Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 183: Minnesota Orchestra

World-class performances, even in a pandemic

The 117-year-old, Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra has been recorded and broadcast for a national audience since the early 1920s — and they’re not about to let a pandemic get in the way.

In a typical year, the acclaimed ensemble performs approximately 175 concerts. Of course, 2020 is anything but typical, so the musicians launched their fall season online, starting with six Friday night concerts performed live at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. (The photo above was taken pre-COVID. All 2,087 seats at Orchestra Hall are empty during the broadcasts and a maximum 25 musicians are permitted on stage at any given time, performing repertoire pieces while seated at least six feet apart.)

The half a dozen concerts are being streamed three ways: live at minnesotaorchestra.org, Classical MPR, and Twin Cities PBS at 8 p.m. CST. The season premiere was conducted by music director Osmo Vänskä and opened with Mozart’s Serenade No. 12 in C minor. They also performed Jessie Montgomery’s Strum and Tchaikovsky’s Serena in C major for Strings. The second installment, themed Rhythm and Grace, is slated for Friday, October 23, and will include Higdon’s Amazing Grace for String Quartet; Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Minor, Opus 18, No. 4; Coleman’s Tzigane for Wind Quintet; and D’Rivera’s Four Pieces for Brass Quintet.

In addition to preparing for the full season, orchestra members have shared more than 70 “at-home” sets from their living rooms and home studios this year. They also played four outdoor fan-appreciation concerts in August and collaborated with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, pianist Jon Kimura Parker, and Doomtree superstar Dessa.

That last collab is yet another example of why we 💜 this orchestra so much — they’re not afraid to get weird or experimental. We really enjoyed last year’s night-long meditation on “Music and the Mind” with principal conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman. The philharmonic has also staged a full-bodied orchestral concert with the indie rock band Cloud Cult. And let’s not forget its popular Movies & Music series, featuring live orchestral renditions of sweeping film scores for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Disney’s Up, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Bravo! 👏 Bravo! 👏 Standing ovation! 👏

Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN; 612-371-5656.