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Hege, O’Connor to appear with symphony at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Newton Mid Kansas Symphony Orchestra and Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series will celebrate two important anniversaries – their 50th and a 25th, respectively – with a joint Winter Classics Concert Sunday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at Bethel College.

The concert will bring to the Memorial Hall stage world renowned violinist/fiddler Mark O’Connor, with Daniel Hege, a Bethel College alumnus and former conductor of the NMKSO, conducting the orchestra.

Grammy® award winner Mark O’Connor, a product of America’s rich folk culture, has also successfully encountered the American symphonic tradition. He has “crossed over so many boundaries, his style is purely personal,” noted the Los Angeles Times.

O’Connor’s recordings include Appalachia Waltz with Yo-Yo Ma; Fanfare for the Volunteer; and his popular Fiddle Concerto No. 1, one of the most-played modern violin concertos. He has appeared at the White House and has been the recipient of numerous commissioning grants.

O’Connor regularly teaches master classes and founded the internationally recognized Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp and Strings Conference where he assembles a world-class faculty to teach in a number of musical styles. He lives in New York City.

Daniel Hege is a 1987 Bethel College graduate and a former music director of the NMKSO, a position he held for 13 years. He was recently reappointed music director of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra for another six years.

Hege earned a master’s of music in conducting from the University of Utah. He has conducted the Disney’s Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra as well as a variety of other orchestras. Most notable was his 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 run-out concerts.

Hege’s guest appearances are numerous, including an admired one with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in fall 2006. Hege currently lives in Syracuse with his wife, violinist Katarina Oladottir Hege, and their two daughters.

The program for the Feb. 11 HBPA concert will include works by American composer Aaron Copland – “Hoe Down” from Rodeo, as well as Lincoln Portrait. The latter honors Abraham Lincoln by combining excerpts of the president’s speeches with a musical portrait. Arlo Kasper, North Newton, Bethel College professor emeritus of communication arts, will narrate the Lincoln Portrait.

O’Connor brings his own compositions for orchestra and violin to the program with “Song of the Liberty Bell,” “Strings and Threads” and “Call of the Mockingbird.” O’Connor’s pieces have been called “rich contributions to the contemporary violin repertoire, his own portraits of America.”

The Winter Classics Concert is part of the year-long celebration of NMKSO’s 50th anniversary. The community orchestra brings together area musicians – from student to professional – for four concerts annually. The collaboration with Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts in the series’ 25th season highlights the sense of community evidenced by both groups.

The Feb. 11 concert is sponsored in part by Midland National Bank and The Gary Franz Team.

Tickets for the concert are $15 for reserved seats and $13 and $12 general admission, with discounts available for students and senior citizens on general admission. For phone orders, call (620) 327-8158 or (316) 284-5205. Tickets are available at the Bethel College Bookstore in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel campus, open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

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