Slow Weeks Are Sometimes a Blessing in a Busy Life

Sam Black

A second rainbow on the left is fading. Photo credit: Sam Black
A second rainbow on the left is fading. Photo credit: Sam Black

Since thousands of runners were gathering in Duluth all this past week, prepping for Grandma’s Marathon, as well as the Bjorklund Half Marathon, Duluth was a bit busier than usual. Perhaps as many as 30,000 people were visiting Duluth for this annual exercise. Hotels, food venues, were probably happy to have lots of activity, although the two times I dined at restaurants this past weekend I was not in a crowd, and I needed no reservations.


Vindonia Trio: Karin and Lise in a southern Swedish song. Photo credit: Sam Black
Vindonia Trio: Karin and Lise in a southern Swedish song. Photo credit: Sam Black

  Vindonia:  Is It the Wind or the Attic?

After a lot of practicing in Karin’s attic, these three women, Susan, Lise, and Karin, decided to call their group the Vindonia Trio. They are from Scania, in southern Sweden, and they came to the Nisswa-Stämman festival (just north of Brainerd) this year. They also stopped at Duluth Congregational Church for a Thursday mid-day performance, before going up to Knife River Lutheran Church for a workshop and performance later. What a breath of fresh air they brought to the afternoon. Susan is a very strong Celtic harpist, while her daughter Lise has a pure, air-borne soprano which easily floats across the room. Karin is a gifted Swedish fiddler, and when she joined Lise in song, the two of them sound like the same voice doubled.

They offered about a dozen songs at the mid-day program, with explanations about the stories and the regions where the songs were born. My favorite piece of the afternoon was called Gjettarlokk, or as Karin called it, Ola’s Lullaby. Karin and Lise sang a very close harmony, with delightful dissonances, while Susan kept everything under control with her sonorous Celtic harp. Later, they made me laugh as they shared a song coming from a mother, who told a suitor that her daughter could not become his wife because she didn’t know how to churn butter, brew beer, or make bread. So much for true love.

Bloomsday, 2017

Friday, June 16, from 1904 to the present day, celebrates the meanderings of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in the novel Ulysses, by James Joyce. Each year thousands of visitors walk the Dublin streets Mr. Bloom knew so well, as he breakfasted with relish on the inner organs of beasts and fowls, and helped his drunken friend Stephen home about two in the morning. I commemorate Bloomsday, but only from here in Duluth.

Woodland Music Workshop 

This current week is the 10th anniversary of the Woodland Chamber Music Workshop, founded by cellist Josh Aerie back in 2008. About thirty musicians from San Diego to Asheville will gather in Tofte, MN, and play music about ten hours each of the next several days. Faculty concerts on Friday evening, and the annual Gala of all participants on Sunday morning will be the highlights of my week. I’ll share pictures and stories in my next column.

This is my final column before SUMMER greets our Northland, so take in the LOON production of Verdi’s Rigoletto on Saturday night, make music in your own home, and keep the richness of the arts in motion wherever the summer might take you. The double rainbow on Sunday evening is just hinted at when I snapped this photo, but I love the local art shows that appear out across Lake Superior twelve months of the year. I look forward to hearing about your art-full travels this summer.