Poster Thomas Sondergard
Danish conductor and percussionist Thomas Søndergård, who was appointed as the Orchestra's 11th music director in July 2022, has unveiled his debut season schedule featuring a range of contemporary and mainstream repertoire, including collaborations with renowned soloists and LGBTQ+ composers.
Courtesy of Chris McDuffie
Minnesota Orchestra

Composing a season: Underrepresented composers to be spotlighted at Minnesota Orchestra

By Max Sparber and Jacob Aloi

The Minnesota Orchestra announced its 2023-24 season with new music director Thomas Søndergård, a Danish conductor and percussionist. 

He was previously the music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He was appointed as the new music director for the Minnesota Orchestra in July 2022, succeeding Osmo Vänskä, who served in the position for almost two decades.

At a press event Tuesday morning, Søndergård explained his goals: “I want to be the music director for all generations,” he said. 

Søndergård especially focused on programming for children. “I will never forget when I was a child … there were four tickets to the theater that would tour through the city, and I was just looking forward to escape into that little world.”

“So I think it's important to give kids the absolute best possible quality that we can give them,” he said.

Programming for children includes Orchestra's Young People's Concerts, which will present five different programs intended for students in grades 1-6. 

The season also includes Relaxed Family Concerts, designed for audiences of all ages, including individuals with autism or sensory sensitivities.

Other plans include:

  • Spotlighting and recording works by underrepresented composers as part of its Listening Project initiative, now in its third year

  • Kristin Chenoweth, Ben Folds and Audra McDonald will appear as part of the Live at Orchestra Hall program, as well as Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Nur-D

  • The Orchestra will play live accompaniment to movies, including “Get Out” and “Frozen”

  • Most Saturday Classical concerts will include earlier start times, Choose Your Price tickets and matinee concerts with Thomas Søndergård on select Saturdays

Thomas Sondergard and the Minnesota Orchestra
Thomas Søndergård leads Minnesota Orchestra's 2023-24 season. The season, announced today, includes Strauss and Rachmaninoff, as well as an eclectic mix of classical repertoire, including the U.S. premiere of Eleanor Alberga’s "Rise up, O Sun!"
Courtesy of Travis Anderson Photography

Classical concerts

The season will see a range of musicians and performances, including Yuja Wang and Yefim Bronfman playing Béla Bartók’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fourth Piano Concerto,” respectively. 

The season also includes the Orchestra's first performance of James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto and a Saxophone Concerto by Billy Childs commissioned by the Orchestra that explores Black experiences in America. 

A number of conductors will make their debut performances with the Orchestra, including Eun Sun Kim and Domingo Hindoyan. The Minnesota Chorale and Osmo Vänskä will also perform.

Also planned for the season:

  • Søndergård's first concerts will include Richard Strauss' “Don Juan” and “An Alpine Symphony” and Mozart's Oboe Concerto featuring Principal Oboe Nathan Hughes

  • He will conduct the U.S. premiere of Eleanor Alberga’s “Rise up, O Sun!” and feature performances by Augustin Hadelich and Kirill Gerstein

  • Søndergård's first Relaxed Family Concert, “Classics with Thomas Søndergård,” will take place on January 7 and feature music from “The Nutcracker”

The season will end with a program in June 2024 featuring music by LGBTQ+ composers, including works by Karol Szymanowski and Dame Ethel Smyth.

“Being gay myself, this is really important to me,” Søndergård said. He explained that the event was inspired by a program in WorldPride in Copenhagen a few years ago, which was “a real success, people loved it.”

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