Kenneth Freed
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Kenneth Freed

KENNETH FREED served twelve seasons as Music Director of Minnesota’s Mankato Symphony Orchestra. He was also an Assistant Conductor of The Minnesota Orchestra, where he led performances on its Family and Young People’s concert series. He has conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Duluth Superior, Fargo-Moorhead and San Juan symphony orchestras and the Mankato Ballet Company. For more than a decade, he was a conductor at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts and also served as Music Director of Minnesota’s Kenwood Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Freed’s current season includes performances with Vietnam’s Auftdart Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kenneth Freed is well regarded as an orchestra builder, skilled in external relations and community and artistic collaboration. During his tenure in Mankato, ticket sales and fundraising reached new highs, as has state support for the orchestra. In 2010, the orchestra became a partner in an unprecedented $67,000 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to create and launch the Dakota Music Tour, a free public concert series, engaging the state’s Dakota communities through concerts by merging American Indian and Western classical music. A 2012 grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts helped support the special presentation, Deconstructing Don Quixote; another $10,000 grant in 2018 made possible an “Inside Out” concert, during which first-time concertgoers sat among the orchestra members for an up-close experience of music-making. In 2019, he secured a transformational bequest of $500,000. While leading the Kenwood Symphony, Mr. Freed grew the ensemble from a chamber orchestra to a full symphony orchestra and developed an education program including school partnerships that continue to this day.

After attending The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division, Kenneth Freed received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Yale College, as well as a Master of Music Performance from the Yale School of Music. He began conducting while at Yale, and attended the National Symphony Orchestra’s Conductor’s Institute, headed by Leonard Slatkin, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Mr. Freed also participated in conducting courses taught by the renowned Finnish maestro, Jorma Panula.

In addition to his active conducting schedule, Kenneth Freed has been a violist with The Minnesota Orchestra since 1998. He founded and served for ten years as President of the Learning Through Music Consulting Group to improve educational results. Before coming to Minnesota, he was a regular substitute violist for the New York Philharmonic and a five-year member of the Manhattan String Quartet, with whom he recorded and toured internationally. He also played second violin with the Rosalyra String Quartet, and has recorded and toured with that ensemble, winning a prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship.

Kenneth Freed is a winner of a 2011-12 Yale School of Music alumniVentures award for assisting English Language Learners in Mankato through music, a project that is a collaboration between the Mankato Symphony Orchestra and the Mankato School District using music to find a solution to the achievement gap between native English speakers and English Language Learners at the elementary school level.

‘Kings of Soul’ was a huge success! Kenneth Freed’s engagement and enthusiasm were contagious among soloists, orchestra and audience. I heard nothing but great feedback from those who worked with him as he showed great leadership, technical skills and artistic excellence.

Eric Jacobsen, Music Director
Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
January, 2022

Kenneth Freed stepped in on three hours’ notice to conduct a sold-out performance with The Minnesota Orchestra and Indigo Girls. We are fortunate to be able to rely on Ken for his skills as both a string player and a conductor, and I’m grateful to him as a colleague and friend for delivering a wonderful, enthusiastically received performance for our audience.

Grant Meachum
Director, Live at Orchestra Hall
The Minnesota Orchestra
July 5, 2022

1/15/2022 (3:30&7:30pm)


Calvary Orlando (Winter Park)

“Kings of Soul”

6/25/2022 (8pm)


Orchestra Hall (Minneapolis)

Pops: Indigo Girls

12/10/2022 (7pm)
12/11/2022 (7pm)


Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory of Music Concert Hall

Dvorák: Carnival Overture, Op. 92
musicians of The Minnesota Orchestra
September, 2013

Beethoven: Symphony #5 in c, Op. 67 (mvt. I: Allegro con brio)
musicians of The Minnesota Orchestra
September, 2013

Williams: Star Wars
musicians of The Minnesota Orchestra
September, 2013

Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Mankato Symphony Orchestra
May 1, 2016

Franck: Symphony in d (mvt. I: Lento; Allegro ma non troppo)
Mankato Symphony Orchestra
May 1, 2016

Mankato Symphony Orchestra
Pops Concert with The New Standards
February 16, 2019

Dakota Music Tour

Mankato Symphony Orchestra
Cochise Anderson, master of ceremonies
Brent Michael Davids, composer
Maza Kute Singers
Manny Laureano, trumpeter
June, 2011


Native American Orchestral Music?

A conversation with Brent Michael Davids & Kenneth Freed
Mankato Symphony Orchestra & Dakota musicians
October 28, 2019

Emerging from the pandemic, in my role leading the Minnesota Orchestra’s  Artistic Planning Committee I have come to see the importance of thematic programming - not just in tying repertoire together, but in highlighting the repertoire within historical and socio-political frames. In my experience, particularly with new repertoire, audience members crave context that informs their listening experiences. Above all, I feel self-isolated audience members’ need  for human connection, and hope that my frames will support the inherently musical act of empathy.

Each abundant program presents a wide range of related repertoire. The programs can be cut down to appropriate concert lengths, but I start by offering music that I feel needs to be heard - or heard with fresh ears.

[NB: In general, a classical era orchestra is the standard size of most pieces, but there are quite a few chamber orchestra offerings.]
---- Kenneth Freed       


(a sampling)

The instrumentations, timings and rental sources (where needed) of the following works are available upon request.

Program 1: “A Passion for the Planet”
* Geoffrey Hudson: Oratorio, A Passion for the Planet (2019) (full or chamber versions)
(b. 1967)
* Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony #6 in F, Op. 28 (1808)

Program 2: “Personal Is Political”
* Dmitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (1967)
* William L. Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (1934)
* Charles Ives: Three Places in New England (1911-14; revised 1929)

Program 3: “Music and Mental Illness”
* Robert Schumann: Symphony #3 in E-flat, Op. 97, “Rhenish” (1850)
* Beethoven: violin concerto or any of five piano concerti
Pyotr Tchaikovsky: violin concerto or any of three piano concerti
* Gustav Mahler: Adagietto from Symphony #5
* Mahler: Symphony #10 in F-sharp (1910) (chamber version)
* Mahler: Symphony #4 in G (1899-1900) (full or chamber version)
* Hector Berlioz: Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict

Program 4: “Unsung Voices”
* Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Sinfonietta #1 for String Orchestra (1955)
* Julia Perry: Short Piece for Small Orchestra (1952)
* Jessie Montgomery: Strum (2006; revised 2012)
(b. 1981)
* Florence Price: Symphony #1 in e (1931-32)
* Julius Eastman: The Holy Presence orf Joan d’Arc (1981)
* T.J. Anderson: SQUARES, An Essay for Orchestra (1965)
(b. 1928)

Program 5: “Music of Genocide (Terezin)”
* Pavel Haas: Study for String Orchestra (1943)
* Erwin Schulhoff: Concerto for String Quartet & Wind Orchestra (1930)
* Gideon Klein: Partita für Streicher (1944; arranged 1990)
* Viktor Ullmann: Symphony #2 (1944)

Program 6a: “Nazi Exiles”
* Walter Braunfels: Serenade in E-flat for Small Orchestra, Op. 20 (1910)
* Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (1945)
* Mieczys»aw Weinberg: Symphony #3 in b, Op. 49 (1949-50)

Program 6b: “Nazi Exiles”
* Ernst Krenek: Symphony #4, Op. 113 (1947)
* Kurt Weill: Violin Concerto, Op. 12 (1924)
* Hans Winterberg: Symphony #1, “Sinfonia dramatica” (1936)