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Benefit concert set to help Valley-bred opera singer Healing through song

Steve Thoreson, a Valley born-and-raised opera singer, will join friends and fellow performers at a gala benefit in Kirkland this Friday, raising funds for an operation to help him renew his career. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Steve Thoreson, a Valley born-and-raised opera singer, will join friends and fellow performers at a gala benefit in Kirkland this Friday, raising funds for an operation to help him renew his career.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Steve Thoreson’s friends think it’s time for him to return to the stage.

To help him, they’ve organized a gala benefit concert, “An Evening of Music,” 7 p.m. Friday, June 27 at the Kirkland Performance Center.

Thoreson joins 11 musicians and vocalists for the event.

Born and raised in the Snoqualmie Valley, Thoreson displayed a gift for song that took him around the world.

His fifth grade music teacher, Penny Grady, formed a school choir at North Bend Elementary, and Thoreson started singing. Grady pulled Thoreson aside and told him he had a gift. As Thoreson continued through school, he was encouraged and helped by his teachers to become an opera singer.

Thoreson graduated from high school in 1988, and worked for Weyerhaeuser as a young man. However, he also made the acquaintance of Swedish opera singer Britt Bern, who was living in the Valley at the time.

“She discovered me,” he said. “Being a local ex-Weyerhaeuser employee, I just couldn’t fathom that I had the vocal ability that would take me around the world. She was the one who really helped open up my eyes, and some doors, for me.”

Thoreson, 37, has a degree in performance after studying in Switzerland. He has sung in 27 countries around the world, performing for the Pope and the King of Sweden.

However, he broke his back several years ago, and is now convalescing. The benefit concert will help pay for a gastric band surgery for Thoreson to lose weight, allowing his back to heal.

Singing opera is physically demanding, requiring the same core body muscles used for sitting and standing.

Thoreson plans to perform several songs at Friday’s gala. His favorites are “Che Gelida Manina,” a famous tune from Puccini’s “La Boheme,” and “Ave Maria.”

Most of his fellow performers at the Friday event are international artists, including a flamenco guitarist, electric fiddle player, and a world-renowned cellist.

“We’re lucky to have these artists in the area,” Thoreson said.

“The reality is that I have a lot of wonderful friends who’d love to see me return to the stage full time,” Thoreson added. “Many opera houses are waiting for my return.”

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