March 22, 2007

Andrew Litton announces plans for his fifth Sommerfest with Minnesota Orchestra

Artistic Director Andrew Litton celebrates his fifth season at the helm of the Minnesota Orchestra's Sommerfest (July 13-August 5) with performances that feature old friends and new, including Andre Watts in the Grieg Piano Concerto and rising star Daniel Muller-Schott in the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Showcasing eleven lively orchestral programs, four chamber music concerts, numerous special presentations and three family concerts, Sommerfest opens on Friday, July 13, with Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vanska conducting a free "Nordic Nature" concert as part of Macy's Day of Music. In its closing weekend, the 27th-annual festival features a semi-staged performance of Puccini's La Boheme, led by Litton and starring Maureen O'Flynn and James Valenti. Tickets are available online at and through the Orchestra Hall Box Office by calling 612-371-5656.

2007 Festival Highlights include:

* Five performances led by Andrew Litton, including concerts pairing the Grieg Piano Concerto played by André Watts with Dvorak's Symphony No. 8; the Dvorak Cello Concerto featuring Daniel Muller-Schott with Stravinsky's Firebird Suite; and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto performed by Leila Josefowicz with Mozart's Symphony No. 41. For the popular opera finale, Litton conducts a semi-staged version of Puccini's La Boheme.

* Four chamber music concerts featuring members of the Orchestra, as well as Litton, who will perform Elgar's Piano Quintet, and Osmo Vanska, who will play in the Brahms Clarinet Quintet.

"It's hard to believe this will mark my fifth season of Sommerfest," says Andrew Litton. "I'm really proud of the success we've had over the past four summers. We've consistently presented top jazz performers, introduced regular family concerts that have proved very popular, revived the closing night opera tradition and, most importantly, we've continued to make chamber and orchestral music with great friends in this outstanding urban setting. We've got lots more of that excitement in store this summer." 

Andrew Litton steps up to the podium in the festival's second week to lead the annual Strauss Waltz Spectacular-without which Sommerfest would be incomplete-on Friday, July 20. In addition to works by the Waltz King, the program features Bottesini's Grand Duo for Violin and Bass, featuring Associate Concertmaster Roger Frisch and Assistant Principal Bass William Schrickel. 

Pianist Andre Watts joins his friend Andrew Litton in the festival's third week for a Friday, July 27, performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto that Watts and Litton will also offer at Carnegie Hall later in the summer. The following evening the 31-year old German cellist Daniel Muller-Schott-an artist who is "traveling fast" according to the London Times-makes his Minnesota Orchestra debut with the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Litton opens that program with Elgar's Cockaigne Overture and closes with Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. 

On August 3rd, Litton conducts Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with star player Leila Josefowicz and two works by Puccini, Preludio Symphonico and the Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut. 

The Puccini works serve as a prelude to the Saturday, August 4 concert, when Andrew Litton will lead the Italian composer's popular masterpiece La Boheme with a first-rate cast that includes Maureen O'Flynn and James Valenti as the star-crossed lovers, Mimi and Rodolfo. With baritone Raymond Ayers playing Marcello and soprano Sarah Hagstrom singing Musetta, the opera also features performances by the Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Boychoir.