Minnesota Orchestra

Minnesota Orchestra

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The Minnesota Orchestra is an American orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

 based in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

.

Emil Oberhoffer
Emil Oberhoffer
Emil Oberhoffer was a German-born American conductor and minor composer. He founded the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra , and was its conductor for the first 19 years of its existence....

 founded the orchestra as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1903, and it gave its first performance on November 5 of that year. In 1968 the orchestra changed to its name to the Minnesota Orchestra. It makes its home in downtown Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall
Orchestra Hall (Minneapolis)
Orchestra Hall, located at Nicollet Mall and 12th Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, is home to the Minnesota Orchestra. The Hall was built in 1974 and opened for the 1974 concert season...

, which was built for the ensemble in 1974. The Minnesota's previous hall, starting in 1929, was Northrop Memorial Auditorium on the University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

's Minneapolis campus.

Since the 2003-04 season the orchestra's music director has been Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Antero Vänskä is a Finnish conductor, clarinetist and composer.He started his musical career as an orchestral clarinetist with the Turku Philharmonic . He then became the principal clarinet of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 1977 to 1982...

. Under Vanska's direction, the orchestra has garnered significant critical praise, including a 2010 description from The New Yorkers Alex Ross as sounding like "the best orchestra in the world."

Music Directors


Emil Oberhoffer
Emil Oberhoffer
Emil Oberhoffer was a German-born American conductor and minor composer. He founded the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra , and was its conductor for the first 19 years of its existence....

 was the Minnesota Orchestra's principal conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 until 1922. He was followed by Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor. He is considered one of the best known conductors of the 20th century. Walter was born in Berlin, but is known to have lived in several countries between 1933 and 1939, before finally settling in the United States in 1939...

 (chief guest conductor 1922–23); Henri Verbrugghen
Henri Verbrugghen
Henri Verbrugghen was a Belgian musician, who directed orchestras in England, Scotland, Australia and the United States....

 (1923–31); Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist.-Early life:Born Jenő Blau in Budapest, Hungary, Ormandy began studying violin at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music at the age of five...

 (1931–36); Dimitri Mitropoulos (1937–49); Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti, KBE was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who became a naturalized American citizen in 1947.-Biography:...

 (1949–60); Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1960–79); Neville Marriner
Neville Marriner
Sir Neville Marriner is an English conductor and violinist.-Biography:Marriner was born in Lincoln and studied at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. He played the violin in the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Martin String Quartet and London Symphony Orchestra, playing with the...

 (1979–86); Edo de Waart
Edo de Waart
Edo de Waart is a Dutch conductor, and the Music Director of both the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra....

 (1986–95); and Eiji Oue
Eiji Oue
is a Japanese conductor.Oue began his conducting studies with Hideo Saito of the Toho Gakuen School of Music. In 1978, Seiji Ozawa invited him to spend the summer studying at the Tanglewood Music Center. While there, he met Leonard Bernstein, who became a mentor. Oue won the Tanglewood...

 (1995–2002). In 2002, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Antero Vänskä is a Finnish conductor, clarinetist and composer.He started his musical career as an orchestral clarinetist with the Turku Philharmonic . He then became the principal clarinet of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 1977 to 1982...

 was appointed the ensemble's 10th music director and assumed the post in September 2003. In 2005, Vänskä extended his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra through 2011. In September 2009, the orchestra announced the further extension of Vänskä's contract through the 2014-15 season. On June 9, 2011, Vänskä was presented with the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming by ASCAP.

Musicians


Erin Keefe was appointed concertmaster
Concertmaster
The concertmaster/mistress is the spalla or leader, of the first violin section of an orchestra. In the UK, the term commonly used is leader...

 in September 2011. The position was open for two years after the departure of Jorja Fleezanis in 2009 to join the faculty of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music
Jacobs School of Music
The Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, is a music conservatory established in 1921. Until 2005, it was known as the Indiana University School of Music...

. Section Leaders include Manny Laureano
Manny Laureano
Manny Laureano is the Principal Trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as the Co-Artistic Director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. Laureano began his musical studies in the New York City public school system and received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the Juilliard School in 1977...

 (trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

), Doug Wright (trombone
Trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

), Adam Kuenzel (flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

), Gina DiBello (second violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

), Thomas Turner (viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

), Anthony Ross (cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

), Basil Reeve (oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

), Burt Hara
Burt Hara
Burt Hara has been principal clarinetist with the Minnesota Orchestra since 1987.Hara is a native of California. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from the Curtis Institute of Music, where his principal teachers were Donald Montanaro, Yehuda Gilad, and Mitchell Lurie.Before coming to...

