Poster Orchestra performing to an empty audience
Listen to a recording of Classical MPR's broadcast from the Minnesota Orchestra on March 13, 2020.
Joseph Scheller/Minnesota Orchestra
Minnesota Orchestra

National Radio Day: Listen to the Minnesota Orchestra's historic March 13 live broadcast with new audio

Minnesota Orchestra: Live on March 13, 2020 - remastered

To celebrate National Radio Day (Aug. 20), Classical MPR offers this special presentation of our live March 13 broadcast of the Minnesota Orchestra, with remastered audio and new commentary from host Melissa Ousley. This gift to listeners shows the power of radio to provide programming not available anywhere else.

On that night, Classical MPR broadcast a live performance of the orchestra, as it usually does on Friday nights. One thing was missing, however — the audience.

Amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the orchestra decided to perform without anyone in attendance, except for a few personnel. The historic concert was the result of the musicians of the orchestra still wanting to bring their regular Friday night live broadcasts to listeners at a time when they might need it most.

Ousley said it was hard to pick a favorite part of the broadcast because the entire evening was so unprecedented.

"It was such an emotional evening for all parties involved that it sounded like they were playing as though their lives depended on it," she said.

Because there wasn't an audience, the orchestra musicians applauded when the conductor, Juanjo Mena, and soloist, Kirill Gerstein, walked on stage. They also dressed in their concert black, treating it like any other performance. Mena also gave soloists individual bows, especially at the end of Dmitri Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony, in which many sections and principal players from the orchestra are featured. Although there wasn't an audience to cheer on the musicians, they gave one another boisterous applause.

When asked if there was a difference in how the musicians performed without an audience, Ousley emphasized their constant passion and musicality.

"I think they always plays their best, and all of the conductors and soloists we've interviewed this season have said what a joy it is to work with the Minnesota Orchestra," she said. "It's one of the things I love about hosting the live broadcasts."

Listen to a special message from Ousley for National Radio Day:


Minnesota Orchestra
Juanjo Mena, conductor
Kirill Gerstein, piano

Friday, March 13, 2020 — Orchestra Hall

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2 in C minor for Piano & Orchestra, Opus 18 (ca. 36')

I. Moderato
II. Adagio sostenuto
III. Allegro scherzando
Kirill Gerstein, piano

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 in C major, Opus 60, Leningrad (ca. 70')

I. Allegretto
II. Moderato - Poco allegretto
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro non troppo

Broadcast credits

Melissa Ousley, host
Mike Pengra, producer
Craig Thorson, technical producer
Scott Adamson, technical producer
Michael Osborne, remastered audio producer

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