Artistic Staff


Daniel Hege, Music Director and Conductor

Jean and Willard Garvey Endowed Chair

Daniel Hege

The 2014-2015 season marks Daniel Hege’s fifth as Music Director and Conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.  Hege is the seventh music director in the Orchestra’s 70-year history.  He has been widely recognized as one of America’s finest young conductors, earning critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming.

Following a nationwide search, Mr. Hege was named Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in April 1999.  In June 2001, he completed a five year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony where he held the titles of Assistant, Associate and Resident Conductor and led the orchestra in subscription, family and run-out concerts. Mr. Hege also served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Pacific Symphony, Music Director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony where he was twice honored by the League of American Orchestras for innovative programming.

Daniel Hege has guest conducted the Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Indianapolis, Oregon, Colorado, San Diego, Columbus and Phoenix symphonies; the Buffalo and Calgary Philharmonics; and led the orchestras at the Grand Teton and Aspen Music Festivals.  International engagements include performances with the Singapore Symphony and the St. Petersburg Symphony at the Winter Nights Festival. In addition, Mr. Hege has worked with the Syracuse Opera with which he conducted productions of Madame ButterflyLa TraviataTosca and Don Pasquale.

To read Maestro Hege’s full biography, click here.


Michael Hanawalt

Wichita Symphony Orchestra Chorus Director and Conductor

Michael Hanawalt

Dr. Michael Hanawalt is the newly appointed Chorus Director for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Dr. Hanawalt is Director of Choral Activities at Wichita State University, where he conducts the Concert Chorale, the Women’s Glee Club, and teaches courses in conducting and choral literature.  Prior to his appointment at Wichita State, Dr. Hanawalt served as Visiting Instructor in Music at St. Olaf College, where he conducted the Chapel Choir and the Viking Chorus.

Dr. Hanawalt is a founding member of the professional male vocal ensemble Cantus, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  During his eleven-year tenure with Cantus, he performed over 500 concerts throughout North America and Europe, participated in over 200 educational outreach events, and recorded eleven CDs.  He also served for six years as Cantus’ Executive Director, overseeing its growth through organizational management, fundraising, and board development.

An active performer, Dr. Hanawalt is the recipient of several awards, including first place at the Schubert Club Vocal Competition in Minneapolis, MN, first place at the Thursday Musical Vocal Competition in St. Paul, MN, and first place at Minnesota’s division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition in Collegeville, MN.  In 2011, Mr. Hanawalt sang the role of the Evangelist in J. S. Bach’s Weinachts-Oratorium with the Florida State University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir.

To read Michael Hanawalt’s full biography, click here.



Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Endowed Chair

Mark Laycock HeadshotDr. Mark Laycock earned a Doctor of Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Northern Colorado.  Dr. Laycock holds a Master of Music degree in instrumental conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and literature from the University of Southern California. An experienced educator, he was an instructor of strings and orchestra at the middle and high school levels in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dr. Laycock is a Professor of Music at Wichita State University, where he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship.  He has been recognized with the WSU Excellence in Creative Activity Award (2012) and the College of Fine Arts Excellence in Teaching Award (2007).  He serves as Director of Orchestras and Coordinator of Strings.  WSU Symphony Orchestra appearances under his direction include international tours to Spain and Canada, a May 2011 concert at Carnegie Hall, and multiple invited performances at Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshops.

To read Dr. Mark Laycock’s full biography, click here.





Wes DeSpain began directing the high school and middle school orchestras of the Derby Public Schools in the fall of 2010. He conducted the Friends University Community Orchestra from 2010-2014 and is currently in his fourth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Delano Chamber Orchestra.

While serving as a Graduate College Fellow at the University of Oklahoma from 2007 to 2010, he conducted the OU Civic Orchestra and was assistant conductor for the OU Symphony and  OU Opera Theater. He led the Wichita All-City High School Orchestra in February 2006.

Dr. DeSpain was Interim Director of Orchestras at Wichita State University for two years (2004-2006) and performed as a clarinetist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for twenty-five seasons (1984-2009). As a high school student, he was a member of the Wichita Symphony Youth Symphony during his junior and senior years. He holds degrees from Baptist Bible College (B.A.), Wichita State University (B.M.E., M.M.E., M.M.) and the University of Oklahoma (D.M.A.); he currently serves as the Orchestra Council representative for the Southwest region of NAfME and is Assistant Chair for the KMEA Statewide Orchestra.





Eric Crawford was born in Dayton, Ohio, where he began playing the double bass at age 10.  He received his Bachelor of Music Education from the Eastman School in Rochester, New York, and his Master of Music from Wichita State University.  Mr. Crawford has played with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for 16 seasons and with the Music Theatre of Wichita pit orchestra for 12 seasons.  He currently teaches orchestra at Wichita High School East, and serves as the orchestra curriculum coach for Wichita Public Schools.  In the spring of 2015 he will become president of KASTA, the Kansas chapter of the American String Teacher’s Association.  An active clinician and guest conductor, Mr. Crawford has directed numerous student groups throughout the region.  He is also the program director for “Bows at the Barn,” a summer camp for middle school and high school orchestra students.