MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — The 97th season is a season of change. That’s the vision that Minot Symphony Orchestra has for itself as it nears its centennial year.
According to a news release, Ellen Fenner, the executive director of the MSO, shared what makes the upcoming season a time for evolution.
“We have a really unique blend of programming,” Fenner said. “Pulling things out of the safe, if you will.”
The first concert of the season, “All that Jazz,” will be Saturday, September 24, at 7 p.m.
It sets the stage for what is to come.
“A jazz concert isn’t something that you normally have for a symphony. So, to kick off this 97th season with jazz, it’s just going to be a really fun night of familiar works,” she said. “Jasmine Spitzer is coming back, who was a music major a few years ago at Minot State. We have Dr. Erik Anderson, who is our principal cellist, as well as the chair of the Division of Performing Arts. He’s playing an electric cello piece that was composed by his son, another Minot State alum, Erik M. Anderson ’18. So, it’s just a wonderful world of opportunities that we’re providing this concert for musicians as well as the audience.”
Erik M. Anderson is eager to share his latest work with the world and see it develop past its Sept. 24 premiere.
“This concerto is the product of nearly a year’s work pushing my abilities as a composer,” he said. “It’s been a deeply personal and challenging process with an end result I’m quite proud of. Hearing it come to life now with an entire orchestra is gratifying and surreal.”
“Collaborating with my dad on the direction of the piece has been a special bonding experience for us both. We’ve already made plans to further adapt it for younger orchestras and give performances in schools in Minot and Bismarck later in the school year,” Anderson said. “My hope is for this concerto to leave an impact on local and regional communities over time and have a long performance life.”
As for Jasmine Spitzer, who has lived in Ohio since 2017, she looks forward to coming back to her hometown and sharing her love of jazz with others.
“Performing on the Ann Nicole Nelson Hall stage in the spring of 2017 was the last time I have been able to share my music with my family, friends, and this community,” Spitzer said. “Five years is a mighty long time, and I am so honored to have been asked to sing with the Minot Symphony Orchestra. When I left Minot, I felt like a lost little girl who didn’t know how to exist on her own. But now, I return to my hometown as the strong, capable young woman I have grown into. I am so excited to once again be making music on this stage.”
Originally a saxophonist, Spitzer had to reimagine her future as a musician when she developed a nerve disorder a year into her move.
She shifted to voice and has since had countless opportunities to teach and perform, with jazz taking center stage.
“Jazz as an art form was created as a quest for freedom and creation of identity, and I believe my journey reflects that in a beautiful way,” said Spitzer. “Jazz is communication, fellowship, expression, creativity, joy, and an ever-changing way to look at the world. You can sing one song in a thousand different ways, and they’re all valid and worthy. I’ve spent the last few years de-constructing the notion that music has to be perfect or a competition and that someone is always better than the next. At this point in my life, I’m enjoying music in a way that I never have before. I feel at peace with myself and with my art, and I love nothing more than sharing it with the world.”
Spitzer will be sharing her love of jazz in a lineup of several popular numbers, including a mashup of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” and “Respect.”
Fenner added that, in addition to jazzing up the season’s repertoire, audiences can plan for a new 7 p.m. start time.
“We’ve been at 7:30 for many, many years,” said Fenner. “We’re listening to our patrons, and our patrons are telling us that they love coming to the symphony concerts, but sometimes they’re a little late getting home. So, by doing that 30-minute shift, we’re hoping to be more attractive to a wider range of people.”
Audiences will also benefit from brand-new monitors on either side of the Ann Nicole Nelson stage.
“During COVID, we started live-streaming. We realized soon after that the people at home are getting a better view of the musicians onstage than the people in the hall,” Fenner said. “So, through a grant application through SRT Cares program, they were happy to support the installation of two 98-inch, high-definition digital monitors in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall. Not only will we be able to feature our sponsors on the video screens, but during the performance, our in-person viewers will see the same, multi-camera images as those who are viewing at home.”
Fenner teased something even bigger in the works.
“Not even the musicians know!” she said. “We’re not giving details just yet.”
What Fenner could reveal, however, was an exciting season ahead.
“We’ve got local artists being featured, we’ve got a guest conductor, which we haven’t done in at least eight years,” said Fenner. “Our Christmas concert is going to be an amazing evening of Christmas favorites. We’ve got our family concert in February. We’re going to have our instrument petting zoo back this year. And then we’re going to end this season with Holst’s ‘The Planets.’”
Tickets for the Sept. 24 “All that Jazz” concert can be ordered in advance through the Minot Symphony Orchestra’s website or purchased at the door.