- Hello, and welcome to everyone here in Orchestra Hall and viewing online around the world.
The selection of a new music director is a milestone occasion in the life of an orchestra.
It heralds new directions and new opportunities.
It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you, the Minnesota Orchestra's next music director, Thomas Soøndergård.
(crowd applauding) - Well, it's been one of the most spectacular moments in my life.
Not only did I get married two weeks ago, but also to come over here and see the orchestra that I love so much already, it all looks as if this is gonna be a very exciting journey.
(uplifting orchestra music) - He has conducted and recorded with great orchestras around the world, and has the artistic ability and standards to challenge and inspire our orchestra in new ways.
(uplifting orchestra music) Thomas first conducted the Minnesota Orchestra last December.
Some of you may have been there for those performances of Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben."
It was a concert that left us absolutely buzzing afterward.
(uplifting orchestra music) - The chemistry between a conductor and a hundred musicians on stage can be somewhat of an unexplainable phenomenon.
Let me tell you, sometimes it doesn't work, but other times, it's the most natural thing in the world, and not always for reasons that you can put your finger on.
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 of communicating in rehearsals and concerts, it feels collaborative, and it makes some of the most challenging music feel easy to play.
Thomas, thank you for joining the Minnesota Orchestra as our next artistic leader and music director.
And on behalf of the musicians, Thomas, I'd like to offer you a very warm and enthusiastic welcome.
We are so excited to have you as our next music director.
(crowd applauding) - It happens a few times in my life that the connection is so strong at the very first moment.
It's a little bit like, I can imagine when you meet a person for the first time, you are not sure how much of yourself that you dare to show.
Everybody's a little vulnerable.
But with this orchestra, it felt as if there was no wall there.
It felt like, you know, I was stretching out a hand and it was met with a very warm welcome from the orchestra immediately.
And when that happened so quick, it's much easier to create music at the spot.
So the chemistry felt as if we've known each other, actually for far more than just a week or two.
(bright orchestra music) Coming back to Minnesota and knowing that the orchestra was not really aware, and of course it's an exciting moment, I, of course, hope that they would be as excited as I was about the announcement, and that was surely clear when they were told that we were gonna have a closer relationship.
I stood outside the door, and while I was walking in, I could hear the cheering.
(crowd cheering and applauding) And that's of course, a moment that will stick with me for a long, long time.
It's an enormous luxury for me to actually take over an ensemble that is in such great shape, that is in such great spirit.
So actually, it feels to me as if it's just finding the right way to place my arm around the shoulders of this orchestra and will continue the journey that is already so well on its way.
(uplifting orchestra music) So I grew up in a beautiful little spot in Jutland, as it's called.
It's the bit that comes up from Germany.
In the middle of that space, there's a little town called Holstebro.
It was a center for art, actually, for music, for theater, for many years.
I remember walking in the shopping area in that little city where I grew up and hearing a marching band around the corner, and I just took off from my parents.
They actually got quite scared, they couldn't find me.
I stood next to this band and I made them understand that I wanted to be a part of this.
So I came into the music school, only seven years old, started on the drums, because in the percussion section of the music school, they had more instruments than any academy in Scandinavia where I grew up.
Little by little, I just learned so much about music and found the passion for this.
And then, I went to Copenhagen to study at the academy there.
I got a job in the Royal Danish Opera, and at the same time, I got into the European Community Youth Orchestra, where the conducting ideas began, because that's where I got to know and work with conductors like Claudio Abbado, Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Giulini.
They were a big part of my inspiration for actually working more and more close with music than as a percussion player.
(gentle orchestra music) The role of art in Denmark is big.
I don't know Minneapolis, Minnesota so well yet, but I do understand already that the arts has a big, big role in this society, which is very good news for me.
I can't wait to go into the theaters here, but I wanna make sure that there are some days where I can go and explore.
If I meet a person for the first time, it's important to tell a bit about yourself, but I find it far more important to actually listen, and that's the real job I think, of a conductor.
Naturally, in the beginning of our studies, we are so focused on what we bring to the work, but actually, the older we get, the more experienced we get, the more we should leave that and just listen.
So the ears should get bigger as we get older, and it's far less to do with ourselves.