Artist Bio

The Minnesota Orchestra is recognized for distinguished performances in its home state and around the world, award-winning recordings and broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. In September 2023 the ensemble will welcome Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård as its eleventh music director. Founded in 1903, the ensemble has a long history of touring, including landmark tours to Cuba and South Africa in the past decade. Touring activities, which were paused due to the pandemic, resumed recently with a May 2023 residency week in Austin, Minnesota. The Orchestra’s recordings and broadcasts have drawn acclaim since the 1920s, including the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Its current ongoing recording project is a series of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies; all ten have been recorded and eight albums have been released, with the final two symphonies to come in subsequent seasons. Further extending its reach beyond the concert hall, the Orchestra offers This Is Minnesota Orchestra, a series of television and online broadcasts that has earned two Upper Midwest Emmy Award nominations. In July and August the Orchestra offers Summer at Orchestra Hall, a festival guided by pianist and creative partner Jon Kimura Parker that in 2023 is exploring the many aspects of motion in music.

Lee Mills, conductor

Lee Mills – a five-time winner of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award – is internationally recognized as a passionate, multifaceted and energetic conductor. In the fall of 2022, he was the Solti Foundation U.S. Resident at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he worked with Enrique Mazzola on the Lyric’s production of Verdi’s Don Carlos. The League of American Orchestras selected Mills for the 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview, at which he conducted the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. In 2017 he was selected as a semi-finalist in both the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition and the Opera Royal de Wallonie-Liege International Opera Conducting Competition. In addition, he conducted alongside David Robertson in the highly-acclaimed U.S. premiere of John Cage’s Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras with the Saint Louis Symphony.

In addition to his work with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony, Mills has also led concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, he was the assistant conductor to David Robertson for Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

Jon Kimura Parker, piano

Known for his passionate artistry and engaging stage presence, pianist Jon Kimura Parker has performed regularly at the Berlin Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, London’s South Bank, the Sydney Opera House, and the Beijing Concert Hall. In 2019 he was appointed the Minnesota Orchestra’s first-ever creative partner for Summer at Orchestra Hall, a role in which he serves as a creative force behind the Orchestra’s summer festival and appears each summer as a host, performer, and personality. He is also artistic director of the Honens International Piano Competition and artistic advisor for the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. Highlights of his 2022-23 season included concerto appearances with the Colorado, Reading, Sarasota, Toledo, and Vancouver symphonies, as well as the San Antonio Philharmonic and Reno Chamber Orchestra; a tour of Italy as part of the Montrose Trio with Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith; additional chamber music performances in Detroit, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and Toronto; a series of engagements at the Honens Festival in Alberta, Canada; and a solo recital in Dallas, where he was honored as Chamber Music International’s Artist of the Season.

A committed educator, Parker is professor of piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. His discography of a dozen albums most recently includes Fantasy, built around William Hirtz’s Wizard of Oz Fantasy. His YouTube channel features a series of Concerto Chat videos that explore the piano concerto repertoire. In addition, his Whole Notes series is available on Amazon Prime Video. He is now recording master class videos for Tonebase on major works of the piano concerto repertoire.


  • Beethoven: Overture to Egmont

  • Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1

  • Assad: Brazilian Fanfare

  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 8

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