NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College is now ready to present to its first recipient a brand-new award for a music alumnus.
The family and friends of Verna Kaufman Goering, Moundridge, and the late Erwin C. Goering have established a music award named for the couple.
The award honors a Bethel College alumnus of outstanding character for distinguished achievement and recognition in music. The awardee may be a professional musician or a volunteer who has served the community; may demonstrate excellence in instrumental music, vocal music and/or conducting; may be a donor whose gifts have substantially strengthened Bethel’s music program.
The first recipient of the Erwin C. and Verna Kaufman Goering Music Award is Daniel Hege, Janesville, N.Y., music director and conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and a 1987 Bethel graduate.
The award carries a cash gift of $1,000, which will be presented to Hege at Bethel College on April 27 during the annual Masterworks concert in Memorial Hall.
As a Bethel student, Verna Goering, Class of 1937, was a solo pianist and accompanist, and a member of the A Cappella Choir, often setting the intonation for the group with her gift of perfect pitch.
Verna earned an advanced degree from the Chicago Conservatory of Music. For many years, she would periodically join the Bethel music faculty as a piano teacher and an accompanist, and she also gave private piano lessons for many years.
Erwin C. Goering, Class of 1940, was also a member of the A Cappella Choir, as well as the Men’s Octet and the Men’s Quartet.
After graduation, he went on to be a public school teacher and later earned an M.A. in religious education from Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Chicago and Elkhart, Ind.
Erwin served Bethel for 20 years as director of public relations, with responsibilities for recruiting students and soliciting financial support for the college.
Daniel Hege is finishing his fourth season at the WSO. He has earned critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming. Hege was also recently appointed the Stevenson Professor of Practice at Syracuse University.
Before coming to the WSO, Hege was music director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra for a decade, beginning in 1999. In 2001, he completed a five-year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony, where he held the titles of assistant, associate and resident conductor.
Hege has also served as music director of the Haddonfield (N.J.) Symphony, associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, music director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and music director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, where he was twice honored by the American Symphony Orchestra League for innovative programming.
He received his B.A. degree with majors in music and history and continued his studies at the University of Utah, where he earned a Master of Music degree in orchestra conducting. He subsequently studied with Paul Vermel at the Aspen Music Festival and in Los Angeles with noted conductor and pedagogue Daniel Lewis.
In 2004, Le Moyne College in Syracuse awarded Hege an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his contributions to the cultural life in central New York State.