Minnesota Orchestra performances on August 4 and 5 mark Andrew Litton’s final weekend as the artistic director of Sommerfest, which is presented by TCF Financial Corporation. The first concert, on Friday evening, features the Orchestra playing a recently-completed arrangement of Aaron Copland’s famous Appalachian Spring. On the same program, four dancers from the New York City Ballet join the Orchestra onstage for a performance of Who Cares?, a medley of iconic George Gershwin songs, with choreography by George Balanchine. Then, on Saturday evening, Litton leads the Minnesota Orchestra and an all-star cast of vocalists in the Sommerfest Opera Finale, a concert-staging of Richard Strauss’ Salome, featuring soprano Patricia Racette in the title role.
Both concerts are held at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. New York Rhythms: Gershwin, Litton and Broadway occurs on Friday, August 4, at 8 p.m., with tickets priced from $30 to $70; Opera Finale: Strauss’ Salome occurs on Saturday, August 5, at 8 p.m., with tickets priced from $30 to $80. Tickets are available at minnesotaorchestra.org and by phone at 612-371-5656. For further purchasing details, refer to the information section at the conclusion of this press release.
Andrew Litton, artistic director
Andrew Litton, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest artistic director since 2003, has a distinguished international reputation and a warm relationship with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and audiences. He holds several additional major posts, notably assuming the role of music director for New York City Ballet in the 2015-16 season. He serves as principal guest conductor of the Colorado Symphony, conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony and music director laureate of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic, where he recently completed a 12-year tenure as music director. Most recently he was named principal guest conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, which welcomes him to the new role this fall. For further information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org or andrewlitton.com.
New York Rhythms: Gershwin, Litton and Broadway (Aug 4)
Aaron Copland’s ballet Appalachian Spring is pure Americana, telling the tale of a young pioneer couple in rural Pennsylvania through square dances, country fiddling and a famous finale built on the Shaker song Simple Gifts. In 1945, a year after Appalachian Spring premiered, Copland composed an abbreviated version for full orchestra instrumentation; that suite is the form in which the music is best known today. The Orchestra’s performance on August 4, however, features the first-ever hearing at Orchestra Hall of a newly-compiled version, completed in 2016 by arranger David Newman on a commission from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. It features the complete ballet music, expanded for full orchestra from the original’s 13-player instrumentation. (Please note: New York City Ballet dancers will not be performing this work.)
Who Cares? is a song from the 1931 musical Of Thee I Sing, for which the 33-year-old George Gershwin won a Pulitzer Prize. This song, along with 15 other Gershwin Broadway favorites, has been incorporated into an orchestral medley, also title Who Cares?, to which George Balanchine, choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet, added choreography in 1970. Sommerfest Artistic Director Andrew Litton, who was recently appointed the sixth music director of New York City Ballet, has invited four dancers to perform selections from Who Cares? with the Minnesota Orchestra for this concert. The dancers—Sterling Hyltin, Ashly Isaacs, Megan LeCrone and Andrew Veyette—are current soloists or principal dancers with New York City Ballet.
Opera Finale: Strauss’ Salome (Aug 5)
Salome debuted in 1905 in Germany and was based on the play written in 1891 by Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde. The opera was instantly notorious for two scenes, Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils, and the love scene between Salome and John the Baptist’s severed head, leading censors in cities around the world to ban Salome for years. This performance marks the first time Salome has been presented as the Sommerfest Opera Finale, and the first time the Minnesota Orchestra has performed the opera in 33 years.
Soprano Patricia Racette, who sings the role of Salome in this performance, has appeared in the most acclaimed opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Canadian Opera Company, Royal Opera House, La Scala, Paris Opera, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Liceu, and the Bayerische Staatsoper. She has gained particular acclaim for her portrayals of the title roles in Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Jenufa, Kátya Kabanová, and all three lead soprano roles in Il Trittico. In December, she stepped in at the last minute to sing the title role in Salome at the Metropolitan Opera.
At all Minnesota Orchestra concerts from July 13 through August 5, audiences are invited to enjoy live music pre- and post-concert, and an array of food and beverage items, available for purchase both inside and outside Orchestra Hall. Featured food vendors include Blue Moon, Cavalcade Creamery, Curds & Cakes, Kramarczuk’s, Ten 01 Social and T-Rex Cookie, plus $5 Happy Hour specials. See concert details below for more information or visit minnesotaorchestra.org for a full event schedule.
Sommerfest is presented by TCF Financial Corporation.