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Tuesday August 23, 2022

The Minnesota Orchestra Appoints Katherine Siochi as Principal Harp, Welcomes Two Violinists, Four Violists

Youngji Kim, Alan Snow to join violin section; Lydia Grimes, Jude Park, Marlea Simpson and Sarah Switzer join the viola section


Gearing up for its 2022-23 season, the Minnesota Orchestra has announced significant additions to its ensemble. The Orchestra will welcome two violinists, four violists and, in what will be the final appointment of outgoing Music Director Osmo Vänskä’s 19-year tenure, new Principal Harp Katherine Siochi.

Currently serving as principal harp for the Kansas City Symphony, Katherine Siochi earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in harp performance from the Juilliard School. Siochi will phase into her new role this fall, playing in Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård’s October program and the Orchestra’s performances and recording sessions of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony in November under Vänskä's direction. She will then regularly at Orchestra concerts beginning with the New Year's Celebration.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Katherine to the Orchestra,” said Brian Mount, the Orchestra’s principal percussionist. “She’s a tremendous artist. Her audition was extremely impressive, and she’ll be a fantastic addition to our Orchestra.”

“I can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity to join the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Siochi. “They are a group who demonstrates the highest level of excellence and dedication in everything they do. I look forward to working alongside colleagues who will continually inspire and challenge me to be the best musician I can be.”

Youngji Kim and Alan Snow will both join the Orchestra’s violin section. With a bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University and a master’s of music degree from the Yale School of Music, Kim has been performing with many of South Korea’s most prestigious orchestras. Snow comes to Minneapolis after serving as second associate concertmaster with the Omaha Symphony; he has recorded chamber music albums that explore Mexico’s classical music.

Four violists will also join the ranks of the Orchestra’s string section. Lydia Grimes is currently completing her master’s of music at the Juilliard School; Jude Park received their master’s of music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in 2021; Marlea Simpson, a graduate of the Yale School of Music, is currently principal violist with the Chicago Sinfonietta; and Sarah Switzer received her master’s of music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. (Both Lydia Grimes and Sarah Switzer have sisters who are violinists in the Minnesota Orchestra: Sarah Grimes and Emily Switzer.)

Both violinists and all four violists will begin their positions in the 2022-23 Season Opening concerts on September 23 and 24.

These new appointments follow other recently announced changes in the Orchestra’s string section: Ben Odhner, who joined the Orchestra’s second violin section in 2017, will move to the first violin section; Kathryn Nettleman, a member since 2009, was appointed to the position of associate principal bass in January 2022; and Kyle Sanborn, who previously served as the Calgary Philharmonic’s assistant principal bass, will join the Orchestra’s bass section in September. It was also announced in June 2022 that Nathan Hughes will assume the role of principal oboe during the Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve Celebration concerts.

These additions come on the heels of the recent retirements of violinist Taichi Chen, bassoonist Mark Kelley, violinist Rudolf Lekhter, violist Richard Marshall, violinist Deborah Serafini and flutist Wendy Williams—six musicians whose collective service to the ensemble spanned 233 years.


Profiles of New Musicians

Lydia Grimes, a native Minnesotan, grew up as a violinist and began studying the viola at 16 under the instruction of Sabina Thatcher. She received her bachelor’s degree and is completing her master’s in viola performance from the Juilliard School, where she studies with Hsin-Yun Huang, Misha Amory and Cynthia Phelps.

Grimes has enjoyed multiple seasons performing at Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue Hill, Maine, and has studied chamber music with former and current members of the Juilliard String Quartet. She has been featured in masterclasses led by Heidi Castleman, Samuel Rhodes, Roger Tapping and Joel Krosnick, and has performed frequently with the New York Philharmonic, APEX Ensemble and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. Grimes also served as principal viola of the Juilliard Orchestra for five years, leading sections under Marin Alsop, David Robertson and Kevin Edusei.

Youngji Kim graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University and a master’s of music degree from the Yale School of Music. She has been performing with many leading Korean orchestras including the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Seoul National University Symphony Orchestra and Busan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Her musical awards include winning the KBS KEPCO Competition, the Segye Ilbo Competition, second prize at the Joongang Music Competition and third prize at the Hong Kong Generation Next Arts International Music Competition. She was also selected as a Gyeonggi Young Artist and Kumho Young Artist in Korea, where she had her debut concerts. Kim was selected as one of three finalists to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Play with Ray festival, performing alongside the philharmonic as a guest member and receiving a masterclass from violinist Ray Chen. She has participated in many additional festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, Summit Music Festival and Pablo Casals Festival.

Jude Park has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Houston Symphony and Dallas Symphony. As a chamber musician, they have had the opportunity to work with members from some of the world’s leading quartets, including the Pacifica, Cavani and Dover Quartets.

