In a special pair of concerts, Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos returns to Orchestra Hall as both guest soloist and conductor.
Though the concerts mark the first time Kavakos will conduct the Orchestra, he has appeared with the ensemble many times as a violin soloist since his debut in 1995, including at a Carnegie Hall performance in 2009. In 1997, Kavakos was the artist in residence for the Orchestra’s Sommerfest—the annual festival that predated the current Summer at Orchestra Hall.
The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, May 11, at 11 a.m., and Friday, May 12, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $40 to $109. 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.
Leonidas Kavakos works regularly with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and plays as recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals. He has developed close relationships with major orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In recent years, he has succeeded in building a strong profile as a conductor and has conducted numerous major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester, Vienna Symphony and, most recently, the Israel Philharmonic.
In the 2022-23 season, Kavakos is artist in residence at Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, where he appears as both violinist and conductor. He tours Europe with Yuja Wang, and returns to the U.S. with regular recital partners Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. He performs with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Hamburg, New York Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic. He also conducts the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and RAI Torino, and has a residency at Tongyeong International Music Festival, in addition to a series of recitals in Japan and South Korea. Kavakos is an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classics. His recent releases include Bach: Sei Solo and two albums of Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 2 and 5 arranged for piano trio, performed with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. More: opus3artists.com, leonidaskavakos.com.
Acclaimed around the world for his outstanding technique, captivating artistry and superb musicianship, Kavakos will begin the concerts with Johann Sebastian Bach’s D-minor Violin Concerto—a work that the famed composer himself likely performed during intimate public concerts. The work is often heard in its alternate version as a keyboard concerto, which musicologists used as a basis for reconstructing the violin concerto—a necessary step since the original violin version was lost to history. Likely composed in the 1720s, the violin concerto was written for a smaller, Baroque-era orchestra; as such, the virtuosity of the Minnesota Orchestra’s string section will be on full display as they present the lively, melodic piece.
The full Orchestra will then take the stage for Johannes Brahms’ triumphant Symphony No. 1, which Kavakos will lead from the conductor’s podium. The symphony took more than two decades for the composer to complete; since its eventual premiere in 1876, it has been a staple of classical repertory in both Europe and the United States. Brahms’ First is sometimes referred to as “the Tenth,” a reference to the resemblance it bears to the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, to whom Brahms was often considered a successor.