Woodwinds and Words Bring August to a Close

by Sam Black

UMD Faculty Quintet, Christ Church, Bayfield, WI
UMD Faculty Quintet, Christ Church, Bayfield, WI

By the time you read this column, it will be Labor Day Weekend, schools will be in motion, and our Duluth summer will begin to wind down. I am definitely one of those fellows who notices the increasing briskness of the moment as the years pass by.

Bayfield’s Moveable Feast of Superior Music

There have been nine varied music programs this year, at six different venues, all within the intimate city limits of Bayfield, WI. For more than twenty years these Thursday programs have entertained summer visitors at the top of the peninsula. I was only able to attend one: August 24, when the UMD Faculty Woodwind Quintet performed at Christ Episcopal Church.

While Brett Linski has now been gifted with the oboe position long held by Laurie Van Brunt, the other members, Theodore Schoen (clarinet), Paula Gudmundson(flute), Jefferson Campbell(bassoon), and James Pospisil(French horn), continue their delights in performing together for the past several years. They shared four very different pieces, then sent us out the door with an upbeat Cascade by ragtime composer Scott Joplin.

A French beginning, Pastorale, Op. 14, No. 1, by Gabriel Pierne set the mood for a concert by the bay, with all sorts of apples and berries in the fields close at hand. The gentle melody shared by the oboe and flute assured us that we had come to the right place.

F.J.Haydn’s very traditional quintet followed, even though Schoen let us know that scholars really don’t know who wrote this memorable St. Anthony tune. A delightfully flashy Humoreske by A. Zemlinsky gave all five musicians a chance to flex their fingers and create happy melodies overflowing with energy. They closed with a major quintet, Op. 81, by lesser known French composer George Onslow.

This four-movement work was filled with the sounds of late Beethoven, appropriately marinated in a heavy dose of French harmonies and melodies. Linski’s oboe sang us beautifully through the slow movement, and the rippling flute kept the fourth movement moving as fast as the Brule River itself.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson with honored poet, Connie Wanek
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson with honored poet, Connie Wanek

Duluth Poet Adorns the Hartley Nature Center

During the twenty years Connie Wanek and her husband Phil Dentinger lived close to Hartley Nature Center here in Duluth, she was out and around the fields and ponds nearly every day. Back in 2010 she actually published a collection of poems titled Hartley Field (Holy Cow! Press, Duluth). Therefore, Duluth Poet Laureate, Ellie Schoenfeld, put together a celebration of Wanek’s poetic contribution to the Hartley environment. With the assistance of Tom O’Rourke (Hartley NC Director), and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, a reception and walking tour of the Connie Wanek Wildflower Trail was dedicated on Saturday, August 26, 2017.

Eight of Wanek’s poems have been permanently mounted along the trail, and the flowers and the goldfinches (and the rain) were joining the celebration this past Saturday as I walked all the way round. Mayor Larson shared a poetic proclamation about this new creation, a beautiful cake was ultimately sacrificed to those present, and Wanek read aloud the poems now present around the trail, for those who preferred to stay dry. I have known Wanek and her poetry for years, and will definitely go back and visit the colorful trail during different seasons of the Duluth year.

Thanks to Lake Superior Writers, the Arrowhead Reading Council, the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, and the Duluth Poet Laureate Project for keeping the words of Connie Wanek close to the center of the Duluth/Hartley experience.

Let her tell you how to find the trail from her poem, Directions:

      You’ll know when you’re close;
      people always say they have a 
      sudden sensation
      that the horizon, which was 
      always far ahead,
      is now directly behind them.
      At this point you may want to park
      and proceed on foot, or even
      on your knees.