Music Association of Minnetonka welcomes first new principal conductor in 40-plus years

New artistic director, Sean Vogt, champions the community destination for music lovers

After a yearlong search for a new artistic director and principal conductor of the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra, the Music Association of Minnetonka selected Sean Vogt to lead the nonprofit organization. Vogt began the leadership role June 1.

Sean Vogt, the new artistic director of the Music Association of Minnetonka and principal conductor of the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra, at rehearsal. Starting in the fall, he will also conduct the organization’s Minnetonka Senior Chorale and the adult group Chorus à la Carte. (Submitted photo)
Sean Vogt, the new artistic director of the Music Association of Minnetonka and principal conductor of the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra, at rehearsal. Starting in the fall, he will also conduct the organization’s Minnetonka Senior Chorale and the adult group Chorus à la Carte. (Submitted photo)

Vogt is the first to fill this position, after the retirement of association founder Roger Satrang Hoel, who held the title for 42 years. While the organization is steeped in tradition, Vogt welcomes the challenge of bringing fresh energy to the association’s seven musical ensembles—including two youth choirs, two adult choirs and three instrumental ensembles.

Some groups encourage any community member with musical interest to join, while other groups require auditions. Each ensemble performs free, family-friendly concerts through the season.
In his new role, Vogt hopes to engage and enrich the Minnetonka community by leveraging local musicians of all ages and skill levels.

“We’re a music organization, but we’re a music organization that builds community,” he said. “We’re a place where it’s not only about the serious musicians. There are people who just happen to have some musical inclination and they want a place where they can express that and do that in. That’s what MAM’s for.”

During this transition, the association seeks to recruit new members for its first symphonic chorus, a group that will sing alongside the Minnetonka Symphony Orchestra. It is also seeking string players for its orchestras and singers 55 years and older for the senior chorale.

If interested in joining any of the seven ensembles or for more information, visit musicassociation.org or call 952-401-5954.

In addition to inclusive community outreach, Vogt was also drawn to the organization because of its unique partnership with the City of Minnetonka. The city not only partially funds the nonprofit organization, but also allows use of city hall facilities for rehearsal space. According to Vogt, this level of support between a city and music organization is special.

“None of [other Twin Cities music organizations] quite have the setup that MAM does,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it actually.”

Vogt plans on using his wide range of musical expertise to infuse performances and concert series with fresh energy.

“I’m pretty eclectic in my programming and I think that’s part of the reason the organization wanted to bring me on,” he said. “It’s not just going to be hardcore classical. There has to be a wide mix because you’ve got a wide audience.”

According to Vogt, his varied instrumental and choral background will help him relate to and direct the organization’s diverse ensembles.

“I’ve had music and the arts surrounding me before I even started getting involved,” he said of his artistic upbringing.

He grew up playing the French horn and piano, but found his passion for the organ—now his primary instrument—as an undergraduate student at Central College in Pella, Iowa. He then went on to obtain advanced degrees in both organ and choral conducting.

From there, his field of study grew into a profession, with conducting experience ranging from a 100-voice glee club to a music festival to an all-professional chorus and orchestra. He has prepared choirs for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Currently, he plays the organ part-time at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

In his free time, Vogt listens to one of the 14,000 CDs in his extensive collection.

“There’s not really an instrument I don’t like. I listen to a bunch of different stuff,” he said. “My CD collection runs the gamut from hip-hop to jazz to heavy metal to classical to solo instruments to, of course, choir.”

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