The Risk of Leaving Duluth for a Few Days

Sam Black

Nolan and umbrella on the low wire
Nolan and umbrella on the low wire
Dancers and hula hoops trying to bring on the rain
Dancers and hula hoops trying to bring on the rain

I  have written before about some of the ironies of living in Duluth, MN. I lived in Oklahoma City and Louisville for the first forty-seven years of my life, so contrasts are quite exemplary. Many Duluth residents have lake homes/lake cabins where they spend their weekends across the brief months of late June through early September:  a modest summer in the region. A Duluth summer is so mild, and so short (from my perspective), I don’t really understand why anyone would want to be away from home during these few weeks. Our vegetable garden only survives because we tend it during those brief weeks. The house and garage need painting touch-ups, the bushes need trimming, so why would I want to go away for these very few moments?

All the same, I went to Madison, WI, last week for a family visit. So I missed what was going on with Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, activities at the Film Festival in Wrenshall, programs connected to The Duluth Playhouse, Renegade Theatre, and who knows what else?  Duluth is as busy artistically during the summer as it is during the academic months. Anyone who goes away for an extended period will miss the thriving world of the arts in Duluth-Superior. It’s always a risk.

While I missed the lovely violin playing and the smile of DeAnn Letourneau last week, I look forward to the final LSCO concert, with a youthful dramatic farce by Wolfgang Mozart. I’ll tell you about that in next week’s column.

A Watery Circus Experience

What I did visit, however, was the Splish-Splash Circus workshop for youngsters in Mazomanie, WI, just west of the Madison community. For fifteen years this summer workshop has been teaching young artists how to go public with their acting, dancing, gymnastic, and presentation skills. This year, the theme focused on water, so bubbles and wetness were present throughout the final performance. This happens the last week of July each year, just in case you want to be included in the activity.

POPS music from the Northshore Philharmonic

This past Sunday, the Northshore Philharmonic, under the direction of Tracey Gibbens, offered a concert of POPS music over at the Langley Auditorium on the UWS campus. Curiously, about 65 people were in the audience, which was about the same as the number of musicians on the stage. Movie themes, Frank Sinatra tunes, and a Rock Symphony by Duluth composer David Schoettel were featured on the program.

This is a very youthful orchestra, which gives them a chance to make music in the greater Duluth-Superior community, as they continue to practice and work for opportunities to play in the older professional ensembles in the region. The enthusiasm was quite high, and the music shared on Sunday afternoon was a special treat for a late August performance. This is a complete contrast to the variety of music taking place at the Bayfront Festival park over the summer.

So much more in motion

Renegade and The Duluth Playhouse have events in motion at the moment, Thomas the Train is in town shortly, and the tall ships are working their way to Duluth. We had our stormy week, and now it’s time to pull all the pieces back together and take in the art in the restaurants, as well as all the music and drama filling our August weeks with excitement. I look forward to communicating with you on the other side.