Garrick Ohlsson returns to Orchestra Hall, performing Beethoven’s first piano concerto

Under the direction of conductor Juanjo Mena, the program also includes Philip Herbert’s "Elegy: In Memoriam — Stephen Lawrence" and Anton Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony.

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MINNEAPOLIS— Upon his return to Orchestra Hall in these concerts, American pianist Garrick Ohlsson will become one of the few musicians to perform as soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra in six different decades.

He made his debut performances in spring 1971; later that year, he would perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the Orchestra for the first time. In this late-April program, Ohlsson will again perform the joyous and heroic work, which Beethoven completed when he was just 22 years old.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $22 to $82. Free tickets are available for young listeners under the age of 18, thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass. The Friday night performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

The concerts will open on a solemn note with British composer Philip Herbert’s “Elegy: In Memoriam—Stephen Lawrence.” April 22 will mark the 30-year-anniversary since Stephen Lawrence, a Black teenager, was killed in London by a group of young white men; with the composition, Herbert memorializes Lawrence’s life and ambitions. In the composer’s words: “The music is full of soulful harmonies with gentle dissonances in sonorous chords, under a plaintive melody, which characterize the heavy emotions brought to mind by this tragedy.”

Juanjo Mena will take the podium in this program. In March 2020, the Spanish conductor led the Minnesota Orchestra’s final performance, for a radio-only audience, before the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He will conclude these concerts with Anton Bruckner’s brass-heavy Symphony No. 6—one of the composer’s lesser-heard symphonies—which the Minnesota Orchestra has performed just three times before. A notable champion of Bruckner’s music, Mena’s recent recording of the Sixth Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic was hailed by “The Classical Review” as “intensely musical,” “impressive” and containing a “spectacular sound.”

Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena began his conducting career as artistic director of his native country’s Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in 1999. He has since held posts with the Bergen Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and BBC Philharmonic, and has led prestigious orchestras in Europe, North America and Asia such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and NHK Symphony Orchestra. This year will be his final as principal conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, North America’s longest-running choral festival. His six-year tenure has been marked by an expanded commissioning of new works and an emphasis on community.

During the 2022-23 season, Mena leads the Teatro Real Orchestra in its historic Carnegie Hall debut and makes his first appearances with the Dallas Symphony and Czech Philharmonic, in addition to returning to the Bamberg Symphony and Lucerne Symphony, among many other ensembles. More: imgartists.comjuanjomena.com.

Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased now at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

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