Performance Thursday, October 27, 2011 | 8 PM

Minnesota Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.

New Yorkers take note: Over the past three seasons, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra have drawn rave reviews and standing ovations, and a Carnegie Hall appearance by this group and their conductor is now a must-hear event. In their only New York City concert this season, they join Stephen Hough in Tchaikovsky’s famous First Piano Concerto, and shed light on a rapturous symphony by the Danish composer Nielsen.


  • Minnesota Orchestra
    Osmo Vänskä, Music Director and Conductor
  • Stephen Hough, Piano


  • TCHAIKOVSKY Voyevoda Overture, Op. 3
  • TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1
  • NIELSEN Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva"

  • Encore:
  • GRIEG "Notturno," Op. 54, No. 4


  • Minnesota Orchestra

    The Minnesota Orchestra is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts and educational programs, and commitment to building the repertoire of the future. Founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble played its first regional tour in 1907, debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1912, and has returned for regular New York performances ever since. The orchestra, known since 1968 as the Minnesota Orchestra, has toured to Australia, Canada, Europe, the Far East, Latin America, and the Middle East. Among its first nine music directors were Eugene Ormandy, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Neville Marriner, and Edo de Waart. In 2003, the orchestra welcomed its 10th music director, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who guides a season encompassing nearly 200 concerts that are heard live by 400,000 individuals, and education and outreach programs that serve 85,000 music lovers of all ages. Thousands also hear the orchestra via live regional broadcasts and such national programs as SymphonyCast and Performance Today.

    In the early 1920s, the Minnesota Orchestra became one of the first ensembles to be heard on recordings and radio. Its landmark Mercury Living Presence LP recordings of the 1950s and 1960s have been reissued on compact disc to great acclaim. Since completing an internationally acclaimed cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies and, with Stephen Hough as soloist, a two-CD set of Tchaikovsky's piano-and-orchestra works, the orchestra has undertaken a Beethoven piano concerto project with Yevgeny Sudbin, as well as Sibelius and Bruckner recordings.

    From its inception, the orchestra has nourished a strong commitment to contemporary composers. It has premiered and/or commissioned nearly 300 compositions, including works by John Adams, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Charles Ives, Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, as well as composer laureate Dominick Argento, conductor laureate Stanisław Skrowaczewski, and Aaron Jay Kernis, who directs the orchestra's Composer Institute. The orchestra has received 19 awards for adventuresome programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), including four Leonard Bernstein Awards for Educational Programming and, in 2008, the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music.

    Osmo Vänskä

    Osmo Vänskä, who in 2003 became the Minnesota Orchestra's 10th music director, is renowned for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary, and Nordic repertoires. During his Minnesota tenure, he has drawn acclaim at home and abroad, leading the orchestra on four major European tours to venues that include London's Barbican Hall, the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Vienna Musikverein, and the Berlin Philharmonie, as well as numerous performances throughout Minnesota.

    Mr. Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra are currently recording two cycles for the Swedish label BIS: the complete Sibelius symphonies and, with Yevgeny Sudbin, the complete Beethoven piano concertos. Notable among earlier projects have been a two-CD set on the Hyperion label of live, in-concert recordings of Tchaikovsky's piano concertos and Concert Fantasia, with Stephen Hough as soloist; and a five-CD cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies for BIS, with each album drawing superlative praise worldwide, and two-one of the Ninth Symphony and one of the Second and Seventh-receiving Grammy and Gramophone award nominations, respectively.

    As a guest conductor, Mr. Vänskä has led all the major American orchestras, as well as European and Asian ensembles that include the Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vänskä began his music career as a clarinetist, holding major posts with orchestras in his native Finland. For two decades, he was music director of the Sinfonia Lahti, which he transformed into one of Finland's flagship orchestras, attracting worldwide attention for performances and for award-winning Sibelius recordings on the BIS label. By 2008, when he was named Lahti's conductor laureate, he had also completed a five-year tenure as chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra of Glasgow.

    Since arriving in Minnesota, Mr. Vänskä has again taken up his original instrument, performing as a clarinetist in chamber ensembles at Orchestra Hall and other Twin Cities venues, Napa Valley's Music in the Vineyards, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Mostly Mozart Festival, where he also conducts each summer. Mr. Vänskä has extended his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra through 2015.

