The great Louis Armstrong once described music-making as, “What we play is life,” and it’s a notion that the beloved Minnesota Orchestra embodies throughout the year. The orchestra performs the great classics with world-class spirit and precision, and programs evenings touching on world music, film, and pop that equally delight audiences and embrace different musical genres in a spirit of adventure and shared humanity.
This summer with the orchestra reflects that spirit of play and its love of the greatness of music. This year’s Sommerfest 2019 at Orchestra Hall is Música Juntos (Music Together), a celebration the musical gifts of Latin America’s past and present. Audiences will delight in Argentine tango, Afro-Brazilian capoeira, of Mexican huapango with contemporary works steeped in the textures of salsa, bossa nova, and rumba.
The festival runs from July 6 through August 3, kicking off in a playful mood with Coco, the heartwarming Disney Pixar animated film—presented with the backing on the live orchestra. Later the orchestra’s Osmo Vänskä kicks off the opening weekend of concerts by conducting a lively program highlighted by works from the renowned Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera and Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos, both considered major 20th-century figures of towering creativity (South African soprano Giotsemang Lehobye also returns to perform with the orchestra after a tour together last summer).
Energy continues throughout the summer with highlights including a vocal extravaganza with the orchestra and community choirs, and orchestral evenings featuring composers such as Astor Piazolla and Dominick Argento (with renowned violinist Karen Gomyo), waltzes and Latin grooves in an evening designed for families, and an intriguing collaboration with Minnesota theater troupe The Moving Company telling the story of composer-pianist Clara Schumann and her unusual marriage and friendships.
Life is about movement and music, a concept that will come to fruition with color and energy in Celebrating the Americas: Gershwin, Marquez and More, a one-night program featuring the dynamic dance ensemble Los Alegres Bailadores and the Orchestra’s own Gabriel Campos Zamora as featured soloist.
Música Juntos concludes with the Sommerfest 2019 capstone performances of
La Pasión según San Marcos, an adventuresome spectacle commissioned to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S. Bach. Blending Brazilian and Afro-Cuban sounds, Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov fuses Latin American music to an interpretation of the final days of Jesus described in the Gospel of Mark. This production includes singing and dance, in an experience that will be absolutely unique, unforgettable, and provocative, bringing together genres and styles in a spirit of celebration.
The Orchestra will also present the International Day of Music on July 13, a free all-day event with international performers as well as food trucks and vendors to accent this summer’s embrace of Latin American sounds and culture. Since every Minnesota summer is at its heart a celebration of living, growing, and connecting, these warm-weather months will also mark the Minnesota Orchestra continuing its mission of offering genre-crossing performances as well as the classics in a spirit of community, inclusion, excellence, and a love of what that famous trumpet player also adored: the sound and spirit of living.