The Minnesota Orchestra names its new Music Director
Friday, July 29, 2022
The 52-year-old Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård succeeds Osmo Vänskä
The Minnesota Orchestra, Gramophone’s current Orchestra of the Year, has named the Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård as its new Music Director. His initial contract, for five years, will start with the 2023-4 season, until when he will serve as Music Director Designate.
Well known to British audiences, Søndergård was Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from 2012 to 2018, since when he has been Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a post he will retain alongside his new position in Minneapolis. Before his British conductorships Søndergård was Principal Conductor and Music Adviser to the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (2009-12).
Søndergård first conducted the Minnesota Orchestras as recently as December 2021, returning in April this year. He commented that ‘after my first rehearsal in Minnesota I remember thinking that it was one of the best experiences that I have ever had in a first meeting with an orchestra. There is a warmth, an openness and a cooperative spirit among the musicians that fits very well into the way that I like to make music. This is an organisation with a long and wonderful history, and I’m honoured to now be part of its future. I look forward to deepening my relationship with the broader community. My mind is full of possibilities for where we’ll start and what we’ll do together – I cannot wait to begin.’
Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Joseph T Green added that ‘our Search Committee sat up and took notice of the captivating concerts that Thomas Søndergård conducted with the Minnesota Orchestra last December, and his return performance this spring proved similarly electric. Here was a conductor of the highest calibre who invited the musicians to make music with him, and the result was thrilling. We believe he will be a powerful advocate for our music and musicians in the years ahead. His humanity, artistry and collaborative approach are a great match for the Orchestra and our community.’
Succeeding another Nordic musician, the Finn Osmo Vänskä, Søndergård becomes the Minnesota Orchestra's 11th Music Director joining an illustrious list that includes Eugene Ormandy, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Sir Neville Marriner, Edo de Waart, Eiji Oue and Osmo Vänskä (who will become Conbductor Laureate in September).
Søndergård’s recorded catalogue includes Vilde Frang’s debut recording of violin concertos by Sibelius and Prokofiev with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (for EMI/Warner Classics); albums of music by Poul Ruders for Dacapo and Bridge Records; the Lutosławski and Dutilleux cello concertos with Johannes Moser and the Berlin RSO (for Pentatone); Sibelius symphonies and tone poems with BBC NOW and works by Prokofiev and Richard Strauss with RSNO (both for Linn Records).