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Warren Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger as board chair of the Minnesota Orchestra, the state's largest arts organization.
Warren Mack, a partner at the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, has been elected chairman of the board of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Mack thanked the community at large for its support of the orchestra and said, "In return, the musicians, Osmo [artistic director Osmo Vanska], the staff and the board pledge to give you some of the most exciting music in America.”
Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger, who he credited with helping the orchestra's management and musicians reunite after a bitter 16-month lockout over labor disputes. Allen Lenzmeier, who was to have succeeded Sprenger, had to withdraw over health issues.
Mack has served on many for-profit and nonprofit boards, including Buffalo Wild Wings, North Memorial Health Care, Madeline Island Music Camp, and the Michael Steinberg & Jorja Fleezanis Fund for Music. He has experience on nearly all of the orchestra board's committees, most recently co-chairing, with Principal Trombone Douglas Wright, the Liaison Committee, a group of musicians, staff and board formed immediately following the labor dispute. An Orchestra subscriber for more than forty years, Mack is also a pilot and an amateur cellist.
Mack said that he and his wife, former Star Tribune architecture critic Linda Mack, “appreciate our world-class orchestra's sound delivered by Orchestra Hall's unbeatable acoustics. We bought our first season tickets in 1969 and sat in the top balcony of Northrop Auditorium, where we could hear some of the music some of the time and vaguely see Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s arms waving in the distance. Now we sit in the third row where we feel intimately connected with Osmo and the musicians. Every concert is a thrill.”
Kristen Bruya has been named the Minnesota Orchestra's principal bass. Her first scheduled concerts are tomorrow and Friday, Feb, 5 and 6, when she will join the orchestra in a program featuring Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World."
Bruya is the first principal musician the orchestra has appointed since the 15-month lockout ended in January 2014.Two other musicians have been hired since then, violinist Cecilia Belcher and bass trombonist Andrew Chappell.
Most recently the assistant principal bass with the Toronto Symphony, Bruya held that position since 2010. Before that, she was a member of the Nashville Symphony for four years. A native of Missoula, Montana, Bruya has also played with the Sante Fe Opera and various chamber groups.She also taught as an adjunct professor at the Unversity of Toronto.
"It's an honor to join the Minnesota Orchestra with its rich history," she said.
Vanska and the orchestra at the composer's institute earlier this month. Photo/Leila Navidi
The orchestra, with music director Osmo Vanska, will play the first and third Sibelius symphonies in a concert on March 3, 2016. In addition, Hilary Hahn will perform Sibelius’s violin concerto with the orchestra.
Minnesota had been on the schedule for two dates in November, 2013, to play the Sibelius symphony cycle that they had been recording. The date was canceled because of the labor dispute and Vanska resigned in October, 2013, in protest over the cancellation and the continuing lockout. He returned to his position last April.
The orchestra announced earlier this month that it would return to the recording project in June. Conversations between Minnesota and Carnegie started last summer, said President and CEO Kevin Smith.
“The season had already been booked but they were able to find a date and we made it work,” Smith said. “It shows a strong interest on their part to re-engage with the Minnesota Orchestra and for us it’s a real milestone that we’ve established we’re back.”
The Minnesota Orchestra unveiled its Grammy Award in September with a group that included (clockwise from lower left) Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, orchestra board chair Gordon Sprenger, president Kevin Smith, principal trombone Doug Wright, Gov. Mark Dayton and music director Osmo Vanska. (Photo by Courtney Perry for the Minnesota Orchestra)
The Minnesota Orchestra will resume recording sessions this spring for its Sibelius Symphonies cycle. The project had been a victim of the 16-month lockout of musicians.
Following live performances of Sibelius’s Third, Sixth and Seventh symphonies, the Orchestra will record the works in nine sessions at Orchestra Hall with BIS Records. A release date was not announced.
Osmo Vänskä and the orchestra have previously released four Sibelius symphonies on the Swedish label to good receptions. The recording of the Second and Fifth Symphonies was issued in January 2012 and earned a 2013 Grammy nomination. The second CD, featuring the First and Fourth, was released a year later and won the 2014 Grammy Award for “Best Orchestral Performance.”
“It will be a happy occasion when we again bring together BIS and our Orchestra,” said Vänskä in a statement. “This is meaningful repertoire to us, and it will be very gratifying for us to complete the circle on this project.”
The orchestra and BIS, led by producer Rob Suff, have achieved several recording successes, including a five-disc Beethoven symphony cycle that The New York Times wrote “may be the definitive [cycle] of our time.” Others included Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony; an album featuring the oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, composed by Stephen Paulus with libretto by Michael Dennis Browne; and a pair of Beethoven piano concerto albums with Yevgeny Sudbin.
“Over the course of Osmo Vänskä’s tenure, recordings have played a pivotal role in shining an international spotlight on the depth and artistry of the Vänskä-Minnesota Orchestra partnership,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Kevin Smith in a press release. “Creating recordings will continue to be part of our strategy to maintain high visibility for the Orchestra and to preserve its sound, and we are happy to resume the activity with this project.”
The 2015 recording session fees will be underwritten by a donor who did not want to be named.
“Finishing our Sibelius Symphony cycle is an enormously important marker for us,” said Cellist Marcia Peck.
The Minnesota Orchestra, founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1903, issued its first recording in 1924 and has since recorded more than 450 works.
The Minnesota Orchestra will perform a short piece by composer Stephen Paulus at all three weekend concerts. Paulus, who died Oct. 19, was a former composer in residence at the orchestra. He enjoyed a long relationship with the organization. In 2011, the orchestra opened its season with "Timepiece," a jazz-inspired work by Paulus and his son, Greg.
The orchestra will play "Veil of Tears," which is a selection from the large work "To Be Certain of the Dawn." Commissioned by the Basilica of St. Mary's, this Holocaust Oratorio was recorded by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir in 2008.
"Veil of Tears" is a short, instrumental piece. Described as a tribute to Paulus, the composition will open the concerts this weekend at Orchestra Hall.
At right, Paulus reviewed the score of "To Be Certain of the Dawn" with music director Osmo Vanska in 2008. Photo by Sharolyn Hagen.
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