Minnetonka High School Orchestra Program
The orchestra program at Minnetonka High School involves nearly 160 orchestra students in grades 9 -12 and has over doubled since 2008 under the amazing direction of Ms. Finn-Sommerfeld. The program now has FIVE orchestras and several chamber ensembles that meet outside of school. The orchestras travel frequently and have participated in festivals and instrumental music performances in such places as San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, L.A, and international destinations such as Puerto Rico, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Spain.
Traveling with their Orchestra to other states and countries is an experience that should be available to all students. Travel scholarships are available from the Boosters during travel years. 2018-19 is the next travel year.
Director: Sarah Finn-Sommerfeld
Sarah Finn-Sommerfeld is currently the Director of High School Orchestras for Minnetonka Public Schools. She teaches over 200 orchestra students grades 9-12, advises chamber orchestras and other ensembles for students, along with various other school groups, is a founding member of the Equity Team at MHS, and is Music Department Chair. Sarah was the recipient of the Minnetonka School District’s Celebration of Excellence Award for Child Centered Teaching in 2016.
Sarah graduated from Concordia University – St. Paul with a Specialist degree in Educational Administration in 2017. Prior to that, she completed her Master’s Degree in Education through Concordia in 2009. Sarah’s undergraduate degree is from University of WI – Eau Claire. She graduated in 2002 with a degree in Music Education with String Emphasis. She studied violin under Mark Bjork and Nobuyoshi Yasuda.
Sarah previously worked in the School District of Janesville, WI for three years, teaching grades 6-12 at three schools. During those years, she also ran a private studio, directed a strolling strings group, and co-created the Rock Prairie Youth Orchestra with Dr. Jeff Suarez. Following this, she moved to Minnesota and began teaching middle and high school orchestra in the Minnetonka School District. As the program expanded under her baton, she has moved to teaching at Minnetonka High School only.
While under the direction of Sarah, the Minnetonka High School Orchestra program was the recipient of the Meritorious Orchestra Program Award, through the local chapter of American String Teachers Association, the Minnesota String Teachers Organization.
Director: Michael Janning - String group
Michael Janning directs Minnetonka High School's String Orchestra. He also teaches an International Baccalaureate Music course at MHS and directs the seventh grade orchestra at Minnetonka Middle Schools East and West.
Before he started teaching for Minnetonka Public Schools, Michael was a music student at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. During his time at Concordia, he was a member of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, VP of the American String Teachers Association Concordia student chapter, and the Concordia Orchestra Manager. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education in the Spring of 2017.
Michael grew up in Omaha, Nebraska where he was a bassist in the Millard School District. He enjoys developing his technique on the bass as well as the violin and is always looking for new music to explore.
The MHS orchestra program –
In 2013 the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Orchestra (both grades 10-12) traveled to L.A., CA to perform in the Heritage Music Festival there. Concert Orchestra received a silver rating and came in 3rd place for orchestral performances. Symphony Orchestra received a gold rating and came in first place for orchestra performance, first place for overall best instrumental ensemble, and first place for the best overall high school performance in the festival.
Each year participate in the MMEA All-State honor orchestra program and in the MSHSL State Solo and Ensemble contest – Most Minnetonka orchestra students receive superior and excellent ratings.
The MHS Chamber Orchestra has received a superior rating (the highest rating) Stat Solo/Ensemble Contest for orchestra students.
Several orchestra students participate in other orchestra activities both in the school and community. Examples include private lessons, Pit Orchestra for both the high school and community theatre productions, and the area youth symphony programs Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies – (GTYCS) and Minnesota Youth Symphony Orchestras – (MYSO) in the area, which are of the highest quality – their top groups perform professional literature at a very high level.
Concert Video Links
Here are some links to past concerts. For more videos, search "Minnetonka Orchestra" on YouTube. If the link doesn't work directly, copy and paste it into your browser's web address line.
The Minnetonka High School Orchestra's YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXksEWo8U6z9HcK81q8G8VQ
October 2016 Sampler Concert:
Concert Orchestra - https://youtu.be/5S36-gYf2hs
String Orchestra - https://youtu.be/Pluq0xTaZEA
Varsity Orchestra - https://youtu.be/DiM7_RHHCnI
Symphony Orchestra, including senior solo Martha Barnard - https://youtu.be/x9d_pw4mznE
Full concert - https://youtu.be/yMXXdRKMSy4
May 2016 Concert:
Symphony Orchestra, including the senior solo of Julie Huang - https://youtu.be/10XZ1kYi_us
Concert Orchestra - https://youtu.be/qGmjkADvsk0
String Orchestra - https://youtu.be/YXee_1OTnAk
Varsity Orchestra - https://youtu.be/eSBz69tobRg
NOTE: The videos for the full Orchestra concert, and Frazier Toole's senior solo is located at the same location as the above links.
March 2016 Concert:
Full concert - https://youtu.be/d2WaB4v6sVU
Symphony Orchestra - https://youtu.be/UOxOgRhB5nQ
Concert Orchestra - https://youtu.be/0cDyFvjhBI8
String Orchestra - https://youtu.be/wOGroZOiNXM
Varsity Orchestra - https://youtu.be/VUk3cLLTF_0
Symphony Orchestra October 2015 concert - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHsuT7EjeyQ
All Orchestra's together playing Star Wars - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rilMW5CYt0Y
Full December 2015 concert - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ekifdv_Phk