Minnesota Orchestra to play Feb. 7-8 in first post-lock out concerts

Photo by Greg Helgeson, courtesy Minnesota Orchestra

The Minnesota Orchestra today announced its first post-lock out concerts will be Feb. 7 and Feb. 8 at Orchestra Hall.  The events are being described as "homecoming concerts."

The program led by Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will be Beethoven, Strauss and and Bach. The concert will be preceded by an open house to allow the public to see the inside of the newly renovated Orchestra Hall.

Tickets will go on sale Jan. 22. at 5 p.m., but season ticket holders will be contacted this weekend about a pre-public sale opportunity.

The orchestra's musicians suggested Skrowaczewski, who led them in concerts during the 15-month lockout.

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General Manager Bob Neu said given the conductor's 50-year history with the orchestra, the selection made sense to him also.

"He, of course, had such a large hand in opening the hall originally," Neu said. "So to bring him back when we reopen the hall in its new updated version, it's a great synchronicity."

The orchestra also announced concerts for Feb. 14 and 15, of Holst and Elgar under the baton of visiting conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. They will  also be preceded by an open house.

"Subscribers and donors are going to hear from us this weekend, and becausue of their wonderful support of us they'll have an early opportunity to buy those tickets," Neu said.

Work is continuing on the subscription season and orchestra officials plan to release details shortly. There is the possibility that some of the concerts announced by the locked out musicians as part of their spring season may be rolled into the new season, but orchestra officials say that is part of the discussion.

Tickets for only one of those concerts have gone on sale, the gala presentation to mark the re-opening of Northrop Auditorium in May.

Neu said the subscription season isn't being constructed from scratch. Even during the long labor dispute, he said, orchestra staff members discussed possible performance dates with conductors and visiting musicians to prepare for the end of the lockout. He said the orchestra relied on great relationships with managers in London and New York, and in some cases called in favors.

"We have so many wonderful relationships with conductors and guest artists," he said. "So many people are excited that the orchestra is back up and running that we are almost ready to announce the full season."

One of the concerts Neu hopes to fold into the season is a gala concert at the reopening of Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus. The orchestra arranged to do the even a while ago. The musicians took over the date when the lockout dragged on, enlisting former music director Osmo Vanska to conduct the concert. When asked whether Vanska would be involved in the concert, Neu said the orchestra is still working on the details.

"It's too early to say; we are in the early parts of the conversation," he said. "We just had a couple of missed phone calls today where we had some information exchanges back and forth. So we are just in the early stages of putting that together."

Some 3,700 households chose to "bank" their tickets during the lock out, which orchestra officials say is very helpful for them as they try to sell the season. Usually it's a process that takes nine months, but the orchestra aims to accomplish it in three weeks.