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Community strikes a chord with MSO director's aspirations

Inspiration arrives in many forms. Steve Jobs was inspired by Edwin H. Land, the inventor of instant photography. Beethoven drew his inspiration from the fiery poems of romantic writers Goethe and Schiller. Scott Seaton, Minot Symphony Orchestra music director, recalls his inspiration to study music at an early age began at home.

"I started playing saxophone in the fifth grade, because I wanted to play the theme from "The Pink Panther," he admitted.

Growing up, Seaton "lived everywhere," but calls Nashville home. His stepfather was a singer/songwriter, and Seaton was a regular at the Grand Old Opry. In the seventh grade, Seaton was required to choose between band and physical education, and was convinced by his mother and stepfather to once again try music. Returning to the saxophone, he found his "spotlight."

"It helped that my new band director was also a saxophonist and that I studied with him after school," he said. "I started playing a lot of jazz and never stopped playing music after that."

As an eighth grader, he joined the high school marching band, and later started conducting as a junior. At university, Seaton became involved with the Nashville Youth Symphony at Vanderbilt, which allowed him to continue conducting.

He obtained his bachelor's degree in music from Vanderbilt and attended the New England Conservatory in Boston for his master's degree. Although NEC didn't offer a degree in conducting, Seaton's direction never wavered.

"I always knew I was going to be a conductor. When I was young, I was always fascinated with the Boston Pops concerts on national TV. It (music) wasn't something I had to think about, it was something I just did. Although, by musical standards, I was a late bloomer," he added. "I didn't own my first classical CD until the seventh grade."

A turning point for Seaton occurred during a high school honor band performance. A piece of music in the concert contained a large crescendo that culminated with almost no sound at the end. Unpredictably, the director had the band hum the final note. The audience was spellbound.

"You could feel the energy in this massive hall, and I remember thinking, 'I have to do this—these are the moments I want to create,'" he said.

Seaton obtained his doctorate at the Université de Montréal, and for several years was based out of Cleveland conducting numerous orchestras in the area.

"In June when I auditioned with the symphony, I saw so many possibilities in this community -- the economic growth, the passion and support of the Minot Symphony—those are really hard to find elsewhere. There are big orchestras in huge financial trouble, and smaller orchestras folding for the same reason," he said. "A thriving community like Minot is a great place to be for someone who wants stability and wants to work with people who love making music."