber.

The board approved both contracts on Tuesday afternoon; donors’ gifts of $6.5 million will help support the agreements.   “Our board and community members have stepped forward to demonstrate their belief in the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Board Chair, Warren Mack.  And Tim Zavadil, who led the musicians’ negotiating team, added, “This is a real vote of confidence in this orchestra.”

Orchestra President Kevin Smith pointed out that achieving the agreements two years before the current contracts run out will continue the “remarkable partnership” between Osmo and the musicians and will enable the organization to develop and execute a new long-range strategic plan.   Read more details here.

The news of the contract extensions continues the euphoria generated by the Orchestra’s historic Cuba tour.  As Kevin Smith commented in the Star Tribune article linked above, “We knew when we took off that this would be a special trip, but we could not have known that it would be this transformative and inspirational.  We need to build on that.”

Cuban-born pianist Frank Fernández performs Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy. Photo by Travis Anderson.

We hope you’ve been following the extensive press coverage – and that you were able to hear the live broadcasts last Friday and Saturday nights.   If not, you can hear the concerts archived on MPR  and browse the many links to tour articles listed on the Minnesota Orchestra website.  Don’t miss the extensive picture galleries from MPR and a video from the BBC.  An article from the New York Times explores the historical and political context in which the trip took place.

All Minnesotans can be proud that our orchestra is participating in the US/Cuba rapprochement and, perhaps, is helping to create a climate where further positive changes can take place.  And Christina Tribble, the US Cultural Affairs Officer commented in one of the daily Star Tribune tour reports,  “In a place like Cuba, music is such a language that an entire symphony signifies that bigger things are possible.”

Tim Zavadil, Norbert Nielubowski and Roma Duncan perform for students at Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. Photo by Travis Anderson.

The tour was all about people-to-people connections.  Most importantly, musicians connected with music students at the university and music high school and with conservatory students through a side-by-side rehearsal.  As blogger Scott Chamberlain put it, “the musicians didn’t just drop by a school for a photo-op or limit themselves to master classes for a few hand-picked students … they provided encouragement … wisdom and support … practical knowledge” to all the students, as well as practical items students lack — music scores, supplies such as valve oil and oboe reed cane, even bows and mouthpieces.

Minnesota Orchestra musicians working with conservatory students in a side-by-side rehearsal. Photo by Travis Anderson.

And the students responded, playing brilliantly, despite being hampered by sub-par instruments.  They flooded back stage after concerts, proudly introducing family members to musicians, relishing every interaction with these new mentors and friends.  And the musicians seemed to relish every interaction with the students, as well.  See first-hand reports from Scott Chamberlin and reporter Graydon Royce.  Osmo Vänskä summed up what everyone felt:  “This is something I hope can continue, this collaboration with the young Cuban musicians.  I hope we can come again here and make this a regular part of our journey.”

Audience members applauding after national anthems were played. Photo by Travis Anderson.

When asked to name a highlight of the trip, almost everyone, musicians and supporters alike, mentioned the Saturday evening concert at which the Cuban and American national anthems were played.  In an MPR interview just after returning home, reporter Euan Kerr describes this incredibly moving experience and plays clips from that evening’s performance.  Violist Sam Bergman talks about the impact of the trip in his diary entry “Leaving La Habana“.

Teatro Nacional, Havana, Cuba.
Photo by Travis Anderson.

A lasting benefit of the trip for the Minnesota Orchestra will be the bonds forged internally.  Everyone collaborated – the musicians gave up their vacation time and most of their rest time to rehearse and work with students; the staff worked tirelessly for countless extra hours organizing all the trip details and brilliantly overseeing multiple itineraries for musicians and supporters; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, who with her husband Glen, provided funding for the tour, seemed to be everywhere, meeting everyone, leading toasts, expressing her gratitude to all involved.

Orchestra musicians, staff and supporters were all treated to dinner together in one of Havana’s main plazas.

Photo by Cy DeCosse.

On the trip, everyone — musicians, board and staff members, supporters and the press corps – stayed in the same hotel, ate breakfast together, attended the evening programs and concerts, providing opportunities to mingle and get to know one another.  After the concert on the last night in Havana, board members and supporters returned to the hotel first and cheered the musicians as they stepped off buses – a gesture that many musicians said touched them deeply.  As blogger Scott Chamberlain said in a MinnPost article, “this time spent together with a shared purpose created deep bonds among all participants … everyone had an up-close and personal view of how each individual contributed to the overall success of the Minnesota Orchestra … These newly forged connections will transform the organization as a whole, leading to a new sense of shared purpose and collaboration.”

