Violins are the smallest, highest-pitched members of the string family and are divided into two groups—first violins and second violins. An orchestra has more violins than any other instrument. You play the violin by tucking it between your chin and shoulder. Your left hand presses down on the strings to change the pitch, and your right hand moves the bow or plucks the strings. The violin has four strings tuned a fifth apart, and from highest to lowest, they are: E, A, D, and G.
Concertmaster, Elbert L. Carpenter Chair
First Associate Concertmaster, Lillian Nippert and Edgar B. Zelle Chair
Assistant Concertmaster, Loring M. Staples, Sr., Chair
Helen Chang Haertzen
Milana Elise Reiche
American violinist Erin Keefe, who became concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2011, has established a reputation as an artist who combines exhilarating temperament and fierce integrity. At Sommerfest 2012 she made her concerto solo debut with the Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and in May 2014 her solo subscription debut, playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. She was featured as soloist in April 2015 in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, in May 2016 in performances of Brahms’ Violin Concerto, and most recently in March 2018 in Kurt Weill's Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra.
Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Pro Musicis International Award as well as numerous international competitions, she has appeared as soloist in recent seasons with the Minnesota Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic, Sendai Philharmonic and the Gottingen Symphony and has given recitals throughout the United States, Austria, Italy, Germany, Korea, Poland, Finland, Japan and Denmark.
Australian-born Susie Park, the Minnesota Orchestra’s first associate concertmaster, had already toured with the Orchestra before beginning her appointment in September 2015, performing concerts and participating in educational programs when the ensemble traveled to Cuba the previous May.
Park has concertized around the world, performing solos with such European orchestras as the Vienna Symphony, Orchestre National de Lille and the London-based Royal Philharmonic; American orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Memphis Symphony and Orchestra of St. Luke’s; the major symphony orchestras of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmania, Canberra and Perth; Korea’s KBS Orchestra; and Orchestra Wellington in New Zealand. She has collaborated with conductors including Simon Rattle, Hans Vonk, Alan Gilbert, Fabio Luisi and Yehudi Menuhin, performing in venues ranging from New York’s Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Symphony Hall in Boston, the Ravinia Festival and Millenium Park in Chicago, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Smithsonian Institute, Vienna Musikverein Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle and Danish Radio Concert Hall.
Rui Du, appointed assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2015, had previously been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; he won fourth chair in the first violin section in 2012 and soon after was named acting assistant concertmaster. He had previously been concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony, associate concertmaster of the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra and concertmaster of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. In addition, he has served as guest concertmaster of the Qingdao and Hebei symphony orchestras in China.
Since joining the Minnesota Orchestra in 1983—the same year she won the Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition—Pamela Arnstein has been a soloist, chamber musician and avid participant in education programs. With Sir Neville Marriner and the Orchestra, she performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in 1984; in 2006 she was a soloist in the premiere of Steve Heitzeg’s Peace Cranes for Three Solo Violins.
As chamber musician, Arnstein has performed at Sommerfest concerts and most recently, on Peavey Plaza in August 2020, playing Mozart's Duo for Violin and Viola with violist Sabina Thatcher.
David Brubaker, who has been a member of the Pacific, Oregon and Houston Symphony Orchestras, joined the Minnesota Orchestra’s second violin section in 2003 and moved to the first violin section in summer 2008. He served as acting first associate concertmaster during the 2014 season.
Brubaker has appeared on numerous Minnesota Orchestra chamber music programs, most recently playing Brahms' Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano at the 2014 Sommerfest.
Rebecca Corruccini joined the Minnesota Orchestra’s first violin section in 2008. She served as acting assistant concertmaster from 2014-15, then acting associate principal second for 2015-16. Summers find her in Idaho, where she has been a member of the Sun Valley Music Festival since 2007.
Before assuming her Minnesota post, Corruccini performed two seasons with the Houston Symphony. In addition, she has recorded Emmy award-winning PBS All-Star Orchestra episodes as a charter member of the first violin section. Corruccini has been featured in both chamber music and orchestral performances at festivals across the country, including the Colorado Music Festival, where as assistant concertmaster she performed Anders Koppel’s Tarentella with percussion soloist Colin Currie. She has also served as a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival orchestra and the Mainly Mozart Festival, and as faculty at the Brevard Music Center.
Helen Chang Haertzen joined the Minnesota Orchestra’s first violin section in 2003. In 2006 she appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Orchestra under Andrew Litton’s direction. She has performed often at the Orchestra's Chamber Music concerts.
Haertzen, who formerly was associate and principal second violin of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany, has toured with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and played with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. She also served on the faculty of Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, teaching orchestral training and chamber music to international students. As soloist, Haertzen has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Esplanade and Junge Philharmonie Erlangen, and with the Staatsorchester Braunschweig.
Sarah Grimes joined the second violin section of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2016 and won a position in the first violin section in May 2017. Before her appointment in the Minnesota Orchestra, she performed as a full-time Guest Musician with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2015-16, and as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago in 2014.
Raised in the Twin Cities, Grimes began studying the violin at the age of four. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, serving as concertmaster of the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and performer and co-founder for student-led ensembles, while working as a freelance musician in the greater Chicago area.
