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Minnesota Orchestra cancels rest of season but plans to return in August

GREG HELGESON
GREG HELGESON

By Terry Blain Special to the Star Tribune

The Minnesota Orchestra has canceled or postponed all remaining events in its current season, but said Tuesday that it will return with a series of concerts in August and intends to begin its 2020-21 season in September as planned.

One casualty is its newly reconceived summer festival, Summer at Orchestra Hall, which was announced March 5 before coronavirus brought all concert activity to a halt. Instead, the program will be moved to 2021.

“These times call for flexibility,” said Jon Kimura Parker, the concert pianist whom the orchestra enlisted as creative partner for the July 17-Aug. 9 fest. “So instead of commemorating Beethoven’s 250th birthday this summer, we’ll celebrate his 251st next year.”

The annual Symphony Ball (rescheduled for May 15, 2021) and five weekends of subscription concerts also were affected. But the orchestra added five weeks of rescheduled concerts in August and September, typically a break time between seasons.

Music director Osmo Vänskä will lead three of the programs. A fourth goes to associate conductor Akiko Fujimoto, who was supposed to make her subscription concert debut last month.

Fujimoto also will be at the podium when the orchestra returns to action in a series of free outdoor concerts: Aug. 3 at Lakefront Park in Hudson, Wis.; Aug. 5 at Lake Harriet Band Shell in Minneapolis, and Aug. 6 at Hilde Performance Center in Plymouth. Those performances had been scheduled for July.

Soloists for the extra concerts will be drawn from the orchestra’s own players, to avoid the need for domestic or international travel. Principal cello Anthony Ross, principal bassoon Fei Xie, associate principal cello Silver Ainomäe and first associate concertmaster Susie Park will be featured in works by Mozart, Brahms and Michael Daugherty.

“We miss sharing live music with our audiences very much,” said Vänskä, who plans to return Aug. 13-14 in a Mozart program.

Details of the orchestra’s 2020-21 season will be announced Friday.

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