The Minnesota Orchestra will move its 2012-13 season into the auditorium at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Performances will begin in the fall of 2012 and continue through the following spring, while Orchestra Hall undergoes a renovation and expansion.
President and CEO Michael Henson said Tuesday that the auditorium was the "most logical and best option available to us." It offers several distinct advantages: Its capacity of 2,145 is in the ballpark of Orchestra Hall's 2,450; its location (1301 2nd Av. S.) is only blocks from Orchestra Hall, and programmers were willing to accommodate the orchestra's schedule. In addition, the orchestra will work with the convention center on improvements to the acoustics. The auditorium was part of the Convention Center expansion several years ago and opened in 2002. It typically is used for functions related to conventions, graduation ceremonies and concerts. Lyle Lovett, Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Hudson have performed in the space.
"Our idea was to find something that was downtown that meant our audience could come along and park in their same spaces," Henson said. "It's a very acceptable hall in terms of having a reasonable acoustic quality." Henson toured the hall with music director Osmo Vänskä, "and he thought it was a very good solution."
Henson said the orchestra has been talking with the Convention Center for about 18 months. He would not identify other possible venues but indicated this was clearly his first choice for what will be a slightly truncated season. Classical concerts will be performed in front of an acoustic shell, and pops concerts will be able to use the auditorium's state-of-the-art sound system. Some young people's concerts will go on the road. Jazz shows might land in smaller venues. Still to be determined is the location for Sommerfest 2012.
The orchestra's entire 2011-2012 season will still be in Orchestra Hall. A $45 million renovation will start immediately in June 2012, with a grand re-opening 12 months later.
In April, the orchestra unveiled design schematics for the renovation of Orchestra Hall. Created by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) Architects, the designs call for a dramatic reinvention of the hall's lobby spaces, a new facade and a greater interaction with Peavey Plaza, which will undergo its own facelift.
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299