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22-year-old violinist named to leadership post at Minnesota Orchestra


Felicity James recently earned her bachelor's degree. (Provided by Minnesota Orchestra)

Minnesota Orchestra announced two major appointments this week. 

Violinist Felicity James was appointed associate concertmaster, a top leadership position, acting as deputy to concertmaster Erin Keefe. (The concertmaster is the top-ranking player, leading the orchestra from the first violin position.) James, 22, recently completed a bachelor’s degree at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Despite her youthfulness, she brings considerable experience as concertmaster with the Verbier Festival Orchestra (Switzerland), the Colburn Orchestra and the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra. She grew up in Seattle, where her father serves as Seattle Symphony's second assistant concertmaster.

“We are confident that she will be a huge asset to the first violin section and the Orchestra as a whole,” Keefe said in a statement. "She is a beautiful violinist and musician who impressed the audition committee with her incredible poise as a leader.”

James replaces Roger Frisch, who retired after 35 years at the conclusion of Minnesota Orchestra's recent South Africa tour. She starts her new job Dec. 10, serving as concertmaster for the orchestra's Home for the Holidays (Dec. 14-20) and "Beauty and the Beast" (Dec. 22) concerts.

Also appointed was Principal Timpanist Erich Rieppel, 26, a native of Marshall, Minn., who got his start playing with the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra under his father (a music professor at Southwest Minnesota State University). Rieppel is currently a third-year fellow with Miami Beach's New World Symphony. He visited Minneapolis this fall to play Mahler’s Seventh Symphony with Minnesota Orchestra.  

“Erich is a fabulous musician with great ensemble skills,” said Associate Principal Timpanist Jason Arkis, who has been covering the principal position. “The orchestra and percussion section are looking forward to welcoming him and working with him in the future.”

Rieppel assumes a position vacated in 2015 by Peter Kogan, another long-time orchestra member with 30 years’ service. Rieppel’s first concert as principal timpanist will be the New Year's Eve celebration of American music (Dec. 31). 

Erich Rieppel grew up in Marshall, Minn., playing with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. (Provided by Minnesota Orchestra

Twin Cities troupe brings its social justice-themed dance to India

Photo by Isabel Fajardo

In September, Ananya Dance Theatre premiered a provocative social justice-themed work at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul, which commissioned the piece.

Writing in the Star Tribune, dance critic Sheila Regan praised “Shaatranga: Women Weaving Worlds,” for its “dynamite dancing” and labeled the show “a call to arms.”  

Now the company, named after imaginative and passionate founder Ananya Chatterjea, is taking its work global.

Over the next week, ADT is performing in three dance festivals as part of its first-ever tour to India, its founder’s birthplace. It will participate in two festivals in the capital city of New Delhi — Aavejak Avaaz and Natya Ballet Festival — and one in the northeast Indian city of Guwahati, famed for its hilltop temples.

The India tour follows October performances at the Bethlehem International Performing Arts Festival in Palestine.

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