Month: February 2016

Minnesota Concerts

World Premiere concerts of CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL took place on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais, and on SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6th at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth.
Concert number one • Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais. The Stonebridge Singers Drum, from Grand Portage, joining us as people get settled in their seats.

Stonebridge Singers Drum BLC cropped

They continued, honoring us with one final song before CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL begins. I can’t imagine a better first performance of this song cycle.
Bethlehem Luthersan Church Concert 2-5-2016

The Cook County community came out in force to hear the music. They gave a warm and emotional, enthusiastic response – adding some fantastic anecdotes afterward. An evening filled with loveliness. Gratitude to the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra one and all, to Bill Beckstrand, and to Take Jack for so beautifully and thoughtfully bringing this music into the world. After the concert we returned to our hotel for drinks and a late microwaved dinner and were treated to a visit and some much-appreciated animated storytelling from our friend – musher Arleigh Jorgenson. The words in song #13  in the cycle – “The Most Important Thing” – were spoken by Arleigh during an interview with Mark Ostazeski for his educational blog on John Beargrease.

Concert number two • SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6
An early morning goodbye to Grand Marais. A drive to Duluth to set up for our second concert at the beautiful Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth.
Jacks gone to whiteBCO arrived around noon. A yummy lunch was offered for all, kindly coordinated by Arno Kahn and Chris Bowman–thanks so very much! In some ways the concert was even stronger this time around, as is often the case. If you look closely here you can see our friend Natasaha Haugnes over to the left with her hand on the blue drum. Natasha flew out from California with her son Oliver so that they could hear the music and then, due to a somewhat mysterious disappearing incident involving the drummer, was roped into joining us. So she (and Oliver) went mushing early Saturday morning, drove 2 hours to Duluth, stepped out of her car and onto the throne. Natasha – you rock! Here is a link also to a (reverberating but decent) video from this concert of the first song in the cycle, “The One Who Stayed.”
Sacred Heart Concert allSacred heart during concert
And here we are joined by students from Hermantown Elementary School, singing “Without Those Dogs” directed by Jerry Kaldor. These kids knocked off many socks. Fabulous.  Thanks you guys!
Hermantown Elementary
And, thank you to the McKnight Foundation and The American Composers Forum and thank you Minnesota!
Next up – west coast premiere concerts on March 19th, directed by Omid Zoufonoun, with Take Jack and Orchestra joined by Sonoma County’s Kitchen Choir, directed by Sarah Saulsbury.

Bill took this photo – so you can see Ron Smith here with us on the far left – thank you Ron for so many dynamite photos.Take jack with Ron duluth
Thank you Duluth

Here’s to the dogs!

To the dogs


Take Jack, in Minnesota

This trip out I was joined by the other members of  Take Jack, the collaborative ensemble from Sonoma County I have been with since the group formed in 2010. We were joined by Ron Smith – fantastic photographer, actor and Co-Jack extraordinaire. Here is a bit about our time together during the week leading up to the first CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL concert.

Take Jack arrives, Minneapolis. Ten of us with all of our gear and a rental bass from All Strings Attached snug into 3 behemoth rental SUV’s and head to Duluth. 

All Strings Attached
Temperatures dropping. Snow falling. Good news for the marathon! In the Star Tribune today, spotted at an airport kiosk upon arrival, an incredibly thoughtful article about the project, written by Katy Read:

Early start heading toward Grand Marais with a stop in Beaver Bay to visit the mushers with their teams getting Vet checks in preparation for the 2016 JBSDM, and to pay our respects at the gravesite of John Beargrease.

TJ Visiting Beargrease site

TJ at Beargrease gravesite
Midday arrival at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in time to join the 47 members of the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra for lunch and an afternoon rehearsal. Fantastic to see everyone again. Brilliant singers and musicians, stellar people all ‘round and Bill Beckstrand is a truly gifted director, musician, composer and well… plus – he’s just one of the people you’d most want to meet in a lifetime.
Rehearsal Bethlehem Lutheran

BCO rehearsal with Take Jack

The 2016 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins! Take Jack sings “O Canada,” arranged by member Chris Smith, and then – the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Take jack O Canada(Just want to say to all you Giants fans who have sung the SSB in SF at AT&T Park on a sunny spring day? Try this.) … and then suddenly the lyrics we’ve been rehearsing for the past several months (in this instance words from musher Frank Moe) come alive as the countdown begins and the teams take off  “… Nine, eight, seven, six… like a shot from a gun… smokin’ down the chute…” Here is Nathan Schroeder at the start line. Nathan Schroeder JBSDM race start 2016.jpgPhoto • Ron Smith.
We made stops later in the day and evening at Finland and Sawbill checkpoints.

MONDAY February 1
Rehearsal number two with the BCO. Joined this time by the orchestra including Yvonne Caruthers on cello – featured in several of the pieces.

BCO rehearsal number 2

Take Jack stops in for an hour at WTIP radio to talk with Will Moore and sing a bit on Sidetracks.
Will Moore WTIPHere’s a link to the show.

A visit with the kids at Sawtooth Elementary School to sing through “Without Those Dogs” in Kerri Bilben’s  inspiring music class.

Sawtooth Elementary rehearsalEvening concert with TONE BENT at Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen. Much appreciation for Jerry on sound!
Take Jack at Papa Charlie's

The Jacks go mushing with Matt Groth of Grand Marais. So much I could say here but here’s the deal. Just go. Try it. Really.

Shari Kovner:

Shari gone to the dogs

Robin scores a puppy hug:
Robin with puppy cropped

Bill mushing

Chris mushingClare:Clare mushing

At long last the day of the first concert has arrived. We do one final rehearsal at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church where Pastor Mark Ditmanson has so generously supported the project, allowing our keyboard, amps, speakers, and additional gear loaned to us by the North Shore Music Association, to remain set up all week long. Thank you Grand Marais for your kind welcome!

Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Good bye to Grand marais