Minnesota Orchestra: 'Ladies and gentlemen, we're back.'


The program was Bach, the hall was packed, and the conductor was Minnesota Orchestra laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who conducted the first concert in Orchestra Hall in 1974.

For many in the audience Friday night, it was an overdue and emotional reunion with the musicians, but it was also the first glimpse inside the remodeled orchestra hall. Concert-goers waved green hankies during multiple jubilant standing ovations.

It was the first concert there since June 14, 2012 according to the Star Tribune.

During the tumultuous months that followed, musicians were locked out in history's longest orchestra work stoppage, as the hall underwent a $50 million makeover.

A new contract was ratified in mid-January, and a season quickly announced.

During intermission, Gordon Srenger, the new chairman of the board, took the stage with principle trombonist Doug Wright, who led the musicians' negotiating committee. The said collaboration would be the way forward.

But the audience had its own agenda. “Bring back Osmo!” they shouted during Sprenger's remarks, referring to the beloved artistic director who resigned last fall.

“We appreciate that, we understand that and we are addressing that,” Sprenger said.

Vänskä is reportedly considering a return, but waiting for an offer. He has agreed to lead two concerts in May.

MPR News talked with flautist Wendy Williams, who has been with the Orchestra 22 years. She said she will miss colleagues who've moved on.

"It's bittersweet, complicated. I was nervous this morning but I'm thrilled to be back here," she said. "I remember packing up and moving out in June of 2012 with a sick feeling in my stomach and little did I know it would 20 months until I would return."

A concert Saturday night will feature Eroica, Beethoven's Third Syphony, conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Tickets and season information are available on the Orchestra's website.

KSTP interviewed several concert-goers who said they were impressed by the spacious new building, and thrilled to be back listening to their orchestra.

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