The Minnesota Orchestra extends a warm welcome for the holidays with an all-new show

Hero image by Becky Swora/Fotolia; feature image of Sarah Hicks by Courtney Perry

By Taylor Weeks

The Minnesota Orchestra, one of America’s top symphonic ensembles, touches many with its music through avenues such as concerts, radio broadcasts, recordings and international tours. This year, the orchestra is bringing the holiday cheer to the Twin Cities with its world premiere of “Home for the Holidays” Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. and again at an already sold out evening performance.

This holiday show is different than anything the orchestra has done in the past, first and foremost because it has a theatrical arc to it. Written with excerpts from the book “Holiday Inn” by local Kevin Kling of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” the storyline is inspired in part by the Ukrainian folktale of “The Mitten.” Conductor Sarah Hicks and four local actors aid Kling’s  omniscient onstage narration to capture the essence of the holidays, and the whole show aims to convey one simple message: “There’s room enough for everyone.”

“We wanted to create something orchestra-centric that still struck some nostalgic notes,” says Grant Meachum, director for Live at Orchestra Hall.

To get ready for the show, Kling, conductor Sarah Hicks and Peter Rothstein, the artistic director for Theatre Latte Da and stage director for “Home for the Holidays,” have worked on adapting Kling’s story for the past year and a half. Robert Elhai, the show’s composer and arranger, adds old time classics and original music as well.

The team has sprinkled in touches of Minnesota throughout the production, such as using the word “hot dish” instead of “casserole” and including a special performance of “Heart of the Heartland,” the theme song for the iconic “A Prairie Home Companion,” with composer and mandolin player Peter Ostroushko. There is an especially memorable piece in the show that every Minnesotan can relate to, informally called “Car Shenanigans,” where the four actors have to scrape snow off their car to the tune of Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons.”

Minnesotan traditions aside, the experience will be accessible to all people, and moments in the show like interactive sing-alongs are designed to emphasize the communal experience of family and the holiday season.

“No matter what anyone’s background is or what the holiday season is for them, everyone likes to hear a good story,” says Meachum. “Home for the Holidays” is more than a story with music at its center, though; it is a warm welcome to anyone who is in Minnesota for the holidays.


Photo by Courtney Perry. Conductor Sarah Hicks at the spring Campus Night 2017, Minnesota Orchestra.

Minnesota Orchestra conductor Sarah Hicks. Photo by Courtney Perry.


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