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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Akiko Fujimoto Named Minnesota Orchestra Assistant Conductor; Roderick Cox Extends Contract

Fujimoto, associate conductor of the San Antonio Symphony, joins Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic roster

Roderick Cox signs contract for an additional season as the Orchestra’s Associate Conductor


The Minnesota Orchestra announced news of two significant conducting positions today: Akiko Fujimoto has been named the Orchestra’s new assistant conductor and Roderick Cox has signed a one-year contract extension as associate conductor. Fujimoto, who will assume the new position in September 2017, has served as associate conductor of the San Antonio Symphony since 2012. She is the second woman ever to join the Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic conducting roster, following Sarah Hicks, who is the principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall. Cox will continue his role as associate conductor of the ensemble through the 2017-18 season, during which he will lead a week of classical subscription concerts featuring the music of Dominick Argento, Grieg and Rachmaninoff.

“Before my audition, I had never set foot in Minneapolis. I knew the Minnesota Orchestra only by its excellent reputation and through its recordings of Sibelius’ Symphonies,” said Fujimoto. “Fortunately, we were given an opportunity to hear the Orchestra in concert before the semi-final round of auditions. When I heard them play Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, my nervousness about the audition melted away. All I could think was, ‘I can’t wait to make music with this fabulous orchestra.’ Now I am thrilled to join the Minnesota Orchestra as assistant conductor.”

The Minnesota Orchestra’s assistant and associate conductor roles offer a wide variety of conducting opportunities within the organization, ranging from leading Young People’s Concerts, family programs and outdoor community concerts to serving as cover conductor for Classical subscription and Live at Orchestra Hall concert performances. Additionally, these conductors serve as a link to the community, participating in engagement activities, school visits and collaborations with other Minnesota arts and cultural institutions.

“The assistant and associate conductor are both critical in the life of the Orchestra, as they serve as key connections to students and families,” says Director of Artistic Planning Kari Marshall. “We are fortunate to have Akiko and Roderick serve in these positions to represent the Minnesota Orchestra in the community.”

Roderick Cox, who this week leads the Orchestra on its Minnesota tour to Willmar, Bemidji and Grand Rapids, said: “It is a great honor to serve as the Minnesota Orchestra's associate conductor. I love my musical family here, and I’m grateful that the community has welcomed and embraced me. I am very much looking forward to building upon a continued relationship with this orchestra, conducting a classical subscription concert in October, and sharing another year of wonderful performances with our beloved concertgoers here and in surrounding communities.”

Profile: Akiko Fujimoto
Akiko Fujimoto is currently the Associate Conductor of the San Antonio Symphony, conducting their classical, pops, education, baroque, community and patriotic concerts as well as ballet. In addition, she assists Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing and hosts “Classical Conversations,” pre-concert lectures for the Classics Series.

As a guest conductor, she has led the Houston Symphony, Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, Round Rock Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Additionally, she has conducted Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra as a participant in the Young Conductors Program and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the St. Magnus Festival. Prior to arriving in Texas, Fujimoto served as the Conducting Associate for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra where she conducted education and holiday concerts and stepped in for Music Director JoAnn Falletta at a classical subscription concert.

Fujimoto has extensive experience working with young musicians, starting at Harvard University where she directed the Mozart Society Orchestra and at Stanford University, with her leadership of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. In Virginia, she held the positions of Director of Orchestras at the College of William & Mary and Music Director of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestras.

Born in Japan, Fujimoto moved to the United States at age 14 and went on to Stanford University where she studied music and psychology. She holds two masters degrees, one in orchestral conducting from Boston University and one in choral conducting from the Eastman School of Music. More: williamreinert.com, akikofujimotoconductor.com

Profile: Roderick Cox
Roderick Cox, who was named the Minnesota Orchestra’s associate conductor in September 2016 after one year as assistant conductor, won critical and audience praise for his debut subscription performances with the Orchestra this past January. Following the concerts, the Star Tribune called Cox a “trailblazing conductor” and the Pioneer Press deemed the performance a “sparkling debut.” In December 2016 he led the Orchestra in a “Spirit of the Season” concert presented in collaboration with Shiloh Temple International Ministries in north Minneapolis. During the 2016-17 season, he debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Colour of Music Festival, and led concerts in Washington, D.C., for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Cox previously served as assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra. He was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, which led to national recognition and a return to the festival as a fellow. He has held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of the Project Inclusion program and the Chautauqua Music Festival, where he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow. He was also selected by the League of American Orchestras as one of five conductors presented at the 2016 Bruno Walter National Conducting Preview. More: minnesotaorchestra.org, roderickcox.com.

Minnesota Orchestra
Led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra is recognized as one of America’s leading orchestras. Founded in 1903, it performs nearly 175 concerts each year, with 300,000 attending, and reaches more than 85,000 music lovers annually through its education and engagement programs. It is heard widely through award-winning recordings—including a Sibelius album that won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance—as well as via an acclaimed series of weekly radio broadcasts produced by Minnesota Public Radio. The Orchestra makes its home at the acoustically brilliant Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

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