Paraguayan conductor Ernesto Estigarribia Mussi is highly regarded for his versatility and effervescent style on and off the podium. Hailed for his “expert direction” by Fanfare magazine, he was recently named Music Director of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is the Associate Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles and Director of Orchestras at Augustana College.
Ernesto has conducted the La Crosse Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, St. Cloud Symphony, Rochester Symphony, Orquesta de Cámara del Centro del Conocimiento (Argentina), Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional-Paraguay and is the most frequent guest conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica del Congreso Nacional (Paraguay). In addition to symphonic performances, Ernesto has led numerous opera productions including Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Britten’s Albert Herring, and Zimmermann’s Weisse Rose.
In addition to debut seasons in Sheboygan and Mankato, other highlights of the 22/23 season include guest appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra and Jake Heggie’s opera Two Remain with the Quad City Symphony.
Ernesto holds degrees from Pittsburg State University (BM) and the University of Minnesota (MM and DMA) where he studied conducting with Mark Russell Smith. In his free time, he enjoys cooking vegan recipes with his wife Sabrina.
Music on the Hill
New Zealand cellist Richard Belcher joined the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2019. He was founding cellist of the Grammy-nominated Enso String Quartet with whom he toured for two decades, performing frequently in many of the great concert halls throughout the world, as well as making several highly acclaimed recordings. In addition to his quartet career, from 2008 Richard has been Principal Cello on ROCO in Houston, TX.
In 2018 the Enso Quartet disbanded, and Richard became Artistic Director of the chamber music series Music on the Hill in Mankato, MN. He continues to be a frequesnt guest at festivals throughout the USA, and is in demand as a teacher and chamber music coach.
Richard moved to the United States in 1998 to study with Aldo Parisot at Yale University, and it is there that he co-founded the Enso Quartet, He is married to Cecilia Belcher, the Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Recipient of the Louis B. Sudler Award in the Arts, pianist Bethel Balge has performed in Germany, including at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, and in Russia as soloist with the Voronezh Philharmonic, as well as in various American venues. She is founding Artistic Director of the ProMusica Minnesota Chamber Music Series & Festival (PMM) and as pianist of PMM has been featured in live performances on American Public Media's Performance Today show. Balge received a Diplommusikerin from the Frankfurt University in Germany, a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University. In 2014, she received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota under Lydia Artymiw. In 2020, she became Executive Director of the Mankato Symphony Orchestra. In 2022 she was one of 35 orchestra leaders from around the US and Canada selected to attend the League of American Orchestras Essentials in Orchestra Management held at the Juilliard School of Music.
Director of Operations
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.
Free Family Series
Competition Coordinator and Librarian
Board of Directors
Christopher L. Paul is an attorney who previously 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.
Dr. Andrew McNamara is an orthopaedic surgeon with subspeciality training in hand and upper extremity at the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic in Mankato, Minnesota. He holds a B.A from Luther College, a M.D. from the University of Iowa, completed residency at St. Louis University and completed a hand and upper extremity fellowship at the University of Florida in Gainesville FL. He enjoys bicycling, hunting and playing the piano. He and his wife Jessica live with their two children, Lochlan and Eila. He joined MSO's board in 2021.
Tom Lentz is a 1985 graduate of Carleton College, majoring in economics. He is a 1992
graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Delaware.
He has worked in the banking industry for almost 40 years and currently serves as the
Market President of West Bank in Mankato. Tom currently serves on the board of the
Mankato Area Foundation Holdings, the Asset Management Committee of the Mankato
Family YMCA, as well as the Finance Committee of the South Central College
Foundation. Tom and his wife Diane have two adult children and have lived in Mankato
for over 25 years.
Dr. Viktoria Davis has been the owner and optometrist at Madelia Optometric since 1999. She grew up in Novato, California and graduated from Novato High School. She attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biology. Dr. Davis received her Doctor of Optometry degree with honors in 1999 from Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Oregon. At graduation, she received both the Outstanding Student in Physiological Optics Award and the Outstanding Clinician Award. She and her husband, Steve (an MSO violist) live in Madelia and have two children, Katharine (violin) and Karl (cello). In her spare time, she enjoys reading, sewing, and dancing with the Mankato Ballet.
Complete Board of Directors
Christopher Paul, President; Dr. Andrew McNamara, Vice President;
Tom Lentz, Treasurer; Dr. Viktoria Davis, Secretary
Anna Brown; Katie Heintz; Sarah Houle, Musician Liaison; John Kind;
Joe Meidl; Melinda Wedzina; Andy Willaert; Dr. Eric Woller