As Kevin Smith summarized to a NY Times reporter, “this trip has galvanized the organization and given everybody this sense of excitement and adventure and confidence that we can do anything.”

We hope you share this excitement and can help to generate even more.  Attend concerts, come to the Symphony Ball or Crash the Ball on June 20th and introduce friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues to this dynamic organization and its amazing music.   And, for a taste of the Cuban experience, plan to attend the Celebrate Cuba concert featuring the Cuban choir, Coro Entrevoces, and the Minnesota Orchestra coming to Orchestra Hall on July 5.


A Cuban choir, Coro Entrevoces, will be performing with the Minnesota Orchestra on July 5.
Posted in Cuba

MN Orchestra Takes off for Cuba, Comes Home to Brazil.


This spring the Minnesota Orchestra is embracing Latin America – with a landmark trip to Cuba this week (May 13-17) and the Brazilian-themed Symphony Ball and Crash the Ball: Carnival on June 20.

Listen to live MPR broadcasts from Cuba

Be sure to tune in to the historic Minnesota Orchestra concerts broadcast live from Havana – on Classical MPR (99.5 FM in the Twin Cities or streaming online at at 7 pm on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16.  Each of the 7 pm MPR broadcasts will open with 30 minutes of pre-concert interviews, music and stories, followed by the concerts at 7:30.   More program details are online.

Osmo Vänskä will conduct the orchestra in both concerts at Havana’s Teatro Nacional, performing as part of the opening weekend of the 19th annual International Cubadisco Festival and becoming the first US orchestra to perform in Cuba since President Obama took steps to normalize relations between the countries in December.

People throughout Cuba will be able to hear the live broadcasts on Radio Taino, an FM station based in Havana.   In the US, the concerts will be distributed nationwide by MPR via American Public Media (APM); so alert your friends and family in other cities and tell them to check local public radio listings.

Follow the Orchestra’s Historic Cuba Tour

The Minnesota Orchestra will set off for Havana on Wednesday, May 13 with more than four tons of equipment and 165 individuals, including 100 members of the Orchestra.  Check out this front-page Star Tribune article about preparations for the trip.

In Havana, musicians will engage in musical exchange activities with Cuban students, including coaching sessions at the Escuela Nacional de Música (a national high school for music study) and the Instituto Superior de Arte (a university that focuses on the arts) as well as a side by side rehearsal with the 80 young members of the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil del Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán.  The final event of the tour will be a late-night jazz collaboration between members of the Minnesota Orchestra and Cuban jazz musicians at the Havana Café, following the concert on May 16.

Check the Minnesota Orchestra website for regular photo updates and reports from the road and watch the media, both local and national, for articles on the tour.  A large press contingent (including reporters from the New York Times, Star Tribune, MPR and KSTP-TV) will be traveling to Cuba with the Orchestra.

54c2b3f0ee0423.68741729Crash the Ball: Carnival on Saturday, June 20

Did you know that there’s another option to participate in the Symphony Ball? Come to Crash the Ball: Carnival, which shares the Ball’s Brazilian theme.  Expect color, Latin rhythms and lots of excitement!

Enjoy the drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres (by Vincent’s) that are included with your ticket and browse the silent auction.  Then join Symphony Ball attendees in the concert hall for the live auction and Orchestra Concert, followed by champagne, desserts and dancing to the Danzón group, Charanga Tropical. Stay on for a late night After Party in the Target Atrium with DJ  Ackerman and enjoy music, Brazilian-themed food carts, a hosted bar, photo booths and more.   Check out the schedule online.

Crash the Ball 2015: Carnival tickets include hours of food, drink and entertainment for only $99 (of which $49 is tax deductible) if you purchase them by May 31 using code CTB99.   Regular priced tickets are $125.

Crash the Ball is part of the Symphony Ball, the Orchestra’s largest annual fundraiser.  Come “party with a purpose” on June 20 and help raise funds of the Minnesota Orchestra’s community engagement programs, including artistic initiatives and education activities.  Encourage young friends and family members to come too!

Adios – and hope to see you at the Ball!

Posted in Cuba, Weblog

Remembering Lee Henderson

Lee Henderson at the Community Forum in August, 2013.

Lee Henderson at the Community Forum in August, 2013 — MinnPost photo by John Whiting.

We had such sad news last week – Lee Henderson, a stalwart champion of the Minnesota Orchestra, died suddenly and unexpectedly last Thursday.

