MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Orchestra is in full rehearsal mode. In just a matter of days, they will once again perform to live audiences.

They have kept the organization running the past 14 months by performing at-home concerts and streaming live ones on Friday nights. They are now gearing up for some symbolic and timely performances.

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As the world shut down, the orchestra hall went quiet. It’s not how it’s supposed to be, says conductor Osmo Vänska.

“At the beginning we didn’t know anything about what is coming. We thought, ‘What to do? What to do?’” Vänska said.

Osmo Vänska (credit: CBS)

They quickly scrambled to make sure the music could go on, amidst a world full of sickness, and a city full of sadness.

“I think music starts when all the spoken words have been completed. Music goes much deeper in our mind,” Vänska said. “It’s like the best therapy in the world to have a good performance of good music.”

And people wanted that therapy, and so did the musicians. Sam Bergman plays viola with the orchestra.

“I’ve been playing string instruments since I was 4 years old, so I’ve pretty much never known a world without music,” Bergman said.

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He’s glad that unlike other orchestras, his kept going, he’s even more glad for what’s ahead.

After more than a year, patrons will come back June 11, but it will be at 25% capacity. They will ramp up capacity throughout the summer.

“When we are playing a concert and it’s going really well, there is an electricity, there is a connection to the people in the seats, and we can feel that as much as the audience,” Bergman said.

(credit: CBS)

And soon they will. Their faces will be covered, but their music will be flowing — providing comfort amidst a year of trauma.

“The question about, ‘Is this ever going to be better?’ It’s not a happy ending, but it gives you some hope, and I think that it’s a good example about how powerful music could be,” Vänska said.

This Friday night, the orchestra will stream a live, free concert to commemorate the loss of George Floyd, which can be viewed here.

On June 25 and June 26, Conductor Vänska will, for the first time, unveil music he composed himself during quarantine.

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Click here for more info about the June concerts.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield