Common Chords: Bemidji

Kinder Konzert

A new group of Minnesota Orchestra musicians has arrived in Bemidji: our Kinder Konzerts ensemble is onsite is to perform a series of concerts designed to introduce pre-schoolers to classical music and the instrument families. Today’s performance at the Bemidji Public Library featured the world premiere of a jazz-inspired work by trumpet player Charles Lazarus. Narrated by Katie Condon and commissioned by the Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra, it’s a musical setting of author Michael Hall’s popular book “Perfect Square,” which follows the imaginative transformations of a little square.

Our Kinder Konzerts Ensemble:
Greg Milliren, flute
David Pharris, clarinet
Charles Lazarus, trumpet
Joanne Opgenorth, violin
Katja Linfield, cello
Brian Mount, percussion
Dave Williamson, bass
Tommy Barbarella, piano
Katie Condon, narrator

Photo: percussionist Brian Mount gives it his all as he demonstrates drum rudiments for the young audience.

Bemidji High School

As the bell rang at 8:15 am Thursday morning at Bemidji High School, assembled music students were gathered in the auditorium for a master session with Minnesota Orchestra string, woodwind and brass players. Short performances by the pros were followed by a wide-ranging Q&A and then students picked up their own instruments for sectionals with coaching from Minnesota Orchestra players.

For the woodwinds, breath support was the order of the morning. “Were you at your fortissimo best?” encouraged bassoon player Chris Marshall. “When the notes get hard, sometimes your air can disappear but think of it just the opposite. With more notes, give it more breath. Don’t be afraid, play out!”

That combination of encouragement and modeling high standards is important, according to band director Derek Wickum. “We don’t have access to a lot of outside touring groups,” says Wickum. “Bringing these musicians into our school and setting them at stands next to our students is awesome. It’s a great push to motivate students to practice.”

Sanford Hospital

The Sanford Hospital lobby transformed into a small recital space on Wednesday when our String Quartet—violinists Taichi Chen and Jean Marker DeVere, violist Gareth Zehngut and cellist Kirstin Whitson—took up residence for a one-hour performance. Medical staff, waiting room guests and community members made up the appreciative audience.

Headwaters Science Center

It’s probably the first performance the Minnesota Orchestra brass players have ever done situated between an Inventor’s Workshop and a Bicycle Gyroscope. But it turned out to be the ideal setting to uncover the science of sound with young listeners at Bemidji’s Headwaters Science Center, an inventive hands-on environment for students to learn about science.

Our Brass Quintet—Douglas Carlsen, Robert Dorer, Herb Winslow, Kari Sundström and Steven Campbell—played music ranging from classical to the blues, offered an early introduction to harmonics and answered questions from the crowd. How long would a horn be if it were unrolled? Says Herb Winslow: about 22 feet for a double horn.

Live from KBXE

Our Woodwind Quintet—comprised of flute Greg Milliren, clarinet Gregory Williams, oboe Julie Gramolini Williams, bassoon Christopher Marshall and horn Ellen Dinwiddie Smith—greeted the morning at KBXE radio in downtown Bemidji, performing and chatting live in studio. KBXE is part of the lively Northern Community Radio network, featuring eclectic programming from community volunteers.

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