As a lawyer from the business world, Lee was very much aware of the Orchestra’s need for financial stability, but he was also totally committed to maintaining artistic excellence.  During the lockout, Lee wrote several op-ed articles exploring creative ways for the community to sustain a world-class orchestra and invited others to pledge their support (which they did).  Last summer, recognizing the urgent need for rebuilding, Lee offered to raise $100,000 as a challenge grant for the community; the CommUnity Challenge surpassed its goal and ended up garnering a total of almost $300,000 for the Orchestra.

Lee Henderson was a leader in the truest and best sense of the word, a leader who loved music and the MN Orchestra passionately, a leader who left a legacy of dynamic cultural stewardship from which we can all learn. Independent, optimistic and no-nonsense, Lee took decisive action, always true to his principles and his passions.

We are so grateful for Lee’s courage, generosity, and steadfastness, and we believe Lee’s stewardship is a compelling example from which so many can learn so much.  We mourn his untimely passing greatly, but know his legacy of leadership and stewardship will live on for decades to come.  We offer our condolences and deepest sympathy to his wife, Polly, and their family.

The funeral will be held on Thursday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and one of the memorials suggested by the family is for the Minnesota Orchestra.   More details are available here.

Doug Grow has written an article about Lee in MinnPost and Scott Chamberlain has a heartfelt tribute on his blog.

Posted in Weblog

2015-16 Season News and more…

Spring is a time of anticipation – and we’re already looking forward to the recently announced Minnesota Orchestra 2015/16 season termed “colorful and ambitious” in a recent MinnPost article.

Minnesota Orchestra 2015/16 Season


If you didn’t get a brochure for 2015/16 in the mail, you can pick one up at Orchestra Hall – or check it out online. The 22-week classical season includes a two-week Beethoven marathon and three weeks featuring Sibelius to celebrate his 150th birthday year, as well as Mahler symphonies the orchestra will be recording and a Carnegie Hall preview concert featuring Hilary Hahn.

• Special Offers Available Now: You can renew your subscription or purchase a subscription now; for new subscriptions, check out the Forte Series (5 Friday night concerts including New Year’s Eve) and Vivace Series (6 Saturday nights) which are available for a 25% discount with the code EXCELLENCE16.

It’s easier than ever to take a child or grandchild to the orchestra – or for groups of high school students to go. Ticket prices for Young Listeners ages 6-17 are only $12.

• New Series for 2115/16: The Orchestra continues to explore the best ways to deliver great music to our audiences. Two new options:
Saturdays at Six – three concerts starting at 6 pm, leaving time to go out for a leisurely dinner afterward.
Brunch and Matinee – a 3 concert series featuring Sunday brunch followed concerts at 2 pm.
In addition, Symphony in 60 and Inside the Classics continue to be opportunities for more concise and more casual concert experiences.

Focus on Musicians
The musicians are in the spotlight throughout the 2015/16 publicity materials – the brochure actually comes in eight versions, each with a different musician or Osmo on the cover. In addition to the concert listings, you can read musicians’ comments about the pieces they’ll be playing next season, as well as how some of them chose their instruments – even their favorite places for dining out before or after a concert! Also, the orchestra website now includes a complete listing of all the musicians, with photos and bios.


You can get this complimentary photo at the box office.

Symphony, Suds and Cider


Symphony, Suds and Cider

In an effort to increase the visibility of the orchestra among 20-30 year olds, Orchestrate Excellence arranged to have some MN Orchestra musicians play at one of Minneapolis’s trending micro-breweries, Sociable Cider Werks. The brass quintet performed two nights in late February, drawing huge crowds and encouraging young professionals to venture to Orchestra Hall for a full Orchestra concert. The pilot project was so successful that the MN Orchestra Marketing Department has officially taken on the initiative and will be sending Orchestra musicians to several other area breweries in the coming months. We hope this program will increase awareness of the Orchestra among the 20-30-year olds, our future audiences.

Other Articles of Interest
How the Orchestra is using social media: “Why Minnesota Orchestra Wants Audiences to Turn ON Phones Mid-Performance” from Red Current.

Thoughts of Alan Gilbert (NY Phil Director) on programming new music, balancing the unfamiliar and the old favorites from NY Times Artsbeat blog.

Enjoy this welcome spring weather – and the upcoming concerts for the rest of this season.

Posted in General

Minnesota Orchestra: Creating Connections Internationally and Locally

Have you heard the exciting news?  The Minnesota Orchestra catapulted back into the national and international spotlight with its February 12 announcement that the Orchestra would play two concerts at a music festival in Havana in May. Who better to help thaw relations between the two countries than a world-class orchestra from Minnesota?

