Lost amid a Danish marching band, found in Minneapolis
Orchestra Hall is still abuzz after Thomas Søndergård's recent debut as music director designate. In a program that featured Igor Stravinsky’s provocative Rite of Spring along with Maurice Ravel’s complete Mother Goose ballet suite and Lili Boulanger’s highly evocative Of a Spring Morning, the Orchestra’s new artistic leader signaled what we can expect from his tenure: dynamic performances of wide-ranging programming that lets every section of the ensemble shine. Or, as Star Tribune contributor Rob Hubbard said in his review of the October 21st concert: “It left the impression that Søndergård will be a leader willing to emphasize the beast as much as the beauty.”
Recalling his childhood in the little, musical city of Holstebro, Denmark, Søndergård remembers a day when he ran off from his parents and got lost amid a marching band. “I stood next to this band and I made them understand that I wanted to be a part of this,” he reflects. Søndergård has since compared his first appearance on the podium at Orchestra Hall in December 2021 as feeling akin to that moment. “With this orchestra, it felt as if there was no wall there—it felt as if I was stretching out a hand and it was met with a very warm welcome from the Orchestra immediately,” says Søndergård.
The connection was also undeniable for the Orchestra’s musicians. Recounting Søndergård’s December appearance, Principal Bass Kristen Bruya said, “Thomas has a warm, inviting and trusting presence on the podium that extends from the front of the stage to the back. His energy and style in communicating in concerts and rehearsals—it feels collaborative, and it makes some of the most challenging music feel easy to play.”
As we await the start of the 2023-24 season—when Søndergård will assume his music director role—we invite you to revisit the moment of his announcement, and hear more about the musical journey that has brought the Danish conductor to Minneapolis.
PS—have you visited our Digital Concert Hall? This video was originally filmed as part of a livestreamed This Is Minnesota Orchestra concert; when you head over to our Digital Concert Hall you can find free and premium behind-the-scenes content, full performances and exclusive interviews.