Minnesota Orchestra welcomes multi-Grammy Award winning violinist

The Minnesota Orchestra’s season finale will welcome multi-Grammy Award winning violinist James Ehnes back to Orchestra Hall. Sir Andrew Davis guest conducts the program, which brings the Orchestra’s season to a close with works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Alban Berg and Chen Yi.

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James Ehnes, who has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage, returns to Orchestra Hall for a pair of mid-June concerts—bringing the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2022-23 Classical season to a celebratory and moving conclusion.

This year marks three decades since his Minnesota Orchestra debut in 1993, the year after he won the FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra Young Artists Competition; he last appeared at Orchestra Hall in a broadcast-only performance in March 2021.

Across a career spanning more than 40 years, English conductor Sir Andrew Davis has been the musical and artistic leader at several of the world’s most distinguished opera and symphonic institutions including Lyric Opera of Chicago, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony. In addition, he holds the honorary title of conductor emeritus from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

In this program, he will perform Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. The concerto was written as an ode to Manon Gropius, a young Austrian actress (and the daughter of Alma Mahler, Gustav’s widow) who died when she was 18. The heartbreaking work is among Berg’s best-known and has shared history with the Minnesota Orchestra: in 1936, four months after Berg’s death, violinist Louis Krasner premiered the concerto in Barcelona; Krasner would later serve as the Orchestra’s concertmaster from 1944-1949 (then known as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra).

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, June 17, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $35 to $109. The Friday night performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio.

As one of today’s most acclaimed conductors, Sir Andrew Davis has led virtually all of the world’s major orchestras; this program marks his first appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra since his debut in 1976. With Davis at the podium, the Orchestra will perform Chen Yi’s Duo Ye for the first time. Composed in 1985, the work is based on a traditional song and dance performed by the Dong minority of China’s Guangxi province. Music of high energy, it draws on melodies and techniques from Chinese opera, folk songs and percussion ensembles.

The concerts will be bookended by two pieces of Beethoven. Opening the concert is his Overture to Egmont. Beethoven was asked to contribute the music to accompany a performance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Egmont; the music captures the play’s themes of freedom, courage, brotherly love, defiance of tyranny and heroic struggle. To conclude the program, the Orchestra will present Beethoven’s grand Seventh Symphony. Beethoven, who was notoriously self-critical, admitted that the energetic Seventh Symphony was one of his own personal favorites, calling it “one of the happiest products of my poor talents.”

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