Three years involved and more to come

Ellen Fenner works hard as executive director at MSO

Ellen Fenner is executive director of the Minot Symphony Orchestra. Shyanne Belzer/MDN

Not many think about all that goes on behind each concert that the Minot Symphony Orchestra puts on. From the many practices that the musicians participate in to the music choice to the marketing, a lot goes into making sure that the concerts are ready and the audience knows they’re coming.

For Ellen Fenner, the executive director of the symphony, every day is a new day with new things to work on and handle. She has been director since July 2015, having now spent three seasons with the symphony. She loves doing what she does and helping the symphony in the ways she is able.

Fenner is in charge of the marketing side of the symphony. While Efrain Amaya chooses the music lists and directs the different concerts, Fenner works to set up when the concerts occur and work on advertising them.

“We’re so lucky to have such a good connection with Minot State. Once I know the musical plan for the concerts for a season, I work to get the dates figured out for when Ann Nicole Nelson Hall is open for us to be able to put on our concert here,” said Fenner.

Along with advertising and set up, Fenner also works on promoting ticket sales to help get the word out about the concerts.

Growing up in Devils Lake, Fenner never thought about following a career in marketing and graphic design until one semester of her senior year of high school, she decided to take a graphic design as a filler class.

“I already had all my requirements filled, so I thought that this class would be an easy fluff class for an easy grade,” she said.

In the end, she loved the class, enjoying all she got to do in it. When a teacher mentioned she could make a career of it, she didn’t believe she could actually make money doing something so fun.

After graduating, she attended college in Wahpeton to get her associates degree. From there she worked a variety of jobs, even working at the Minot Daily News for a time in the marketing department. Eventually she learned of the opening for the executive director position at the Minot Symphony Orchestra.

“I heard about the job opening from a friend of the previous director and I applied and got the job,” Fenner said.

She has loved doing what she does ever since.

“I love being able to work and help bring people music. Music touches everyone and is great for any mood. You’re having a bad day? Turn on your favorite music and it’ll get a little better,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite things to get to work to help bring the symphony to the community.”

Fenner played an instrument while in high school and while she doesn’t any longer, she is involved in music in not only the symphony but through her daughter who is a cello player. Fenner also enjoys photography.

Minot Symphony Orchestra is reaching its 92nd year in performing, and Fenner hopes to get to be a part of it all when it reaches its 100th anniversary.

Each season runs alongside Minot State University’s school year, beginning in the fall and ending in the spring. This is due to many of those being involved in the symphony being students, though they aren’t the only ones. According to Fenner, the members of the Minot Symphony Orchestra range quite widely, with people from all walks of life involved.

With the 2017-18 season coming to an end with the final concert on April 21, work has already begun for planning of the 2018-19 season.

“Even though the season is ending, my job is picking up. We use the summer to do fundraisers and to really get the planning for the next season done,” said Fenner.