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Music Director Osmo Vänskä guides Orchestra’s flagship classical series,
September 2015 to June 2016, featuring classical masterworks, star soloists and conductors; Inside the Classics and Symphony in 60 series return, offering casual concert experiences for audiences; new chamber series held in Target Atrium

Classical highlights include season opener with singer Audra McDonald;
Beethoven Marathon featuring all nine symphonies plus all five piano concertos with soloist Yevgeny Sudbin; celebration of Sibelius’ 150th birthday with multiple programs of his music, including one at Carnegie Hall; and concerts featuring Mahler’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, the latter as the season finale

Orchestra to record Sibelius’ Kullervo and Finlandia, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony
and new work by Kortekangas

Soloists include violinists Hilary Hahn, Concertmaster Erin Keefe, Jennifer Koh and Henning Kraggerud; pianists Inon Barnatan, Andreas Haefliger, Natasha Paremski, Jon Kimura Parker and Yevgeny Sudbin; cellists Arto Noras and Principal Cello Anthony Ross; violist Roberto Díaz; soprano Amber Wagner; mezzos Kelley O’Connor and
Lilli Paasikivi; and baritone Tommi Hakala

Former Music Director Stanislaw Skrowaczewski returns; Sarah Hicks conducts Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific; Helmuth Rilling leads Brahms’ German Requiem; additional conductors include James Feddeck, Asher Fisch, Jesús López-Cobos, Cristian Măcelaru, Vasily Petrenko, Robert Spano, Juraj Valčuha, Gilbert Varga and Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton

Future Classics concert features music by emerging composers, part of the Composer Institute directed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts; Common Chords continues with week-long festival in Detroit Lakes

Click here to view a complete 2015-16 season calendar

Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra today unveiled plans for the ensemble’s 2015-16 classical concert season—one that features four centuries of masterpieces from Bach to Higdon, with a Beethoven festival at the core.  In addition, the Orchestra is announcing the lineup for two classical series that offer casual concert experiences for audiences: Inside the Classics, a series combining music and entertaining conversation conducted by Sarah Hicks and hosted by Sam Bergman, and Symphony in 60, a set of hour-long concerts bookended by optional social activities.  New this season is a four-concert chamber music series presented in the Target Atrium.

