Published May 1, 2023

Minot Symphony Wraps Up with Space Themed Show 

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan

Performing for 97 Years 


MINOT – The Minot Symphony Orchestra wrapped up its season Saturday with a space-themed show after several months of practice and other performances. 

Attendees packed Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at Minot State University, totaling over 900 symphony goers. The first part of Saturday’s performance began with songs from the movie Star Trek. The symphony utilized its screen after interlude with a video featuring an animated model of each planet in the solar system as the orchestra played music in the background. 

The Minot Symphony Orchestra plays while a space-themed film projects on the screen at Ann Nicole Nelson Hall. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

The Minot Symphony Orchestra performs six times each season throughout the school year and finishes off with a finale in the spring. Participants in the orchestra practice once a week. Ellen Fenner, executive director, said this is the symphony’s 97th year of existence. 

“We’re definitely looking forward to 100 in three years,” said Fenner. 

Fenner said the symphony’s current conductor, Efrain Amaya, is also a professor at MSU. Students that enroll in the Amaya’s spring program participate in the symphony as part of a class credit. 

“That was part of the agreement that was made back in 1926 when the symphony first started,” Fenner explained. “We fill it in with community members who audition to receive a chair. Then we have professionals who are typically our teachers here at the university. They typically hold our principal chairs.” 

The orchestra is made up of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Fenner said there were almost 80 musicians in the orchestra Saturday, some from as far as Kansas and some from the community and college. The orchestra was the largest of the year as it included 30 choir members who sang from the balcony. 

Fenner said the themes this past year have varied from jazz to classical to Saturday’s first ever space themed show. 

The Minot Symphony Orchestra plays while the screen plays a film featuring an animated model of the planet Saturn. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

“The Minot Symphony has never done anything like this before,” Fenner said of the space-themed show. “To my knowledge it’s the first of its type in North Dakota.” 

During the summer, Fenner said she holds events and contacts donors for fundraising. 

“We are very well supported by our sponsors, our donors,” said Fenner. “We have an Adopt a Musician program. That brings a lot of people that contribute to that.” 

Fenner said each concert typically brings in about 650 people. 

“We perform a very diverse program to attract people to the hall,” said Fenner. 

More information on the Minot Symphony Orchestra can be found on its website

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