Kids in the Hall: youth ensembles take over Orchestra Hall this weekend

angelica cantanti
Angelica Cantanti's Cantabile choir in performance. (Mark Riddle)

Juice boxes and granola bars may well replace the typical wine and hors d'oeuvre offerings in the Orchestra Hall lobby this Saturday and Sunday.

As the Minnesota Orchestra marks the grand re-opening of the Northrop Auditorium with performances at that venue this weekend, Orchestra Hall welcomes concerts by two youth-oriented organizations comprising more than 700 young musicians.

On Saturday, May 3, at 7:15 p.m., Angelica Cantanti youth choirs will give a free concert. "This is the last, final concert of our season," says Audrey Riddle, executive director of Angelica Cantanti. "It's obviously exciting for us to be at the newly renovated venue."

Founded in 1980, Angelica Cantanti consists of four choirs of children ages 8 to 18 — 200 singers in all. Although it's based in Bloomington, Minn., Angelica Cantanti draws its participants from nearly 60 communities in the greater Twin Cities area. Saturday's concert will feature each choir singing two pieces on its own, and the grand finale will feature all choirs singing en masse, conducted by guest artist, Dr. Rollo Dilworth of the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia. "I think this is Rollo's third visit with the Angelica choirs, so he knows us well," Riddle says. "He just has wonderful repertoire that fits our choirs; he does great repertoire for children. He's a highly sought-after conductor around the country, so we're lucky to have nabbed him for Saturday!"

On Sunday, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS) commandeers the Hall for its capstone concert. "It's our biggest concert event of the year," says Megen Balda, executive director at GTCYS. "We bring all 540-some GTCYS kids, and all seven orchestras perform about 10 minutes each."

The program concludes with GTCYS artistic director, Mark Russell Smith, conducting all GTCYS orchestras in a performance of "Jupiter" from Gustav Holst's The Planets. Providing a bookend for the concert is a performance of "Simple Gifts" by the youngest GTCYS ensemble — which, through musical quotation, presages a performance of Appalachian Spring by the highest-level symphony.

The GTCYS concert does have an admission fee; ticket prices increase on the day of the concert.

For the kids of GTCYS, playing in Orchestra Hall lets them walk in the footsteps of the professionals. "Our kids hold Minnesota Orchestra musicians in high esteem," Balda says, "and for them to be able to play on the same stage as the Minnesota Orchestra is a big deal. Many have played there before, but for many others — especially among our youngest students — this will be their first time to walk out on that stage."

Related Stories

  • School Spotlight: Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies School Spotlight highlights outstanding Minnesota school- and student-music ensembles during the academic year. Through this feature, Classical MPR hopes to expose listeners to the great music being made by young musicians across the state, and to generate more support for music education.
  • Interview with GTCYS Director, Mark Russell Smith Mark Russell Smith is the interim director of the greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS). Smith spoke to Steve Staruch about the ins and outs of programming works for a youth orchestra.

2 Photos

  • gtcys mark russell smith
    Mark Russell Smith conducts the kids of Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS). (Scott Helgeson)
  • orchestra hall, exterior, new
    The exterior of the new lobby extension for Orchestra Hall. (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)

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