Saying it offers "a burst of culture for busy lifestyles," Minnesota Orchestra will launch a series of hour-long concerts in January.

"Symphony in 60" breaks down some of the formality of the concertgoing experience and gets audiences in and out of Orchestra Hall in the time it takes to watch an episode of "The Good Wife."

"Opting out of starters and dessert, this is purely the main course — a one-hour performance of great works," said music director Osmo Vänskä in a statement.

The program grew out of a 2008 Wallace Foundation audience-development grant. A pilot concert in 2012 was viewed as a success, and the results persuaded the orchestra to move ahead.

"Symphony in 60" will be performed on three Thursdays between January and June. An optional happy hour begins at 7 p.m. with the music starting at 8 p.m. Afterward, audiences will be invited to mingle with musicians on the Orchestra Hall stage.

Vänskä will lead the first program, Jan. 29, with symphonic dances from Bernstein's "West Side Story" and selections from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet." Frequent guest conductor Mark Wigglesworth will lead Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)" on April 9. Vänskä will return on June 4 with Sibelius Symphonies 6 & 7.

The orchestra also announced its lineup for "Inside the Classics," the informal series that uses educational talks and insight to explain classical works to audiences. The evening includes a full performance of the piece that is explored. This is the sixth season of the popular program led by conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman.

Brahms' First Symphony will be discussed and performed March 13. Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" is scheduled for June 13, and Rachmaninoff's symphonic dances will be played July 11. All are evening concerts.

Ticket information is at or 612-371-5656.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299