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From Our Community

Orchestra Wrapped: 2023 Year in Review

A backstage image of Dessa entering the auditorium.

Ah yes, ‘tis the season to look back on the year that was. And we’ve had quite an exciting one at Orchestra Hall (and beyond)! We invite you to look back with us at 12 of our favorite moments, big and small—and totally monumental.

1. Yiwen Lu takes Orchestra Hall—and social media—by storm.

Though many Minnesota Orchestra concertgoers may not have known what an erhu sounded like before, that could not be said after the Lunar New Year concert in January, when Yiwen Lu stunned our audiences and social media followers alike.

An image of Yiwen Lu performing onstage with the Orchestra.

Credit: Nayelie Avalos

2. Dalia Stasevska shares her music and message.

Conductor Dalia Stasevska racked up the achievements in 2023: she led the First Night of the BBC Proms, was named BBC Music Magazine’s Personality of the Year and of course debuted with us at Orchestra Hall. But between honors and album releases, Stasevska raised donations to support resistance efforts in Ukraine, delivering supplies herself every opportunity she could.

Dalia Stasevska's one-on-one interview at WCCO on February 26, 2023.

3. Johannes Moser clicks his heels twice.

From the return of the bunny slipper to the debut of some big red boots, 2023 was a big year in footwear. But knocking our socks off was cellist Johannes Moser. His performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 was exquisite—and his shiny shoes also turned heads.

Moser performs Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 on March 16, 2023.

4. Two albums closer...

With our friends at BIS Records, we came two steps closer to achieving an epic project laid out by Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä: to perform and record all ten of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies. We released the Ninth in April and the Eighth this past month.

Album cover art of Mahler 8 and 9.

5. On the road again.

In May, our musicians descended on Austin, Minnesota, for a week of music-making, community-building and SPAM® Museum-visiting. Known as Common Chords, the festivities—which included performances across town and collaborations with area students—marked the initiative’s return after a three-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: Greg Helgeson

6. A historic world premiere.

Nearly three years to the day that George Floyd was tragically murdered in Minneapolis, Carlos Simon and Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s brea(d)th premiered at Orchestra Hall, together with conductor Jonathan Taylor Rush, the full Orchestra and a 150-singer choir. In the words of Simon and Joseph, brea(d)th is “inspired by the enduring presence of George Floyd the Ancestor, asking America to consider an equitable future.”

Credit: Courtney Perry

7. For teens and adults.

We started our Sensory-Friendly Concert series to create more personal interactions between audience members with disabilities and Orchestra musicians. In June, we offered our first Sensory-Friendly Concert for teens and adults, expanding the reach of this important and joyful program.

An image at a previous Sensory-Friendly concert

Credit: Greg Helgeson

8. Another first-of-its-kind program.

It should be known by now that Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks never shies away from a new collaboration. In July, she led Music & Healing, a concert and conversation exploring anxiety, well-being and how music can help us all be more mindful. The program also featured new music from composer Molly Joyce and singer-songwriter Chastity Brown.

Credit: Greg Helgeson

9. First Avenue + Minnesota Orchestra = A New Era

What do you get when you cross two of the Twin Cities’ most storied music institutions? You’ll find out in 2025, when programming is expected to begin at the Community Performing Arts Center—an amphitheater set to open along the riverfront in North Minneapolis. In July, First Ave announced the Orchestra as its Strategic Business Partner for the project.

Amphitheater rendering: LSE Architects and the City of Minneapolis

10. The perfect end to our summer festival.

Few performers put on a show like the Minneapolis-born multihyphenate Dessa. Her three sold-out return performances in August capped off an extraordinary Summer at Orchestra Hall festival that celebrated all the ways music moves us, including innovative collaborations with Artist in Residence BRKFST Dance Company.

An excerpt from Dessa's August 4, 2023, performance with the Orchestra.

11. A music director’s debut.

It’s not every year that we get to welcome a new music director—in fact, Thomas Søndergård is only the eleventh in the Orchestra’s 120-year history. And so the energy was electric at Orchestra Hall around the inaugural two weeks of the 2023-24 season, during which Thomas led two mesmerizing programs.

Thomas Sondergard conducting the Orchestra, gesticulating.

Credit: Emma Redinger

12. You. Yes, you!

It’s an extraordinary feeling to look out from the stage to a packed concert hall, and during the 2022-23 season, 82% of Orchestra Hall’s seats were filled. Thank you for continuing to show up for your hometown band!

An image of audience members laughing, enjoying a concert.

Credit: Darrell Owens

Happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you for more memory-making in 2024!

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