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2011 Small Not-for-Profit of the Year: Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra


Originally printed in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s ChamberChoice special insert

Celebrating their 80th year, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has proven to be an integral part of the community. Generations of orchestra members have been passionately committed to having a top-notch symphony orchestra in the community. 

“There has always been a real dedication to excellence and artistic quality,” said Linda Coates, Executive Director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.  The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra consists of about 80 orchestra members, the majority of whom are teachers and professors at area colleges and schools.  Members practice on their own until the Sunday before a concert, when two and a half hour nightly rehearsals begin and the conductor, Bernard Rubenstein of Santa Fe, comes to town. 

The Symphony hosts several concerts throughout the year, consisting of the Masterworks Concert Series which includes five themed concerts, the Chamber Music Concert Series featuring smaller ensembles, fundraising events and special performances for holidays. This summer, the symphony will travel to three nearby communities on a mini-tour (Four Seasons at the Lakes) performing audience-friendly, familiar pieces.  They also present annual Young People’s Concerts, performing for more than 2,000 elementary school children bussed to the concert hall from the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo school districts and surrounding communities. 

Next year’s theme is Bernie’s Fond Farewell, as Rubenstein has announced it will be his last year conducting the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.  The two-year conductor selection process has begun and the 2012-2013 season will be dedicated to an “American Idol-type” selection process – each of the five concerts will have a different conductor giving opportunity for evaluation.   

Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has been a Chamber member since 1996. Coates believes strongly in what The Chamber does for strengthening the business community and in helping the businesses.  

“To me The Chamber is a united voice of what’s strong and healthy about our community and a real resource for members,” she said.  “It has certainly helped us in terms of visibility and making the business community more aware of what the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra is about and recognizing the role that all the arts organizations play in the community,” Coates said. 

Coates said she’s thrilled about the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra being named The Chamber’s Small Not-For-Profit of the Year.    “We’ve been very intentional about finding all sorts of ways to be profoundly woven into the fabric of our community,” she said. She told of the spring of 2009 when they had planned to perform “every conductor’s dream,” the Berlioz Requiem – and plans slowly fell apart due to the flood. The group instead used the scheduled dates at the FARGODOME to host community celebration concerts.  

“It’s those kinds of things – understanding that we’re not just this orchestra over here doing these nice concerts for this little group of patrons. We really do see our role as being incredibly tied to the community.”  

This season, there are 1,250 season ticketholders with additional single ticket sales for each show. Coates said she’d love for everyone in the community to experience a concert.   “Give it a try, treat yourself!” she said. “It’s a wonderful experience.”

Learn more about the Symphony at www.fmsymphony.org.

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