- Native American Project
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 Duluth Superior, Fargo-Moorhead and San Juan symphony orchestras, the Mankato Ballet Company and for more than a decade has been a conductor at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts. He also served as Music Director of the Kenwood Symphony 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.
Dakota Music Tour
Mankato Symphony Orchestra
Cochise Anderson, master of ceremonies
Brent Michael Davids, composer
Maza Kute Singers
Manny Laureano, trumpeter
Native American Orchestral Music?
A conversation with Brent Michael Davids & Kenneth Freed
Mankato Symphony Orchestra & Dakota musicians
October 28, 2019