McKnight Foundation

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



About 7 hours after leaving Trail Center, teams began pulling in to the next checkpoint – Devil Track. Again this was now dark of night so, from the vantage point of someone awaiting arrivals, you’re standing down at the edge of Devil Track Lake watching a tiny point of light approaching from across a broad expanse of horizon. Behind you is the ever-present bonfire (these people know how to make a fire!) and the Devil Track Lodge, lit-up and welcoming.
Nathan coming in to Devil TrackNathan Devil Track 2
As the dogs come to a stop the mushers are asked to hand over their mailbags. I think I forgot to mention this part earlier. Before the start of the race all mushers were sworn-in as official mail carriers for the duration of the race. The same oath that I imagine John Beargrease had to recite back in about 1880?         “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”      They were each given a mailbag to carry, filled with letters one may purchase through the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon website. (these are then addressed and returned in time to be carried during the race) These are great keepsakes and will reach their destinations with a special stamp saying the letter was carried by sled dog during the race. This is not a great shot but you can see the size of the mailbag here – being given to  revered musher Jamie Nelson, during opening ceremonies:

Jamie Nelson getting mail bag

And this next image is of Nathan Schroeder handing over his mailbag at Devil Track. Nathan was the JBSDM winner last year and went on to the Iditarod where he received the Rookie of Year Award.
Nathan in to Devil's Track handing over mailbag

From Devil Track the mushers are headed back down the loop and by then I really had to go grab a few hours of sleep. When I woke up I decided to drive on to the Finland Checkpoint (missing the return swing through Sawbill) so I could intercept the leading teams again. It was actually difficult to keep up with these guys. They were flying! Here are some shots of the trail coming in to Finland from a musher’s point of view. The glow sticks that are hanging from trees as you approach the checkpoint:

Glow stick Finland

The signs for unsuspecting cross country skiers or the like:

Trail signs FinlandSign to Finland 2

Here’s a YouTube of Frank Moe coming in to the Finland Checkpoint. And, a still:

Frank Moe coming in to Finland

When the dogs are resting – if you inch up too close to take a picture – a handler will often suddenly appear and ask you to stay back so that the dogs can rest. Pretty great of them, handlers are awesome. Letting sleeping dogs lie:

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie