A hearty “bon voyage” to Le Vent du Nord

By Emily Anderson

With their Arts Midwest World Fest tour concluded, Le Vent du Nord has returned to their homes in Québec, Canada. We’ve learned so much about Québecois culture this year, beginning with the history of French settlement of Québec and some essential background on poutine in the study guides. Le Vent du Nord proved to be a festive and easygoing ensemble—true professionals.

They started their tour with a memorable opening reception in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and got right into the swing of things with several workshops per day.

In Minnesota, they found kindred spirits in the Francophile residents of Bemidji, where they spoke French, played music, and enjoyed good food and wine with their new friends in between workshops and concerts. We saw firsthand how charming Le Vent du Nord can be, introducing their songs with adventure stories from the road as well as folk stories from Québec, when we visited the public performance in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. As they did in many of the communities they visited this year, the ensemble drew crowds from all over the region.

Le Vent du Nord performing
Performance at Landsmeer Retirement Community in Orange City, Iowa. Photo by Janine Calsbeek.

One of the more memorable experiences from their tour was the jam session with Native American flute player Bryan Akipa in Sisseton, South Dakota. Months later, Nicolas Boulerice recounted how Le Vent du Nord was still deeply inspired by the sound they created together. As the tour wrapped up for the fall, Orange City, Iowa, offered the band the rare treat of playing in intimate coffeehouses. Playing in small communities is the band’s favorite aspect of Arts Midwest World Fest. They appreciate getting to know locals, with whom they build strong relationships throughout each week. When they resumed their tour this spring in DeKalb, Illinois, Le Vent du Nord formed such a strong connection with a local high school string band that they invited the high school musicians onstage at the public concert—a first for Arts Midwest World Fest, and an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

It was in Hanover, Indiana, that Arts Midwest World Fest experienced another first—unfortunately, most of the workshops had to be cancelled due to the incredible snowfall of the 2014 “Polar Vortex,” which shut down schools and roads throughout the area. “The North Wind” indeed paid a visit. We are so grateful to our community hosts in Hanover for pulling together a public concert and a few workshops and radio interviews despite all the weather-related setbacks!

Nearing the end of their Arts Midwest World Fest journey in Medina, Ohio, Le Vent du Nord embraced their final weeks in the Midwest by doing what they love—playing and teaching the music of Québec to audiences of all ages. The Midland Center for the Arts also created a short video about Le Vent du Nord’s residency in Midland, Michigan, and we think it perfectly captures their experience with Arts Midwest World Fest—all the dancing, foot tapping, and smiling that accompany Le Vent du Nord’s upbeat music were part of each performance in every community they visited.

What a gift to all of us in the Midwest to have this opportunity to make new friends and engage with the music and culture of Québec. Merci! And à bientôt!

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