July Concluded with Two Rich Orchestral Offerings

Sam Black

By the time you read this, July 2017 will be over. But the first two weeks of August are artfully over the top. Artist Craft Fairs will be happening in Two Harbors and at Brighton Beach in a couple of weeks. The Bluesfest will be alive and resonant starting on Friday, August 11. The Thursday evening musical activities over in Bayfield continue at 5:30pm through the last Thursday in August. Cabaret opens at The Underground, Dogfight opens at Renegade, and The Root Beer Lady opens up in Ely — all as this issue of The Reader Duluth hits the venues where you can pick it up. 

The Organ Historical Society (OHS) celebrates pipe organs in the United States, and is hosting its 2017 conference in the Twin Cities next week. On Friday, August 11, several buses of pipe-organ enthusiasts will be in Duluth all day, visiting and listening to organs built by Lyon & Healy, Kimball, Jaeckel, and Felgemaker. More information is available at http://www.organsociety.org/2017/.  Nothing is dull about Duluth this month.


Gaelynn Lea Tressler
Gaelynn Lea Tressler

Young String Players Team up With the LSCO

This past week the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra featured its third concert of the summer. At least seventeen young string players took part in the annual Quartet Project, and shared on stage during the second half of the concert. In his constant search for hidden gems, Conductor Warren Friesen came up with an “Elegy, In Memoriam Rupert Brooke,” composed by Frederick Kelly shortly after Brooke died at the Battle of Gallipoli. It was a treat to watch the young violinist Austin Engelhardt take the poignant solo lines, while the rest of the violin section shimmered in accompaniment.

The conclusion of this concert featured violinist/composer Gaelynn Lea Tressler, as she shared five of her songs arranged for the LSCO by Bradley Bombardier. During “Let It Go” the majority of the string players were vocalizing in the background. The set also included “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun,” her 2016 video entry in the Tiny Desk Contest which won first place nationally. Finally, in “Bird Song” many of the musicians were busy slapping their instruments, their cheeks, and their chests to accompany the song.

David Packa shares Grieg with the Northshore Philharmonic. Photo credit: Sam Black
David Packa shares Grieg with the Northshore Philharmonic. Photo credit: Sam Black

Northern Music from The Northshore Philharmonic

Then on Sunday afternoon, over at the Thorpe Langley Auditorium on the UWS campus, the Northshore Philharmonic offered an amazing treat of seven very different pieces, all conducted by UMD Band Faculty Daniel Eaton. The brilliantly explosive and melodic Summer Dances by Brian Balmages set the pace for the afternoon. The enthusiasm continued through the hand-clapping of the Strauss’ Radetzky March and ultimately concluded with the rowdy Bacchanale from the opera Samson and Delilah, by C. Saint-Saens. 

The centerpiece of the afternoon was the Piano Concerto in A minor by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Pianist David Packa, well-known locally around UWS, Loon Opera, and the Zeitgeist Cabaret, came to the keyboard to share the very lyrical melodies Grieg loved to share. The beginning and ending of this concerto contain some moments of drama, but for the most part the lovely lyricism dominates the piece, so the warm afternoon was filled with Norwegian tunes.

Eaton added a contemplative Waltz by D. Shostakovich, and the finale from the youthful F. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5. But the audience got one more taste of Scandinavia with the Finlandia theme created by J. Sibelius back around 1900. How is it we get all this variety at the end of July here in a musical Duluth? Stay tuned for the next couple of weeks with a rich introduction to August.