A spectacular Vikings opener followed by Joshua Bell’s passionate rendition of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto – and then the moving performance of the Stephen Paulus’ Mass with the Minnesota Chorale – all in the space of a few weeks!  Can you believe we have an orchestra of this caliber, versatility and vitality right here in Minnesota?  It takes great vision and leadership – from the stage, from the administration and from the board — to maintain that level of artistry.  We are so fortunate to have had a stellar legacy of leadership from the podium, building to a crescendo under the baton of our current maestro, Osmo Vänskä.  And now, one of Minnesota’s most visionary business and community leaders will be taking the Board Chair baton, partnering with Osmo and Kevin Smith to ensure that the Orchestra’s fantastic momentum will continue.

Passing the Baton: Marilyn Carlson Nelson To Lead the Minnesota Orchestra Board

At a dinner in Havana, CEO Kevin Smith toasts Marilyn Carlson Nelson who, with her late husband Glen, made the Orchestra’s historic Cuba trip possible. Photo by Travis Anderson

An accomplished and inspiring business leader (former chairman and CEO of the global travel and hospitality giant Carlson and currently co-CEO of Carlson Holdings), Marilyn Nelson has a long history with the Minnesota Orchestra.  She joined the Board in 1973 and was named a life director in 2006.  She and her late husband Glen Nelson generously funded the Orchestra’s historic trip to Cuba last year.   Marilyn will take the baton from current chair, Warren Mack, beginning her two-year term in December.

In accepting the Board’s nomination as Chair Elect, Marilyn reflected on the recent passing of her husband – and how she wanted to commit her time in the future.  “When you encounter difficult times in life, it does make you revisit how you cherish those around you and also how you use your time.  Part of you reflects that time is getting shorter and you think of all the things you could do with it, and there’s another part that says there’s not enough time left to give back,” she said.  “Well, I’m proud to commit my time here.  I can’t think of an organization that has done more than this one to make us realize that the arts do make us whole.”

A Star Tribune article quotes CEO Kevin Smith’s assertion that Carlson Nelson’s leadership will be especially important for the Orchestra at this critical point.  “We have rebounded fully and quickly from the lockout period… Now we need to solidify that growth,” building the organization’s endowment, continuing to balance the budget and expanding programing.  “It’s a perfect match at a perfect time.”

Leading Laureate, Conductor Laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski Returns

Maestro Skrowawczewski will return to Orchestra Hall, built during his long tenure as Music Director, to conduct Bruckner.

At age 93, “our” beloved Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is still in demand for conducting dates around the world; in Japan and Europe he’s a genuine “rock star” who consistently sells out concerts and is honored with 10-minute ovations.  His 56-year relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra as music director and conductor laureate is the longest such ongoing relationship of any major American orchestra.   Maestro Skrowaczewski is known as a Bruckner expert; don’t miss this chance to hear him conduct the composer’s soaring Symphony No. 8 on Fri Oct 14 or Sat Oct 15 at 8pm.  Principal Trombone Doug Wright recommends this concert, saying “It’s a special occasion every time Skrowaczewski comes in to conduct, and when he’s conducting Bruckner – it’s extra special!”  You can preview this concert on the orchestra website and also read an essay on Skrowaczewski’s remarkable career by Dr. Frederick Harris, his biographer.

At 92, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is still an international “rock star” who earns 10-minute ovations.

Take a Bow! Minnesota Orchestra Honors Donors  with Guarantors’ Celebration

This institution relies upon leadership from the community as well!  As ticket sales cover only a fourth of the Orchestra’s annual budget, donors are truly instrumental in making this exceptional music possible.  So if you donate to the Orchestra, take a bow!  The concerts during the first two weeks of November are for you, its 7,200+ generous donors. (Keep in mind that donors of $250 or more annually receive 4 free tickets to one of the Guarantors’ concerts. If you’re not currently there, you might want to consider taking your donations to a new level.)

Leadership Past and Present: Vänskä, Page Present Lincoln Portrait as Part of New World Symphony Concert
Thu Nov 3 at 11am, Fri Nov 4 and Sat Nov. 5 at 8pm

Triple bill:  Osmo conducts the New World Symphony, Esther Yoo solos in the Bruch Violin Concerto and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page narrates Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.

This stirring concert features recently retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page narrating Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with excerpts from the Gettysburg Address, followed by Esther Yoo as soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto.  Vänskä then conducts the treasured New World Symphony. You’ll have best luck finding seats for the Nov 5 concert; the others are almost sold out.

Take in the free Concert Preview with Philip Gainsley and Justice Alan C. Page in the Auditorium on Thursday, November 3, at 10:15 a.m., and with Philip Gainsley, Justice Alan C. Page and Roderick Cox in the Target Atrium on both Friday, November 4, at 7:15 p.m., and Saturday, November 5, at 7:15 p.m.

