Sarah Hicks is the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, a role in which she oversees planning for and conducts many concerts in the broad-spectrum series of popular music, jazz, Broadway classics, movie scores and other genres. She also conducted the Inside the Classics and Sam & Sarah series for ten seasons.
Hicks’ career has seen collaborations with a diverse range of artists, from Hilary Hahn and Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Rufus Wainwright, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson. She has been an artistic leader in concerts featuring artists from Minnesota’s internationally-renowned popular music scene—including shows with The New Standards, multiple sold-out performances with Dessa and a live-in-concert recording released on Doomtree Records, and collaborations with indie band Cloud Cult. A specialist in film music and the film in concert genre, she is passionate about creating concert experiences which combine sight and sound, and that welcome new audiences to the orchestral genre.
Dynamic leader of the Minnesota Orchestra’s cello section since 1991, prize-winning cellist Anthony Ross has appeared as soloist many times with the Orchestra, performing all the standard cello concertos under Osmo Vänskä, Edo de Waart and Eiji Oue. Equally passionate about new music, he has given powerful performances of James MacMillan’s Cello Concerto, Paul Moravec’s Montserrat, and he and his wife, Beth Rapier, have championed David Ott’s Concerto for Two Cellos since 1993. Prior to assuming the principal role in Minnesota, Ross performed for four years as principal cello of the Rochester Philharmonic under David Zinman.
Ross’ compelling interpretations have won wide acclaim from Moscow to Kalamazoo, and Dallas to Duluth. As concerto soloist, he has played with the Moscow State Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the South Dakota Symphony and many other Midwest regional orchestras. Ross’ recordings include Leonard Bernstein’s Three Meditations from the Mass, the George Lloyd Cello Concerto with the Albany Symphony and the Sonatas of Rachmaninoff and Elliott Carter.
Chinese performer and composer Gao Hong is a master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa. She began her career as a professional musician at age 12, and later graduated from China's premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Gao has received numerous top awards and honors, including first prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition; an International Art Cup in Beijing; the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship; five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians; numerous grants and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board; and a Sally Award. Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, China and the U.S. in solo concerts and with orchestras, jazz musicians and performers from many cultures. She is a guest professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, China Conservatory of Music, Tianjin Conservatory of Music and Hebei Vocational Arts College. She teaches Chinese Musical Instruments and is director of the Chinese Music Ensemble and Global Music Ensemble at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Gao’s most recent recording of live compositions and improvisations with oudest Issam Rafea, From Our World to Yours, was released in 2020 and was awarded Gold Medals in two categories by the Global Music Awards.
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