Update browser for a secure Minnesota Orchestra experience

It looks like you may be using a web browser version that we don't support. Make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser, or try using of these supported browsers, to get the full Minnesota Orchestra experience: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

Meet the Musicians

From the First Note: Musicians’ Early Musical Memories

A portrait of Erich Rieppel as a child.

On the afternoon of Sunday, January 7, Thomas Søndergård will lead his first concert for families—a rare thing for a music director to do, especially during their first season. But from the moment Thomas landed in Minneapolis for his appointment as the Minnesota Orchestra's artistic leader, he made it he made it his goal to become “the music director for all generations.”

As Thomas takes the podium in front of the Orchestra’s youngest concertgoers, he’ll look out at an ensemble of musicians with centuries of combined experience. But he might also remember that for each of our musicians there was a moment when they realized that this is what they wanted to do—because he once had that same feeling, too.

Hanna Landrum

For violinist and Frontenac, Minnesota native Hanna Landrum, that first musical memory came right at Orchestra Hall:

I was 6 or 7, and my mom took me and my siblings to hear a young violinist named Hilary Hahn. I had just started violin lessons at the time, and I was mesmerized. Afterward, we stood in line for ages so I could get her autograph in my Minnesota Orchestra program. She told me to keep practicing and, what do you know, it worked! Thanks, Hilary!

Sam Bergman

Though he now sports a viola, Sam Bergman started off on the violin with one very notable teacher:

My second violin teacher was Marylou Speaker Churchill, the principal second violin of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and in addition to giving me two private lessons every week—a very generous allotment for one of her youngest and least advanced students—she invited me when I was 9 years old to stay for a whole week with her at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony's legendary summer home in the Berkshire mountains. It was a week of backstage access, daily violin lessons, cruising to and from rehearsals with the top down in Marylou's old Volkswagen Beetle and frisbee on the sprawling Tanglewood lawn with the BSO players I idolized. I was hooked, and realized for the first time that I might be able to play music for a living someday.

Sonia Mantell

Counted among cellist Sonia Mantell’s early teachers are the Wild Things:

I remember as a young child watching a VHS tape of the opera Where the Wild Things Are, based on the children’s book by Maurice Sendak, with music by contemporary composer Oliver Knussen. My parents, both musicians, had a lot of operas on VHS, but this one opened my eyes to how music can depict emotion and atmosphere so vividly. As luck would have it, I got to meet the composer during my undergraduate studies and told him how much his opera meant to me, and I’ll never forget that moment.

Erich Rieppel

For timpanist Erich Rieppel, the realization came a little later:

At an early age, it was known that I was particularly ticklish and physically explosive—good for an eventual hockey player. My dad had a way of simultaneously fulfilling my rambunctious nature and enforcing control. He would pick me up and fly me around the living room singing the “Ride of the Valkyries” theme. Only a few decades later did I realize that the tune is from the 15-hour-long Ring cycle by Richard Wagner. 

Thomas Søndergård

And for Thomas, the feeling of flight came in the form of seeing his first show at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre.

One of the first pieces of classical music that I heard live in a real opera house was the ballet Coppélia with music by Leo Delibes. I was visiting the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen together with my teacher, and I was fascinated by the lightness and loveliness of Delibes' music. I still smile when I hear it, and I hope that many children get the opportunity to get experiences like that to remember for the rest of their lives.

Thomas Sondergard sitting in a plush red chair of a theater.

Thomas Søndergård in the same chair he sat in for the first performance he witnessed at the Royal Theatre.

Only a few tickets remain for the January 7 concert, Classics with Thomas Søndergård.

Get yours for the whole family