Minnesota offers winter weather, older audiences

By Lindajoy Fenley

A full day’s drive took Sofi and the Baladis to a completely new scenario this week. The brick buildings of historic Red Wing, Minnesota contrast with the wide-open spaces of the Dakotas and the dramatic drop in temperature, along with a possibility of snow, has given the traveling Israelis the feeling of winter.

Sofi Tsedaka stays warm in the St. James Hotel Library. She met with videographer Christopher Anderson Tuesday morning to tell the story of her music and cultural heritage. Christopher will film the ensemble at workshops and concerts in Red Wing this week.

Another difference during the third week of the tour was the age of the audiences. Instead of visiting only schools, the Baladis had a chance to go to a couple of senior centers.

The musicians show workshop attendees the qanun (left) and shofar (right).

In an effort to make sure the older audience could get a good look at his instrument, Yosef Bronfman held his qanun in his arms and walked closer to the women seated around tables at the Village Coop community room. Jonathan Dror also walked closer to show them his shofar, the unique Jewish instrument made of a ram’s horn and used by rabbis in the synagogue.

Retired music teacher Genene Gordish chatted with Yosef Bronfman after the presentation at the Village Coop on Monday afternoon.

Older Red Wing residents were also present at the welcoming reception Monday evening where Sarah Singer, an Israeli who moved to the United States 50 years ago, was the first person to greet the ensemble. Singer, herself an artist, told ensemble members about members of her family who are musicians. She was delighted that Jonathan Dror had played music with her son’s brother-in-law.

Sarah Singer asks Johathan Dror about his wind instruments.

Regardless of the age of his audience, Dror has a clever way of inviting those who meet the ensemble at a weekday workshop to the weekend public concert. After telling them about the ancient ney, a flute played throughout the Middle East, he explains it is actually a very simple instrument.

He then picks up a piece of paper and rolls it up to make a basic flute. Although the rolled paper doesn’t have holes for his fingers, the talented woodwinds player demonstrates how he can create several different tones by gently blowing on one end. “It can take anywhere from a week to a year to learn how to get the sound out,” he tells young and old alike. Then suddenly he unfurls the paper and reveals it is the poster advertising the concert.

A simple flute demo becomes an advertisement for the week’s public concert!

“This is us,” he says as he announces the time and date of the upcoming event. “Come and bring your friends.”

The next public concert begins at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 3 at Red Wing’s Sheldon Theatre. The final one, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Heritage Center in Dubuque, Iowa, will be preceded with a short talk and Q&A session at 6:30 p.m.