2015-16 Classical season
The season opens at Orchestra Hall on September 11 and 12, 2015, with concerts featuring Grammy- and Tony Award-winning singer-actress Audra McDonald, who will perform her signature songs with the Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä’s direction.  It continues with 22 weeks of classical subscription concerts, highlights of which are a two-week Beethoven Marathon featuring all nine of the composer’s symphonies—with the Ninth Symphony performed on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day—plus all five Beethoven piano concertos played by Russian soloist Yevgeny Sudbin; three weeks of Sibelius-centered programs celebrating the Finnish composer’s 150th birthday year, including the Violin Concerto, Six Humoresques for Violin and Orchestra, Symphonies No. 1 and 3, and the Orchestra’s first performance of Kullervo since an ecstatically praised concert at Carnegie Hall in 2010—the latter to be recorded live in concert; performances of Mahler symphonies in the first and last classical season concerts; and performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical South Pacific conducted by Sarah Hicks.
In February 2016 the Orchestra and Vänskä, joined by Finland’s YL Male Voice Choir and vocal soloists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommy Hakala, will make a live, in-concert recording of Sibelius’ Kullervo.  The Orchestra, YL Male Voice Choir and Paasikivi will also record Kortekangas’ Migrations, and the Orchestra and Choir will record Sibelius’ Finlandia, all live in concert.  In addition, Vänskä and the Orchestra will record Mahler’s Fifth Symphony—their first Mahler recording together—in separate sessions in June 2016.  These recordings will be released in a future season on the BIS Records label.
Several recurring themes are woven throughout the season, such as music that illuminates the links between Brahms and the Schumanns, including Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Third Symphony, and Schumann’s concertos for cello and piano.  Also notable will be music by composers associated with Vienna, among them Mahler, Bruckner and Beethoven; music from Nordic countries by Sibelius, Nielsen and contemporary composer Olli Kortekangas; expressions of nationalism in music, including de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat Suites and Stravinsky’s Petrushka; and spiritual music ranging from Handel’s Messiah and Brahms’ German Requiem to Wagner’s Parsifal and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.  The season also includes performances of three Bach Brandenburg Concertos, among the greatest Baroque masterpieces, to be followed in the 2016-17 season with the other three Brandenburg Concertos.
“This season we’re excited to share great masterpieces from past centuries, including our whirlwind Beethoven festival and a reprise of our much-talked-about Sibelius Kullervo,” said Vänskä.  “But we also turn our attention to the future by expanding on our many connections with our wonderfully supportive community here at home, and by returning the Orchestra to the national stage with a performance at Carnegie Hall.”
After the September 11 and 12 season opening concerts with Audra McDonald, the season continues with concerts on October 1, 2 and 3, as Vänskä conducts Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which in its final movement presents a child’s vision of heaven.  These concerts also include Strauss’ serene Four Last Songs and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.  Vänskä leads 12 weeks of concerts during the season, which concludes with another Mahler symphony, the Fifth, as the season finale in June 2016.
The Orchestra is joined throughout the year by many stellar guest soloists, including Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn and violinists Jennifer Koh and Henning Kraggerud; pianists Inon Barnatan, Andreas Haefliger, Natasha Paremski, Jon Kimura Parker and Yevgeny Sudbin; cellist Arto Noras; violist Roberto Díaz, a former member of the Orchestra; soprano Amber Wagner; mezzos Kelley O’Connor and Lilli Paasikivi; and baritone Tommi Hakala.  Two Orchestra musicians will be featured as soloist: Concertmaster Erin Keefe, who performs the Brahms Violin Concerto, and Principal Cello Anthony Ross, who plays Schumann’s Cello Concerto in his first-ever concerto solo with the Orchestra under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s direction.  Other Orchestra members are featured in performances of Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Timpani, Percussion and String Orchestra.  In addition, the YL Male Voice Choir of Finland joins the Orchestra for a set of all-Finnish concerts.
“We are truly thrilled to announce the 2015-16 season,” said Greg Milliren, the Orchestra’s associate principal flute and a member of its Artistic Advisory Committee.  “We look forward to performing a kaleidoscope of inspiring symphonic music and working alongside some of the most exciting guest artists of our time in Minnesota’s own Orchestra Hall.  The planning process for this season was once again a collaborative one between Osmo, musicians, staff and board, and we expect this spirit to find its way into the energy of our performances.”
Familiar faces taking the conductor’s podium in 2015-16 include the Orchestra’s esteemed Conductor Laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who was music director from 1960 to 1979, and current  Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton, now in his 13th year in that post.  Other returning guest conductors include Helmuth Rilling, Robert Spano, Gilbert Varga, Vasily Petrenko and Asher Fisch.  Four conductors make their debut: James Feddeck, Jesús López-Cobos, Cristian Măcelaru and Juraj Valčuha.  Sarah Hicks, principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, will conduct performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, bridging the Classical and Live at Orchestra Hall series.
The season’s programming ranges from well-loved audience favorites to rarely-heard gems.   Highlights familiar to audiences are the First Piano Concertos of both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff; Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, the Sixth (Pathétique); all nine Beethoven symphonies; the Strauss tone poems Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks; and Sibelius’ signature composition, Finlandia.  Among masterpieces less often performed at Orchestra Hall are Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony, Honegger’s Second Symphony, Penderecki’s Second Cello Concerto, Sibelius’ Kullervo and Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony (Sinfonia semplice).
The Orchestra’s offerings of contemporary music include the world premiere of Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas’ Migrations, with the YL Male Voice Choir and mezzo Lilli Paasikivi singing text by Duluth-based poet Sheila Packa.  Other newer works include Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto, played by Roberto Díaz, Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs, setting poetry by Nobel Prize-winner Pablo Neruda, and Two Mountain Scenes by Kevin Puts.  Puts is director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, which is presented by the Orchestra and the American Composers Forum for the 13th time in January 2016.  The Institute offers up to seven emerging composers an intensive week-long immersion in the world of the symphony orchestra.  At the week’s end, the participating composers’ works will be performed in a Future Classics concert, conducted by Osmo Vänskä.  Composers for the 2016 Composer Institute will be announced in summer 2015.
The Orchestra’s holiday season offerings include a beloved tradition—performances of Handel’s Messiah, led by James Feddeck and featuring vocal soloists Esther Heideman, Carolyn Sproule, Matthew Plenk and Stephen Hegedus.  Additional holiday concerts are detailed in a separate press release.
The Minnesota Chorale, the Orchestra’s principal chorus, will collaborate three times with the Orchestra in the classical season: in performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony led by Osmo Vänskä; concerts of Handel’s Messiah conducted by James Feddeck; and performances of Brahms’ German Requiem under the baton of Helmuth Rilling, who will present a lecture-demonstration of the Requiem as part of the performance, further illuminating this powerful work.  The Chorale is prepared by its Artistic Director Kathy Saltzman Romey, who also serves as the Orchestra’s choral advisor; she also conducts a sing-along performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestra and Chorale members in December 2015.
Expanding its presence beyond Orchestra Hall, the Orchestra spends September 21 to 26 in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes for its fifth Common Chords outreach week—a festival that features performances and numerous activities that reflect the interests, diversity and heritage of Detroit Lakes; conductor Sarah Hicks will be among the leaders of the concerts and activities.  In another trip away from home, on March 3, 2016, the Orchestra will return to New York’s Carnegie Hall for the first time in five years, performing an all-Sibelius program with violinist Hilary Hahn as soloist in the Violin Concerto; this concert also includes Sibelius’ First and Third Symphonies.
Continuing a longtime partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, the Orchestra’s Friday evening classical concerts will be broadcast regionally on MPR stations.
Current Minnesota Orchestra subscribers will be contacted in phases (between April and June) with an invitation to renew their specific seats and series.  The general public can subscribe beginning April 3, 2015, to any 2015-16 Premier Classical subscription package.  Premier packages include three to 24 concerts featuring the same seat location for every concert.  Additional subscription package offerings will be available on June 15.  Individual tickets go on sale to the general public on July 31, 2015.  For additional purchasing details, see the section at the conclusion of this press release.