Cuba Tour

The Minnesota Orchestra will be the first major American orchestra to play in Cuba since President Obama moved to normalize relations between the two countries.  Orchestra members are looking forward to connecting with the people of Cuba, as well as with their artistic counterparts.  At the moment, the Orchestra staff is working hard on all the arrangements, made even more complicated by a delicate diplomatic situation and a very short timeline.   We hope to share more details later.  If you missed the original announcement, you’ll find more information in articles in the Star Tribune and New York Times.

Mosaic Revealed

If you didn’t get to see the unveiling of the giant All Together Now! mosaic on February 20, be sure to look for it in the lobby next time you’re at Orchestra Hall.   We’re thrilled that the mosaic, which symbolizes the connection of all parts of the Minnesota Orchestra family — Music Director Musicians, Board, Staff, Donors, Audience and Community — will be displayed at the hall.  It clearly represents what the Orchestra and community can accomplish All Together Now and in the future.

In his comments at the post-concert celebration, Osmo Vänskä expressed his deep appreciation that “we all are together now” and his hopes that audiences would continue to grow until we sell out every concert:

“For all of you, thanks for coming to listen to us. Thanks for coming to listen to us again! And thanks for coming to listen to us again and again, because we need you!  … The orchestra has prepared things in rehearsals and all of us, every player, we have done our homework….  And then you come and then we can be there together and we can enjoy what great music and great playing, great art!  And that is why we are here.  So I would be happy if we can fill the Hall evening after evening so that it is constantly sold-out. … thank you very much for all you have done and let’s continue together.”

See photos and a video of the mosaic unveiling on the Orchestrate Excellence Facebook page and if you are on Facebook please share with friends and ask them to “like” the page.

To find out how the 12-foot-square mosaic was created from over 1,600 separate “thumbnail” sized photos, including those of 1,300 audience members, read an interview with Cy DeCosse, the artist who designed and produced the piece.


Cy DeCosse and Osmo Vänskä

Take home your own Mosaic poster, available for $10 at the box office.  Note:  if you found your photo in the large mosaic and are looking for it in the poster image, it may appear in a different place. See interview with Cy to find out why.

Successful Launch of Symphony, Suds and Cider


A Brass Quintet from the Minnesota Orchestra has been connecting with enthusiastic crowds at Sociable Cider Werks.

On February 19 and 26, musicians chatted with patrons who were also offered exclusive concert discounts and invitations to behind-the-scenes Minnesota Orchestra concert experiences at Orchestra Hall.

Check out photos on our Facebook page and watch for details of more brewery performances planned for this spring and summer – and please alert young friends.  We’re trying to attract the next generation of classical music fans to Orchestra Hall.

Great for New Connections:  Casual Pass and Inside the Classics

March 13 marks the kick-off of this year’s popular Inside the Classics series, with a concert intriguingly titled Beethoven’s 10th.  It’s a perfect way to introduce and connect friends young or old to the Minnesota Orchestra and you can do it economically with a $99 Casual Pass, a flexible voucher for 6 concerts at a 40% savings.  If you hurry, you can be one of 100 Casual Pass purchasers invited to an after-concert party on March 13 with conductor Sarah Hicks and violist-host Sam Berman.  For details, click here.

Interesting Articles

  • In a wide-ranging MinnPost interview Osmo Vänskä tells why playing softly – almost to the point of inaudibility — is important, as well as discussing Sibelius, the Cuba tour and the Minnesota Orchestra today.
  • Is classical music dead?  This satirical and thought-provoking article by Alan Fletcher, keynote speaker at our 2013 Community Forum, explores current proclamations about arts and culture and whether they are true.

We hope to see you soon at a concert by our very own headline-making Minnesota Orchestra!

Posted in Mosaic, Weblog

Creating the Mosaic


Cy DeCosse and Osmo Vänskä

The “All Together Now!” mosaic was unveiled at the February 20th Minnesota Orchestra concert. Here’s an interview with mosaic creator, Cy DeCosse:

How did the idea for the mosaic come about?

“Paula was looking for something to symbolize All Together Now! — the theme of the community celebration at the orchestra’s opening concerts in September. We came up with the idea of a mosaic. I researched computer programs and found one that worked.”

How did you choose the image for the mosaic?

“We got a number of photos from the orchestra staff and chose this one because it had to have large, easily identified elements. That’s why we couldn’t include the whole orchestra in the large image.”

