The Minnesota Orchestra descended Wednesday into soggy London, the first stop on a three-city European tour. After a free day Thursday, the orchestra will play two nights at the BBC Proms, Friday and Saturday at Royal Albert Hall. Both concerts at the 6,000-seat hall are sold out.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will play Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 Friday, and violinist Gil Shaham will join the group for Berg's Violin Concerto on Saturday. Also Saturday, the BBC Chorus joins the orchestra for Beethoven's Ninth, a highlight of the festival. Both concerts can be heard on Minnesota Public Radio stations at 1:30 p.m. each day.

The Minnesota is the only U.S. orchestra performing this year at the Proms, the largest classical music festival in the world, with more than 100 concerts stretching from early July to mid-September.

Music Director Osmo Vänskä, who arrived in London on Sunday to do advance press for the performances, greeted the musicians Wednesday in their hotel lobby. Vänskä is well known to Proms audiences, having first conducted here in 1995 with the BBC Scottish Symphony. He brought the Minnesota Orchestra here for the first time in 2006.

Other stops on the tour are the Edinburgh International Festival on Sunday at Usher Hall, and then a performance at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam next Monday.

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