Minnesota Orchestra

Listen: Vänskä conducts Mahler's 'Symphony of a Thousand' in farewell celebration

Osmo Vänskä's final performance as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra featured Mahler's ambitious Symphony No. 8.Joel Larson

Minnesota Orchestra - June 10, 2022


June 12, 2022

It doesn’t get any bigger than this: Four choirs, eight soloists and an orchestra of epic proportions come together for the Minnesota Orchestra’s season finale and one final celebration of departing music director Osmo Vänskä. Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, known as the Symphony of a Thousand, is one of the most ambitious choral symphonies that exists today. Listen now with host Melissa Ousley.  


Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Sarah Wegener, soprano
Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Sasha Cooke, mezzo
Jennifer Johnston, mezzo
Barry Banks, tenor
Christian Immler, bass-baritone
Minnesota Chorale
National Lutheran Choir
Angelica Cantanti Concert Choir
Minnesota Boychoir

GUSTAV MAHLER Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand)

June 3 concert

Led by music director Osmo Vänskä, this Minnesota Orchestra program featured concertmaster Erin Keefe alongside friend and pianist Juho Pohjonen in Felix Mendelssohn’s radiant Piano, Violin and Strings Concerto. The program also included the world premiere of Jaakko Kuusisto’s final work, the exciting final movement of Alberto Ginastera’s Strings Concerto and the Sphinx Virtuosi’s Orchestra Hall debut performing Xavier Foley’s Ev’ry Voice for string orchestra. Listen to the concert now.

Minnesota Orchestra - June 3, 2022

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Sphinx Virtuosi *
Erin Keefe, violin **
Juho Pohjonen, piano **

XAVIER FOLEY Ev’ry Voice *
ALBERTO GINASTERA Finale furioso, from Concerto for Strings
FELIX MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra **
JAAKKO KUUSISTO Symphony (world premiere)

May 20 concert

Thomas Wilkins made his Minnesota Orchestra conducting debut in a performance that featured Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a multimovement choral work that presents the final spoken words of seven Black men who were each killed by the police or authority figures. The Minnesota Chorale and Twin Cities Choral Partners joined the orchestra in a program that also included Franz Liszt’s poetic Les Préludes and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s triumphant Fifth Symphony. Listen to the concert now. 

Listening to Seven Last Words of the Unarmed might make listeners feel uncomfortable, emotional or empathetic as they experience issues lived by marginalized communities. The work — which is 15 minutes long — prompts a range of reactions and encourages conversations about race and social injustices. Thompson calls on listeners to think deeply about the humanity of the seven individuals, the many Black men and women they represent, and the systems of racial injustice in American society.

“I know that music has a transformative power and if it can change one heart, one mind, then it is worth it,” he says.

Minnesota Orchestra
Thomas Wilkins, conductor
Minnesota Chorale and Twin Cities Choral Partners

FRANZ LISZT Les Préludes
JOEL THOMPSON Seven Last Words of the Unarmed