Minnesota Orchestra names Danish conductor Thomas Sondergard its new music director
Sondergard succeeds Osmo Vanska, who had led the orchestra since 2003.
ST. PAUL -- Danish conductor Thomas Sondergard has been chosen as the 11th music director to lead the Minnesota Orchestra in its 120-year history.
Sondergard, 52, will be music director designate in the 2022-23 season before beginning his new role in September 2023. Under the terms of a five-year contract beginning in the 2023-24 season, he will lead the orchestra in at least 12 weeks of concerts and activities a year.
Sondergard succeeds Osmo Vanska, who had led the orchestra since 2003. The Finnish native conducted his final concerts as music director in June and will become the orchestra’s conductor laureate in September.
The orchestra got its first look at Sondergard as a conductor when he led performances last December and again in April.
“Our search committee sat up and took notice of the captivating concerts that Thomas Sondergard conducted with the Minnesota Orchestra,” board chair Joseph T. Green said in a news release. “Here was a conductor of the highest caliber who invited the musicians to make music with him, and the result was thrilling. We believe he will be a powerful advocate for our music and musicians in the years ahead. His humanity, artistry and collaborative approach are a great match for the orchestra and our community.”
A native of Holstebro, Denmark, Sondergard studied percussion at the Royal Danish Academy of Music from 1989 to 1992, during which time he was also a percussionist in the London-based European Union Youth Orchestra. He joined the Royal Danish Orchestra as a timpanist in 1992 and was on the faculty of the Royal Danish Academy of Music from 2001 to 2002.
In 2005, Sondergard made his debut with the Royal Danish Opera, which launched him into the international spotlight. He has since worked with numerous orchestras across Europe and led ensembles on worldwide tours. In 2018, he became music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, following six seasons as that orchestra’s principal guest conductor. Sondergard will hold that post concurrently with his position in Minnesota.
“My impression of the Minnesota Orchestra is that it is an ensemble with tremendous heart,” Sondergard said. “There is a warmth, an openness and a cooperative spirit among the musicians that fits very well into the way that I like to make music. This is an organization with a long and wonderful history, and I’m honored to now be part of its future. My mind is full of possibilities for where we’ll start and what we’ll do together. I cannot wait to begin.”
Sondergard will make his debut as music director designate with three performances Oct. 20-22.
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