One Breathtaking Musical Week In Duluth

Sam Black

E. Fitzgerald # 40

This week I am primarily a music critic, and a happy one, at that. I attended four different musical events this past week, although I had seen one presentation for the second time. As I mentioned last week, I am deeply impressed with Steven Dietz’ text, and the music of Eric Peltoniemi, in the production known as Ten November. If you missed it this year, it will surely come back in 2025, for the 50th anniversary of the tragic loss of the taconite filled ore-boat, Edmund Fitzgerald. The staccato style details coming from the nine male actors is wonderfully expanded by the meaningful, and heart-breaking, songs sung by the female trio. May we never forget the power of Lake Superior, and the memory of 10 November, 1975.

Chamber Music On The Stroll

In the second Chamber Music Series program by the DSSO, five different pieces of music were offered from three locations within The Duluth Depot. This was a fantastic celebration of both music and The Depot, so I hope you watch for future offerings. In the Immigration Waiting Room we heard the “Conga Line in Hell” by contemporary composer Miguel del Aguila.  Dennis Lamkin told us about the Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Finns, and others who waited to partner with guides to get them to their new homes and jobs in the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota. The piano (Alex Sandor) was non-stop energy, and the percussion (Tim Broscious) involved more instruments than in the chamber orchestra itself!
We then all moved to the train station to listen to two quick pieces with folk tunes in mind. Then we shifted to the Great Hall to hear two final pieces. The ‘Unanswered Question,’ by Charles Ives, was wondrous in this space. Trumpeter Earl Salemink was in one corner of the balcony, a group of winds were in another corner, and the chamber orchestra was front and center. The musical statements were made, answered, and questioned by multi-rhythmic players. What a wonderful space for this music!

Tempest Trio With Power To Spare

A bit later, The Tempest Trio shared a sensational recital at Mitchell Auditorium on the CSS campus, as part of this 116th Season of Matinee Musicale. Violinist Ilya Kaler, cellist Amit Peled, and pianist Alon Goldstein have been together for about eight years, and they adore the core literature of the piano trio repertoire. They played Beethoven, Dvorak, and Bernstein this evening.
I liked the Bernstein the best, simply because it was the most fresh and creative for 2015. The ghostly world of Beethoven, and the wonderful dance world of the Dvorak ‘Dumky’ were just as spectacular in this live performance. Cellist Amit Peled will be back in 2018 to repeat a concert by cellist Pablo Casals, using the very same cello Casals used here in Duluth at that distant recital.

DSSO Brings Sibelius Power And Scandinavian  Light

The Duluth Superior Symphony concert on Saturday night was very refreshing and sparkling from beginning to end. Most notably, a young violinist, named Tai Murray, made the DECC overflow with her bowing tones in the Violin Concerto by Jan Sibelius. Despite her youth, she was able to take charge of this mature concerto, and narrate the musical story from beginning to end. She was mesmerizing! Music Director Dirk Meyer was right with her all the way, as the emotions of this concerto are deep and profound.
The second half of the concert featured works by four composers, arranged in a sequence by Meyer himself. The highlight was the Elegy for the Funeral of Emil Sjögren, composed by his close friend, Hugo Alfvén. This was listed as the first North/South American performance of this Elegy, and it was glorious. The wide variety of brass instruments shared their different sounds, along with the woodwinds and strings. The DSSO chorus, led by Richard Robbins, shared some of the evening in songs by Grieg and Sibelius.
For the first time ever, the chorus sang the words for the Finlandia tidal wave, making a brilliant conclusion to a rich Scandinavian Odyssey of music. Duluth is as musically rich as any major city. Hop on the stream of performances for a lovely artistic experience, right here along the Northshore of Lake Superior.