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Kevin Puts extends contract as director of Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (July 12, 2017) — The Minnesota Orchestra today announced that conductor Sarah Hicks will lead the Minnesota Orchestra’s “Live at Orchestra Hall” concert series through the 2020-21 season, and that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts will continue as director of the Orchestra’s Composer Institute through the 2019-20 season.

Sarah Hicks, who leads the Orchestra this weekend in two programs—Star Trek Live (July 13 and 14) and Inside the Classics: Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony (July 15)—will continue to conduct numerous concerts each season and oversee artistic planning for all Live at Orchestra Hall concerts, as Principal Conductor of the series through the 2020-21 season. The Live at Orchestra Hall series covers a broad spectrum that celebrates popular music, jazz, Broadway classics, movie scores and world music, among other offerings. Hicks has been an artistic leader in concerts featuring artists from Minnesota’s internationally renowned music scene – including shows with The New Standards, two sold-out April performances with Dessa and an upcoming collaboration with indie band Cloud Cult. She is also currently working with director Peter Rothstein, writer Kevin Kling and composer Robert Elhai on a brand new Minnesota Orchestra holiday concert, which will debut in December 2017.

Kevin Puts extends his commitment with the Minnesota Orchestra through the 2019-20 season, following the success of his initial three years as director of the Composer Institute, an acclaimed professional composer training program that the Orchestra offers annually in conjunction with the American Composers Forum. Since 2014, Puts has led the Institute in providing training and mentorship to 21 emerging composers, whose music was performed by the Orchestra during the Institute weeks. Seven additional composers have been selected for the Minnesota Orchestra’s 15th annual Composer Institute, which will be held the week of November 6, 2017, culminating in a public Future Classics concert on November 10, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä.

“The Minnesota Orchestra is fortunate to have musicians the caliber of Sarah Hicks and Kevin Puts on our artistic roster to take care of the different types of concerts we offer,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “Sarah Hicks excels at creative programming and has such a strong rapport with audiences. Kevin Puts is masterful at connecting the Orchestra to emerging composers whose music should be heard as part of the Composer Institute. They are very important members of our artistic team, and this is very positive news for the Orchestra.”

Sarah Hicks joined the Minnesota Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006, making history as the first woman to hold a titled conducting post with the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2009, she was named Principal Conductor of Pops and Presentations, succeeding trumpeter Doc Severinsen in that role, and devoted herself to programming a wide spectrum of music for Orchestra audiences. During the upcoming 2017-18 season, she will conduct Orchestra performances with Leslie Odom, Jr., Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Pink Martini, Cloud Cult and Cirque de la Symphonie, as well as film music concerts including La La Land, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Little Mermaid and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and a brand-new holiday program.

Away from Orchestra Hall, she has recently conducted the San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and San Diego Symphony, and debuted with the major orchestras in Melbourne, Brisbane, Montreal, Toronto and Lisbon. Learn more at and

“Being the Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall means so many things to me; working with the extraordinary musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, of course, but also producing new and innovative shows—from our Musical Feast to collaborations with creative artists like Dessa,” said Hicks. “And most importantly, I’m able to bring a wide variety of offerings, from live film to Pink Martini, that appeal to diverse audiences; there are few things that can match watching the joy of so many people having a fantastic time in Orchestra Hall!”

Kevin Puts won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for the opera Silent Night, which was commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera. He has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation and his work has been commissioned and performed by leading orchestras in the U.S. and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. He has written five symphonies as well as concertos premiered by prominent soloists including Yo‐Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie.

Among his recent projects are the opera The Manchurian Candidate, commissioned by the Minnesota Opera and premiered in 2015; the orchestral work The City, co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony and Carnegie Hall and premiered in April 2016; and a new work for soprano and orchestra based on the personal letters of Georgia O’Keefe, which premiered in November 2016 with Renée Fleming as soloist. September 2017 will see the premiere of his first chamber opera, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s gothic novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia with libretto by Mark Campbell. He is currently at work on a new oboe concerto for Baltimore Symphony’s principal oboist Katherine Needleman, to be premiered in summer 2018, and an orchestral fantasy based on music from his first opera, Silent Night. Learn more at and

Minnesota Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra ranks among America’s top symphonic ensembles, with a distinguished history of acclaimed performances in its home state and around the world. It is known for award-winning recordings, as well as for notable educational engagement programs and a commitment to new orchestral repertoire. Founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble gave its inaugural performance on November 5, 1903, six weeks before the Wright brothers made their unprecedented airplane flight. The ensemble typically presents nearly 175 programs annually, primarily at its home venue of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

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