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. Led by Music Director Designate Thomas Søndergård and founded in 1903, the ensemble has a long history of touring, and in 2018 became the first professional U.S. orchestra to perform in South Africa. 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 ten symphonies, of which nine have been recorded and seven albums released. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orchestra has intensified its digital offerings, including the launch of 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 2022 is exploring the music and influence of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Lee Mills, conductor

Five-time winner of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Lee Mills is internationally recognized as a passionate, multifaceted and energetic conductor. In naming Mills as the ‘New Artist of the Month’ for March 2022, Musical America praised Mills’ ‘omnivorous musical temperament eager to try out highly contrasting musical styles and approaches.’

In the fall of 2022, Mills was the Solti Foundation U.S. Resident at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he worked with maestro 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 where he conducted the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and in 2017 Mills 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, he has also led concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra (USA), the Rochester Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Mills was the Assistant Conductor to David Robertson for Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA.

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 new role in which he is serving as a creative force behind the Orchestra’s summer festival and appearing 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 2021-22 season included concerto appearances with the Phoenix, Peninsula, San Antonio, Rhode Island, and Kansas City orchestras, a special appearance with the Galilee Chamber Orchestra in Toronto, recitals including Portland Piano International, and performances with Cho-Liang Lin at Chamber Music International in Dallas and with Paul Huang at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. He also tours as a member of the Montrose Trio, which he founded with Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith.


A committed educator, Parker is professor of piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. This season he chaired the jury of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. 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

More MBF Artists