Exactly 100 years ago, 50 instrumentalists led by a German immigrant gave the first concert as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble changed its name in the 1960s, but the legacy of a great orchestra on the Plains has run unbroken for a full century now. Using rare archival recordings of the Orchestra and reminiscences of its conductors, MPR's Brian Newhouse looks at the ensemble's colorful past.
The brainchild of a pair of dynamic musicians: pianist Wu Han and her husband cellist David Finckel. They'd had a longstanding dream to create a chamber-music celebration that embraced students, an eager audience, and an A-list of performers from around the world. They found the perfect site a half-hour south of San Francisco, in the city of Menlo Park, California, and last August opened their doors. Over the course of the festival's three weeks, critics, performers, the organizers, everyone remarked on the strikingly high level of execution. Audiences, though, spoke loudest about this event: Californians lined up by the hundreds to get in, many were turned away at the door.
Osmo VäskA¤ takes over as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra this fall, but the early appearances of this 50-year-old Finnish conductor have already created buzz in local and national media. He has a growing resume of American orchestras he's recently guest conducted, all of whom quickly invite him back.
I'd never seen Perlman perform live. Never seen how slowly he makes his way on those crutches and how a violin section parts itself extra-wide so he can get to his podium and chair. The concertmaster held his violin and bow, waiting. The audience greeted him especially warmly. The applause was still full as he planted his left crutch up on the podium and swung his left leg up. Then the right crutch. As he swung his right leg upâ€”I can't say exactly what happened next, but for some reason his right leg missed the podium altogether, and his right crutch flew out with it.