Rolf Stang, New York City
The Minot Symphony Orchestra, already a very big part of the Magic of Minot, is even more so, now with new conductor Scott Seaton. In sports, Seaton would be like a great, gifted new coach come to town to set records.
On April 20, I was in Minot and joined old friends at Ann Nicole Nelson Hall to hear the Minot Symphony. It was a great concert, their annual Pops Concert. And that’s coming from a New Yorker who lives across the street from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. I’ve heard a tremendous amount of music there. Hearing so many world-class performers and music ensembles as I have has been wonderful. It certainly has affected how I hear music. I feel lucky about that.
For 20 years I have visited Minot each October to participate in Norsk Hostfest. As a music lover that also means I have been in the audience to hear the Minot Symphony 20 times by now. Just a week or so ago, I was there for my 21st, and what a wonderful evening it was.
Strong players in each of the sections of the orchestra made the music soar. We heard remarkable guest artists including saxophonist Connie Frigo, The Oasis Quartet, and the young and gifted Timothy Olson, baritone, whose performance said a lot for the quality of teaching in this relatively small (but growing, I know!) city. The audience reacted to them all with gratitude and frequent well-deserved standing ovations.
Seaton was a great discovery for me. Maestro Seaton made me think of the young Leonard Bernstein, who programmed with a broad palette and obvious respect for the audience. During the programs, Bernstein made many friends for great music with his helpful remarks. With Seaton, I’d say Minot, the smallest city in the U.S.A. to have a full symphony orchestra, has struck gold.
So of course throughout, in Seaton’s hands, the concert had spirit and soul. Seaton brought impressive nuance and directorial skills that really made the music communicate. The performance of Bernstein’s “West Side Story” suite was magical. I say that having heard it often – actually, many years ago, I was at the opening night of that irresistible piece of American musical mastery.
At intermission, full of enthusiasm, I said to a symphony-subscriber that Seaton could move to New York tomorrow outstanding musician that he is, and become engaged in work immediately. The response came back quickly, “Please don’t even say that! We want him to stay here!”