Dr. Bethel Balge
Winner of the Louis B. Sudler Prize in the Arts and of the McKnight sponsored Artist Grant, pianist Bethel Balge has performed in Germany, including at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, in Russia as soloist with the Voronezh Philharmonic, and in various American venues. She is founding Artistic Director of the Summit Avenue Music Chamber Music Series and Co-Artistic Director with Peter McGuire of the ProMusica Chamber Music Festival. Balge studied piano at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule in Germany, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at Michigan State University. In 2014, she received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota under Lydia Artymiw. She became Executive Director of the Mankato Symphony in 2020.
Director of Operations
Charlie Leftridge studied music at Concordia College, Moorhead, and Dickinson State University, later receiving his Masters of Music from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 2015. He is the recipient of a Prairie Lakes Artist Grant, UNL’s Edgrin Graduate Fellowship, and artist residency for the Walden Creative Musicians Retreat. In addition to his work with the Mankato Symphony, Charlie is an active, published composer of choral and chamber music, serves as the Director of University Chorale at Minnesota State University, Mankato, a grant review panelist for the Minnesota State Arts Board, and a music director at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Mankato. He became the Director of Operations of the Mankato Symphony in 2018.
Dr. Bethel Balge
Director of Operations
Artistic Director of Music on the Hill
Director of Free Family Series
Music Librarian and Stage Manager
Ben is the owner/operator of Insty-Prints Mankato. He holds a B.S. in Music Industry from MSU,M. From 2001-2010, Ben served as the Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps President and CEO, leading them to World Champion status. Ben is a founder and co-host of The Savants of Question comedy trivia productions. Other credits include 2nd Story Comedy regular stand-up contributor, host of Tell Me a Story, Minnesota Shorts Festival, Minnesota Fringe Festival, special guest appearances with The Mankato Symphony Orchestra, he can juggle fire, and is the voice of the Happy Chef statue.
Board Vice President
Christopher L. Paul is an Attorney at Knutson+Casey P.C. in Mankato, Minnesota specializing in Estate Planning, Probate, and Business Law. Prior to joining Knutson+Casey, Chris maintained his own office in Burnsville, Minnesota. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Perpich Center for Arts Education and has been active as a semi-professional singer for the last 16 years. Chris holds a B.A. in Music and Religion from St. Olaf College and a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He joined MSO’s Board of Directors in 2019.
Dave Knopick is currently employed as the Senior Vice President for ProGrowth Bank in Mankato, Minnesota. Dave joined ProGrowth Bank in January, 2013 and is responsible for business development in the greater Mankato area.
Prior to joining ProGrowth Bank, Dave commenced his banking career as a National Bank Examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. He departed the bank regulatory industry in 1983 to join a bank in St. Peter, Minnesota that in turn purchased the former Security State Bank of Mankato. He served as President and Director of the Bank for 15 years.
2020-21 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Benji Inniger is a nationally award-winning sound designer, composer, recording engineer, musician, and director from North Mankato, Minnesota. Some of his regional theatre credits include work with Des Moines Metro Opera, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Guthrie Theater, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Trinity Repertory Company, and the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. He has composed music for The Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Mankato Area Youth Symphony Orchestra, Film Score Fest, and StoryCorps for National Public Radio. Benji also works as a video game composer and sound designer, Associate Professor of Theatre and Music at Bethany Lutheran College and Executive Director of ProMusica Minnesota. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2010.
2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Benjamin Findley, President
Christopher Paul, Vice President
David Knopick, Treasurer
Benjamin Inniger, Secretary
Shannon Beal, Past President
Dr. Nataliya Danylkova
Dr. Viktoria Davis
Sarah Houle, Musician Liason
Dr. Stephanie Thorpe