Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Sinfonia comes to Faribault & I attend a classical music concert for the first time February 15, 2013

Cellist Dmitry Kouzov

Cellist Dmitry Kouzov

I WATCHED AS THEIR crooked arms worked the bows back and forth, mostly gliding, sometimes slowing in almost robotic jerks, across the violins tucked under their chins.

All the while the music flowed—soft and soothing, other times bursting into crescendos of triumph and power.

The rhythm, the tones, the movement mesmerized me as only classical music can.

For the first time ever Thursday evening, I attended an orchestra concert. And let me tell you, this performance by the Minnesota Sinfonia, with featured soloist Dmitry Kouzov on the cello, rated as outstanding.

Not that I have anything with which to compare the performance or even a musical background to rate it—I don’t play an instrument nor can I read a musical note. But that matters not. The music moved me, engaged me, transported me.

When Kouzov, an International Beethoven Competition winner, settled into his chair at the historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault, his very presence commanded respect. Those of us in the audience knew we were about to hear something truly magical from this cellist who has performed with orchestras like the St. Petersburg Symphony and the National Symphony of Ukraine.

And we did. To watch Kouzov work his cello, to hear sounds ranging from almost ear-hurting shrills to the deepest of depths, impressed. I heard trilling birds and tin cans kicked along a rocky road and imagined immigrants journeying across the Minnesota prairie.

My husband, sitting next to me on the pew in this 150-year-old cathedral, thought cartoon music. I understand his perspective. But I tend to think more in poetic terms. That’s the beauty of music—it is open to interpretation based on individual experiences, personality and perceptions.

I was simply thankful the music and the brooding darkness and warmth of the sanctuary did not lull my husband asleep during the 1 ½ hour Valentine’s Day evening concert. That this chamber orchestra held the interest of an automotive machinist who prefers the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues and Charlie Daniels to classical music should impress you.

The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, shown here in a file photo, offers wonderful accoustics for a concert.

The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, shown here in a file photo, offers wonderful acoustics for a concert.

Mostly, I was thankful for the opportunity to attend a concert of this caliber in my community and at no cost. Minnesota Sinfonia, a non-profit whose mission is “to serve the musical and educational needs of the citizens of Minnesota, especially families with children, inner-city youth, seniors and those with limited financial means,” performs all concerts free of charge. The Sinfonia receives support in part from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Minnesota Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.

Faribault’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and The Catherdral of Our Merciful Saviour collaborated to bring the Sinfonia to Faribault as part of Shattuck’s Fesler-Lampert Performing Arts series.

The historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault. File photo.

The historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault. File photo.

I appreciate that this group of professional musicians took their concert outside of the Twin Cities metro area. Outstate Minnesota needs more exposure like this to the performing arts. As I listened, I thought how much my 80-year-old mom, who lives in rural southwestern Minnesota, would enjoy a concert like this. And I wondered why my community of 23,000 could not fill this sanctuary to overflowing for this spectacular free concert of classical music. Next time…

FYI: Click here to learn more about the Minnesota Sinfonia.

The Minnesota Sinfonia will present two free concerts this weekend in the Twin Cities. A performance is set for 7 p.m. Friday, February 15, in Founders Hall at Metropolitan State University, 700 East 7th Street, St. Paul.

At 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 17, Minnesota Sinfonia will perform at Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Early arrival is recommended at both venues. I’d suggest you search online for more info about these concerts if interested in attending.

(Because The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour is especially dark and because photos were not allowed during the performance, I did not take my camera to the concert.)

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling