This Sommerfest will be Andrew Litton’s last. The Minnesota Orchestra announced Friday that Litton — the longest-serving leader of the orchestra’s annual summer festival — will step aside.

“The musicians are absolutely extraordinary,” he said Thursday by phone from Spain. “It’s been great to grow up together — to grow old together.” Litton laughed.

But, after 15 years, “there comes a time when you suddenly think, ‘Maybe I’ve done everything I can bring to the table.’ ”

This year’s festival, which runs from July 3 to Aug. 5, will salute Litton with some of his favorite works, closest friends — including pianists William Wolfram and André Watts — and latest inspirations. In 2015, Litton became music director of the New York City Ballet, "which has yielded a bunch of fun discoveries for me."

So he decided to base this year’s Sommerfest on dance, including an Aug. 4 program of George Gershwin’s “Who Cares?,” a George Balanchine ballet that will feature four dancers from the New York troupe.

The lineup will also celebrate another Minnesota Orchestra veteran: Doc Severinsen, the longtime pops conductor, on his 90th birthday. On July 21, the orchestra’s music director, Osmo Vänskä, will conduct movements from Severinsen’s favorite works. Doc himself will host.

The festival will end as Litton has long insisted: with an opera. This year, it’s Richard Strauss’ “Salome,” which Litton calls “one of my all-time favorite operas.”

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