“The Minnesota Orchestra’s three-week ‘American Expressions’ festival … climaxed at Orchestra Hall on Saturday evening,” writes Terry Blain in Sunday’s (1/13) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “Put together with the care and attention that Osmo Vänskä and his players mustered, [the three works] made a fascinating evening. Taut, sinewy brass playing powered the opening of William Schuman’s New England Triptych, a piece that uses tunes by the 18th-century master of hymnody William Billings…. A different America was surveyed in American Nomad, a trumpet concerto by Twin Cities composer Steve Heitzeg [that traces] the imaginary wanderer of Heitzeg’s piece from New York City toward the West and California…. The cadential episode in the finale brought … crazy slides and wailing glissandos wittily parsed by [Minnesota Orchestra trumpeter Charles] Lazarus above a plinking electric guitar and slithering violin harmonics…. The concert ended with Florence Price’s First Symphony … the first symphony by an African-American woman to be played by a major American orchestra (the Chicago Symphony)…. It’s a work that grows palpably in interest as it progresses…. The third movement ‘Juba’ was a strutting African dance with ragtime connotations, while the finale whirligigged its way to a high-energy conclusion.”

Posted January 15, 2019