NightCap concert at 10:30pm on Nov 5 will feature Minnesota Orchestra musicians playing Persichetti and Dvořák.

To round out the evening, there’s also a NightCap Concert featuring Persichetti’s Serenade No. 10 for flute and harp and Dvořák’s Dumky for piano, violin and cello in the Target Atrium at 10:30pm after the Nov 5 concert. This chamber music performance requires a separate ticket ($25, or $10 for patrons of 8 p.m. concert), and includes a free drink.

Maestro Conducts Mahler Masterpiece: Mahler’s Sixth Fri Nov 11 and Sat Nov 12 at 8pm

Osmo conducts the dramatic Mahler Sixth on Nov 11 and 12 at 8pm. Photo © Courtney Perry

Get a preview of the Orchestra’s upcoming recording of Mahler’s Sixth, a thrilling and dramatic masterpiece, especially as conducted by Osmo.  Violinist Aaron Janse recommends this concert, saying that the Sixth is “the mightiest and my favorite of all the Mahler symphonies.”  Also featured is Claudio Puntin’s Clarinet Concerto, composed at the request of Osmo Vänskä.

Beethoven No. 5 and Purple Rain: the Vikings Halftime Video

At the Vikings Halftime Show cell phones blinked on in the stands as the Orchestra segued from Beethoven No 5 to Purple Rain.

Missed the Minnesota Orchestra’s halftime show from the Sept. 18 Vikings home opener? A video and lots of great photos are posted on the Orchestra’s website, along with a selection of the extensive press coverage.   Look for photos in the Orchestra Hall lobby, as well.  The game was a huge win for both the Vikings and the Orchestra – with accolades in the local and national news media and also publications like Rolling Stone, Slate, and Entertainment Weekly.  Hopefully, many of the 65,000+ Vikings fans who saw the halftime show at US Bank Stadium are now fans of the Minnesota Orchestra, not to mention the thousands who have heard or seen coverage of the event. And given the Purple’s undefeated (!) record so far this season, perhaps the MO needs to do an encore at next season’s Vikings home opener. Skol!

Happiness in Tears: Eagerly Anticipated Sibelius Release of Symphonies Nos 3, 6, and 7

With the recording of Symphonies Nos 3, 6 and 7, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra complete their much-acclaimed Sibelius cycle.  Read this sampling of enthusiastic reviews, from the international release earlier this summer, and you’ll feel extra-proud of our orchestra:

  • On July 10, The Sunday Times (London) named the CD “Album of the Week,” asserting “With these recordings, Vänskä confirms his status as our greatest living Sibelian.  Irreplaceable.”
  • The BBC Music Magazine titled their article “Stellar league Sibelius” and enthused “The orchestra’s somber inner glow wonderfully suits Sibelius’s music.”
Osmo will sign CDs after the concerts on Nov 3, 11 and 12.

You can purchase all the Sibelius recordings, including this new one, at the Minnesota Orchestra Box Office or order them online Osmo will be signing CDs after the concerts on Nov 3 (Vänskä Conducts New World Symphony) and also Nov 11 and 12 (Vänskä Conducts Mahler’s Sixth).

In preparation for his upcoming performances of the complete Sibelius cycle with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Osmo gave this compelling interview, explaining that Finnish people may be happiest when they are in tears.  As you listen to this most recent recording, you may want to have some Kleenex on hand.

Remembering Leadership Legacy, Sir Neville Marriner

When Sir Neville Marriner died in his sleep at 92 a week ago Sunday, the classical music world lost one of its brightest stars.  As critic Michael Anthony said in his MinnPost tribute, “the Twin Cities lost an old friend.”  One of the world’s most widely recorded musicians, best known as founder of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986.  He was to have conducted the Orchestra in two concerts here in January.  Here is a sampling of articles about his legacy both worldwide and here in Minnesota:

  • Michael Anthony’s MinnPost article on Marriner’s Minnesota legacy is both heartfelt and comprehensive, covering not only Sir Neville’s impact on the orchestra’s sound and recordings with them, but his annoyance at audiences “they’re noisy … and they cough a lot” and his sense of humor.
  • “Neville Marriner, Baton Magician” from Deutche Welle covers the beginning of Marriner’s long career; he started as a violinist and led the group of musicians at St. Martin in the Fields, a London church, from the first violinist’s seat.
  • This Star Tribune tribute includes remembrances from Minnesota Orchestra musicians.
Neville Marriner rehearses with Itzhak Perlman and the Minnesota Orchestra.  Marriner was known for his keen wit and sense of humor.

We hope you share our gratitude for our Orchestra and for the talented and dedicated leaders who built and continue to lead this phenomenal institution.  With the baton in such capable hands, we are tremendously optimistic about the future.  See you soon at Orchestra Hall — inspiring music is a perfect antidote for the cacophony of this crazy election season!


Legacy of Leadership: Building toward Crescendo