The Free Press

MANKATO — The Mankato Symphony Orchestra has announced its executive director, Hannah Bretz, is stepping down and will be replaced on an interim basis by musician and educator Bethel Balge.

Bretz will leave the organization later this month.

“We are very excited to have Bethel taking on the role as executive director of the Mankato Symphony,” MSO Board President Shannon Beal said in a news release. “Bethel brings to the job an exceptional combination of energy, artistry and experience to the challenges of running a musical organization. We are grateful to Hannah Bretz for her passion for our organization and wish her all the best.”

Bethel Balge joins the Mankato Symphony Orchestra with breadth of experience as an arts administrator and educator, as well as professional classical musician. In addition to teaching at Bethany Lutheran College and Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Balge is the founding artistic director of the Summit Avenue Music Series and co-artistic director of the ProMusica Minnesota Chamber Music Festival.

Winner of the Louis B. Sudler Prize in the Arts and the McKnight sponsored Artist Grant, as a professional pianist Bethel has performed in Germany, Russia and throughout the United States.

“As a proud resident of south-central Minnesota, I am excited to work with the exceptional musicians and staff of the Mankato Symphony,” Balge said. “I’m looking forward to bringing the work of this wonderful organization to more people in our communities.”

Bretz’s tenure with the orchestra began Oct. 1, 2018. She had a background in nonprofit development, having previously served as director of the Fremont Health Foundation and major gift officer at Drake University. Bretz has a bachelor of arts in jazz studies.

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