As a friend Joel Ward admonished me on Friday, â€œYou better write about these singers!â€ here you go Joel!
It is utterly amazing to me that the people who decided to cut the music program at Bemidji State University overlooked the stellar talent being mentored and instructed now (and in the past) at BSU. What were they thinking? During a phone interview last summer with Doc. Severinson, he spoke about the national reputation the BSU department of music enjoys and that was one of the driving forces behind his accepting a â€œgigâ€ in Bemidji.
Most of singers and musicians at the opera gala fundraising event were and are presently music students of Fulton Gallagher, Brad Logan, Stephen Carlson, Patrick Riley, John Konecne (and if I left out a few, please excuse my ignorance). Abe Hunter took over the opera galas from Gallagher this year and it was a rousing success with a sell-out appreciative audience. A former finalist for the regional Metropolitan Opera competition and former Mrs. Senior America, Linda Wagner vocalized while her teacher and mentor Gallagher smiled. Abe Hunter, a music student at BSU who is in his final (as far as credits go) year, studies with Stephen Carlson and can only go to school part-time for lack of tuition assistance. Hunter was chosen to go to the La Musica Lirica in Italy the summer of 2009 to study collaborative or accompaniment in an opera setting. Another voice student of Gallagher, Mark Christensen once again sang and emoted love songs and arias. Brad Loganâ€™s voice student, Josef Schlemper wore his now familiar fedora to sing Sinatra standards with Jake Jackson on guitar (Patrick Riley and John Konecne). A Concordia graduate Julia Lamonâ€”beautifully attired in her red gownâ€”is new to Loon Opera Company and her renderings of familiar arias were wonderful; Brava, Julia! Sadly, Sara Wabrowetz was unable to sing because she came down with a throat ailment but the rest of the cast came forward to present a full-filled and magical evening of song. Thanks to you allâ€”and Loon Opera Company will be staging a full performance of Mozartâ€™s â€œMarriage of Figaroâ€ in late summer.
A young string player who studies with adjunct professor Michelle Laliberte came in first in the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestraâ€™s Young Artist Competition this year. Sadie Hamrin is the youngest member of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and she can be seen playing next to her violin teacher, Laliberte, who is concert master for the BSO. Sadie performed the first movement of the violin concerto, â€œSinfonie Espagnoleâ€ by Edouard Lalo in a competition open to high school or younger students and open to all orchestral instruments. In case you havenâ€™t noticed yet, Sadie is also joined in the orchestra by her sister Sarah on the viola and mother Ramae on the violin. And BSU is eliminating the string option—what kind of decision is that?
A student of Del Lyren, Lexie Kruse is a semi-finalist in the National Trumpet Competition and will go to the nationals in Washington, DC on March 16. She will be competing against students from Juilliard and other prestigious music schools. Lexie was the only trumpet student chosen from the state of Minnesota and one of 47 students who will compete nationally. What sense does it make to cut over half of the instrumental music positions at BSU?
The Bemidji community relies on the music programs emanating from Bemidji State University as does the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, Bemidji Area Community Band, Bemidji Community Theater and the Bemidji Chorale to name just a few of the performing groups enjoyed and appreciated by all of us who attend and look forward to their up-coming concerts and productions.
What sense does it make to cut the heart out of the music scene of Bemidji? Iâ€™ve not even touched upon the cuts to fine arts which is another stab to our collective hearts.
In this economy, we all know that times are difficult and going to be even more difficult in the future with unpopular cuts to many time-honored traditions. But why take away the one thing that feeds the souls of so many here in Bemidji; going to hear a beautiful symphony is a lot cheaper than a visit to a mental health clinic.
