When Osmo Vänskä is asked which concert is most important for the Orchestra, he always replies, “the one we’re preparing right now.” After their conquest of Carnegie, the musicians are turning their sights toward the rest of the season and recently announced Sommerfest 2016, but the memories and praise from New York still linger.

Carnegie Hall: Minnesota Orchestra’s “White Light, White Heat”

 The Minnesota Orchestra played to a full house at Carnegie Hall and won the hearts of the New York audience. Photo by Deborah Dillaway

The Minnesota Orchestra played to a full house at Carnegie Hall and won the hearts of the New York audience.
Photo by Deborah Dillaway

The March 3 concert at Carnegie Hall was both a symbolic highpoint of the Minnesota Orchestra’s comeback journey and an artistic triumph. The Orchestra was originally scheduled to play four concerts at Carnegie in 2013 – a whole Sibelius cycle. The cancellation of these concerts during the lockout was heartbreaking and it wasn’t possible to reschedule them immediately; Carnegie concerts are by invitation and are arranged years in advance.

The March 3 concert was offered as a single date – squeezed into the already full Carnegie schedule. With an audience including sophisticated New York critics and classical music fans that are treated to a constant parade of the world’s top orchestras, Osmo and the musicians were under tremendous pressure. As reviews indicated, they rose to the occasion and then some:

  • New York Classical Review enthused: “Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra are among the finest contemporary advocates for the Sibelius symphonies, and their Thursday night concert of the Finnish composer’s music was a superb experience, full of deep feeling and explosive energy. The concert built inexorably to a point of complete and profound fulfillment.”
  • The New York Times review, titled “Sibelius: White Light, White Heat,” offered rapturous accolades, saying that the event was “a symbolic victory, and also an artistic one.” It ended by lamenting the lack of plans to complete the Sibelius cycle and saying, “But for the sake of New York’s music lovers – and the sake of Sibelius – this hall should invite this orchestra back, and soon.”
  • The New York Times also ran a full-page article on the Minnesota Orchestra and CEO Kevin Smith ahead of the concert.

What was it like for the musicians to play at Carnegie Hall?
Here are some comments from members of various sections:

2John Snow, oboe: “It is so overwhelming to walk in the stage door, go up the stairs and walk out on the stage. The hall, of course, is visually stunning and perfectly shaped which helps create the glorious acoustics. You would think over the years, that one would become accustomed to playing at Carnegie Hall but the fact of the matter is, Carnegie Hall is an icon for the best of the best. It is one of the finest concert halls in the world and it is known to present the finest ensembles, conductors and soloists in the world. So, last week’s visit was like every other one — walk on stage, jaw drops, breathe in the history and — go to work!”

3Catherine Schaefer Schubilske, Acting Assistant Principal Second Violin
“The Sibelius First Symphony had great momentum and flow, an inspiring performance by Osmo and all involved. I’m so grateful to be able to enjoy Hilary Hahn’s playing from 6 feet away! An unforgettable experience!”
4Kenneth Freed, Viola
“The visceral excitement in the hall was palpable. We all possess a sixth sense about whether an audience is with us or not. It’s the quiet listening, the internal listening that you can hear and feel on stage. This concert was gratifying on so many levels. The hall is a dream acoustically. It allows us to listen and respond to each other in an immediate way. It was a dream come true.”



5R. Douglas Wright, Principal Trombone
“Playing at Carnegie Hall is always a thrill because of what it is and where it is. However, this time was extra special because of our recent history, the repertoire, the conductor, the soloist, and most especially, the tremendous support that was absolutely palpable on-stage from our hometown fans. … Thanks so much to everyone who was able to join us and to all of those who tuned in on-line or sent us their love and support however they were able. We couldn’t have done it without you!”

