By Lindajoy Fenley

We left Marquette, MI, this weekend with many memories—big and small. They were born at small schools like Republic (total school population 144) to discussions of major issues at Northern Michigan University, where professors are planning a new curriculum focusing on the Middle East.

Parents, teachers and students at Republic wanted to know how their little school located in rural Upper Peninsula was selected for one of the Israeli Ethnic Ensembles workshops. They could hardly believe their luck and many students stayed after each of the two workshops we did to examine the frame drums, oud and bouzouki. Their deep appreciation for what the Israeli musicians offered proved the wisdom of Arts Midwest’s philosophy to take world-class music from distant lands to small communities where children have less cultural exposure than big-city kids.

The Marquette visit also provided a broader focus when the ensemble visited the university. MNU professors from about nine different academic departments met with the ensemble at the reception at the beginning of the week, and at the concert our last night in town. The ensemble also gave three workshops at the university in addition to workshops in elementary and secondary public schools in Marquette and surrounding communities.

Musicians on stage
Yonnie Dror, Talya Solan and Sefi Asfuri Hirsh at the Marquette concert on Oct. 16, 2010.


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