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Minnesota Orchestra associate conductor Courtney Lewis will lead a concert at 7:

The Minnesota Orchestra will visit Brainerd on Wednesday as part of a three-city 2011 Minnesota tour.

Led by associate conductor Courtney Lewis, the concert will feature Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger van Nurnberg, Tchaikovsky’s beloved Symphony No. 6, Pathétique and Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 2, performed by Principal Horn Michael Gast. 

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at Tornstrom Auditorium. Tickets are $20 and are available by contacting Brainerd Community Education at 454-6924 or online at (click on the Community Education banner).

In addition, the orchestra will perform an educational concert for students in grades nine through 12 at 1:45 p.m. April 7 at Tornstrom. Music director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra have received rave reviews for their work from local and international critics, both in recordings and on tour. 

The ensemble is renowned for its touring history. In 1907, then-music director Emil Oberhoffer led the musicians on a maiden trip to Moorhead, Grand Forks, N.D., and Duluth. Since then, the orchestra has performed in almost 700 cities and towns and in 25 countries throughout the world. Tour highlights include the first major city concert in Chicago in 1911, a New York City debut at Carnegie Hall in 1912 and tours through Australia, Canada, Cuba, Europe, the Far East, Latin America and the Middle East. Last summer, music director Vänskä led the ensemble on a highly successful three-city tour of European festivals to London, Edinburgh and Amsterdam.

The two-hour program will open with Richard Wagner’s lively Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Gast will perform Horn Concerto No. 2 of Richard Strauss, which is generally considered a late masterpiece. The performance concludes with the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, Pathétique, a dark and beautiful work that communicates a mood of deep suffering.

Belfast-born Lewis, who became the Minnesota Orchestra’s associate conductor in September after one year as assistant conductor, has worked with orchestras and chamber ensembles from London to Venezuela, earning recognition as one of today’s top emerging conductors. Lewis is founding music director of Boston’s acclaimed Discovery Ensemble, a chamber orchestra with the mission of introducing inner-city school children to classical music while bringing new and unusual repertoire to established concert audiences.

Gast joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1990 and was appointed principal horn during 2004-05. He has appeared as soloist with the orchestra in concertos and with other major works by Bach, Britten, Mozart, Schumann and Strauss. In 2007, he and three orchestra colleagues were featured in performances of Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns using Gast’s own adaptation of Schumann’s original horn parts. Gast has served as principal horn in the orchestras of the Grand Teton Music Festival, Santa Fe Opera and Festival L’Aquila Opera, among others, and as guest principal with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.