As the final notes of the first piece of the Minnesota Orchestra's performance Wednesday night faded, the audience applauded and a grand piano was wheeled out on the stage. It was a shiny, black, stunning, new Steinway. It would become the star of the show.
Led by Osmo Vänskä, a Finnish conductor and composer who joined the group in 2003, the Grammy award-winning orchestra performed Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor and Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 at 8 p.m. at the IU Auditorium.
The performance served as the unveiling of the recently purchased Steinway Model D concert grand piano.
Regularly-played Steinway pianos are supposed to last for about 20 years and the recently retired piano was purchased by IU in 1968, according to the IU Auditorium website. This new piano is 24 years overdue.
The instrument was purchased using money raised by the Performance Enrichment Fund, which was created for that purpose.
Pianist Juho Pohjonen, who is touring with the orchestra for the 2019-20 season, was the first to perform on the new piano. At Wednesday’s performance, he played the Concerto in A Minor and an encore of a sarabande, a style of Baroque music, on the instrument.
Second-year graduate music student and pianist Rebecca Luppe said she attended the concert because she heard Pohjonen was going to perform.
“We’ve heard he was coming for a while,” Luppe said. “It was mostly because there was a pianist coming that I heard about the orchestra. I was a former orchestra player myself.”
Luppe said people did not have to be music students to enjoy the concert.
“I think that if you’re a human with feelings you’re going to find something at these concerts,” Luppe said.
Carnes said she was impressed with the performance.
"They can play really quietly together," Carnes said. "Some orchestras don't do that as well."
In the two days leading up to their performance, some of the Minnesota Orchestra's musicians participated in a residency, or played during rehearsals with different ensembles at IU.
“It was cool to get to hear from the people on the other side of an audition,” second-year graduate student and violist Mallory Carnes said. “We’re all still students and that’s our dream job, so it’s cool to be able to hear their tips on how they got to be where they are.”