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Conductor Dan Hege will encourage graduates to find their own path

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Symphony conductor Daniel Hege didn’t find his passion for music at Bethel College – he brought that with him – but Bethel was the place he says he “learned to channel that passion.”

The music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, recently named principal guest conductor of the Tulsa Symphony and 1987 Bethel graduate will address the Class of 2016 at commencement ceremonies May 22. He has titled his speech “Find Your Own Path.”

Hege is widely recognized as one of America’s finest conductors, earning critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming.

He served for 11 seasons as music director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. In June 2009, he was appointed music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and, as of the 2015'16 season, is principal guest conductor of the Tulsa Symphony.

Hege was named to his position with the Syracuse Symphony in April 1999. In June 2001, he completed a five-year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he held the titles of assistant, associate and resident conductor and led the orchestra in subscription, family and runout concerts.

Hege also served as associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, assistant conductor of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and music director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, where he was twice honored by the League of American Orchestras for innovative programming. He has guest conducted the Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Indianapolis, Oregon, Colorado, San Diego, Columbus and Phoenix symphonies and the Buffalo and Calgary Philharmonics, and led the orchestras at the Grand Teton and Aspen Music Festivals.

International engagements include performances with the Singapore Symphony and the St. Petersburg Symphony at the Winter Nights Festival. Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Rochester, Rhode Island and Naples Philharmonics; the Louisville, Sarasota and Florida Orchestras; the Houston, Edmonton, Pacific, Puerto Rico, Hartford, Omaha, Madison, Tulsa and Virginia Symphonies; and at the Music Academy of the West.

Hege has made numerous recordings, including a disc with the Baltimore Symphony and the Morgan State University Choir featuring works by Adolphus Hailstork, and three CDs with the Syracuse Symphony. He also made a recording on the Cedille label, Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries, with Rachel Barton Pine and the Encore Chamber Orchestra.

Hege has a B.A. from Bethel College, with majors in music and history. He earned a Master of Music degree in orchestra conducting at the University of Utah, where he founded the University Chamber Orchestra and served as assistant conductor of the University Orchestra and music director of the Utah Singers. He subsequently studied with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music Festival, and in Los Angeles with noted conductor and pedagogue Daniel Lewis.

In May 2004, Hege was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Le Moyne College in Syracuse for his contributions to the cultural life in central New York State. Born in Colorado and raised in Idaho, Hege currently lives in Syracuse with his wife and their three daughters.

The 2016 Bethel graduation ceremonies begin with the baccalaureate service May 22 at 10 a.m. in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The formal commencement starts just before 4 p.m. with the traditional Walk around the Green.

Commencement takes place in Thresher Stadium, or in Memorial Hall in case of inclement weather.

Both baccalaureate and commencement are open to the public.

Baccalaureate opening music features members of the Class of 2016. Other service music is by the Bethel College Concert Choir and by Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, on organ.

This year’s baccalaureate theme is a line from a hymn that can be found in Hymnal: A Worship Book: “For we are strangers no more, but members of one family; strangers no more, but part of one humanity” (Kenneth I. Morse).

Four graduating seniors and one parent will offer meditations: Allie Shoup, Wichita, Josh Lewis, Rialto, California, Eric Preheim, Brentwood, Tennessee, and Jaime Tschetter, Freeman, South Dakota, and her mother, Pam Tieszen, Bethel vice president for institutional advancement.

The service will conclude with the traditional blessing for and candlelighting by seniors.

Members of the baccalaureate planning committee are graduating seniors Amy Mason (senior class representative), Michael Freeman, Jennifer Kaufman, Alexandra Shoup and Bethel campus pastor Peter Goerzen.

The commencement program begins at 4 p.m. with music by the Epic Brass Quintet.

Peter Goerzen, who is also the brother of graduating senior James Goerzen, will give the invocation. Mariyana Marble, graduating senior from Newton, will offer the benediction.

Other Commencement Weekend events open to the public are the Senior Art Exhibit, including a reception in the Regier Art Gallery area, May 20 from 7-9 p.m., and the nurses’ pinning ceremony, May 21 at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, both in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

The Regier Gallery, as well as Thresher Bookstore and Mojo’s Coffee in Schultz Student Center, will be open extra hours during the weekend (gallery 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday; bookstore 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 12-2 p.m. Sunday; Mojo’s 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday). Kauffman Museum invites everyone to the current special exhibit, “Root for the Home Team: Building Community through Sports,” Saturday and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Special events for graduating seniors and their families include the Student Alumni Association-hosted senior party and dinner, with presentation of a gift to all seniors, in the Will Academic Center atrium May 20; lunch on the Goerz House lawn with President Perry D. White and Dalene White May 21; and an ice cream social given by the Office of Student Life that evening.

Alumni Weekend activities now take place the first full weekend in June (June 3-5 this year) on campus. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 316-284-5251 or see a complete Alumni Weekend schedule online at

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015'16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015'16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.