Professor Stephen Carlson has invited his college piano teacher from college to play a concert on the anniversary of the births of Robert Schumann and Chopin. John McKay, professor emeritus of Gustavus Adolphus College will play at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 28 in Thompson Recital Hall in Bangsberg Fine and Performing Arts Complex on the campus of BSU.Â McKay has appeared as a piano soloist with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, presented the summer music series at Gustavus for 17 summer, Minnesota Valley sommarfest. McKay will perform Schumann’s “Carnaval” which is considered to be his masterpiece for piano solo. After the intermission, selections from Frederic Chopin’s extensive “writings”–as he is called “the Poet of the Piano” will be presented.Â McKay will perform the Nocturne in D-flat major, op.27, No. 2, the Fantasisie Impromptu, op. 66 and a few other pieces. This concert is free and open to the public.
As we sat during the memorial service for Elaine Hazard at BMC this past Saturday, the consoling words and music were complemented by the paintings on the large wall in the sanctuary. It was obvious that the person who created these works had (and one would suppose still has) a close and personal relationship with a higher power (to borrow part of a phrase from AA). I use the higher power because Michael DeWitt acknowledges that his intention is to help us all to reflect, contemplate and meditate on images that are accessible to all people of faith however that manifests itself in each of us.
When I spoke with Pastor Eric Hucke about the concept for the installation, he told me that after the renovations there was a large white wall left under the stained glass windows on the right side of the sanctuary. One of the parishioners made felt banners for the wall but, after some time, thought was given to a more permanent depiction on the wall. One of the first ideas was a mural and the idea floated around but no one artist came to mind. Finally, a couple of members of the choir mentioned one of the church members, Michael DeWitt. Others asked if he was that guy who painted all the Christmas windows with fanciful characters (mostly mice and other little creatures) around town. (Remember the wonderful window displays at Union Station, Slimâ€™s and other downtown establishments?) Yes, was the answer but he is a serious painter as well. To shorten the story, about five years ago, the Memorial Committee at church commissioned DeWitt to paint an installation that would grace the wall of the sanctuary for years to come.
What to do and how to paint it became an obsession with DeWitt who traveled to retreat houses, spent time in meditation prayer and studied biblical texts. The resulting panels are a testament to an artist who truly understands that each of us needs to seek mutual trust and understanding. The style of the painting is DeWittâ€™s own for it mixes some pre-modern, classical and modern elements to create a whole that speaks to the title, â€œPrevenient Grace.â€ Oneâ€™s eyes move from each panel to the next in anticipation and wonder. There is so much revealed to the eye and just hidden below the surface for someone to discover; an intimate understanding or appreciation for the message. Yes, each panel has a message in the biblical sense that is the immediate response but as DeWitt will explain at Saturdayâ€™s reception, each also has a message that resonates to all.
One of my favorite and comforting stories of the bible is that of the woman at the well (Gospel of John) and perhaps that was why my eye was drawn to that panel again and again. That panel is one of a total of eight pieces that were unveiled for the congregation in late December of 2010. There will be a brochure to explain each panel available at the reception and DeWitt will talk about them at 2 p.m.; the reception will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m., on Saturday, January 29 at BMC, Ninth St. and Beltrami Ave.
I can attest that the panels were a comfort to me while saying goodbye to a person who touched so many lives here in Bemidji with grace, patience and love.
Below is a copy from last weekâ€™s entry for those who have not yet had the chance to read it and also as a reminder of the event for those who have yet to send in their responses. With todayâ€™s news that BSU is terminating the theater department because of economic constraints, it is more important than ever to support the arts in this community. The arts are an integral part of the fabric of this area; a mosaic that has been carefully crafted over the years by people like Fulton Gallagher, Marley Kaul, Butch Holton, Abe Belleveau, Will Weaver, Paul Branvik, Patrick Riley, players in the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and singers in the Bemidji Chorale. I do not have the names of all those who have enriched this area but a few come to mind: Pat Mason, Bradley Logan, Wayne Hoff, Mark Christensen, Linda Wagner. Young adults like Abe Hunter, Matt Goinz, Karissa Korbel, and Sara Wabrowetz have picked up the torch for us and the next generations. We owe it to them to support their efforts for we all need to â€œfeed our souls.â€
When Maestro Fulton Gallagher started the fund raising events for the Lake Bemidji Opera Company a few years ago, many of us were excited about having opera nights in Bemidji. This past summer a new venture, The Loon Opera, under the direction of one of Gallagherâ€™s protÃ©gÃ©â€™s Abe Hunter played to full houses with their all Menotti program. Obviously Gallagher knew what he was doing when he re-started opera in Bemidji along with his faithful cadre of singers, musicians and administrative duties of Nancy.
Although many of the young singers like Matt Goinz have gone on to seek their fortunes and further studies, some of the favorites have remained or returned to the area. A returning singer is soprano Sara Wabrowetz, a Duluth native who â€œloves it here in Bemidji.â€ Sara will be joined by Julia Lamon, Linda Wagner, and Mark Christensen whose dramatic rendering of romantic arias and Broadway songs are legendary. Joining the group this year is Josef Schlemper, a nuanced Sinatra interpreter, who over-filled the house (Headwaters School of Music and the Arts) when he held a 20th birthday concert.
This year the Gallaghers have turned over the whole â€œkit and caboodleâ€ toÂ Abe Hunter. The Third Annual Love Songs and Ariasâ€ will be held at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Friday, February 11, 2001. The evening will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. to be followed by dinner and program at 7 p.m. The menu will begin with a champagne toast followed by an Insalate Verde. For the second course there is a choice of Coq au Vin or Beef Tenderloin in a red wine sauce. A decadent chocolate dessert with coffee will complete the meal. All this and first class entertainment for a $50 ticket and the proceeds will be going to the 2011 summer season of The Loon Opera Co.
Please make your reservations early as this event sells out quickly. For reservations and information, call Abe Hunter (218) 368-8805.
A couple of more comments about Saarenâ€™s production of â€œSteele Magnoliasâ€ which played to appreciative audiences last weekend in spite of snow storms and sub-zero temps. As promised, the ensemble captured the imagination and hearts of those who were there. Thanks Steve and Dee Jayâ€”you have brought new insights and appreciation for the performing arts to Bemidji.