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Feature

Osmo Vanska

Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo V?nsk? rehearsing with University student musicians.

In concert: Osmo V?nsk? and U Symphony Orchestra

March 14, 2007

What's better than watching the Minnesota Orchestra? Playing with them. That's the answer you'll likely get if you asked the 80-plus members of the University Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble will perform with the Minnesota Orchestra and its conductor Osmo V?nsk? at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, in Orchestra Hall on Nicollet Mall.

"Working with Maestro V?nsk? and the Minnesota Orchestra musicians is the highlight of our spring semester," says Erik Rohde, a University of Minnesota senior majoring in violin performance and biomedical engineering.

Finnish conductor V?nsk? is an A-list conductor for top orchestras in America and Europe, recognized for compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires, as well as his close rapport with the musicians he leads. V?nsk? became the Minnesota Orchestra's 10th music director in September 2003.

V?nsk? will lead the full University ensemble in four weekday rehearsals to prepare for their debut concert collaboration. The student musicians will also work with Minnesota Orchestra musicians in sectional rehearsals.

"We can't wait to see and hear the immediate effects of our rehearsals with them," says Rohde.

The University Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble of 80 to 90 students, primarily music majors. Admission is by audition only. The orchestra performs four to six concerts each year, in addition to working with the University Opera Theatre and performing in the annual University of Minnesota Bach Festival.

The orchestra's upcoming concert, which will see six Minnesota Orchestra principal players performing next to their student counterparts, includes Brahms' Second Symphony and pieces by renowned living Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara and Icelandic composer Jon Leifs, hailed as the most important and original composer of Icelandic music in the 20th century. The six Minnesota Orchestra musicians are Jorja Fleezanis (concertmistress), Thomas Turner (principal viola), Janet Horvath (associate principal cello), Peter Lloyd (principal bass), John Snow (associate principal oboe), Douglas Carlsen (associate principal trumpet) and Jason Arkis (associate principal percussion).

Orchestra history in U Archives

The Minnesota Orchestra, known as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1903 to 1968, began depositing its records at the University of Minnesota in 1977. The collection, which continue to grow each year, contains scrapbooks that detail the first fifty years of Orchestra history; thousands of photographs of conductors, guest artists, staff and board members; financial records; programs; and recordings in a variety of formats. For more information about the collection, visit U Libraries.

"It is a very important part of the orchestra's mission to work with student players," says V?nsk?, who has led the University Symphony Orchestra in rehearsals in the past, but never before in a concert. "I am very happy that we have expanded our collaboration this year to include a concert performance. I very much look forward to working with these students. They have a great capacity for hard work, and they play very well."

The University of Minnesota School of Music and the Minnesota Orchestra share a long tradition of collaboration, including many years during which the Orchestra performed on the Twin Cities campus at Northrop Auditorium. More recently, the School of Music and the orchestra have shared a commitment to create experiences--from side-by-side rehearsals and performances to master classes and sectional rehearsals--that connect students with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and Orchestra Hall. The upcoming concert and activities surrounding it were made possible by the George T. and Elizabeth H. Pennock Endowment gift.

Tickets for the "V?nsk? Conducts the University of Minnesota Orchestra" concert are $2.50 (free for students with a valid student ID); call 612-371-5656 or visit Minnesota Orchestra. Orchestra Hall is located at 1111 Nicollet Ave. in downtown Minneapolis.