About Heartland Symphony Orchestra

Heartland Symphony Orchestra is a 50-piece volunteer, nonprofit, community orchestra located in and serving the central Minnesota area of Brainerd, Little Falls, and the surrounding rural communities. Musicians, from amateurs to professionals, come together once a week from all over the region to rehearse and perform three full-length orchestral music concerts each season in both Little Falls and Brainerd.

Special guest artists and conductors, local soloists and ensembles, area youth concerto winners, and charming repertoire commentary all help to make each concert unique and entertaining. The HSO also contributes its service to communities through music education programs, special events, and ticket give-aways. For more information, to receive a free HSO season brochure of upcoming concerts, to order your tickets, or to get involved either as a player or HSO sponsor, please email HeartlandSymphony@gmail.com or call the HSO at 1-800-826-1997.

Music Director

alexander corbett

Alexander Corbett is the newly appointed Music Director of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Music Director of the Chamber Orchestra at the University of Minnesota – Morris and has served as conductor of the College of Saint Benedict – Saint John’s University Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he has taught at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

A fervent advocate for young musicians, he was appointed as a coach for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and serves on the board of the Eckblad Williams Community Fund, an arts organization that provides funds for Minnesota’s ISD 742 string players. In demand as a guest educator, his recent engagements include invitations to Bemidji State University, the Mississippi Strings Camp, the MNSOTA Middle Level Orchestra Festival, and the Bravo North music festival.

Alexander earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Violin Performance with Sally O’Reilly at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where he was a Berneking Fellow and Graduate Assistant. Other teachers include Joanne Cohen, Mark Russell Smith, Lydia Artymiw, and Scott Jones. During his studies, he was awarded full scholarships to a variety of summer programs, including the Brevard Music Institute (Brevard, NC), Bravo! Institute (Minneapolis, MN), and Italy Summer Music Festival (Pienza, Italy). He has appeared as concertmaster and soloist with many orchestras, including the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Bethlehem Chamber Orchestra, and the Concordia Orchestra. He has won first prize in numerous competitions, including the MMTA Artistic Ambassador Competition and Concordia College’s concerto competition.

Alexander lives in Minnesota with his wife, Kate Bae, who teaches piano at the University of Minnesota – Morris. See more at www.alexandercorbett.com.

Concert Master

Leslie ZanderHeartland Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster is Leslie Zander. She will begin her fifteenth year teaching middle level orchestra in the Brainerd Public Schools this fall. In addition to directing the 6th-8th grade Orchestras and an extracurricular chamber orchestra, she teaches 5th grade Classroom Music at Forestview Middle School. She also maintains a private studio of violin, viola, and cello students, ages 5-adult.

Ms. Zander performs extensively throughout the Brainerd Lakes Area both with the Trillium String Trio and as concertmaster of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared with the Great River Strings Ensemble, the Legacy Chorale, and the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra. Past summer engagements include the Sierra Summer Festival in Mammoth Lakes, CA, the Lake Chelan Bach Fest in Chelan, WA, and the previous four seasons of the Lakes Area Music Festival.

Ms. Zander began her violin lessons at the age of three at the Aber Suzuki Center at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where her teacher was Patricia D’Ercole. She studied with Mark Bjork at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, earning a Bachelor of Music in Instrumental and Classroom Music.

Assistant Conductor

Chris FogderudChris Fogderud is currently in his 6th year as Director of Bands at Brainerd High School. His responsibilities include teaching the BHS Wind Symphony, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble I, Jazz Ensemble II and AP Music Theory as well as the BHS Marching Band and Pep Bands. He received his B.A in Music Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and his Masters of Music with a concentration in conducting from The American Band College of Sam Houston State University.

As a performer, Mr. Fogderud is the principal trumpet and assistant conductor of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra and has played extensively with the Lakes Area Music Festival. He has been the featured soloist with the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, Gustavus Jazz Lab Band and the West River Winds Community Band.

Apart from teaching and performing, Mr. Fogderud enjoys golfing, backpacking, running, and hanging out with his two cats, Louis and Dizzy (Yes, they were named after the jazz musicians). He lives in Brainerd with his wife, Sarah.

Orchestra Personnel

Click to view a listing of the Fall 2015 Orchestra Personnel (pdf).

Board of Directors

Deb Griffith – President
Mona Steinke – Vice President
Helen O’Brien – Secretary
Tom Kotval – Treasurer
Betty Alderman
Erica Bjelland
Mary Clement
Heather Erickson
Dean Fitch
Susan Kavanaugh
Echo Kowalzek
Pat Makepeace
Don Wennberg
Michelle Sakry-Winkelman
Mary Voigt


Fran Dosh – Orchestra Manager
Alicia Cebulla – Music Librarian

Please email HeartlandSymphony@gmail.com to contact any HSO board or staff member.