2015-16 Inside the Classics season
  Inside the Classics—a three-concert series that explores great classical works through performances and enlightening conversation—returns for a seventh season with conductor Sarah Hicks and host Sam Bergman, who is a member of the Orchestra’s viola section.  Each Friday-night concert includes an in-depth look at the featured composers and concert themes, as Hicks and Bergman offer lively discussion, insights and humor, giving the audience a greater understanding of the musical excerpts and complete works performed by the Orchestra during the concert.
The season begins on February 12, 2016, with a program titled “Hipster vs. Nerd,” focusing on Mozart and Haydn, the two great geniuses of the Classical era.  It explores the contrasts in their compositional styles through narration, musical excerpts and complete performances of selected works.  Says Bergman: “Haydn, the titular nerd, loved the intricacies of the compositional process, and he created new forms and idioms that would serve as the template for the next several generations of concert music.  Mozart, the hipster, was less about changing musical forms and more about coloring outside the lines, creating beautiful but often sardonic pieces with a bit of an edge.  Haydn is culture, and Mozart is counter-culture, or at least as counter-culture as one can be while working for an emperor!”
The series’ second program, performed on March 11, 2016, looks at the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest Baroque composer, and explores how his incredible influence can be felt across the centuries, through all eras of music from Classical to modern.  The program’s second half will include complete performances of selected Bach works to be announced.
For the Inside the Classics season finale, presented on May 20, 2016, the Orchestra and guest vocalists will explore the evolution of opera and the orchestra’s role in it, from the Baroque to Wagner and beyond.  Explains Bergman: “Over the course of the evening, the Orchestra will grow from just a few players to a setup worthy of Bayreuth, and the singing will go from light, airy melismas to huge, weighty power vocals.  It will be a visual as well as aural representation of just how far opera has come over the centuries.”
Current Minnesota Orchestra Inside the Classics Casual Pass subscribers will be contacted in June with an invitation to renew their specific seats and series.  The general public can subscribe beginning April 3, 2015, to a 2015-16 Inside the Classics three-concert series.  Individual tickets are priced at $29 and go on sale to the general public on July 31.  Packages and tickets can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org, or by calling 612-371-5642.

