To San Fran...And Back Again! | Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
HomeAbout UsKso NewsTo San Fran...And Back Again!

To San Fran...And Back Again!


Meet the newest KSO team member!

Originally from Schoolcraft, MI, Gretchen Bonnema attended Schoolcraft High School. Though she now works as the KSO's new donor engagement coordinator, her love of orchestras started when she discovered the French horn in 6th grade. "My mom played Star Wars ‘The Force Theme’ to show me what different instruments sound like, and I picked the French horn." Around the same time, Gretchen started private lessons with former Kalamazoo Symphony Principal Horn, Michael Wood, and current Symphony Horn, Margaret Hamilton. 

"My music education was multi-faceted," reflects Gretchen. "The Schoolcraft High School band had about 30 kids at the time. Studying with members of the Kalamazoo Symphony, listening to the orchestra, and being a part of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra all furthered my education." During her four-year tenure with the KJSO, she would become the first person from Schoolcraft High School to make it into the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) All-State program. 

Gretchen attended the University of Michigan for her bachelor's in horn, where she expanded her performance experience to include musical theatre and opera. In a strange course of events, Gretchen was hired and flown to Miami to perform for Mary, an avant-garde opera, on behalf of Ye (Kanye) West. 

"The performance had no written music, and artists were asked to improvise," she remembers. "It is definitely one of the most interesting concerts I've experienced!"

From the Third Coast to the West Coast, she would earn her graduate degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and studied under Robert Ward, former principal horn of the San Francisco Symphony. While there, she continued to perform for regional orchestras, as well as San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Opera, and SFJAZZ. Off the stage, she worked as the annual giving coordinator for SFJAZZ, using her background to support the arts from the administrative side. 

After graduate school, she returned to West Michigan and saw the KSO job posting for a donor engagement coordinator. She interviewed shortly after and officially joined the team this month!

"When I left a bigger city, I was worried that I wouldn't have the same arts surrounding me, but Kalamazoo is such a great place to be. I was surprised to find I have all the same options here as I did in the Bay Area. I'm excited to be more involved in the community that made me who I am."  

Tags: KSO News