Ken Hakoda was named music director and conductor in 2004. 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. 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. To honor his accomplishments, the Ken Hakoda Endowed Conductor Chair was established in May of 2014. In addition to his work with the Symphony, Hakoda serves as associate professor of music at Kansas Wesleyan University, where he teaches choir, music education and music theory classes. He is founder of the KWU Chamber Orchestra. He also directs choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church and regularly serves as music director at the Salina Community Theatre. 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 and was named as the 2014 Kansas Federated Music Club “Composer/Conductor of the Year.”Hakoda hails from a unique musical background, having received extensive training in choral and instrumental education as well as theory/composition. At St. Olaf College, he earned a bachelor of arts degrees in choral music education, instrumental music education and theory/composition, for which he was awarded with the departmental distinction. While at St. Olaf, Hakoda studied voice with Dan Dressen, saxophone with Ruben Haugen, composition with Tim Mahr and Peter Hamlin, and conducting with Tim Mahr and Steve Amandson. Hakoda continued his education at Wichita State University as a graduate assistant, where he served as the director of the Shocker Pep Band. He earned master of music degrees in instrumental conducting, studying with Victor Markovich and Harry Davison and theory/composition, studying with Dr. Walter Mays and Dr. Dean Roush. Hakoda is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he is studying pedagogy approaches in music education.























A Kansas native, Jesse Henkensiefken performs regularly as both a cellist and conductor. He serves as the Kansas Wesleyan University (KWU) director of orchestras as well as the assistant conductor and principal cellist of the Salina Symphony. He concertizes throughout Kansas, the Midwest and the U.S., having appeared at the Kansas City Lyric Opera House, NYC’s Kaufman Center, the Eastman School of Music and Lincoln Center. He has also performed throughout the Caribbean, having worked in Guadalupe and the Bahamas. He is the recipient of the 2014 Woodworth Career Development Grant for conducting and was awarded the Mu Phi Epsilon Foncannon Conducting Scholarship Award in 2013.Henkensiefken has studied conducting at both the Manhattan School of Music and at the University of Kansas. In 2015, he had the privilege of traveling to the Tchaikovsky State Moscow Conservatory in Russia, where he had further training under the direction of Anatoly Levin. His other mentors include George Manahan, David Gilbert, Nikolai Uljanov, Paul Vermel, Leonard Slatkin and Kurt Masur. He was assistant conductor for the MSM Contemporary Opera Ensemble from 2012-2014 and was director of the Ars Viva Chamber Orchestra from 2009-2014. He has made guest conducting appearances with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, the Salina Youth Symphony, the Kansas Music Educators Association and the Salina Community Theater, where he won 2015-16 “Best Musical” and “Best Musical Direction” awards. He was also a conducting participant in both the 2010 South Carolina’s Conductors Institute as well as the 2013 ‘Beyond the Baton’ Conducting Seminar.

As a cellist, Henkensiefken has participated in master classes with world-renowned musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Kondrashin, Daniel Weis, Libby Larsen, Mark O’Connor and Zuill Bailey. He was a Sorbel Award Winner at the 2011 Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Competition and has been principal cellist for orchestras, including Ensemble du Monde (NYC), the Empire State Sinfonia (Brooklyn, NY) Kansas City Philharmonia (Parkville, MO) and the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra (Lawrence, KS). In addition, Henkensiefken has made solo appearances with the Sine Nomine Chamber Orchestra, Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, West Coast Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Manheim Steamroller, Ensemble de Monde and the KWU String Orchestra. He performed at the 2011 St. Georges International Music Festival in Guadalupe and was principal cellist during the 2013 Ensemble du Monde Bahamas Residency. During the 2006-2007 season, he was a substitute cellist for the New World Symphony.

In 2014, Henkensiefken created the annual KWU International Music Festival; a prestigious series of events that bring world-class performers and pedagogues to central Kansas for a week of music making. He currently resides in Salina, Kan., with his wife, Tatiana Tessman, who serves as KWU artist in residence and director of piano, and their daughter, Sophia Elise.