The Minnesota Orchestra announced plans for Sommerfest 2019, unveiling a four-week July festival, presented under the banner Música Juntos (Music Together), that spotlights Latin American music and culminates in performances of Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión según San Marcos, a much-celebrated, genre-blurring retelling of the biblical passion of St. Mark.
Sommerfest, which runs from July 6 to August 3, will also feature an International Day of Music; soprano Goitesmang Lehobye singing Golijov’s Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra; violinist Elena Urioste performing Afro-Cuban composer José White’s Violin Concerto; A Musical Feast program entwining musical and culinary arts; a new musical-theatrical creation in collaboration with The Moving Company spotlighting 19th century composer-pianist Clara Schumann; and a film and live orchestra screening of the Disney-Pixar film Coco, among other programs.
“These concerts extend our season-long focus on American music, broadening the scope to explore the compelling repertoire of Latin American classical music,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “I am happy we can share Osvaldo Golijov’s landmark La Pasión según San Marcos with our audiences and that we are able to bring many of the artists who are experts in the work, and steeped in its traditions, to Minnesota.”
The Power Of La Pasión
La Pasión según San Marcos (The Passion according to St. Mark) created a sensation at its premiere in 2000, taking the music world by storm. The International Bach Academy had commissioned the 90-minute work as one of four passions—similar in spirit to what Bach himself wrote—to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. Composer Osvaldo Golijov’s assignment was to set the story of Jesus’ final days on earth from the Gospel according to St. Mark—and he did so by melding classical music with bossa nova, tango, rumba, mambo, Afro-Cuban music, and other Latin American styles. “It has a revolutionary air,” wrote The New Yorker’s Alex Ross at the premiere, “as if musical history were starting over, with new, sensuous materials and in a new, affirmative tone.”
La Pasión has been performed around the world since its premiere. The Minnesota Orchestra’s staged performances on Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3—which mark the first Minnesota performances of the work—will be conducted by Venezuela-born María Guinand, who led its premiere, and stage directed by Marcela Lorca, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theater. The cast features vocalists Jessica Rivera, Luciana Souza, Reynaldo González-Fernández, and choir Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, joined by singers from the Minnesota Chorale and Border CrosSing. Like Ms. Guinand, mezzo-soprano Ms. Souza, singer/dancer Mr. González-Fernández, and the acclaimed Schola Cantorum also performed in the work’s world premiere in Stuttgart.
From López To Piazzolla
The majority of Sommerfest concerts are led by the Orchestra’s titled conductors. Music Director Osmo Vänskä conducts Ginastera’s Variaciones concertantes and contemporary Peruvian composer Jimmy López’s Perú Negro (July 12), as well as South African soprano Goitsemang Lehobye in Golijov’s exquisite Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra (July 13). Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall Sarah Hicks leads three programs: the world premiere of the film and live orchestra version of Coco (July 6-7); in addition to A Musical Feast, a one-of-a-kind concert experience in which Twin Cities chefs cook onstage while the Orchestra performs (July 26); and the premiere of a new theatrical work by The Moving Company (July 27), exploring the relationship between Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms, featuring Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Steven Epp, and Nathan Keepers. Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto conducts both a Joyful Rhythms, Joyful Sounds! family concert (July 28) and a “Celebrating the Americas” program featuring Folkórico dance ensemble Los Alegres Bailadores (August 1).
Former Associate Conductor Roderick Cox returns to lead Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, and the José White Violin Concerto, performed with Elena Urioste, a former BBC New Generation Artist (July 20). American conductor Andrew Grams will lead Golijov’s Last Round, a modern-day homage to Astor Piazzolla, and violinist Karen Gomyo in Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons in Buenos Aires (July 19).
“Summer is a special time of year in the Twin Cities, and we are excited to heat things up with our focus on Latin American music,” said Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, an Orchestra horn player and chair of the musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee. “From the International Day of Music to Disney-Pixar’s Coco, this summer’s offerings are sure to please everyone. Come join us at Orchestra Hall, venture out onto the plaza and enjoy some live music.”
International Day Of Music And Musical Feast Return
Returning on Saturday, July 13, for a second consecutive summer, the 12-hour International Day of Music showcases performances on multiple stages in and around Orchestra Hall, celebrating many genres of music for all ages, with featured performers including Salsa del Soul, Axis Mundi, and Malamanya. New this year, the Cedar Cultural Center will collaborate as a programming partner at the outdoor stage on 11th Street. Vendors will set up a marketplace around Orchestra Hall and the City’s newly-refurbished Peavey Plaza, selling food, beverages, and handicrafts, and adults and children will be able to participate in a variety of music and art activities. All Day of Music performances are free of cost, with the exception of the 8 p.m. Minnesota Orchestra concert.
The Orchestra also revives its A Musical Feast concert on Friday, July 26, pairing chefs from top Twin Cities restaurants, including Travail Kitchen and Amusements, Grand Café, and The Lexington, with the Orchestra. As Sarah Hicks leads the Orchestra in curated musical selections, the chefs will cook onstage creations aligned to the music. Youth participants in the North Minneapolis-based Appetite for Change will also be featured in the performance.
A Call For Fantasy Campers
Held biennially, the Minnesota Orchestra Fantasy Camp returns this July. A multi-day orchestral immersion experience, the Fantasy Camp offers talented amateur musicians an opportunity to rehearse and perform side-by-side with the Minnesota Orchestra. The 2019 Fantasy Camp—which includes sectional rehearsals with musicians; seminars with conductor Sarah Hicks, Orchestra staff, and librarians; and a rehearsal with the full Orchestra—culminates in a performance on Thursday, July 11, under the baton of Music Director Osmo Vänskä.
For tickets and more information, visit the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest website.