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Boreal Community Media

Lake Superior is theme of upcoming Carleton College band concert

May 11, 2022 10:34AM ● By Laura Durenberger
Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow

By Pamela Thompson of the Northfield News - May 8, 2022

If the intrigue, mystery and beauty of the Great Lakes resonate deep within you, then an upcoming concert featuring the five-part “Lake Superior Suites” and other lake-inspired and uplifting musical numbers should connect your soul to those wonders of nature.

This promotional poster explains explaining the theme of the May 13 concert was derived from the powerful natural intrigue, mystery and beauty of Lake Superior. (Photo courtesy of Claire Larson)

Claire Larson, guest director for the Carleton College Band, wanted the musicians to personally understand the powerful connection between Minnesota nature and music. So, she mapped out a one-day road trip that would enable them to enjoy some typically Minnesota experiences.

“Many of the students at Carleton come from outside Minnesota,” said Larson. “They may not understand what makes Lake Superior so unique, so I wanted them to see firsthand how Lake Superior has been a massive source of inspiration over the years.”

Since the students on the road trip come from Arizona, Kentucky, Hawaii and Alaska, many had not ventured too far outside of Northfield, much less visited a Minnesota state park, thanks in part to COVID curtailing any if not all opportunities to sightsee in the Gopher State.

“We pushed past Duluth and headed along the North Shore,” she said. “It was a pretty epic 16-hour trip.”

Larson, director of bands for Kenyon-Wanamingo middle school and high school, snapped photos at Split Rock Lighthouse, climbed on rocks, skipped stones over the water, and soaked up the spectacular vistas. ”I wanted them to do Minnesota stuff,” said Larson. “I wanted to show them the majesty of the lake, so they can better connect with the theme and inspiration behind the concert.”

Larson will direct the Carleton College Band in what she terms a “very unique concert” on Friday, May 13, at 7 p.m. The concert’s theme of Lake Superior, will feature music that was inspired by the Big Lake otherwise known as Kitchi Gami. The performance will be held in Kracum Performance Hall at Weitz Center for the Creative Arts. 

On a recent road trip to the North Shore, Carleton College music students experienced the inspirational force of Lake Superior in preparation of their final concert of the semester. They stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse for a group photo. (Photo courtesy of Claire Larson)

She said the pieces in the program are musically stunning and all have a connection to Minnesota; from “Lake Superior Suite” by young composer Cait Nishimura to Aaron Perrine’s “Temperance” and Shirley Mier’s “Maiden Voyage.” Both Perrine and Mier are native Minnesotans.


Stunning photographs like this one by Mike Shaw showing the Aurelia Borealis will be set to music at the May 13 Lake Superior concert. (Photo courtesy of Mike Shaw)

“Lake Superior Suite” is a five-movement piece for wind band, inspired by the landscapes of five provincial and national parks on the north shore of Lake Superior. Each movement is named for a different park and depicts such imagery as endlessly flowing waves, soaring birds, peaceful rays of light, and the first glimpse of the vastness of Lake Superior.

On Nishimura’s website, she describes the second movement, called “Pukaskwa National Park:” Located on the northeast shore of the lake, and featuring towering cliffs and rocky shores with century-old driftwood, the music represents the sense of wonder, adventure, and determination involved in hiking precarious cliffs to breathtaking views through meter changes and driving ostinatos.

Larson said the concert’s final number will be Aurora Borealis by Rossano Galante. “As we all know, Lake Superior is a great place to catch the Northern Lights,” she said. “My friend, professional Night Sky photographer Mike Shaw, has granted the Carleton band permission to use his photos set to the music which we will play.” Check out Shaw’s photography:

To see the full story follow this link to the Northfield News website:

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