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  • Stephen Hough

    One of today's most acclaimed and accomplished pianists, Stephen Hough regularly appears with top orchestras in North America and Europe and presents recitals worldwide. A frequent guest soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra since 1996, he has collaborated extensively with the ensemble under Music Director Osmo Vänskä. In 2009, he, Mr. Vänskä, and the orchestra completed a live, in-concert project to record Tchaikovsky's three piano concertos and Concert Fantasia for release on the Hyperion Records label. His schedule for the 2011-2012 season includes engagements with the National Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras and the Netherlands Philharmonic, among other ensembles; recitals throughout the US and Europe; a tour of Australia, performing recitals and concertos; and a residency with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

    Mr. Hough's career transcends traditional boundaries, spanning performing, composing, and writing. In 2007, he conducted the premiere of his own Cello Concerto with Steven Isserlis and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. In April 2012, the Indianapolis Symphony will premiere the orchestrated version of his Mass. He is a published author and writes a cultural blog for the Telegraph website. The recipient of a variety of honors, in 2001 he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship; in 2010, he was named winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award. At the 2008 Gramophone Awards, his album of Saint-Saëns's complete works for piano and orchestra was voted the most popular recording of the past 30 years, earning the Golden Disc Award. Visit for more information.

    Karin Wolverton

    Soprano Karin Wolverton has drawn acclaim for her performances of opera and concert repertoire throughout the US. She has sung a broad range of works with the Minnesota Orchestra, from Dvořák's Te Deum and Puccini opera arias to the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She has often appeared with the Minnesota Opera, where she will next sing the role of Anna Sörensen in the world premiere of Kevin Puts's Silent Night. In May 2012, she will sing Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," with the Chippewa Valley Symphony. She has also sung with the Pittsburgh Opera, Pensacola Opera, Utah Opera, Piedmont Opera, Central City Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, Great Falls Symphony, Eugene Symphony, and Nicaragua's Teatro Nacional de Managua. She has performed many roles with the Opera Theatre of the University of Minnesota, where she earned a master's degree. For two summers, she was an apprentice with the Des Moines Metro Opera. Visit for more information.

    Jeffrey Madison

    Baritone Jeffrey Madison performs repertoire that ranges from grand opera and operetta to musical comedy. He made his Minnesota Orchestra debut in 2009 as Father in Hansel and Gretel, a role he will reprise at performances in November 2011. He has also been heard with the orchestra in recent summer seasons as Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier and Angelotti and the Jailer in Tosca. In October 2011, he sang the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi with Lyric Opera of the North. In addition, he recently performed the roles of Germont in La traviata with Western Plains Opera and Silvio in I Pagliacci with the Fargo-Moorhead Opera. He has also performed in past seasons with such companies and ensembles as the Minnesota Opera, Seattle Opera Young Artists, West Virginia Symphony, Chautauqua Opera, and Skylark Opera. Among his honors is being named a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions district winner and a winner of the Schubert Club Competition.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, Allegro con fuoco
Minnesota Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä, Conductor; Stephen Hough, Piano

At a Glance

Success comes effortlessly for some composers—Mozart and Mendelssohn come to mind—but for others the path to acclaim is long, demoralizing, and uncertain. This concert offers the first real successes of two composers who had struggled for years.


Tchaikovsky knew all too well the bitter taste of bad reviews and dismal premieres. The Voyevoda Overture that opens this program had introduced an opera that Tchaikovsky destroyed after its premiere. His First Piano Concertoseemed headed for similar failure: When Tchaikovsky showed the manuscript to his mentor Nikolai Rubinstein, he heard his music denounced as “utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable.” So when the concerto was premiered in America to rapturous reviews and public acclaim (the finale had to be encored at every concert), the 35-year-old composer basked in his first international triumph.


Success came even later for Nielsen. For 16 years, he had supported his family by playing violin in the Royal Opera in Copenhagen and trying to compose; his early efforts had left him, in the coy words of his friends, “world-famous inside Denmark.” But the premiere of his mighty Third Symphonyin 1912was a triumph: It was quickly performed throughout Europe and hailed by critics everywhere. He had finally attained success—at age 47.


The raves received for Tchaikovsky’s concerto and Nielsen’s symphony must have been unspeakably sweet to their creators, signaling that each had now taken hold as an artist, connected with distant audiences and found a vital voice of his own.

Program Notes

Carnegie Hall's Jeremy Geffen on Neilsen's Symphony No. 3, "Sinfonia espansiva"

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The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Linda and Stuart Nelson in support of the 2011-2012 season.

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