 (clarinet
Clarinet
The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

), John Miller, Jr. (bassoon
Bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

), Michael Gast (horn
Horn (instrument)
The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

), Steven Campbell (tuba
Tuba
The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

), and Brian Mount (percussion). The principal bass position has been vacant since the 2007 departure of longtime principal Peter Lloyd. Assistant principal bass William Schrickel is serving as acting principal.

Recordings


The orchestra first began recording in 1924, and produced some landmark records. Among these was the first electrical recording of Mahler's
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 Resurrection Symphony
Symphony No. 2 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, known as the Resurrection, was written between 1888 and 1894, and first performed in 1895. Apart from the Eighth Symphony, this symphony was Mahler's most popular and successful work during his lifetime. It is his first major work that would eventually mark his...

 with Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist.-Early life:Born Jenő Blau in Budapest, Hungary, Ormandy began studying violin at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music at the age of five...

, who recorded extensively with the orchestra for RCA Victor in the 1930s. In the 1940s, the Minneapolis Symphony was contracted to Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 and made a series of records with Ormandy's successor, Dimitri Mitropoulos. These included the premiere recording of Mahler's First Symphony
Symphony No. 1 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 1 in D major by Gustav Mahler was mainly composed between late 1887 and March 1888, though it incorporates music Mahler had composed for previous works. It was composed while Mahler was second conductor at the Leipzig Opera, Germany...

. In 1954, the group made the first complete recordings of Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

's three ballets: Swan Lake
Swan Lake
Swan Lake ballet, op. 20, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, composed 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger...

, Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault or Little Briar Rose by the Brothers Grimm is a classic fairytale involving a beautiful princess, enchantment, and a handsome prince...

, and The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

 under the baton of Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti, KBE was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who became a naturalized American citizen in 1947.-Biography:...

. That same year, they also made the first recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture
1812 Overture
The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 49, popularly known as the 1812 Overture or the Overture of 1812 is an overture written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1880 to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of...

 to include actual cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 fire, again under the direction of Antal Doráti. These recordings were made for Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

 as part of the Living Presence series. In the 1970s, the now Minnesota Orchestra made a series of recordings for Vox Records
Vox Records
VOX Records is a budget classical record label. The name is Latin for "voice."-History:Vox was founded in 1945, starting out with 78-rpm discs, specializing in licensed pressings of classical recordings made in Europe. It was one of the last major recording companies to adopt stereo recording,...

 under the direction of Stanisław Skrowaczewski. In the 1990s, the orchestra recorded for the Reference Recordings label under the direction of music director, Eiji Oue
Eiji Oue
is a Japanese conductor.Oue began his conducting studies with Hideo Saito of the Toho Gakuen School of Music. In 1978, Seiji Ozawa invited him to spend the summer studying at the Tanglewood Music Center. While there, he met Leonard Bernstein, who became a mentor. Oue won the Tanglewood...

. During his tenure, current music director Osmo Vänskä has conducted a cycle of the Beethoven symphonies for the Swedish BIS
BIS Records
BIS Records is a record label founded in 1973 by Robert von Bahr. It is located in Åkersberga, Sweden.BIS focuses on classical music, both contemporary and early, especially works that are not already well represented by existing recordings....

 label. Their recording of the Ninth Symphony, with the Minnesota Chorale, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2007.

Summer festival


Begun in 1980 with Leonard Slatkin
Leonard Slatkin
Leonard Edward Slatkin is an American conductor and composer.-Early life and education:Slatkin was born in Los Angeles to a musical family that came from areas of the Russian Empire now in Ukraine. His father Felix Slatkin was the violinist, conductor and founder of the Hollywood String Quartet,...

 at the helm, the orchestra's summer festival has been known by several names, beginning with "Viennese Sommerfest," changing to "MusicFest" in 2001, and eventually reverting to "Sommerfest" in 2003. Sommerfest concerts are held at Orchestra Hall over a four-week period in midsummer. The orchestra also offers free live music on the plaza before and after each show, in genres varying from folk to jazz to polka. Slatkin was Music Director of Sommerfest from 1980 to 1989. Since 2003, Andrew Litton
Andrew Litton
Andrew Litton is an American orchestral conductor. Litton is a graduate of The Fieldston School, and holds both undergraduate and Masters degrees in music from Juilliard....

has been Music Director, and in June 2008, his contract in this post was extended to 2011.

External links