Some further observations and quotes from the BSO concert, BSU Choir and Chamber Singers to perform in St. Paul, Kudos to Erika Svanoe and thanks to the actors who gave us a theatrical view of the Holocaust.

By now much has been written about last Sunday’s concert but I would like to add some personal observations simply because I was ( and still am) bursting with pride for Bemidji singers and musicians.

  • Sadie Hamrin, all of 10 years old, played beside her teacher, Michelle Laliberte, in a row in front of her mother while sister, Sarah, played viola in the expanded string section. There were other young musicians who studied and now played with their teachers; Eric Haugen and his first cello teacher, Sonja Connell. Patrick Riley, first chair of the cello section, who will retire at the end of the semester from the music department at BSU counted many of his students among the players and singers. Eric Sundeen, also from the BSU music department and section principal of the percussionists, struck the bass drum with thunderous force.
  • Out of the darkness at the back of the stage, different faces had clarity: Ken Wold, Becky Lueben and BSU students Eric Benson and Eric Bergsven, who held his manuscript up high. It was obvious from the audience that all were intensely connected to the score.
  • When asked, Brad Logan conductor of the Bemidji Choir at BSU said, “Preparation of the Verdi Requiem for concert performance was musically rewarding in itself, but to integrate the emotional and historical content of the Holocaust into the learning process lead to a life influencing event. Experiencing the totality of the collaborative effort in performance left me an emotional wreck by the time the chorus members processed through the auditorium humming their haunting melody.
  • The face on the screen of an elderly woman who described the beauty of the music and how the rehearsals transformed their lives, even if just for a short time still haunted my consciousness.


If you are visiting St. Paul this weekend, Mother’s Day, plan to stay an extra day to hear the kick-off to the BSU Choir European concert tour. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 9 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. The first half of the program will be selections from choral masters Palestrina, di Lasso, Gabrieli, Schutz, Brahms and Mendelssohn. The second half will be literature from contemporary composers Lauridsen, Whitacre, Dickau and Moses Hogan.

The Bemidji Choir and Chamber Singes will leave for Berlin, Wittenberg, Leipzig, Dresden, Prague, Budapest and Vienna on Tuesday, and concertize from May 10 to the 22nd. The choir makes a European Tour every three years and this year’s tour will be documented by Monika Lawrence, adjunct professor of Mass Communications at BSU.

Kudos to Erika Svanoe, conductor of the BSU Wind Ensemble for presenting a fitting concert, “Celebrations” commemorating the retirement of Steve Konecne and Patrick Riley from the music department. Greg Gaston on drums, Del Lyren on trumpet, Konecne on saxophone and Riley on bass performed the “Symphonic Jazz Suite” by Frank Bencriscutto followed by a raucous standing ovation by the appreciative audience.

Thanks to the Nautilus Music Theater for bringing “I Am Anne Frank” to the main stage of Bangsberg Fine and Performing Arts Complex of BSU as part of the legacy weekend. Vanessa Gamble’s portrayal of the young teenage Anne was a tribute to herself as well as Anne. Joel Liestman’s young Peter Van Pels made the encounters between the two young teens on the cusp of adulthood believable. Gamble’s interpretation of Anne’s grandmother and her Sabbath candle lighting and blessings on the family was powerful.

The young actors who made “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” so poignant and to the adult actors who made the presentation so believable. Raja Englanderova (Carolyn Towler) returned to tell her story as a young teen (Emily Quanrud) who lived and loved in the Terezin ghetto. Thanks for the pre-show music by Steve Saari on piano and Bridget Stromberg on autoharp and for the original compositions by Saari for this Saarens production directed by DeeJay Arens at the Wild Rose Theater.

By now, you might have noticed that the weekly entertainment column is expanding to two days a week. We’re still in “shake down” mode. Be sure to send in those names of people you would like to see in a short preview on the last Sunday before the first Friday of the following month.

Best wishes to all mothers far and near; still here and those past from this life but still live in memories. That’s all she wrote folks!