2015-16 Symphony in 60 season
Symphony in 60, a three-concert series of classical performances in a one-hour format, returns in 2016 with one concert each conducted by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, Cristian Măcelaru and Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton.  The one-hour programs, which take place on a Thursday night, offer a burst of culture for busy lifestyles, whether audiences are already classical music fans, curious about the music, or altogether new to Orchestra Hall.  Optional social activities are offered before and after each program.  Each evening begins at 7 p.m. with a happy hour at Orchestra Hall.  The concert program runs from approximately 8 to 9 p.m., with no intermission, and is followed immediately by an onstage gathering at which audience members may meet and mingle with members of the Minnesota Orchestra.
“We look forward to offering this abbreviated concert format,” says Music Director Osmo Vänskä.  “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.”
The season’s first Symphony in 60 concert, held on April 14, 2016, features Stravinsky’s Petrushka, the second of the composer’s three great ballets written for the Ballet Russes, which together launched his international career in the years leading up to World War I.  Cristian Măcelaru conducts the 1947 revision of Stravinsky’s folk-infused tale of puppets at a carnival.  The series continues on May 26, 2016, with Osmo Vänskä conducting a performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto, one of the great Romantic works for the instrument, with Concertmaster Erin Keefe as soloist.  The Symphony in 60 season concludes on July 14, 2016, with Andrew Litton conducting another beloved Brahms concerto, the Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra.  For this performance, violinist Nicola Benedetti and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich will take the solo roles.
Symphony in 60, which launched during the 2014-15 concert season, grew out of a 2008 Wallace Foundation grant to the Minnesota Orchestra that supported audience development.  Information about the current season is available online at minnesotaorchestra.org/casual.
Current Minnesota Orchestra Symphony in 60 Casual Pass subscribers will be contacted in June with an invitation to renew their specific seats and series.  The general public can subscribe beginning April 3, 2015, to a 2015-16 Symphony in 60 three-concert series.  Individual tickets are priced at $29 and go on sale to the general public on July 31.  Packages and tickets can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org, or by calling 612-371-5642.

2015-16 Chamber Music in the Target Atrium
The extraordinary talent of Minnesota Orchestra musicians shines in a rich and diverse series of chamber music concerts programmed and performed by members of the Minnesota Orchestra.  The series, held for the first time in Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium, includes concerts on October 18, 2015, and February 28, April 3 and May 15, 2016.  Programs for these concerts will be announced in July 2015.

Additional 2015-16 concert series
The Classical, Inside the Classics, Symphony in 60 and Chamber Music in the Target Atrium series are part of a larger 2015-16 concert season that also includes the separately-announced Live at Orchestra Hall, Holiday Concerts, Family Concerts and Jazz in the Target Atrium, as well as Young People’s Concerts for school groups and homeschool students.


Subscription packages for 2015-16 Classical, Inside the Classics, Symphony in 60 and Chamber Music in the Target Atrium series are available starting on Friday, April 3Flexible packages, including Easy Tickets and Create Your Own Series, go on sale beginning Monday, June 15 Individual tickets go on sale beginning on Friday, July 31.  Packages and tickets can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org; by calling 612-371-5656 (612-371-5642 for subscriptions) or 800-292-4141 (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and performance Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.); in person at the Orchestra Hall Box Office, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and beginning two hours before all ticketed performances); and in person at the Minnesota Orchestra Administrative Office, International Centre, 5th floor, 920 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis (open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).  For more information, call 612-371-5656, or visit minnesotaorchestra.org.  For packages, call 612-371-5642 or visit minnesotaorchestra.org/subscribe.  For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

Included in the 2015-16 season are two new offerings: the Saturdays at Six Series, which includes selected concerts with an earlier start time of 6 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., and a Sunday Brunch Series of Sunday matinee concerts preceded by a brunch at Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium.

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.

The Star Tribune is the Minnesota Orchestra’s media partner for the 2015-16 season.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation
from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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