Beethoven Marathon Inspires Fans, Sells Out
The Marathon was billed as “9 Symphonies, 5 Concertos, 8 Days,” but it was much more than that: a Star Tribune review enthused “Minnesota Orchestra’s Beethoven event makes the routine sublime.” Beethoven’s five piano concertos have been paired with the symphonies, with brilliant performances by Yevgeny Sudbin, the young Russian artist who has collaborated and recorded with the Minnesota Orchestra. On Friday, Jan. 9, Sudbin played both Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, a feat that a MinnPost article likened to “back-to-back climbs of Everest and K-2.” If you don’t have tickets for the remaining Beethoven concerts this week you’re probably out of luck; the concerts are essentially sold out, although you might check to see if any tickets turn up at the last minute. On Saturday, Jan. 16, the last day of the Marathon, you can bring the family to an Emmy-award winning movie, Beethoven Lives Upstairs at 4 pm in the Target Atrium, fun for all ages. Tickets are free but you need to make reservations and seating is limited.
Kullervo Concerts to be Recorded Live
When Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra presented Kullervo at Carnegie Hall in 2010, New Yorker reviewer Alex Ross exclaimed that they “sounded like the greatest orchestra in the world.” Now you can hear what Ross meant! In concerts Feb. 4, 5 and 6, Osmo will conduct the Orchestra with soloists Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo, Tommi Haakala, baritone, and the YL Male Voice Choir of Finland in this early work by Sibelius, inspired by Kullervo, the story of a tragic Finnish folk hero. The performances celebrate our Orchestra’s special connection with Finland as part of the Sibelius 150 Year Jubilee and will be recorded live. Brian Mount, Principal Percussion, says this concert is “ESSENTIAL!!!” – one of the highlights of his career. Don’t miss it!
A string quartet including recently appointed Associate Concertmaster Susie Park, violinist Milana Reiche, violist Sifei Chang and cellist Pitnarry Shin will kick off this season’s Symphony and Suds, a new partnership between the Minnesota Orchestra and six local craft brewpubs. Invite friends, especially young adults, to join you at 7 pm on January 30 at Excelsior Brewing Company to hear these musicians up close in a casual setting. Then encourage them to take in a Casual Concert at Orchestra Hall where they can hear the full ensemble while still sipping their favorite local suds. With the $20under40 program, tickets to all Casual Concerts (Inside the Classics and Symphony in 60) are only $20 for adults age 40 and under.
New Interactive Ways to Learn about the Orchestra and Concerts
If you’re thinking of taking children or grandchildren to a Young People’s Concert, check out the upcoming 2016 performances – and also the excellent new informational materials developed by the Minnesota Orchestra’s education department. Designed to introduce concertgoers to the performers and the music, new information and activities will be posted online six weeks prior to each Young People’s Concert. If your school sends classes to these concerts, make sure teachers are aware of the curriculum materials to prepare students for the experience. These guides are not just for teachers and elementary students; adults new to the orchestra experience will also enjoy using the helpful interactive guide to learn more about the instruments and musicians of the Orchestra. Discover the four families of instruments, learn more about how each instrument works and see photographs of our very own Minnesota Orchestra musicians! You might also be interested in this interview with Jocelyn Hagen, guest composer and arranger for the Young People’s Concerts.
Our Orchestra in the News
If you’re curious about the man behind so many of the positive changes at the Orchestra, read (or re-read) this Star Tribune article, “Minnesota Orchestra’s Kevin Smith: Fanfare for an uncommon leader.” Kevin says he’s “really not that interesting,” but that’s just an example of his low-key style. Those who have worked with Kevin extol the many ways in which he has fostered trust and harmony, while catalyzing innovation.
In the New York Times list of Best Classical Events of 2015, Michael Cooper’s pick was: “Cultural Ambassadors to Cuba: Minnesota Orchestra’s Tour of Havana” — scroll down to Cooper’s text with links to previous Times articles about the Orchestra and read why this critic thinks the Cuba tour indicates that the organization is “back and thinking big.”
Musicians’ Community Outreach
The Minnesota Orchestra is increasingly engaged with other organizations in a variety of community partnerships: musicians can often be found playing in schools, community centers, churches and senior residences, as well as onstage at Orchestra Hall. Here is a sampling of recent events:
- On December 5, in a program organized by Toneworks Music Therapy Services, Principal Bass Kristen Bruya and Acting Associate Principal Bass Kate Nettleman played duets and led an impromptu performance of Jingle Bells for special needs children, their families, teachers and therapists.
- A Minnesota Orchestra string quartet performed at the 31st annual Homeless Memorial Service at Simpson United Methodist Church on December 17. This service honors people who died in the last year while homeless, formerly homeless or serving as advocates for the homeless.
- On January 3, approximately 20 musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra held a concert to benefit Syrian refugees, raising $75,000 to support the work of the American Refugee Committee inside Syria. Organized by Principal cellist Tony Ross and cellist Beth Rapier in conjunction with St. John’s Episcopal Church and Our Lady of Grace, the concert featured Osmo Vänskä on clarinet, Concertmaster Erin Keefe, and the MN Orchestra brass quintet as well as Ross and Rapier.
Donors Show Strong Support through December
More than 2,500 generous patrons (including Orchestrate Excellence members) donated to the Minnesota Orchestra through Dec. 31, and $167,000 was raised during the Orchestra’s December Community Giving Campaign alone. As part of the campaign, donors were asked, “What inspires you to give?” If you would like to read some of the thoughtful responses the Orchestra received, click here to view them at Showcase Online.
Welcome to a New Principal Oboe, Farewell to a Stalwart Principal Bassoon
After 44 years as the Minnesota Orchestra’s Principal Bassoon, John Miller retired on New Year’s Day. John was the longest-tenured principal player ever in the Orchestra’s history. We will miss him and wish him well.
Our new Principal Oboe, Joseph Peters, got a special bow at last Saturday’s Beethoven concert. Joe is a graduate of Cooper High School in Robbinsdale and is thrilled to be playing with his hometown orchestra. Listen to this TV interview with him and look for him at your next concert.
Enliven your winter days and nights by taking in the excitement down at the Hall. Hope to see you there soon.