Memories Are Rich From Our Duluth Arts Scene

Sam Black

There might still be time: if you did not attend the play, Ten November, in October/November, 1995, then you still have a couple of opportunities to attend Steven Dietz’ powerful testimony to the 29 men who were part of the last voyage of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which was rapidly dragged to the bottom of Lake Superior in a storm on November 10th, 1975. At the Duluth Playhouse Underground, the show will run on Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14.
As director, John Pokrzywinski, chose to keep the starkness of this drama intact. The nine men, who are mariners, lawyers, safety commissioners, and story-tellers, keep the pace lively. Stories overlap, with the tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald constantly at the center of the dialogue. Meanwhile, three women (are they Fates?) sing a variety of songs, written by Eric Peltoniemi, that add angular comments to the text. Sometimes the songs parallel the story, sometimes they offer thoughts and melodies that are jarring against the reality of the tragedy.
‘Widows of the Water,’ ‘Love Me Like a Stranger,’ ‘Listen Adversary,’ ‘We’ll Be in Heaven Before We Know,’ are a few of the titles sung by this nicely-blended trio, offering commentary on the story told by the men.
This has been a very moving play for more than twenty-five years. I hope this is the year you choose to witness this In Memoriam production.

DSSO Bridges Session, Selective Round

On Friday, November 6th, four Minnesota popular bands competed at Clyde Iron Works for an opportunity to create a new work and perform it with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, February 6th, at the DECC in downtown Duluth.
During July and August, I listened over and over to the twenty groups that had submitted applications for this first DSSO Bridges Session. I voted every day for the groups I thought had the most potential for a DSSO partnership. I was, therefore, somewhat surprised at the four groups that received the most votes during the two month open selection.
Nonetheless, Ryan Van Slooten, Mary Bue and the Holy Bones, Space Carpet, and Big Wave Dave and the Ripples, received the votes necessary to become our Final Four.
Van Slooten partnered with DSSO concertmaster Erin Aldridge, Mary Bue partnered with trumpet principal Earl Salemink, Space Carpet partnered with bassist Vince Osborn, and Big Wave Dave partnered with staff pianist Alex Sandor. Friday was a very mixed experience.
Local KBJR-6 television personality Edward Moody came forward as emcee for the evening, with introductions and interviews with each group and their DSSO partner. In the house, the drummer was the one dominant sound, from group to group. I can only hope the musicians on stage were hearing a better balance than we were. Secondly, all the groups were featuring singing, but there was never any intelligible text coming out into the Clyde Iron house. I could only wonder what the singers were proclaiming!
After four offerings from each group, a ballot was tallied, and the Duluth-based group Space Carpet, with Rory Isakson, Jen West, Tyler Dubla, Steve Isakson, and Mark Glen, got the nod to proceed with composing and sharing with the DSSO in early February. This has been a great idea that needs some tweaking from the DSSO leaders to make it more compelling as a Duluth attraction.

DSSO And UMD Faculty In Performance

Meanwhile, the DSSO, under the direction of Dirk Meyer, will offer a Scandinavian Odyssey this very Saturday night at the DECC, with choral music from Edvard Grieg and Jan Sibelius, and the Violin Concerto by Sibelius, performed by violinist, Tai Murray. On Monday, November 16, the wind faculty at UMD will offer a fall recital at Weber Recital Hall. Once again, between music and theater, you can be busy several nights of the week. I hope you choose to do just that.