Lee Thorson of Storm Lake is the Maestro of the Cherokee Symphony and he has big plans for another exemplary year of music for the residents of Cherokee and the surrounding communities.
Beginning this fall with a pops concert on Oct. 29, the symphony will perform a variety of music, some serious and some "just rollicking good fun," states Thorson. They will perform Erin Copelands, "Lincoln Portrait," and "Hymn to the Fallen," from the movie Saving Private Ryan by John Williams.
For fun, the symphony plans to perform highlights from Rocky, as well as a medley that takes the audience from 'sea to shining sea' and all through Texas, Georgia and down south. They will play highlights from the Wizard of Oz and My Fair Lady with maybe even a Sousa March. All of this is subject to change, however, once rehearsals begin.
Following the concert in October, the 48-member symphony is slated for a classical concert in February where Thorson will be performing a cello solo. A young artists concert is scheduled for April 1 and young musicians will be auditioning for a seat in the symphony.
The Cherokee Symphony has been described as "spellbinding" and seats for the concerts are sold out each season. "We live within our budget of $12,000 to $15,000," said Donna Hicks in an article published in the July issue of the magazine American Profile. "Funds are raised through program advertising, association memberships and the $6.00 ticket sales."
The symphony, founded in 1956, was the legacy of Merle Robinson and Della Beth Thomson, two women who taught an adult education orchestra class.
In 1981, Thorson became the conductor and he is attributed with the success it sees today. A farmer, a cellist and a part-time music instructor at two Northwest Iowa universities, Thorson states, "I am doing this because I have a good time."