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Meet the Musicians

Orchestra Musicians Enjoy a Sun-Soaked August

Ellen Dinwiddie Smith dives in the Red Sea.

Every year, as summer winds down and the last notes have cleared the air from our Summer at Orchestra Hall festival, the talented musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra partake—as many of us do—in another beloved summertime tradition: the vacation. Some musicians take this time to explore interests unrelated to their day jobs. But for many of them, hopping on a plane to get away often involves playing music at festivals across the country while still finding time to sightsee in the process. Take a look at what some of our musicians got up to while they had time off:

Erich Rieppel (far right) with fellow faculty at the California Orchestra Academy. Photo: Erich Rieppel.

Timpanist Erich Rieppel began his vacation in the summer-ready state of California:

"I was head percussion faculty at the California Orchestra Academy. I prepared by spending some time in Yosemite and wine country. I played a week with the Grand Tetons Festival and also in the Lakes Area Music Festival, where I’ve been playing since 2013. Then I went on an annual camping trip with some other hosers from the Minnesota Orchestra. And I enjoyed playing the Minnesota Orchestra’s summer season!"
A group of four musicians and a conductor performing in a circle, wearing casual clothes.
Sam Bergman (bottom left) in rehearsal with musicians at last year’s Cabrillo Festival. Photo: R.R. Jones.

Violist Sam Bergman also spent some time in the Golden State:

"During the first half of August, I was at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California, where I’ve served as principal viola for the past decade. It’s an intense two-week festival focused entirely on music by living composers—over 15 days we rehearsed and performed over 20 new works by composers like Tan Dun, Jennifer Higdon, Anna Clyne and Kevin Puts, with most of the composers in residence at the festival along with our music director, Cristi Măcelaru."
A group of bass players posing for the camera.
All smiles from this summer’s Oregon Bach Festival bass section featuring Orchestra musicians Kyle Sanborn (third from left) and David Williamson (far right). Photo: David Williamson.

The West Coast was a popular destination, as David Williamson reported that he and Kyle Sanbornrepresenting the Orchestra’s mighty bass section—spent some time in Eugene, Oregon, performing in the Oregon Bach Festival. 

Each summer, violinist Milana Elise Reiche performs with the Sun Valley Music Festival orchestra in Sun Valley, Idaho. From this idyllic setting, the 100-musician ensemble offers free concerts and education programs.

Photo: Jean Marker De Vere.

Violinist Jean Marker De Vere enjoyed the beautiful outdoors on her purple bicycle. Here she is along the Root River Trail near Lanesboro, Minnesota.

Horn player Michael Gast spent time in a way many Minnesotans will be familiar with: fishing.  

"I spent three weeks at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and when I wasn’t rehearsing, I hit the Snake River for fly fishing and enjoyment of the great outdoors. This summer marked by 15th year performing with the festival, where I played principal horn. Also, I traveled to central Oregon to play my 40th summer with the Sunriver Music Festival that found me fly fishing in the beautiful Cascade Mountain range."

Like her horn colleague Michael Gast, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith took time to get outdoors albeit with a few extra pieces of equipment needed for her unique underwater journey.

"I took off the month of August to take an underwater photography workshop in Lembeh, Indonesia. Lembeh is home to "muck" diving, a place to find all the top bucket-list macro critters—various species of frogfish, ghost pipe fish and pygmy cuttlefish. I have been taking underwater photos for 15 plus years and I want to explore ways to improve this skill. As I usually do, my horn came along for the journey! I’ve literally practiced all over the world!"

There are just a few weeks left before the entire Orchestra returns from their well-earned vacations to kick-off Music Director Thomas Søndergård’s inaugural season. We hope to see you back at Orchestra Hall with your own exciting summer stories to tell in September.

See all the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in action as we welcome Thomas Søndergård in two weeks of electrifying performances.

Søndergård Conducts Alpine Symphony, September 21-23 

Søndergård, Debussy and Ravel, September 28-30