The Minnesota Orchestra will begin hosting in-person audiences in June.
The orchestra has been performing — socially distanced on stage — in an otherwise empty Orchestra Hall since the start of the pandemic. Their concerts have been streamed live online, on TV and the radio for free.
The streaming will continue for the remainder of the 2020-2021 classical season, with seven Friday night concerts between April and June, starting April 2 (with concerns every other week), the Orchestra announced on March 16.
The two performances in June will be led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä and will feature a limited-in-size audience.
Other COVID precautions include: each concert will be shorter in length and be performed without an intermission to reduce gathering and lines; arriving and departing from Orchestra Hall being staggered to limit congestion; face masks will be required by everyone in the building; attendees will complete a symptom screening in advance; and seats will be spread throughout sections of the auditorium, with households seated together.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time, and it means a lot that we will be able to conclude the Classical season by welcoming audiences back to Orchestra Hall,” said Vänskä. “Our aim this year has been to give people choices around how they can connect with the Orchestra, and soon they will be able to decide if they’d like to experience a concert by watching on television or online, listening on the radio or attending in person. Those June performances will be very emotional.”
Then, come the summer season in July and August, there will be a "slight increase" in the number of performances to accommodate more in-person audience members, the Orchestra says.
“Our approach is to offer a gradual, phased return to live concert performances with in-person audiences,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns. “In June, that means we will be ready to open Orchestra Hall to audiences with appropriate safety measures in place, such as staggered entries and departures, required masking and physical distancing.
"By July and August, we will increase the number of concerts the Orchestra is offering each performance week and potentially expand audience size, in alignment with Stay Safe MN guidelines," Miller Burns added. "Safety and flexibility will continue to be our priorities as we enter this new and exciting phase of concert presentation.”
In July and August, there will be pairs of concerts offered every other week inside Orchestra Hall, with Friday night performances on TV, radio, streaming and in-person audiences.
“As musicians, performing is a vital way that we connect with other people,” said Susie Park, first associate concertmaster and chair of the Musicians’ Artistic Advisory Committee. “We are grateful for all of the connections we’ve been able to make through our livestream concerts this year, but it will be incredibly powerful to reconnect inside Orchestra Hall with all of our friends and family. We also have some exciting new music to share!”
Minnesota Orchestra subscribers will have the first opportunity to buy in-person tickets, with tickets for the general public becoming available on May 18.