How many photos are in the mosaic?

“In order to create the mosaic effect with thumbnail-sized pictures, it took over 35,000 photos to fill the 12 foot square. We had a little over 1,600 to start with — about 300 photos of the staff, board and musicians and around 1,300 photos of audience members shot at the opening concerts. The computer multiplied those 1,600 photos and used what it needed for contrast and color. Each person appears an average of 21 times. So you won’t find yourself in the mosaic just once.”

Was it easy to do the computer work?

“I had to size all the photos — make them square. And I did a lot of color correction. Because of the enormous size of the mosaic, the computer kept crashing. In order to get the mosaic that big, I had to work on the image in quadrants and put the four pieces together in Photoshop. It took quite a bit of work to get the image ready for printing on that huge banner, making sure that each small photo was sharp.”

Will my photo be in the mosaic on the poster?

Yes, but perhaps in a different place than on the large banner. I had to run the program four different times to produce the 12-foot mosaic (see previous question). The mosaic on the poster was much smaller, so I ran that program only once. Consequently the mosaic poster contains all the photos, but in a different arrangement than on the large banner.


The “All Together Now” mosaic was the brainchild and artistic/technological creation of artist/photographer Cy DeCosse. Cy is married to Orchestrate Excellence Co-chair, Paula DeCosse. He is also a dedicated flutist who studies with Minnesota Orchestra Principal Flute, Adam Kuenzel. After an early career in advertising, where he was the only Minneapolis “Mad Man” to win a Cleo, Cy started a publishing firm and a creative business that furnished ideas to major U.S. corporations. Since selling the business, he has returned to his first love – fine art photography.

Posted in General, Mosaic, Weblog

Minnesota Orchestra Excitement Continues: Giant Mosaic, Suds and Cider, Carnegie Hall!

Excitement at the Minnesota Orchestra continues…

All Together Now! Mosaic Unveiling and Reception on Friday, February 20

We hope you’re planning to come to the February 20th concert (The Tempest) for the unveiling of the giant All Together Now! mosaic of Osmo Vänskä and the orchestra. The final mosaic banner is 12 feet tall and includes photos of all the musicians, board and staff, as well as over 1,300 audience members whose pictures were taken at the late September Community Celebration.


Find your photo in the All Together Now! mosaic!

  • Join us at intermission for the unveiling, and be one of the first to see it.
  • Attend the post-concert reception in the Target Atrium, with Osmo and Musicians. Free treats, and drinks available for purchase.
  • Bring your phone so you can snap a selfie with the mosaic and perhaps an orchestra musician and/or Osmo.
  • Plan to take a mosaic home with you – limited edition posters will be available for purchase.

Tickets for all The Tempest concerts Feb. 19-21 are available for a special 50% discount (coupon code: MOSAIC50) but the unveiling happens on Feb 20 only.

Symphony, Suds and Cider

As part of a broader initiative to connect twenty- and thirty-somethings to the Orchestra, Orchestrate Excellence is helping to create a new partnership between the Minnesota Orchestra and one of the leading micro-breweries in Minneapolis, Sociable Cider Werks.

  • video shoot01

    Shooting a video promo of Minnesota Orchestra Brass Quintet at Sociable Cider Werks.

    A Brass Quintet from the Orchestra will perform “flights” of great music at Sociable’s Taproom (1500 Fillmore St. NE) on Thursday, February 19 at 7:30 pm, and Thursday, February 26 at 8:30 pm. to entice microbrewery patrons to attend an orchestra concert at Orchestra Hall.

  • The musicians are looking forward to sharing their artistry and chatting with patrons who may not yet be dyed-in-the-wool Orchestra fans.
  • The MOA will offer on-the-spot ticket discounts to Orchestra concerts as well as special Orchestra Hall extras like a backstage tour and discounts on microbrew purchases at the Hall.

Please encourage microbrew fans, especially those in their twenties and thirties, to take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear world-class music at the Cider Werks and at Orchestra Hall!

Listen to the Brass Quintet at Sociable Cider Werks.

Minnesota Orchestra returns to Carnegie Hall

Have you heard the exciting news? The Minnesota Orchestra has been invited to be a part of Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary season.   On March 3, 2016, they’ll play an all-Sibelius program that will feature Symphonies No. 1 and 3 and Hilary Hahn performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Here’s a New York Times article that includes the announcement.

Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Opportunities

If you are able to donate some time to the orchestra, consider the Fanfare Volunteer program. Jobs include daytime, evening and weekend ushers; bus captains for Thursday Coffee Concerts for buses leaving from various metro locations; hosts for the complimentary coffee and donuts served at Coffee Concerts. Volunteers get tickets for the concerts they work and can accrue credit for vouchers to future concerts.   If you want to apply, click here; the next interview for applicants will be February 18.

Music Makes Us Whole

Studies have documented a myriad of ways in which music stimulates the brain and helps learning and social skills. While Minnesota schools have been adding teachers since 2006, the trend in music is the opposite – a decline. Several dozen Minnesota nonprofits, including the Minnesota Orchestra, MPR, the SPCO and the Minnesota Opera have teamed up to advocate for a rich music education for every child — Music Makes Us Whole. Click on the link to find out how you can get involved.

Hope to see you at Orchestra Hall – or at Sociable Cider Werks!

Posted in General, Mosaic, Weblog

Minnesota Orchestra Kicks Off 2015!

1415_fullorchestraThe Minnesota Orchestra is generating lots of excitement and positive energy to kick off 2015!

New Symphony in 60 series begins on Thursday, January 29
Do you know anyone who is curious about classical music but hasn’t yet tried a concert at Orchestra Hall? Or people who enjoy great classical music but would like more time to socialize? Symphony in 60 is a new Thursday night series with concerts that last just one hour – perfect for first-time concert-goers or for groups of friends who’d like time for conversation before and after the music. Right now, tickets for these concerts cost only $29, or as little as $16.50 if bought as part of a series.

Osmo Vänskä will conduct the inaugural Symphony in 60 concert on Thursday, January 29 at 8 pm — a one-hour exploration of music from Romeo and Juliet by Prokfiev and Bernstein. Even in the shorter format, Osmo expects to deliver maximum musical value. As he put it, “Opting out of starters and dessert, this is purely the main course – a one-hour performance of great works that we want to share with audiences.”

Besides the main course – the music – there will be an opportunity for concert-goers to socialize with each other and with musicians. The evening will begin with a happy hour at 7 pm during which drinks will be 50% off, and an informal on-stage gathering with members of the orchestra will follow the concert.

Please tell your family and friends about Symphony in 60; we want to make sure to fill the hall for the launch of this new series!

Mosaic Unveiling on Friday, February 20
During the All Together Now! Community Celebration accompanying the Resurrection Symphony concerts in late September, we took over 1,300 photos of audience and community members. These photos are being added to those of musicians, board and staff to make the final version of the mosaic, All Together Now! The mosaic will be unveiled at the last Friday night concert in the Shakespeare Winterfest series, The Tempest, on February 20. Watch for more details closer to the date, but make sure you have your concert tickets now.

Update on December 2014 Board Challenge
Thank you to everyone who contributed to last month’s Board Challenge! Great news: the community-at-large donated more than the Board challenge match of $125,000, and a total of $53,000 was raised from 62 known Orchestrate Excellence members! Way to go!

We are especially grateful for your support of the orchestra now, as we truly believe in their new vision, leadership and actions. In case you missed it, Paula and MaryAnn Goldstein summarized the reason for our confidence in a recent MinnPost Community Voices piece.

Hope to see you soon at Orchestra Hall!

Posted in General, Mosaic, Weblog

Minnesota Orchestra Challenge — Almost There!

1415_fullorchestraThe Minnesota Orchestra got top billing as the “Comeback Kids” in Sunday’s Star Tribune 2014 arts year in review. If you missed the article on the best of the 2014 art scene, take a look now.

The orchestra has lots of exciting plans for next year, including reviving its recording and touring schedule, but one of the most important goals is to continue whittling down the organization’s structural deficit.

There’s good news on that front: the Board Challenge announced at the beginning of December is only $10,000 short of its goal of $125,000 in community contributions. All new and increased donations will be matched up to a total of
$125,000, which is the amount of Board members have contributed over and above their annual commitments.

If you have already sent your Board Challenge contribution, thank you so much!

If you have intended to send a gift but haven’t yet done so, please hurry! The challenge ends at midnight on New Year’s Eve and we don’t want to leave any of that match on the table.

For more information on the Challenge and to donate online, click here. You can also donate by phone by calling 612-371-5600 or mail your donation to MOA, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., MN 55403. Gifts in any amount will be gratefully welcomed and will be matched through December 31.

As Board Chair Gordon Sprenger emphasized at the annual meeting, it will take all of us to ensure the financial health of our great orchestra. Thank you in advance for helping to keep great music alive in our community.

Happy New Year from all of us at Orchestrate Excellence!

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