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Monday October 3, 2022

Thomas Søndergård Debuts as Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Designate, Leading "The Rite of Spring"


The Danish conductor takes the podium as music director designate in October 2022 for three concerts that feature two ballet scores: Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

Conductor Thomas Søndergård, who this past July was named the Minnesota Orchestra’s 11th music director, returns to Minneapolis for the first time since that announcement to conduct concerts centered around Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring—a special piece in Søndergård’s repertoire that he will bring to life with the Minnesota Orchestra. Considered one of the first modernist works of the 20th-centruy, The Rite of Spring caused a near-riot when it premiered in Paris in 1913. Under the direction of Søndergård, the groundbreaking and rhythmically complex score will demonstrate the Orchestra’s prowess.

The program also includes Lili Boulanger’s Of a Spring Morning and Maurice Ravel’s Mother GooseOf a Spring Morning was one of the final works created by French composer Boulanger before she died tragically at the age of 24; shimmering with liveliness, the five-minute piece will be performed at Orchestra Hall for the first time during these concerts. Based on five well-known French fairy tales, Ravel’s Mother Goose is often played as a shorter orchestral suite. In this presentation, however, Søndergård has elected to present the full ballet score, and will guide the ensemble through the entirety of this whimsical work.

In a July 2022 interview, Søndergård noted his excitement for the October concerts: “Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is a piece I was very taken by as an 18-year-old boy in Copenhagen with my vinyl record player. It is now among the works I don’t want to do too often—I particularly want to conduct it with ensembles that I have a special connection with. I’m excited to conduct the Boulanger and Ravel works in Minnesota. Not all ensembles click into French repertoire quickly, but they did in Minnesota when we did Debussy’s La Mer last spring. I’m really looking forward to that part of the program as well.”

The Orchestra’s recent announcement of Søndergård as the 11th music director in its 120-year history concluded a four-year international search to identify Osmo Vänskä’s successor; following his 19 years as music director, Vänskä became the Orchestra’s conductor laureate in September 2022. Celebrated for his musician-focused approach, Søndergård will begin his music director role in the 2023-24 season, first serving as music director designate during the 2022-23 season.

The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, October 20, at 11 a.m.; Friday, October 21, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, October 22, at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $40 to $114. The performance on Friday, October 21, will streamed live through the Orchestra’s website and social media channels.


About Thomas Søndergård

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is the current music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO). Previously he served as principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as well as principal conductor and musical advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. In addition to his debut concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra in December 2021 and a return engagement this past April, he has appeared with many prestigious European and American orchestras and drawn acclaim in a range of productions with Royal Danish Opera and other companies.

He opened the 2022-23 season with acclaimed appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival and at BBC Proms with violinist Nicola Benedetti, and later this season returns to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra to conduct the world premiere of Rune Glerup’s Violin Concerto with Isabelle Faust. He also makes U.S. debuts with the Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony, alongside a return visit to the Chicago Symphony, among other engagements. On the operatic stage, he returns to Royal Danish Opera this season to conduct Richard Strauss’ Elektra.

Søndergård’s discography covers a broad range of contemporary and mainstream repertoire, including Sibelius symphony and tone poems with BBC Now and Sergei Prokofiev and Strauss with RSNO. In January 2022, he was decorated with a prestigious Royal Order of Chivalry – the Order of Dannebrog by Her Majesty Margethe II, Queen of Denmark. He began his musical career as a timpani player.


Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts


Thursday, October 20, 2022, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall

Friday, October 21, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall

Saturday, October 22, 2022, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall


Minnesota Orchestra

Thomas Søndergård, conductor


BOULANGER Of a Spring Morning
RAVEL Mother Goose [complete ballet]
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring


Tickets: $40 to $114



Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased now at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

Details around COVID safety protocols can be found at minnesotaorchestra.org/safety

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


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