Bemidji Baroque Ensemble with Patrick Riley, et al and some thoughts on Josh Boock

This morning I had the chance and just sit and talk with Patrick Riley, to my mind, one of the most versatile and competent musicians in Bemidji and environs. Patrick retired from his teaching position at BSU after 40-years on the tenured staff but is still actively plying his musical craft with a number of groups. And speaking of craft, Riley is working out of his new woodworking shop and selling his work through Shop 426 at BCAC.

Because we are relatively new to Bemidji, it is always fun to listen to someone who can tell us about “the old days.”

Riley reminisced about the days when violinist Ann Hayes taught her string students in the basement of the Bemidji Community Arts Center. Riley named BCAC as one of the two local organizations that have been stalwarts in promoting a vibrant arts scene in Bemidji. The obvious second is HSMA.

“When the Olson Schwartz Funeral Home moved from downtown, Ann Hayes bought the building and started the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts (1997),” said Riley. “When we moved there, I could still smell embalming fluid, a scent I was familiar with because my step-father was a mortician, laughed Riley.”

The reason for our chat this a.m. was the upcoming Bemidji Baroque concert on Sunday. The original people are still together after 35 years of playing and performing: Margaret Maxwell on harpsichord, Natalie Roholt on flute and Riley on violoncello. For this concert, Melanie Hanson, adjunct string professor at BSU and concert master for the BSO will be joining them.

The program is: “Sonata for Flute in B minor, HWV 376 by Handel;

A selection of music for solo harpsichord with Maxwell;

“Trio Sonata in G major, BWV 1039 by Bach;

A selection of music for solo cello and

“Paris Quartet No. 8 in A minor” by Telemann.

The 3 p.m. concert is free but small children are not encouraged to attend.


I cannot let this time pass without mentioning the untimely passing of ceramicist Josh Boock. Just this last fall, I wrote a feature piece on Josh after visiting his studio just outside Grace Lake. His yard was filled with boxes of his work and we went through a few of them until I found the pieces I wanted to get that day.  A face mug with an extended lip for placing a used tea bag—my son-in-law jumped for joy when he opened it at Christmas. A plate with some new techniques Josh was experimenting with that I bought for someone else but I can’t part with it now.

I do have the photos  taken that day along with some video that his parents will receive in the near future. When I played the video, and heard his voice, it was time to say good-bye to this fragile genius.

I hope that Josh’s parents will be able to play the video for his daughter someday because she is too young to have lasting memories of him. A man who told me that being a dad was the best thing in his life.