Local Current Blog

Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra announce new shows and a live album

Dessa performs with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2017. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra have just announced a new collaboration. The duo will be hosting two concerts this March that will be recorded live at Orchestra Hall.

Having previously collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra, Dessa is excited to work with the musicians on this collaboration that will include new material in addition to some of the older songs she’s played with the orchestra in the past.

“When we discovered there was an opportunity to stage another show this March, and to record it, we were eager to try and make it work,” Dessa said. “It’s a really exciting, challenging and an ambitious prospect recording with an orchestra…an almost impossible-to-imagine opportunity and it’s going to be really different from any show or recording experience that I’ve probably had to date.”

The album, to be released in 2019, will be co-produced by fellow Doomtree member Lazerbeak and artist Andy Thompson, who has arranged many of Dessa’s tunes played by the orchestra.

“It’s amazing to me!” she said. “If you told us 10 years ago, I think Lazerbeak was still delivering pizzas for the Green Mill, that he would be executive-producing an album for me with a Grammy-winning orchestra, I think he’d be blown away.”

While Dessa really enjoys working with the orchestra, she says there have been some things that have taken time to get used to.

“The orchestral sound is for the most part unamplified, so you’re hearing real instruments being played behind you. In some ways your seat isn’t always the best in the house because your ears are pointed in the wrong direction,” she said. “Even just the volume and the bodily sensation of performing with an orchestra is just overwhelming. I mean you have nearly dozens of people onstage who are legitimately masters of their craft. It’s not all that often that you’re going to have 80 people collaborating in real time with people who have been so highly trained in their field.”

Still, for Dessa, getting the chance to work with the orchestra has been very rewarding, and she enjoyed getting to know some of its members on a recent trip to South Africa.

“That was a trip that [allowed] me to hang out and watch them at work and see how funny and approachable and curious most of those players are, which was a lot of fun,” Dessa said. “I think classical players are stereotyped as very somber, and I didn’t find that to be true in a lot of the time I got to spend with the orchestra. They were generous and curious about the world and game to engage.”

The live album from Dessa and the Minnesota Orchestra is expected to be released sometime in 2019. Tickets go on sale at noon today, Dec. 17, at the orchestra’s website.

Simone Cazares is a student at Saint Paul College. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.