Performance Thursday, March 3, 2016 | 8 PM

Minnesota Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The Guardian wrote that Osmo Vänskä “conducts Sibelius better than anyone else alive.” He returns to Carnegie Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra for works by the great Finnish master. Two remarkable but dissimilar approaches to the symphony are featured. The First Symphony’s richness of melody, atmospheric orchestration, and dramatic tone provides fascinating contrast to the leaner, tightly constructed, and more emotionally restrained Symphony No. 3. There are no technical restraints in the Violin Concerto, however; it features a solo part that challenges the violinist from the work’s opening notes.


  • Minnesota Orchestra
    Osmo Vänskä, Music Director and Conductor
  • Hilary Hahn, Violin


  • SIBELIUS Symphony No. 3
  • SIBELIUS Violin Concerto
  • SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1

  • Encores:
  • BACH JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Sarabande from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
  • SIBELIUS The Countess's Portrait
  • SIBELIUS JEAN SIBELIUS "Interlude" (Miranda) from The Tempest, Op. 109
  • SIBELIUS JEAN SIBELIUS "Cortège" from The Tempest, Op. 109

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Minnesota Orchestra

    The Minnesota Orchestra is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings, radio broadcasts and educational programs, and a 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. In May 2015, the orchestra drew international notice when it performed two historic concerts and collaborated in educational projects in Havana, Cuba, becoming the first American orchestra to perform in the island nation since the US and Cuban governments announced steps to normalize relations between the two countries. The orchestra, known since 1968 as the Minnesota Orchestra, has previously toured to Australia, Canada, Europe, the Far East, Latin America, and the Middle East.

    The orchestra's first nine music directors were Emil Oberhoffer, Henri Verbrugghen, Eugene Ormandy, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Doráti, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Sir Neville Marriner, Edo de Waart, and Eiji Oue. In 2003, the orchestra welcomed its 10th music director, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who guides a season encompassing nearly 160 concerts that are heard live by 300,000 individuals, and education and outreach programs that serve tens of thousands. Many additional listeners hear the orchestra through live regional radio broadcasts produced by Minnesota Public Radio, and via national programs like SymphonyCast and Performance Today.

    The orchestra, which performs primarily at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis, is known for award-winning recordings--including a Sibelius symphonies album that won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Other recording projects during Mr. Vänskä's tenure have included an internationally acclaimed cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies, as well as piano concertos of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Mozart. Most recently, the orchestra recorded Sibelius's Kullervo and Finlandia, along with a new work by Olli Kortekangas.

    From its inception, the orchestra has nourished a strong commitment to contemporary composers. It has commissioned and/or premiered more than 300 compositions, including works by John Adams, Dominick Argento, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Charles Ives, Aaron Jay Kernis, Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Kevin Puts, who directs the orchestra's Composer Institute. The orchestra has received 19 ASCAP awards for its adventuresome programming.

    Osmo Vänskä

    Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra's 10th music director, is renowned internationally 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 a historic tour to Cuba in May 2015, which culminated in two ecstatically received performances at Havana's Teatro Nacional. He has also led the orchestra on four major European tours to venues that include London's Barbican, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Vienna's Musikverein, and the Berlin Philharmonie.

    Mr. Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra's recording of Sibelius's First and Fourth symphonies won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance; a year earlier, their previous album, Sibelius's Second and Fifth symphonies, received a Grammy nomination. Other recent recordings include two albums of Beethoven piano concertos with soloist Yevgeny Sudbin; a disc of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony; the oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, composed by Stephen Paulus with a libretto by Michael Dennis Browne; a two-CD set that features pianist Stephen Hough in Tchaikovsky's piano concertos and Concert Fantasia; and a particularly widely praised cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies.

    As a guest conductor, Mr. Vänskä has led all the major American orchestras, as well as European and Asian ensembles, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. In fall 2014, he became principal guest conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He is also conductor laureate of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, which, during his two decades as music director, he transformed into one of Finland's flagship orchestras.

    Mr. Vänskä began his music career as a clarinetist, holding major posts with the Helsinki and Turku philharmonic orchestras. Since taking up the instrument again for the Minnesota Orchestra's 2005 Sommerfest, he has performed as clarinetist at Orchestra Hall and other Twin Cities venues, as well as at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and the Mostly Mozart Festival, where he also conducts regularly. Mr. Vänskä has extended his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra through 2019. Visit for more information.

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  • Hilary Hahn

    Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn has brought her virtuosity, expansive interpretations, and creative repertoire choices to diverse global audiences. Among her numerous activities this season, she performs extensively in the US and abroad, including multiple engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as a 13-city European tour with the Vienna Symphony. Her appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra this winter mark a long-awaited reunion with an ensemble she last visited in 1998.

    Ms. Hahn has released 16 albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. In 2010, she released Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto along with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto; Higdon's work, which was written for Ms. Hahn, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2013, she released In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores, the culmination of a multi-year project to renew the encore genre, for which she received a Grammy Award in 2015. Her most recent album, released in spring 2015, references her musical heritage, featuring works by Mozart and Vieuxtemps and recorded with longtime colleagues Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.

    Ms. Hahn took her first lessons in the Suzuki program shortly before her fourth birthday. From age five, she studied with Odessa native Klara Berkovich, and at 10, she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, where she was a pupil of Jascha Brodsky. At 12, she made her major orchestra debut; at 16, she completed her university requirements; and by the age of 19, she was a full-time touring musician. In 2001, she was named America's Best Young Classical Musician by Time magazine.

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Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Glenda Dawn Goss, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.


SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1 (Finale: [Quasi una fantasia] Andante—Allegro molto)
Osmo Vänskä, Conductor | Minnesota Orchestra

At a Glance

In this evening’s program, we hear two familiar Sibelius masterworks, the First Symphony and the Violin Concerto, alongside a jewel less often heard, the Third Symphony, which the composer called his beloved and least fortunate child. The performance begins with that beloved child, the Third. Notable for its lean orchestral textures, it culminates in a broad, majestic theme with a distinctive rhythmic pattern, riding to a grand conclusion. Next comes Sibelius’s one and only Violin Concerto. His love for the instrument is evident here—his “dearest wish,” in fact, had been to become a virtuoso violinist. The solo violin speaks dreamily, then with bravura. The Adagio movement, with a melody of vast breadth, leads to a finale noted for its inventive rhythms and brilliant close. We close with Sibelius’s First Symphony, a work that helped bring the composer to international renown. The First, which balances Classical economy with Romantic gestures, opens with a long, dark clarinet melody. After a second movement rich in Romantic sonorities, the Scherzobrings dramatic accents and vast dynamic contrasts. Lush and impassioned themes rule in the Finale before the music, now seeming disjunct, closes on a haunting note.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Master of the Bow, and Concertos Plus.

Part of