Ken Hakoda is enjoying his 10th season as music director and conductor of the Salina Symphony. During his tenure as music director, the Symphony has increased the number of concerts from four to seven with tremendous growth in ticket sales, resulting in an average concert attendance of 1,000. The Salina Symphony has also developed partnerships with Kansas Wesleyan University, the Wichita Grand Opera and the Stiefel Theatre to bring live opera performances to North Central Kansas. In addition, the Youth Symphony Program has flourished under his leadership, growing from one orchestra into a comprehensive educational program involving more than 170 students from grade school through high school.
In addition to his work with the Symphony, Hakoda serves as associate professor of music at Kansas Wesleyan University, where he teaches orchestra, choir, music education and music theory classes. He is founder of the KWU Chamber Orchestra and founder/producer of the annual opera production. He also directs choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church and regularly serves as music director at the Salina Community Theatre.
A native of Japan, Hakoda has lived in the United States since 1989. He earned master of music degrees in instrumental conducting and theory/composition from Wichita State University and bachelor’s degrees in theory/composition and music education from St. Olaf College. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Hakoda is also known for his talent as a composer with over 20 works to his credit. He has won a number of awards and honors as a composer, including the 1998 Claude T. Smith Phi Beta Mu Composition Contest, the 1996 MMEA Collegiate Composition Contest and a Departmental Distinction at St. Olaf College. Hakoda also received the 2003 Outstanding Young Band Director Award from Kansas Bandmasters Association.