Meet a Musician: Ben Odhner

Meet a Musician: Ben Odhner

Minnesota Orchestra musician since: September 2017
Section: Second Violin
Hometown: Bryn Athyn, Pa.
Education: Cleveland Institute of Music, Rice University 

Give us a recap of your professional journey.
I started working in the violin section of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 2014 and won the fourth chair position in their first violin section a year later. After two years in that position, I landed a spot in the Minnesota Orchestra! 

Do you have a favorite memory of your musical career so far?
Performing with the Minnesota Orchestra in Soweto, South Africa, was such a moving experience. Feeling the reaction of the audience to the music and the Orchestra in that historic space was spine-tingling, especially when the audience and choir were all singing together.

What is most challenging about being an orchestral musician?
I think the most challenging thing is to bring fresh energy and an open mind to every performance. The image that most helps me is that someone in the audience is hearing the music for the first time, even with old favorites.

What is currently on your music stand?
Beethoven’s Septet for my upcoming performance with The Musical Offering series on June 2 and the Prokofiev Sonata for two violins, which I enjoy playing with my wife in our free time.

Are there are any pieces on the Minnesota Orchestra’s calendar that you are especially excited about?
I’m really looking forward to Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 on next year’s calendar. It’s a big Romantic piece that I have a fondness for, because I played it in a youth orchestra growing up.

What else should Minnesota Orchestra audiences know about you?
I’ve been teaching myself guitar recently. Many of my close family members play guitar. I’m slowly learning some folk songs my grandfather played. It’s a relaxing thing to do after the high energy of a concert. 

If you weren’t a professional musician, what career do you think you’d have?
Physical therapist—I've always been interested in how the body adapts to challenges. I was born with two thumbs on my right hand, and even with corrective surgery at a young age I still don't have full range of motion. Learning the violin encouraged me to build dexterity in my thumb and has made me mindful of how I use my body as a violinist to this day. I like that physical therapists help people overcome their challenges to achieve what they want to do.


Minnesota Orchestra Staff