Natsuki Kumagai joined the Minnesota Orchestra second violin section in the 2017-18 season and won a position in the first violin section in 2019. Born and raised in Chicago, she has served in numerous concertmaster positions at orchestras including the New World Symphony, New York String Orchestra Seminar, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, where she was awarded the Jules C. Reiner Violin Prize. She was also a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. She is an active chamber musician, winning prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Saint Paul Chamber Music Competition and Society of American Musicians Competition. She was a member of the New Fromm Players, the quartet-in-residence for contemporary music at the Tanglewood Institute, performing world and U.S. premieres of works by world-renowned composers Marc Neikrug and Joseph Phibbs.
Montreal native Céline Leathead joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1994 after being a member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and associate concertmaster of the Alabama Symphony. At Orchestra chamber concerts, she has played music by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvořák, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schumann and Schulhoff, including the Brahms Piano Quintet with Emanuel Ax at Sommerfest 1996. She performed Dvořák’s String Quintet and Bloch’s First Piano Quintet on the Chamber Music at MacPhail series in 2010.
Violinist Rudolf Lekhter joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1979. He has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra several times, performing concertos of Wieniawski, Paganini, Bartók and other composers under the batons of Sir Neville Marriner, Leonard Slatkin and Maxim Shostakovich. He has also served as acting assistant concertmaster with the Orchestra.
Born in Odessa, Lekhter studied at the Stolyarsky Music School, the Odessa Conservatory and the Leningrad Conservatory, where he earned a doctorate as a student of Michail Wyman. From 1974 to 1978 he was a member of the Leningrad Philharmonic.
Lekhter has been active in the Twin Cities as a chamber musician and teacher, serving on the faculties of St. Olaf College and the Rymer School of Music.
Joanne Opgenorth joined the Orchestra’s first violin section in 2002, after serving seven seasons as a first violinist in the Washington National Opera Orchestra in Washington, D.C. She has collaborated with Orchestra musicians and guest artists, playing chamber music in the Minnesota Orchestra Chamber Music, Nightcap and Sommerfest series, and in KinderKonzerts and Common Chords outreach chamber music concerts.
Milana Elise Reiche is a member of the Minnesota Orchestra first violin section and has served in both first and second violin sections since joining the Orchestra in 1995. She was concertmaster of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra from 2005-2010. She regularly participates in Minnesota Orchestra’s chamber music series. Each summer she attends the Sun Valley Summer Music festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, and the Steamboat Springs festival in Colorado.
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Reiche holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Minnesota, where her principal teachers were Roland and Almita Vamos. She studied with Sidney Harth at Yale University, receiving a master of music degree. Reiche has participated in several prestigious music festivals, including the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Tanglewood, Schleswig-Holstein and Meadowmount, as well as the American Soviet Youth Orchestra. She regularly works with IRIS Orchestra under conductor Michael Stern, and she has also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and New York Philharmonic.
Cleveland native Deborah Serafini joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1977. She has appeared on many Sommerfest chamber music programs and has performed the Schumann Piano Quintet with Hélène Grimaud. She is also a longtime participant in the Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra Kinder Konzerts program for pre-school children.
Serafini received a master’s degree from Indiana University, studying with Josef Gingold and James Buswell. She has participated in Yale University’s chamber music program, coached by the Tokyo String Quartet.
Principal Second Violin, Sumner T. McKnight Chair
Acting Principal Second Violin, Carole and Doug Baker, Sr. Chair
Acting Associate Principal Second Violin
Jean Marker De Vere
Peter McGuire was previously a member of the Minnesota Orchestra from 2003 to 2012. Peter joined the orchestra again in 2016 after serving as a Second Concertmaster with the Tonhalle Orchester-Zürich for three years.
McGuire began his career as first violinist in the Pioneer String Quartet and Des Moines Symphony, and has served as Guest Principal Second Violin with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Peter McGuire has performed as Guest Concertmaster with the Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, Zürich Opera, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester-Cologne, and Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has performed and recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, All-Star Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Alabama native Jonathan Magness was appointed the Minnesota Orchestra’s associate principal second violin in 2008 after performing as a regular substitute with the Orchestra’s first violin section for one season. From 2014-2016, he served as acting principal second violin. In 2011, he took center stage as soloist with the orchestra, performing Dvořák’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Marin Alsop.
Magness has performed chamber works at several concerts during his tenure with the Orchestra, including Greenstein’s Four on the Floor during the 2011 Summerfest Season, which he reprised during Inside the Classics concerts later in 2011. He has also been featured as soloist during Inside the Classics and Young People’s Concerts in 2010, performing music by Vivaldi and Piazzolla.
Violinist Cecilia Belcher joined the Minnesota Orchestra in fall 2014 and was named Assistant Principal Second Violin in January 2017. Previously, she performed regularly with the St. Louis Symphony and has also performed with the Pittsburgh and Houston Symphony Orchestras. She is principal second violin of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston. As concertmaster, she has led the Reno Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Aspen Music Festival Opera Orchestra and Missisippi Valley Orchestra.
