The Sandhills Symphony Orchestra will present their fall concert on Sunday, Nov. 19 to “Celebrate Nebraska,” in honor of Nebraska’s 150th year of statehood.

They will perform selections that the audience will recognize and love to hear, pertaining to Nebraska activities, as well as pieces by Nebraska composers, spokesman Joel Jensen said.

Kim Baxter of North Platte will be a special guest performer and composer. The orchestra will do two songs by Baxter: “High Above Us All” and “Nebraska Sky.”

Virgil French and Baxter have written a symphony arrangement to accompany Nebraska Sky.

Baxter will be joined by his daughter Mikaela and Chuck Salestrom, who will sing backup vocals.

The orchestra will also perform three Aaron Copland numbers from “Rodeo,” Jensen said, as well as two songs from Howard Hanson, a composer from Wahoo.

The symphony will also play “A Salute to the Big Bands” — a medley of songs from Glenn Miller, who attended grade school in North Platte; as well as the song “Horse and Buggy” by Leroy Anderson.

“We are excited about this concert and the opportunity to provide wonderful orchestral music to our community,” Jensen said.

The free concert will begin at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 in the North Platte High School Performing Arts Center, 1220 West Second.

This performance will showcase the orchestra’s new conductor, Christa Speed, who started the orchestra rehearsing on Oct. 7.

The Sandhills Symphony holds a special place in Speed’s heart. She began playing in the orchestra in 1971 when she was a sophomore at North Platte High, when the orchestra was under the direction of Larry Romeiser.

The Sandhills Symphony Orchestra has performed free concerts once or twice a year since April 1961. Members are drawn from western Nebraska as well as North Platte.

The group was organized in the winter of 1960. A North Platte woman, Nora Watson, placed a notice in the newspaper for everyone interested in forming a symphony to meet at the North Platte High School. A number of musicians and others responded and the group was formed.

Watson suggested the name, the Sandhills Symphony. The first concert was on April 30, 1961, according to the symphony’s website.

Rob Martinson of North Platte is the president of the symphony orchestra.