Kevin Smith Adds his Congratulations after the Carnegie Concert
Here is an excerpt of the message CEO Kevin Smith sent to Osmo and the musicians: “You left no doubt that you are a world-class orchestra, one that excels when the pressure is at its greatest. Your performance was ‘awesome’ and completely deserving of the rave reviews and enthusiastic audience response you received. On behalf of everyone associated with the Minnesota Orchestra, thank you for all of the great work you do to achieve the highest artistic standards and to represent Minnesota in the most positive way.”

Just four days after their New York triumph, musicians were back at Orchestra Hall communicating with a rapt audience of kindergartners, the next generation of Minnesota Orchestra fans. Photo by Deborah Dillaway
Just four days after their New York triumph, musicians were back at Orchestra Hall communicating with a rapt audience of kindergartners, the next generation of Minnesota Orchestra fans. Photo by Deborah Dillaway

6 for 5 Easy Pass Discount Offer

You don’t have to travel to New York to hear our own world-class orchestra – and here’s a way to save on tickets for upcoming concerts. You can get 6 concerts for the price of 5 by purchasing 6 Easy Pass vouchers (either Premium or Easy) for the regular price and applying the coupon code EXCELLENCE for the discount. The flexible vouchers can be redeemed year round, all at once or for multiple concerts, but this discount offer expires July 15. For Easy pass details click here.

Musicians Recommend these March-April Concerts

7Schumann, Ravel and de Falla

Fri Mar 18 and Sat Mar 19 at 8pm
Don’t miss this chance to hear Spanish-born conductor Jesús López-Cobos conduct music with the rhythms and colors of his homeland and to experience the lyrical intensity of Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger in Schumann’s beloved piano concerto. This concert is the Star Tribune’s “pick of the week” and principal flute Adam Kuenzel says, “A new guest conductor will hold surprises for the audience, as well as the orchestra.

8Stravinsky’s Petrushka

Thurs Apr 14, Fri Apr 15 and Sat Apr 16 at 8 pm
For Symphony in 60 on April 14, Christian Macelaru, a fast-rising star and winner of the 2014 Solti award, will conduct this Stravinsky ballet favorite, as well as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The April 15 & 16 classical concerts will also include the Viola Concerto by Pulitzer-winning composer Jennifer Higdon with soloist Roberto Diaz, an internationally known violist and also CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. See violinist Deborah Serafini’s concert recommendation.



Rilling Conducts A German Requiem

Fri Apr 22 and Sat Apr 23 at 8pm; Sun Apr 24 at 2pm
Esteemed German conductor and scholar Helmuth Rilling will begin this special concert with a lecture-demonstration with the Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale, exploring highlights of Brahms’ riveting work, written in the days after his mother’s death. Bassist Dave Williamson recommends this concert saying of Rilling, “I have seen choristers and orchestra players on the verge of tears listening to him speak.”

OH+ Focus on MacPhail Center for Music

unnamed (1)March is Music in our Schools month and throughout this month, the Orchestra will be celebrating MacPhail’s K-12 School Partnerships program. If you’re coming to a concert in March, check the OH+ schedule and plan to come early to hear programs by talented music students from Ascension, Harvest Prep or FAIR School Downtown.

Orchestra Announces Sommerfest 2016

11Artistic director Andrew Litton returns to the podium for his 13th Sommerfest with the Orchestra, July 8-23. Classical concerts spotlight several world-renowned soloists, including the legendary Andre Watts, violinist Nicola Benedetti and cellist Leonard Eischenbroich playing Brahms and Beethoven together in two concerts, and Chinese pianist Zhang Zuo, making her Minnesota Orchestra debut. The Sommerfest lineup also includes a program inspired by dance, chamber music featuring Minnesota Orchestra musicians, and a complete concert performance of Verdi’s Otello. If you are a current or new subscriber, you can purchase tickets now; individual tickets go on sale April 6.


Experience the “white hot” Minnesota Orchestra for yourself this spring and summer. And when you see our musicians at the Hall, be sure to say hello and tell them how proud we all are to have them as Minnesota ambassadors – at Carnegie and around the world.

New York Applauds “White Hot” Minnesota Orchestra