Pequot Lakes High School sophomore Natalie Thorson has had a knack for music for much of her life. Though she did not grow up in a particularly musical family, she learned to play the trumpet and violin in elementary school, and has since learned to play "a little bit of everything."
That gift will be on display for a larger audience this summer and winter, as she was selected to play trumpet for the Minnesota All-State Symphonic Band.
Thorson, the daughter of Jon and Jill Thorson, has been active in band since fifth grade. As she finishes high school and attends college, she doesn't see that changing.
"It's something that I was good at right away," Thorson said. "I taught myself trumpet, actually. I learned it over the summer. I just like it, and I like the people (in band class). They are all nice and not super petty, and Mr. Sommerness (band director) is awesome."
To be selected for the All-State Band, Thorson had to send in a recorded audition, along with a page-long list of scales and two exercises she could perform. After that, she recorded a three-page-long solo and was judged on that performance. Auditions were submitted in February, and Thorson had an agonizing wait until early May before her selection was confirmed.
Once the word reached them, both Thorson and PLHS Band Director Michael Sommerness could do little to hide their excitement.
"To be all-state, you have to be really self-motivated," Sommerness said. "She is in all kinds of groups and she is constantly playing. She plays in our jazz band, our symphonic band; she plays at her church; she plays violin in a professional group - doing weddings and stuff. She plays trumpet in the CLC (Central Lakes College) Community Band. She uses her time to play music, and that is one of the biggest reasons she got into all-state."
As a member of the symphonic band, Thorson will take part in two concerts - one in August and another in February 2020. She will also receive added instruction before the first concert.
"In August, I get to go down to the U of M (University of Minnesota) for a week to a camp," Thorson said. "We get together as a band and I think we will get to work as soloists or instrumental sections with professors."
Thorson can, and likely will, audition for a spot on the state symphonic band again next year. Either way, she plans to keep finding ways to share her music.
"I just want to continue playing," Thorson said. "I don't want to stop after high school or college."
"She will be playing for the rest of her life," Sommerness said. "She is already getting paid to do it. Being a professional musician is already happening for her and I think she is going to continue to pursue it."
The Pequot Lakes High School Concert and Symphonic bands both received a superior rating at the Large Group Contest in Staples this year.
The Jazz Ensemble, as well as multiple soloists and duets, received superior ratings at both sub-section and section contests.
Thorson, Annika Schlagel and Morgan LaRock also received a Best at Site honor.