Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton Extends Contract with Minnesota Orchestra; Mr. Litton will lead Sommerfest through 2017 festival

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Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton
Extends Contract with Minnesota Orchestra

Mr. Litton will lead Sommerfest through 2017 festival

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (June 24, 2014)—The Minnesota Orchestra today announced that Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton has signed a new contract with the Orchestra, extending his leadership of the popular summer festival through 2017. Mr. Litton was originally named to the top Sommerfest post in 2003.

“I have loved Sommerfest since I led my first festival concert in 1984, early in my career,” said Andrew Litton. “I admire its spirit of playfulness, its urban setting and adventurous audiences—and the great Minnesota Orchestra musicians with whom I have been fortunate to collaborate.  I am very happy to extend this partnership.”

Said Music Director Osmo Vänskä, “Andrew Litton has infused Sommerfest with a great energy over the past decade.  His inventive programming, his talents as both pianist and conductor, his ability to connect with audiences—it all makes him an ideal match for Sommerfest.  The Orchestra and our community will continue to benefit from his leadership.”

Mr. Litton’s previous contract extended through Sommerfest 2014, which runs from July 5 to July 26. This summer’s festival, the first to be held in Orchestra Hall since the venue’s renovation, will feature Mr. Litton conducting Brahms and Bernstein, serving as piano soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and leading a semi-staged version of Strauss’ effervescent comic opera Die Fledermaus. Mr. Litton will participate in chamber music performances and inaugurate the Target Atrium lobby space as a performance venue in a special post-concert CD release party on July 12, in which he’ll perform the music from his first solo piano recording, A Tribute to Oscar Peterson.

“Andrew’s genius has been to interweave the beloved traditions of this festival with new ideas in order to create a vibrant music festival that is true to its origins but also always evolving,” said President and CEO Michael Henson.

Under Mr. Litton’s direction, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest has enjoyed significant artistic and box office success, with a focus on jazz-inspired programs, chamber music performances, an annual semi-staged or concert opera performance and appearances by Mr. Litton as piano soloist, as well as conductor. Mr. Litton is the organization’s longest-serving artistic director of Sommerfest. Founded in 1980 as one of the nation’s first urban summer classical music festivals, Sommerfest has previously been led by Leonard Slatkin (1980-89), Michael Steinberg (1990-92), David Zinman (1993-96) and Jeffrey Tate (1997-2000).

Andrew Litton also serves as the music director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic—where he will oversee that orchestra’s 250th anniversary celebrations in 2015—and the Colorado Symphony, as well as conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony.  He guest conducts leading orchestras and opera companies around the globe; this season he returned to ballet, conducting the New York City Ballet’s new production of Delibes’ Coppelia in February.  Each year he adds to his discography of more than 120 recordings, which have garnered honors including a Grammy Award.  Mr. Litton earned degrees from the Juilliard School in piano and conducting.

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