February 8, 2016
Get to Know Kari Sundström
Minnesota Orchestra member since: 1996
Hometown: Sahalahti, Finland
I knew I’d make a career in music when:
I enrolled in Tampere Conservatory of Music in 1979. The first thing I ever played in the conservatory's student orchestra was Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 and it is still one of my favorite pieces of music. It depicts the landscape and the people of Finland the best to me. That's when I knew I wanted to have a career in music.
My favorite composer:
I really enjoy Shostakovich, especially his 11th Symphony, titled The Year 1905. I like the raw power of this work. In general, there is an underlying tension in his music that takes a hold of you. There is a real life essence behind his music.
R. Douglas Wright and Kari Sundström perform in a November 2015 concert at Orchestra Hall. Photo credit: Greg Helgeson
Do you come from a musical family?
Music was part of everyday life in our family. When I was growing up my parents were amateur musicians: my mother played the tenor horn and my father played the baritone. I started out on trumpet around five years old, but switched to trombone because there already was a trumpet player in our family. We were all part of a community wind orchestra together. Two of my older brothers are now professional musicians in Finland. Ari plays trumpet and Jari plays clarinet. (You're probably wondering about our names. My best guess is that my parents just had a really good sense of humor.)
Greatest musical influence:
The members of the low brass section of the Minnesota Orchestra influence and inspire me every day. It is such a thrill and a privilege to be part of this section.
Kari Sundström chats with a student at an MMEA All State Side-by-Side rehearsal. Photo credit: Courtney Perry
What is exciting for you about this season’s Sibelius celebration?
It is interesting to play the lesser known works by Sibelius, such as Pohjola's Daughter, which is such a beautiful work that should be performed more often.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy going up north to our property and working on my sauna and other building projects. I like to build things. It is very gratifying to see something take shape little by little. My late father was a carpenter all his life and building something of my own makes me connect with him. Also, my son is studying to become an audio engineer here in Minneapolis and I enjoy working with him in the recording studio.