'Let Freedom Ring'
Sunday: This year marks the 25th anniversary of VocalEssence's Witness concert, which has explored the roots of African-American music from blues and jazz to gospel and R&B. VocalEssence founder Philip Brunelle has collaborated with singer, songwriter and conductor Bobby McFerrin, celebrated poet Rita Dove and sonorous actor James Earl Jones. This year's concert, "Let Freedom Ring," features the Grammy-winning Sounds of Blackness, led by Gary Hines; the varsity choir from Minneapolis South High School, and the Talented Tenth from Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. "It's the 25th Witness and the 45th anniversary of Sounds, all on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march," said Hines. "The music that fueled all those marches — 'O, Freedom,' 'Keep Your Eyes on the Prize' and 'Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around' — is music that cries out for justice and equality. It's also music of survival and uplift." (4 p.m. Sun., Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.; $10-$40, 612-371-5656 or vocalessence.org).
Thursday-Friday: This week's Minnesota Orchestra concerts continue the Shakespeare theme with "A Winter's Tale," a suite of incidental music to accompany Shakespeare's play by the early 20th-century Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson. This charming, pastoral work leads into Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, called "unplayable" when first completed, because of its bravura passagework. But its pure Romantic lyricism is what's made it one of the most popular concertos in the repertoire. The young German virtuoso Augustin Hadelich solos. The evening concludes with Dvořák's ever-popular New World Symphony. Christopher Warren-Green conducts. (11 a.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri.; Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.; $30-$96, 612-371-5656, minnesotaorchestra.org)
William Randall Beard