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Vocalist raves about Cherokee Symphony, Thorson, audience

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tuneful Trio - Guest artist Gabrielle Maren, center, thrilled the capacity crowd at the Nov. 1 Cherokee Symphony concert with her singing. In this photo, she is pictured singing her own composition, "Wish You Enough," accompanied by Laura Bernhardt (left) on the electric violin and Mike Hoover (right) on electric/acoustic guitar. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Nashville recording artist calls experience 'magical'

It comes as little surprise the beautiful songbird loved the flock.

That songbird is none other than Gabrielle Maren, the talented singer/songwriter who performed so wondrously last Sunday with the Cherokee Symphony at the annual "Pops Concert" in the renovated Cherokee Community Center.

The flock is the 60-member Cherokee Symphony, its acclaimed Conductor, Maestro Lee Thorson, and the appreciative SRO crowd that covets the magical music the Cherokee Symphony provides each and every time out. Oh, yes, please include Marcus guitarist Mike Hoover, and Symphony violinist Laura Bernhardt of Storm Lake among the flock.

Maren, an Early native and daughter of Jay and Anita Coon of Storm Lake, began singing at age five, and at 17 toured the world with the internationally renowned "Up With People."

Maren studied vocal performance at Drake University before moving to Nashville, Tenn., where she continued to polish her art while graduating from Belmont University there. Gabrielle has performed through the Nashville circuit, recorded and performed with various Nashville artists, and has completed three CDs, including her latest - "Between a Tear and a Smile."

Now living in Rock Rapids, Maren travels back to Nashville frequently to perform and write songs with musicians there.

The Sound of Music - Maestro Lee Thorsen (center), conductor of the Cherokee Symphony, acknowledges his musicians at the Symphony's Sunday Nov. 1 performance. Photo by Dan Whitney.
"Performing with the Cherokee Symphony ,under the direction of Lee Thorson, was an experience I will forever remember," said the petite blonde. "What a magical day it was! From all the people behind the scenes (sound man, directors who set the stage, lighting), to the audience. Everyone was just wonderful, which made the day so special.

"The audience is one of the most important pieces to a good show. Our audience that day was one of the best I've ever performed in front of. Everyone was just so appreciative and just fabulous."

Maren, who operates her own graphic design business in Rock Rapids, confided that when Thorson asked her to perform with the Symphony, she was very excited and a bit nervous, as well.

"To make me feel more comfortable, Lee suggested I perform one of the songs from my latest CD. He lined up guitarist Mike Hoover and violinist Laura Bernhardt. I have played with some very talented musicians and didn't really know what to expect from these two, but I was not disappointed. They did an excellent job and I hope to perform with them again soon."

Showing her range and multiple vocal skills, Maren opened the Cherokee Concert by singing selections from "Les Miserables," then performed with Hoover and Bernhardt a poignant song, "Wish You Enough," from her latest CD, and closed with a lively medley of hit songs from Irving Berlin, all punctuated by stirring renditions of "God Bless America" and the "National Anthem" to end her show.

The lengthy standing ovation that followed and the heart-felt curtain calls brought just closure to the magical performance.

"I have great respect for Lee Thorson," concluded Maren. "He and his wife Roxy have a dedication to bringing beautiful music to our area. I felt this same dedication from the members of the Symphony. What an outstanding group of people sharing their gifts with us all.

"We are very lucky to have a treasure like the Cherokee Symphony in Northwest Iowa."

The comely songbird speaks as beautifully as she sings.

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