By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - For its fifth year in a row, the Minnesota Orchestra returns to the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center Sunday, March 15, except this time, with a different conductor.
Sarah Hicks is in her third season as assistant conductor for the orchestra and is the first female to have that title in the history of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Even though fans of Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä may be somewhat disappointed he won’t be conducting this time around, due to scheduling conflicts, Colleen Compton, executive director of the Arts Association, isn’t worried.
“I’ve heard wonderful things about Sarah Hicks,” Compton said.
“I think it will be great for the community to see another conductor,” she added.
Hicks and the orchestra will perform four different pieces Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla overture, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel prelude; Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.
Symphony No. 4 will be the centerpiece of the show lasting about 45 minutes, according to Gwen Pappas, public relations director for the orchestra.
“It’s a beautiful, lush piece . . . an eclectic piece that is well received,” she said.
In regards to Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel prelude, those who saw Theatre Sans Fil’s rendition of Hansel and Gretal last February at the PAC will recognize this piece, according to Compton.
Compton feels fortunate the orchestra keeps coming back to the PAC, she said.
“They ask to come back,” she said.
Some of the reasons Compton believes they keep coming back is because they love the venue; especially the acoustics, as well as the way the orchestra is treated as a whole and individually.
Typically, the orchestra consists of about 100 members and the Performing Arts Center can accompany them with the necessary space including number of bathrooms and dressing rooms available, Compton explained.
The “great refreshments and homemade bars” might have an influence on the orchestra’s annual visits, as well, Compton said.
The orchestra’s past performances at DC have attracted a large audience including one sold-out show which happened to be the inaugural concert for the Performing Arts Center.
Karen Anderson of Dassel attended Minnesota Orchestra’s Scandinavian Christmas concert at Orchestra Hall this past holiday season and found Hicks “delightful.”
What Anderson appreciated about Hicks was that she shared background information about the music and songs.
“You know the songs, but you don’t know the history behind them,” Anderson said.
Anderson also appreciated Hicks’ sense of humor.
Since Hicks was born in Tokyo and raised in Honolulu, she made the comment that she is “obviously not Scandinavian” during the Christmas concert, according to Anderson.
Also at the concert, the audience was asked to join the orchestra in a sing-along in which Hicks told them, “Now you can go home and tell your friends you sang with the Minnesota Orchestra,” Anderson explained.
Anderson has been to all of the Minnesota Orchestra performances at the PAC and is looking forward to the upcoming March concert.
“It’s such a treat not to have to drive to the Cities and deal with the traffic,” Anderson said.
Before the Dassel-Cokato Arts Association books the orchestra for the following year, it makes sure there is enough interest and it continues to be affordable for community members, Compton explained.
“As long as the community keeps supporting the orchestra coming back and the orchestra wants to come back, we will have them here,” Compton said.
Tickets on sale now
The Minnesota Orchestra will be performing Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are on sale now for reserved seating adults, $28 and youth, $12 by calling Community Education at (320) 286-4120.