Road Stories Blog

Wrapping up the Beauty & Melody tour

Beauty & Melody on stage in front of school children.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The last stop, the last week of Beauty & Melody in the U.S., brought us to Knoxville, Iowa. Every day we could feel closer to the day to say “Goodbye.” It’s the toughest day of the tour, the final day.

A week went by as usual, workshops at Northstar Elementary school, West Elementary school and middle school. We visited the 3M factory in town, took a tour of the production area, and gave a mini performance for the workers.

The final workshop in Knoxville was for high school students.

Sound man is keen observer

Evgeny Krolik stands in front of antique cars

By Lindajoy Fenley

You won’t see Evgeny Krolik on stage. But without this silent member of the group, few people would hear the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble, now touring five Midwestern States. Since he uses a finely-tuned ear and years of experience to control the sound board, audiences appreciate his work whether they see him or not.

Saluting 3M in Alexandria

Posing outside by a 3M sign, wearing winter coats.

By Lindajoy Fenley

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble’s last day of Minnesota workshops began at 8:45 a.m. Thursday with a trip to Miltona Elementary School and ended 12 hours later when the group finished loading out instruments and equipment at Alexandria Technical College, site of afternoon and evening workshops for seniors and families. In between, they found time for a quick visit to the Wimmer’s lake cabin, a meal at an Alexandria restaurant, and a photo opportunity in front of the 3M factory.

Why so many instruments?

Children raise their hands to ask questions.

By Lindajoy Fenley

Students ask how members of the ensemble met, how they formed their group, what’s life like in Israel and whether it’s hard to learn to play an instrument. In Alexandria, one of the youngest asked why they had so many instruments.

Full day in Alexandria

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble performs at a reception.

By Lindajoy Fenley

Alexandria welcomed the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble this week with soft rain and a promise of snowfall by Wednesday. The ensemble responded with music, stories about Israel, plus rhythm, dance and language lessons at three school workshops. Throughout the week, the ensemble will offer seven more school workshops as well as additional presentations for seniors and families.

Same, same; but different

Yonnie Dror and his shofar.

By Lindajoy Fenley

One of the most unusual instruments out of the array of more than 20 that the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble presents to school children is the shofar, a ram’s horn. Yet Yonnie Dror’s shofar stories have a way of connecting Midwesterners to the far-away culture of Israel.

Showered with gifts at the Schauer

Yonnie points to his photograph on a cake.

By Lindajoy Fenley

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble received the key to the City of Hanford, the State of Wisconsin Bluebook, a mini-flashlight and an engraved shot glass at the Schauer Arts and Activities Center. The shower of gifts at the Schauer also included a chocolate marble cake decorated with the ensemble’s photograph.


Musicians on stage

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.

Inspiring workshops in Bloomington, Illinois

Young woman stands, speaking on stage.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Eric Zeal and Brandy Maloney, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) staff, escorted us to every school we visited with hot water and green teas. The week went by fast. We went to see a B-52’s concert which was a blast, and Saturday some of us went to the magic show at BCPA, as well. All were generous invitations of BCPA.

Israeli tour begins

Israeli Ethnic Ensemble

By Lindajoy Fenley

Gorgeous autumn leaves, wonderful weather and friendly UP folks have made the beginning of the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble's tour spectacular. The weather is so unseasonably wonderful that we were able to hold our pre-tour meeting with program director Ken Carlson sitting around a picnic table in Presque Isle, a beautiful city-maintained park.