This Sunday, Feb. 20 when you file into Bangsberg Hall to hear the Symphonic Band and Woodwind Ensemble, remember to thank the players who are there as â€œamateursâ€ not credit seeking students. Many of these amateurs (taken from the Latin root amare-to love) show up for practices and performances and share their â€œloveâ€ freely with us. Just another reminder of what the past and present instructors at BSU have given to the community. Tuba Jim Thompson plays in the auditorium named after his father a former music professor at BSU, Carl O. Thompson Recital Hall. The program will include the Symphonic Band playing the â€œNational Emblem Marchâ€ by E.E. Bagley; â€œSilent Stands the Elmâ€ by Roland Barrett; â€œClowns! Clowns! Clowns!â€ by David Bobrowitz; and a medley from the musical â€œFiddler on the Roofâ€ by Bock and Hammick. Guest soloist Douglas Monroe, clarinet professor from NDSU will join the BSU Woodwind Ensemble in a program which will include â€œIrish Tune from County Derryâ€ by Percy Grainer; â€œKirkpatrick Fanfiarâ€ by Andrew Boysen, Jr. Professor Monroe will perform the â€œConcertino for Clarinet Op.26 by Carl Maria von Weber and â€œViktorâ€™s Tale: Music from the motion picture â€œThe Terminalâ€ by John Williams. Monroe was the principal clarinetist of the Arizona Opera Company and spent three years touring with the U.S. Army Field Band, the Armyâ€™s premier touring ensemble. His long history of performances includes the Chatauqua Institute, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas as well as a conductor and clarinetist in many US Air Force Bands.
Tickets will be sold at the door: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for students. I expect to see regulars Terry Thomas and Gerry Manley there, how about you? I almost forgot to mention the band director, Erika Svanoe who is instrumental in bringing innovative programs to the Bemidji community including the concert with the multi-media piece, â€œTwilight of the Gods.â€
A free concert with Northwind Crossing will begin at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Bemidji Public Library, 509 America Ave. NW. The performance will include storytelling about the music that this northern Minnesota quintet loves to perform. The players are Tamie Jensen on the Irish tin whistles, recorders accordion, mountain and hammer dulcimer, Celtic harp and vocals. Larry Kimble will play the 6-string and 12-string guitar and vocals. Elijah Jensen on the bodhran, autoharp, Celtic harp, accordion and vocals will be joined by Jake Geise on the fiddle and Willis Mattison on the bass guitar. The players have researched songs long forgotten from the Irish and Scottish countryside from the 17th to 19th century and preserve the ancient sounds with traditional instruments. Letâ€™s give Paul Ericsson something to worry about this Saturdayâ€”not enough seats for the overflow crowd—just kidding, Paul. This concert tour is sponsored by Kitchigami Regional Library with funding from the State of Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. For a complete listing of Northwinds Concerts, see krls.or and click on Legacy Events.
Donâ€™t forget about Third Thursday in Park Rapids this week. See blog from Feb. 9 for a complete listing of the program. â€œThe Wizard of Ozâ€ at Grand Forks, see blog for Feb. 2 for specifics. Make the trip, youâ€™ll not regret it.
Last but not least, a mention of the visit and show by the cast of Prairie Home Companion on Saturday night. A friend from back home (east coast) called to say he listened to the show on Sunday morning and was so excited to actually know of Bemidji but also have two buddies there. Bob Solstad (yes, a Norwegian living elsewhere) said it was the best show ever and he was particularly touched by the reminiscences of Bill Batchelder about the Bemidji Woolen Mills started by his grandfather Ira in the early 1920â€™s and growing up in Bemidji. Keillor wore their trademark Paul Bunyan red and black block print vest for the show. In all, it was a grand â€œlove festâ€ with Keillor and his crew which began with the singing of the â€œStar Spangled Bannerâ€ and finally ended almost three hours later for the bands continued to play and the audience sang after the close of the live broadcast. Thanks to the crew at MPR here in town for bringing the event here for all of us to relish. Our granddaughter Melanie always thought that the sound effects were part of a play on stage and was surprised to see two actors and a sound effects man â€œdoing the show.â€
Thatâ€™s all she wrote folks and hope to see you at the weekâ€™s events.