Park is a two-time fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center and has received summer fellowships from Verbier Festival Academy and Madeline Island Chamber Music. They received their master’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where they were a student of Ivo-Jan van der Werff, with additional studies with Joan DerHovsepian. Park’s undergraduate years took place at Oberlin Conservatory.

Katherine Siochi is an internationally award-winning harp soloist who is now serving as principal harp of the Kansas City Symphony—a role she has held since 2019—and she previously was principal harp of the Sarasota Orchestra from 2017 to 2019.

Siochi is the 2016 gold medalist of the USA International Harp Competition, one of the world's most prestigious harp contests. She has given solo concerts in Hong Kong, China, Israel and at Lyon & Healy Hall in Chicago. In 2021 she released her debut solo album Nocturne on Lyon & Healy Records, which includes several of her own transcriptions of music originally composed for piano. Audiences worldwide have commended Siochi not only for her virtuosity, but especially for her poetic interpretations, sensitive musicianship and innate sense of timing.

As an orchestral musician Siochi has performed guest principal harp with Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and second harp with the New York Philharmonic. In a recent concert review of Tchaikovsky ballet suites with CSO, the Chicago Sun-Times praised her cadenzas as “graceful and transporting.” She has spent her summers as guest principal harp at various festivals including Classical Tahoe and Colorado Music Festival, and as a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival.

Siochi began her musical training with the piano when she was five years old, and started learning the harp at age nine. As a student of New York Philharmonic principal harpist Nancy Allen, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in harp performance from the Juilliard School. In addition to the harp, she studied secondary piano at Juilliard during her undergraduate years. Siochi grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, where she studied with Pamela Weest-Carrasco.

Marlea Simpson, a Dallas native, was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “Grant Park Orchestra’s new 21-year-old wunderkind” in 2016. She currently holds the principal viola position with the Chicago Sinfonietta in addition to a section position with the Grant Park Orchestra after completing their Project Inclusion Program in 2014. She has also performed as a substitute musician with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Sarasota Orchestra.

Simpson was a viola fellow with the New World Symphony from 2019 to 2022. She received her master’s degree from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with Ettore Causa and Steven Tenenbom. She received the Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the violist in Yale’s graduating class whose performances exhibited the highest potential for success as a soloist or chamber musician in the field. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with Peter Slowik.

Alan Snow served most recently as second associate concertmaster with the Omaha Symphony. Since his first performance with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra at age 13, he has performed solo and chamber works internationally, including appearances at Chicago’s Symphony Center, London Symphony Orchestra St. Luke’s, Sala Manuel M. Ponce in Mexico City and other venues. Previous concertmaster appointments include the Evansville Philharmonic, Birch Creek Symphony, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, Terre Haute Symphony, Festival Napa Valley Music Academy, Britten-Pears Young Artists Program, Indiana University’s top orchestras, Carmel Symphony and Music Academy of the West.

An avid chamber player, Snow studied closely under the Pacifica Quartet and the Takács Quartet, and has recorded two chamber music albums—one as a member of the Chicago Panamerican Ensemble called Voices of Mexico’s Past and Present and one with pianist Joanne Chang titled Dialogos. Both albums explore the rich landscape of classical music in Mexico. Snow also served as first violin of the Eykamp String Quartet and was on faculty at the University of Evansville from 2018 to 2021. He studied at Northwestern University before receiving his bachelor’s of music degree from Indiana University.

Sarah Switzer earned her master’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music as a student of Ivo-Jan van der Werff. She holds a bachelor’s degree in the History of Art from Yale University, where she studied with Wendy Sharp. Recipient of the Yale Wrexham Prize for Music, the T. Whitney Blake Prize and the Sharp Prize for Music, Switzer served as principal viola of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and performed Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto with the symphony orchestra in 2018 as a winner of the William Waite Concerto Competition. Her undergraduate thesis on French medieval manuscript illumination earned her the A. Conger Goodyear Fine Arts Award in 2019.

Switzer has attended the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Music Academy of the West and the Tanglewood Music Center, where she won the Maurice Schwartz Prize in 2018 and, in summer 2020, served as a New Fromm fellow, focusing on the performance and recording of contemporary classical music. An enthusiastic chamber musician, she has worked extensively with the Takács and Juilliard String Quartets, and participated in masterclasses led by Roberto Díaz, Martin Beaver, and the Rolston, Argus and Calidore String Quartets. She has previously studied with Cynthia Phelps, Richard O’Neill, Karen Dreyfus and Ed Gazouleas.


Read the Press Release About the Appointments of Kathryn Nettleman and Kyle Sanborn (February 2022)

Read the Press Release About Nathan Hughes' Appointment (June 2022)