Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Embracing Shattuck-St. Mary’s outreach into the Faribault community May 4, 2018

An arch frames Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


THURSDAY EVENING I ATTENDED a free concert by the Minnesota Sinfonia. At Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault.

This evening, if I choose, I can attend “The Wizard of Oz on Ice.” Again, at no charge and on the campus of Shattuck, a prestigious private prep school in Faribault. The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Figure Skating Club show begins at 7 p.m. in the SSM Sports Complex.


The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Crack Squad performs in the 2015 Faribault Memorial Day parade. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Then, at 1 p.m. Sunday, I can attend a Town Drill. Again, at no charge, at Shattuck and at 1 p.m. in Johnson Gym. The Wooden Soldiers Drill Team, celebrating its 100th anniversary, performs along with The Crack Squad. That precision drill squad first performed in 1882.


In the Shumway Hall entry hall, carolers sing for Christmas Walk guests. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I appreciate how Shattuck continues to open its doors to the community through free events like these and the annual Campus Christmas Walk and community Easter Egg Hunt. And I appreciate, too, the Fesler-Lampert and Acoustic Roots Performing Arts Series which brings musicians, theatre and more to this historic campus. I attended the St. Paul-based History Theatre’s “Sweet Land the musical” here in October. Had Shattuck not brought the production to Faribault, I never would have seen this show based on one of my favorite movies.


The Shattuck-St. Mary’s campus features beautiful stone buildings constructed in the 1800s, including Shumway Hall with its landmark bell tower. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


While the arts series events are typically pay-for shows, the Sinfonia concert on Thursday was free, as are all concerts by this Twin Cities-based orchestra. For someone like me who has only been to an orchestra concert several times in her life, this is an absolute gift. To listen to music ranging from soothing to barn dance raucous by professional musicians in such an historic theatre simply made me happy. Several times I tipped my head back to take in the wood-wrapped walls and ceiling, then turned to view sunlight streaming colors through clustered narrow stained glass windows. The cool of the evening wafted through open windows as did the chimes of the Shumway Hall clock tower bell. Musicians, in a quirky interruption, paused to let the chimes ring before continuing their concert.


The Chapel of the Good Shepherd on the Shattuck campus. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


As the Sinfonia director noted, Shattuck could be a setting for a Harry Potter movie. I agree. This place of massive, aged stone buildings has that look. It feels more like a college campus than a prep school excelling in academics, the arts and sports. I am grateful for its presence in Faribault. And I am grateful for a school that welcomes the community onto its campus.

If you’ve never been to Shattuck, I’d encourage you to attend an event there, to take in the historic beauty of this place on Faribault’s east side.

© Copyright 2018 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