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Meet the Musicians

New Season, New Faces Onstage

Three headshots of new musicians--from left to right, Marlea Simpson, Jude Park, and Lydia Grimes--each holding their vola and smiling.
(L-R): Marlea Simpson, Jude Park and Lydia Grimes

As we gear up for the 2022-23 season, seven musicians prepare to join the ensemble in full-time roles.

“I can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity to join the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Katherine Siochi on her new appointment as the Orchestra’s next principal harpist. “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.”

Siochi—whose audition was praised as being “extremely impressive” by Brian Mount, the Orchestra’s principal percussionist and a member of the audition selection committee—has demonstrated that same high level of excellence throughout her own career. Currently serving as principal harp for the Kansas City Symphony, Siochi earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in harp performance from the Juilliard School. In 2016, she was awarded a gold medal in the USA International Harp Competition. Last year she became a recording artist in her own right, when her debut solo album Nocturne was released on Lyon & Healy Records, featuring her original, poetic interpretations of music originally composed for piano.

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 led by Conductor Laureate Osmo Vänskä. Audiences can then see her perform regularly at Orchestra concerts beginning with the New Year’s Celebration.

Six string players have also recently been announced as new additions to the Orchestra. Youngji Kim and Alan Snow will both enter the Orchestra’s violin section, joining violists Lydia Grimes, Jude Park, Marlea Simpson and Sarah Switzer for the 2022-23 Season Opening on September 23 and 24.

For Jude Park—a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, who most recently performed with the symphonies of both Dallas and Houston—the chance to play for their “dream orchestra” is a long time in the making. “When I was in high school, Interlochen Center for the Arts was one of the first orchestra camps I attended,” they remembered. “During my time there, we performed Elgar's Cello Concerto with Anthony Ross [the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal cello] and I also had the opportunity to work with Jorja Fleezanis, the Orchestra's former concertmaster. Her fiery passion inspired me to fall in love with orchestral playing, and as a result, I frequently listened to the Minnesota Orchestra throughout my high school and college years.”

Taking the stage at Orchestra Hall will also be a sentimental feat for both violists Lydia Grimes and Sarah Switzer, whose sisters Sarah Grimes and Emily Switzer are both already members of the ensemble’s violin section. Lydia Grimes grew up in Minnesota and began studying her instrument at 16 under the instruction of former Minnesota Orchestra violist Sabina Thatcher. Sarah Grimes, who joined the Orchestra in 2016, is thrilled to take the stage with her sister: “After several years of living in different cities, I’m so looking forward to all the music we will be able to make together again, right here in our hometown.”

Violinist Emily Switzer, a member of the Orchestra since 2019, feels similarly about her sister. “Sarah and I have always been close, and it’s been a delight to watch her grow as a musician over the years. I feel extremely lucky to now call her a colleague and can’t wait for the start of our first season together.”

While studying at Yale University, Sarah Switzer was a student of award-winning violinist Wendy Sharp. “She knows both how to shine in the spotlight and to be a sensitive, supportive colleague,” Sharp said in a 2018 feature of Switzer that appeared in the Yale Daily News. “Sarah learns music incredibly quickly and is a wonderful performer who can turn on a dime and both dazzle and move the audience.”

Switzer’s virtuosity is shared amongst this group of new musicians. In 2016, when violist Marlea Simpson was a fellow with the Grant Park Orchestra, the Chicago Tribune described her as a “21-year-old wunderkind.” A few years later, when Simpson was wrapping up her master’s degree at the Yale School of Music, she was recognized with the Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize—a distinction awarded to the violist in Yale’s graduating class who exhibits the highest potential for future success.

Section violinists Alan Snow and Youngji Kim have also been recognized for the brilliance they’ve shown early in their careers. Snow made his first appearance with DePaul University’s Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra when he was just 13 and went on to win top prizes at the Walgreens Concerto Competition and St. Paul String Quartet Competition, among many others. For her part, Kim has been performing with many leading Korean orchestras, and was selected as both a Gyeonggi Young Artist and Kumho Young Artist—two of the nation’s most prestigious recognitions for emerging orchestral musicians.

These new appointments follow other recently announced changes to the Orchestra’s personnel: Nathan Hughes will assume the role of principal oboe beginning with the Orchestra’s New Year’s Celebration concerts; Ben Odhner will move from the second to the first violin section; Kathryn Nettleman will serve as associate principal bass; and Kyle Sanborn will also join the Orchestra’s bass section in September. These changes 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 spans an extraordinary 233 years.

We’re thrilled to witness how these changes will help shape the Orchestra’s sound as we embark on our ambitious 2022-23 season, now with many new musical voices onstage.