Conductor Directing

Kenneth Freed, Music Director

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Music Director Kenneth Freed

Music Director Kenneth Freed

Get to Know Our Maestro

Ken listens to his heart and his instrument for inspiration. "Just as the viola part is subtle but crucial, so, too, is that quiet voice within each of us, softly but persistently reminding us of our obligation to be a positive presence in the world." read more

More than a conductor: Ken's personal statement on the role of music and an orchestra in the community. It's not all serious, though. Listen to Ken's funny story about using music to make friends and build partnerships and how some quick thinking saved the day.


Music Director | Kenneth Freed

KENNETH FREED is in his twelfth season as Music Director of Minnesota’s Mankato Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as 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. Mr. Freed 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. His tenure in Mankato has been marked by a combination of community outreach, artistic quality and innovation, exciting artistic partners and advocacy for state support of the orchestra. In 2010, the orchestra became a partner in an unprecedented 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 from the National Endowment for the Arts helped support the special presentation, Deconstructing Don Quixote and a 2013 NEA award was given for Cancion de las Americas.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 was also President and Founder of the Learning Through Music Consulting Group. 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 Alumni Ventures 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.


He and his wife, Gwen enjoy ballroom dancing in their spare time. They have three wonderful children.