The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 31, 2014

MSO conductor's return cemented with lockout agreement

MSO conductor's return cemented with lockout agreement

When the Minnesota Orchestra finally cemented a contract agreement earlier this month, patrons of the Mankato Symphony Orchestra had cause for relief.

In addition to various MSO musicians who play with and substitute for the Minnesota Orchestra, MSO Music Director Ken Freed is a violist for the award-winning organization whose lockout began in October 2012. After the lockout continued into the following spring, Freed announced he would take leave from the Minnesota Orchestra and relocate to Seattle with his wife.

Though Freed continued to conduct the Mankato orchestra even after his West Coast move, the long-distance arrangement was a tenuous one for the MSO. But with the lockout now over, Freed said he will soon return to Minnesota on a more permanent basis.

"It's been a long haul," he said. "I'm looking forward to coming back."

The MSO's next concert is "Songs about Rainbows: Music of Jim Henson and the Muppets" on Feb. 9, featuring guest arranger and pianist Lynn Hutchinson and guest conductor Mischa Santora as well as jazz vocalist Connie Evingson and the Mankato Children's Chorus Concert Choir.

Though Freed will not appear with the MSO for the Feb. 9 concert — he has been accepted into the League of American Orchestra's 10-day Essentials of Orchestra Management workshop, which accepts only 30 candidates a year and takes place Feb. 4-13 — he will return in time for the "Deconstructing Rachmaninoff" concert on March 2.

Freed joked that much of the workshop's advance reading list and discussion material focused on the Minnesota Orchestra's lockout. With that situation concluded and the Minnesota Orchestra set to begin performing on Feb. 7, Freed said he is looking forward to returning to what he does best.

"I've had more time to think lately than I'd like," he said. "What I want to do is share my love and passion for this great music."

Tanner Kent

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