More than 65,000 fans cheered for the Minnesota Orchestra during the first halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium, the orchestra's largest live audience ever.
Seventy of the orchestra's musicians hustled onto the field and into their positions at the 50-yard line in less than two minutes to start the show with the four most famous notes in music history: the opening to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5."
Led by conductor Osmo Vanksa, the orchestra also played "Purple Rain" as a tribute to Prince. It was arranged by Prince's long-time collaborator Tommy Barbarella, and the orchestra was accompanied by gospel group, The Steeles.
Vanska said, "It was very emotional to see all the lights of the iPhones during 'Purple Rain'."
Principal Flute player Adam Kuenzel thought it was a great way to reach an audience that's new to classical music. "It was a good way to expose people to the symphony in its beauty and pathos and drama," he said.
The exposure went both ways, apparently. Concertmaster Erin Keefe confessed, "I've actually never been to a Vikings game, so it's not a bad way to start, I have to say."
And the event even introduced at least one person to Prince's iconic work. "'Purple Rain'? ...I never heard the piece before we played it, but it's a very nice piece," said Second Violinist Taichi Chen.