Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program Honors Vern Erickson Legacy and Grows Endowment Fund

The Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program provides opportunities to hear, learn and perform orchestral works for youth and adults of Itasca County.

“Our community is fortunate to have extremely talented and dedicated musicians,” says Sarah Copeland, Director of Grants and Programs at the Community Foundation. “The Itasca Orchestra and Strings Endowment at the Community Foundation is designed and managed to make sure that this exceptional program continues to add value to our community – forever.”

Early supporter Vern Erickson helped lay the foundation for IOSP 37 years ago

In 1981, Vern Erickson served on the very first Board of Directors. The organization didn’t have much more than one part time employee and a core group of dedicated volunteers with a lot of ideas. The Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program has grown since then, and it is in large part thanks to the commitment of those early volunteers. After serving on the Board, Vern remained very active in supporting the IOSP, always suggesting ideas for growth, programming, and sharing a great enthusiasm for the work of IOSP.

Sadly, Vern passed away late in 2016. When the Board considered ways to utilize the donations made in Vern’s memory, a contribution to the IOSP Endowment (established in 2003) seemed the most appropriate way to honor him. What a fitting legacy for Vern!

The IOSP has utilized endowment distributions to fund unique musical opportunities for students. For example, in the spring of 2015, the IOSP Endowment distribution funded a workshop for Strings Program students lead by cellist Josh Aerie. “This past fall, our Strings Program students spent a day of rehearsals, sectionals and playing in the snow up at Camp Bluewater. It was a great day of making music and having fun,” says Tara Makinen, IOSP Executive Director.

The Itasca Orchestra & Strings Program (IOSP) has two main components: a community volunteer orchestra, which offers three performances each year, and a Strings Program providing instruction in violin, viola, cello and bass for students with ages ranging from youth to adult. Strings Program students receive weekly lessons and play in one of four student orchestras based on their ability.

The IOSP is a diverse group of volunteers, providing the community with quality orchestra performances each year at the Wilcox Theater in the Reif Center. The purpose of each concert is to promote a healthy, creative community that unites people of diverse backgrounds. About 25 local musicians meet weekly to learn symphony music and members range in age from 16 to 80 years young.

You can check out the Orchestra’s YouTube channel by simply searching for “Itasca Orchestra” on the YouTube website. They also have a Facebook page.

Anyone can give to an endowment at the Community Foundation, including the Itasca Orchestra and Strings Endowment. Call the Community Foundation at (218) 999-9100 or click on a "Donate Now" button anywhere on this website.


The Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program (IOSP), as a nonprofit, provides opportunities to hear, learn and perform orchestral music for the youth and adults in Itasca County.

11 views0 comments


350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

  • Facebook Social Icon