Letters from Alexandria

Kids in a music workshop

By Arts Midwest

Last week, we received an envelope in the mail from Alexandria, Minnesota packed full of letters from students who participated in the Arts Midwest World Fest residencies there over the past few years.

Thank you so much to all of the students who wrote to us! All of the letters were very thoughtful and kind. Here are some of our favorite quotes…

“After watching these four groups, …I realized that all of the music was so different, but yet so beautiful in its own way.

Final week in Valley City, ND

Three people dressed nicely post together at the dinner table

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The week began with a reception held at the house of the president of Valley City State University. We were treated to a home cooked early Easter dinner, served on fine porcelain dishes with real silverware.

The last concert was at the Health Activity Center of Valley City High school. After the concert, Wes Anderson from the Bridges Arts Council received this email from one of the audience members.

“Thank you and the Bridges Arts Council for the exquisite music last evening. They were amazing.

Nozaki, Pianist

Sepia toned portrait of a man playing piano

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The fourth and the last musician I'd like to write about this tour is Nozaki, an incredibly talented pianist. Sometimes he is a comedian, a good storyteller and so often made us laugh. I most admire him for his talent to compose music. He writes music for whatever inspires him.

The first week in Knoxville, we rehearsed the day before the concert. While they practiced the technicians checked the stage lights. The lights went on and off, inspiring him to write a song about lightning bugs from his childhood memories, lights go on and lights go off.

Powwow in Grand Forks

Many people in colorful Native American costumes fill a gymnasium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

When I found about the powwow in Grand Forks, North Dakota I mentioned it to the taiko drummers. They were excited and wanted to see it. Saturday, April 9th was our day off and we didn’t need to get to Valley City until Sunday evening. I asked Ken if we could detour to see the powwow.

Ken was very supportive so we drove to Grand Forks. As I imagined, especially the taiko drummers were so thrilled to see so many Native American in their traditional costumes dancing around the arena with the sound of drumming.

The powwow was very fascinating.

Aberdeen, SD

Drumming workshop in a school gym

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Week three of the tour is in Aberdeen, SD. This is my third visit to Aberdeen. First time was with Bamboo Orchestra 8 years ago and then the fall of 2009 with Beauty & Melody. I've worked with Stacy Braun, Aberdeen Area Arts Council, on all three visits. Familiar city and knowing the contact person made the work easier. The weather was good and everything went smoothly.

Photos from Alexandria

By Shigeyo Henriquez

A snowy prairie

We left Knoxville early Sunday morning. As we drove north, we started to see snow on the ground. By the time we arrived in Alexandria, MN it was covered with several inches of snow.

Ensemble posing at a snowy park

Burrrrr…….. WOW!!! It’s cold outside. Did we bring warm enough clothes?

Knoxville, Iowa

Donation jar on the shop's front counter

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The day we arrived in Knoxville it was 70˚—warm and sunny. We received a warm welcome by the people gathered at Peace Tree Brewery. I recognized the same friendly faces from my first visit to Knoxville last fall with Beauty & Melody.

At Peace Tree Brewery they had a donation box for the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief. Contribution boxes are found everywhere in town. We are so touched to see people’s concern and participation to help & support. 3M Corporation is even offering one-to-one match to all US employees up to $500,000.

Arrival in Des Moines

Ensemble posing in hotel lobby

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Almost one week has past since the biggest earthquake, the 40’ tsunami and the nuclear disaster horrified not only people in Japan, but throughout the world. Agatsuma Ensemble, leaving their families and friends at home, arrived in Des Moines as scheduled while the country still tremors.

Todah and Shalom

Woman walking along a curved path into the sunset.

By Lindajoy Fenley

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble began most of their workshops this year teaching students two words in Hebrew—Shalom, a word meaning hello, goodbye and peace, and todah, thank you.

The Joy of the Sabbath

By Lindajoy Fenley

One morning at breakfast at our hotel, Wes Anderson, curator at the Barnes County Historical Museum, mentioned that a local Jewish immigrant had once tried to create a New Israel in North Dakota. Believing few Jews live in the region, I found Anderson’s comment intriguing.

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