Music festivals in which she has participated include Aspen, Banff, Beijing International Music Festival, Tanglewood and Verbier. In addition, she has toured Germany and the U.S. with the New York City-based chamber orchestra The Knights.
A native of Taiwan, violinist Taichi Chen joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985, shortly after completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Illinois University. He also studied at the Toho Music School in Tokyo and at Boston University. His primary teachers were Shmuel Ashkenasi, Arnold Steinhardt, Masao Kawasaki, Roman Totenberg and Namiko Umezu.
He has participated in the Grand Teton Music Festival as well as numerous chamber music concerts in the United States and Taiwan. He counts among his interests chess and organic farming, the latter of which he and his wife, Robin, do in Finlayson, Minnesota.
Jean Marker De Vere joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1978, the same year she graduated from Indiana University, where she was a student of Josef Gingold, and in her junior year received a special distinction – the Performer's Certificate.
Throughout her tenure, De Vere has participated in numerous Minnesota Orchestra activities, most recently in a string quintet during the Orchestra's 2018 Common Chords residency in Mankato. She has also performed on the Orchestra's Kinder Konzert Series and in 2014 with a string quartet of Orchestra musicians as part of the Common Chords residency in Bemidji.
As the recipient of the Fritz Kreisler Scholarship, Aaron Janse earned bachelor's and master's degrees at The Juilliard School, where he studied with the world renowned pedagogue Dorothy DeLay and Joel Smirnoff of the Juilliard String Quartet. His most influential teachers include Daniel Heifetz and Robert Semon (a Carl Flesch disciple who fled Nazi Germany to settle in El Paso, Texas). His chamber music studies include extensive work with Felix Galimir, the Guarneri and Juilliard String Quartets, as well as Joseph Fuchs and Zoltan Szekely.
Hanna Landrum joined the Minnesota Orchestra in June 2019, after previously holding the position of principal second violin with the Rochester Philharmonic. She has performed with numerous orchestras and music festivals across the country. She has held leadership positions with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Youngstown Symphony and Firelands Symphony, and is a regular substitute with the Cleveland Orchestra. With a passion for contemporary music, she has participated in the premieres of many new American works, including collaborations with both visual arts and dance.
Violinist Sophia Mockler recently earned her master’s degree from the Yale School of Music with Ani Kavafian. Her previous teachers include Catherine Cho at the Juilliard School, Carmit Zori and Itzhak Perlman. She has attended multiple summer music festivals including the Verbier Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Program and the Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop, and recently made her debut on the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society. This year she toured throughout Europe with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer, performing at the Concertgebouw, Elbphilharmonie and Carnegie Hall. She has served as the concertmaster for the Verbier Festival Orchestra as well as the Yale Philharmonia Orchestra. In addition to playing violin, she enjoys singing opera and sang the lead role of Dido in Dido and Aeneas at Princeton University, where she received her bachelor’s degree.
Ben Odhner joined the Minnesota Orchestra at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. He won a section violin position with the Colorado Symphony in 2014 and held the position of fixed 4th chair in the first violin section since 2015. He has appeared as a soloist with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Ashland Symphony, Warminster Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. In 2008 and 2009, he was selected to participate in the New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall. A fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival and School, he has been concertmaster of the Aspen Sinfonia and the Aspen Concert Orchestra. He was also a member of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which performed at Carnegie Hall in April 2009 as a part of the first international classical music summit brought together through the internet.
Before joining the Minnesota Orchestra in 2000, Catherine Schubilske performed, recorded and toured with the Chicago Symphony as an extra musician. She was also a tenured member of the Milwaukee Symphony, Honolulu Symphony and Santa Fe Opera. She is fortunate to have played in all of the Minnesota Orchestra complete recording cycles of the symphonies of Beethoven, Sibelius and Mahler with Music Director Osmo Vänskä. As a soloist she has appeared several times with the Milwaukee Symphony and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra.
A native of Minneapolis, Michael Sutton joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1997. He performed Martinů’s Three Madrigals with violist Kenneth Freed at a 2007 chamber music concert, and he has appeared on Sommerfest programs playing chamber music with pianist William Wolfram and violinist Pekka Kuusisto. In addition performing in Minnesota Orchestra programs, he is concertmaster of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, a post he accepted in fall 2014. He also is a faculty member at the MacPhail Center for Music and a violin coach for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.
Sutton earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Raphael Bronstein and Ariana Bronne. There he received the Kortschak Award for Chamber Music and the Bauer Award for Outstanding Accomplishment.
Violinist Emily Switzer is a 2019 graduate of the Yale School of Music and 2017 graduate of Yale University. Former co-concertmaster of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, she is a winner of the 2015 Friends of Music Recital Competition, the 2016 William Waite Competition and a recipient of the 2016 Sharp Prize for Music. She has performed with numerous orchestras including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Lakewood Symphony, Denver Philharmonic, Littleton Symphony and Yale Symphony Orchestra. In the 2019-20 season, she will perform with the Yale Philharmonia as a winner of the Woolsey Concerto Competition.