NISO rehearsal with Lyle Van Ravenswaay

Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra general manager Lyle Van Ravenswaay kicks off rehearsal Oct. 25 for the upcoming “Winter Dreams from Russia” concert.

SIOUX CENTER—After missing a season last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra is back and preparing for its Nov. 16 concert.

The fall concert, titled “Winter Dreams from Russia,” will feature three pieces: “Procession of the Nobles,” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, “Piano Concerto in C# Minor,” by Rimsky-Korsakov, and “Symphony No. 2, Little Russia,” by P.I. Tchaikovsky.

Set to be performed at 7:30 p.m. at Dordt University’s B.J. Haan Auditorium in Sioux Center, tickets will be $20 for adults and $6 for students. Season tickets for adults are $70.

All together, the concert will last about an hour with an intermission for coffee and snacks.

“With not having a season last year, it’s exciting to be back to normal in a way and to play great music together,” said NISO general manager Lyle Van Ravenswaay. “We’ve put together an exciting concert and it’ll be an exciting evening for those who come to listen. The music will be invigorating.”

The symphony has three more concerts in the works: “The History of a Nation,” set for Jan. 29, “The Chione Quintet,” set for Feb. 5, and “Spring Delights,” set for April 12.

NISO has been around for decades and it’s not something a lot of other communities have.

“I describe us as a hidden gem because very few communities in the U.S. get to have a symphony like this and one that really is strong and flourishing for all these years and is supported so well by the community,” Van Ravenswaay said.

The symphony has drawn in 80 musicians high school age and up who rehearse for more than two hours every Monday night. In addition to practicing together, they go to different rooms to practice as a section.

That plays into NISO’s reputation as a mentoring orchestra, Van Ravenswaay said.

“Our role is to inspire younger players into becoming lifelong musicians,” he said. “Our symphony, our orchestra is open not just to adults or professional musicians but also to high school students. That’s as young as we’ve had.

“But at the same time they’re mentored by people for whom this is their day job, to play for Sioux City Symphony, South Dakota Symphony and Northwest Iowa Symphony. They’re what we would call professional musicians who do a lot of teaching of lessons, teach at colleges, have their own private studios and then they also play for symphonies.”

And the musicians come from beyond Sioux County, with several from Sioux Falls, SD, and one from Council Bluffs.

They come because they want to learn and improve their skills, build a musical resume or are interested in teaching and mentoring younger players, Van Ravenswaay said. And some are mostly interested in an opportunity to play in a quality symphony.

Anybody interested in joining NISO may contact Van Ravenswaay or NISO music director Onsby Rose through the NISO e-mail, niso@dordt.edu or by phone at 722-6230.