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The Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra (SNSO)members have just completed their fifth season of performing and their third season of giving back to the community.

For the past three seasons SNSO has provided one hard working and dedicated musician $1000 to pursue their “musical education. Scholarships are awarded to those who wish to pursue a serious career in music such as this year’s scholarship recipient Hanna Joann Mortensen, a recent graduate of Moapa Valley High School. Selmer Spitzer, Rita Hermie and other symphony members surprised Mortensen with the scholarship award at their final performance.

Mortensen already has an impressive musical background at the tender age of 17 having played the piano for 12 years, the trombone for eight, the bass & bassoon for a year and percussion for three. She’s played with the SNSO, has done solo and ensemble competitions as well as Jazz Band performances in Disney World, several elementary schools, on the U.S.S. Midway which is docked in San Diego, CA and a variety of community festivals. She received three varsity letters in Orchestra, Advanced Band and Jazz Band, she also held the position of Drum Major in the high school Pep Band. Mortensen contributes her musical beginnings to her father who also plays the piano.

For a while Mortensen didn’t think her musical dreams would become a reality because the school, her family and friends and the community were all very sports oriented. Mortensen was encouraged to play sports as well and lettered in softball and volleyball but there was a time when hard choices had to be made.

Mortensen knew that if she wanted to seriously pursue a musical career of any kind, she would have to become intensely serious about her music and devote all her spare time to that which meant giving up all her sports. She was a bit shy about telling her family of her plans until her father brought up the very same subject, obviously seeing the passion in his youngest daughter.

Mortensen plans on attending Southern Utah University in the fall and the scholarship, along with many others she received, will take care of her first years’ pursuit toward becoming a music teacher like the one who inspired her, Mrs. Kim Delgadillo, who happened to have retired this year.

Mortensen’s plans for the following year include her mission. Being LDS, Mortensen, like many other graduates of her faith go on a mission shortly after graduation but Mortensen falls just a bit short of the age requirement for the mission she would like to participate in; the LDS Performing Mission. The Performing Mission has a limited number of locations and one can only be chosen for it by audition.

She would like to audition for the Nauvoo brass band in Nauvoo, IL where the LDS church has some significant historic beginnings. Nauvoo has a popular temple visited by many and entertained by the Nauvoo Brass Band. Mortensen will be auditioning at the end of this year for next summer. The Nauvoo mission is a shorter mission lasting less than six months when most last 18 months, but Mortensen would still feel quite privileged and honored to be a part of that for however long she can.

With her family’s support, SNSO’s scholarship and her own talent plus dedication, Moapa Valley High School might just have a future music teacher equally inspiring to other students, just as Mrs. Delgadillo had been to Mortensen.