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Farewell to Three Minnesota Orchestra Colleagues

Farewell to Three Minnesota Orchestra Colleagues

Today, August 31, 2020, two musicians and a conductor conclude their tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, and we share our gratitude for their music-making and years of exceptional service.

Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle at rehearsal onstage in Cuba, 2015. Photo: Travis Anderson

Kathy Kienzle, who joined the Orchestra in 1993, retires from her role as principal harp, passing the title to harpist Marguerite Lynn Williams. A frequent soloist with the Orchestra, Kathy gave the world premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Harp Concerto at Orchestra Hall in 2000—in Osmo Vänskä’s first-ever appearance conducting the Orchestra—and repeated the performance in Tampere, Finland, in 2001. In the fall of 2016, she was featured as soloist in performances of Ginastera’s Harp Concerto. She also performed in numerous Minnesota Orchestra chamber music concerts.

“Performing with the amazing musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra has been an incredible honor for me, always inspiring and exciting,” said Kathy. “The many tours we took together were highlights. Performing in the great halls of Europe was always exciting, but even more moving to me was the concert at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto on the South Africa tour.” Kathy plans to continue teaching harp at the university level and to younger students and performing chamber music with many of her friends and colleagues.

Rosemary and David Good Fellow Emilio Rutllant performing Barber's Summer Music on Peavey Plaza in August. Photo: Tony Nelson

Concluding his two-year tenure as a Rosemary and David Good Fellow is flute player Emilio Rutllant, who joined the Orchestra’s roster in 2018. Emilio lists Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra as two highlights of his performances with the Orchestra, along with many symphonies. 

“I’m infinitely indebted to my flute section colleagues for helping shape my musical vision and igniting an inner passion for music in every rehearsal, lesson and performance,” Emilio expressed. “Adam, Greg, Wendy and Roma are incredible sources of inspiration, great teachers and exemplary colleagues. As I leave my fellowship during the middle of a pandemic, I am also glad to have just performed Samuel Barber’s Summer Music with my fellow Good Fellow, Kai Rocke, and with Kathy Greenbank, David Pharris and Michael Gast. They helped me regain a sense of purpose in this hard time for artists, and with that I will always remember these performances with them at the culminating point of my fellowship.” 

Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto leading the Orchestra in a Common Chords concert in Mankato, Minnesota. Photo: Greg Helgeson

Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto concludes her time with the Minnesota Orchestra this month, having joined as assistant conductor in September 2017. Akiko is also the music director of the Mid-Texas Symphony, where she is doing the challenging work of re-envisioning performances and curating digital content during this season of cancelled concerts, but in it she sees a silver lining: “I find it extremely exciting to have as my life’s purpose ensuring that our craft of symphonic music thrives beyond this pandemic.” 

Of her time on the Minnesota Orchestra podium, Akiko also reflected that “Its not so much one event or concert, but a quality about the Minnesota Orchestra musicians that I treasure, and that is an amazing electricity and synergy that rises out of them; a combination of the enormous depth and breadth of musicianship and humanity that they bring to the group and the intangible, yet palpable esprit de corps they possess due to their venerable history, tradition and continuing sense of innovation.” 

Thank you to Kathy, Emilio and Akiko! We will miss seeing you at Orchestra Hall and wish you the all the best in your next endeavors.


  • This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
    This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
  • Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra
    Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra