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. She has since been featured as soloist in two concertos by Mendelssohn—the Violin Concerto and, in May 2022, the Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra—as well as the violin concertos of Brahms and Kurt Weill, and Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra. In February 2023, she performed Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, after Plato's "Symposium," for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion. Keefe joined the violin faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2022.
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 since 2015, will be featured as soloist with the ensemble in June 2023 in Brahms’ Double Concerto with Associate Principal Cello Silver Ainomäe. She has performed solos with numerous major orchestras in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, as well as Korea’s KBS Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington in New Zealand. She was the violinist of the Eroica Trio from 2006 to 2012, with which she recorded the ensemble’s Grammy-nominated CD of all-American repertoire, and toured internationally. Her interest in music of all genres has also led to collaborations with artists such as jazz trumpeter Chris Botti.
Rui Du was appointed assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2015. He had previously been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he won fourth chair in the first violin section in 2012 and soon after was named acting assistant concertmaster. Additionally, he served as concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2009. Since 2015, Du has been a regular guest concertmaster of China’s Qingdao Symphony Orchestra under maestro Zhang Guo-Yong. He has also served as concertmaster of the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, Hebei Symphony, Guiyang Symphony and North Dakota Symphony, and as associate concertmaster of the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.
Tucson, Arizona native David Brubaker began his orchestral career with the Tucson Symphony at the age of 16, and has since performed with numerous orchestras including the Grand Rapids, Oregon, Pacific and Houston symphonies. He joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2003, where he has served as assistant principal second violin, associate concertmaster and is now in his 18th year as a member of the first violin section. During the summer season, Brubaker enjoys performing with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra in Jackson, Wyoming.
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 as assistant concertmaster at the Colorado Music Festival. 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.
Violinist Sarah Grimes joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2016, where she is a member of the first violin section. 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, where she was concertmaster of the Symphony Orchestra, and worked 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.
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.
Acting Principal Second Violin, Carole and Doug Baker, Sr. Chair
Acting Associate Principal Second Violin, Carole and Doug Baker, Sr. Chair
Jean Marker De Vere
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 is the Acting Associate Principal Second Violin of the Minnesota Orchestra. She joined the Orchestra in 2014 and was named Assistant Principal Second Violin in 2017. Previously, she performed with the St. Louis Symphony from 2008-2014, and also frequently performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the New York City chamber orchestra The Knights. She has been Principal Second Violin of ROCO in Houston and the Minnesota Bach Ensemble and, as concertmaster, she led the New World Symphony, Reno Philharmonic, Aspen Music Festival Opera Orchestra and the Mississippi Valley Orchestra. She has enjoyed traveling the world for festivals and performances, including to Aspen, Tanglewood, Verbier, Banff, Beijing, the BBC Proms, South Africa, New Zealand and throughout Europe.
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. Janse is also one of the most active violin and viola teachers in the Twin Cities.
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.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, violinist Sophia Mockler 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, the Lakes Area Music Festival and the Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop. Recently she made her debut on the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society. In 2020 she toured throughout Europe with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under the direction of 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 titular role in Dido and Aeneas at Princeton University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature.
Ben Odhner joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2017, and won an audition to move to the first violin section in 2022. He previously held the position of fixed 4th chair in the first violin section of the Colorado Symphony. 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.
Catherine Schubilske joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2000 and has played in all of the Orchestra’s recording cycles with Music Director Osmo Vänskä. She performed, recorded and toured with the Chicago Symphony as an extra musician for several seasons and was a tenured member of the orchestras of Milwaukee, Honolulu and Santa Fe Opera. 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 to 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 January 2022, she performed with the Yale Philharmonia as a winner of the 2019 Woolsey Concerto Competition. Switzer joined the second violin section of the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2019.