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Gunflint Musicians Play Chamber Music Concert

When you think of sounds of the Gunflint Trail you might think of a distant loon trill, the rustle of aspen leaves in the wind or the grunt of a bull moose. Now you can add a new sound to the list: the sound of chamber music drifting up through the tree tops.

The Gunflint Trail Historical Society (GTHS) will host its first ever chamber music concert – the Gunflint Woods, Winds, and Strings Benefit Concert – on Aug. 17 to help support ongoing operations of the society. The GTHS works to preserve the history of the Gunflint Trail and the society’s chief undertaking, the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. The museum is located in the renovated Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake. The museum, now in its fourth season, presents the cultural and natural history of the Gunflint Trail.

The concert will showcase the talents of many familiar Gunflint Trail faces. Among the scheduled performers are Bill Beckstrand (piano), Philis Anderson (oboe), Paul Dykstra (piano), Paul Jacobson (baroque flute), Judy Ranheim (flute), Barb LaVigne (flute), Erika Ternes (soprano), and Laura Popkes, (soprano). The concert will feature compositions from Grieg, Bach, Chopin, Britten, Hoover, Rossini, and Beckstrand.

Paul Dykstra
Paul Dykstra will perform at the chamber music concert on the Gunflint Trail.

“Classical chamber music in a North Woods setting is an exciting combination,” said GTHS events chairperson, Sally Valentini. “Several of our members have recruited some very talented Trail residents and guests to entertain us on a summer Saturday afternoon.”

Chamber music may seem a bit incongruous with a Minnesota vacation destination frequently associated with fishing, camping and wildlife watching, but concert committee member and Gunflint Trail cabin owner Vi Nelson discovered that the Gunflint Trail is rich in classical music enthusiasts. In fact, the inspiration for the concert came about from a search for a grand piano in the area.

“My friend Paul Dykstra is a concert pianist who needed a piano to practice on when he was visiting a couple years ago,” said Nelson. “That led me to Jan and Ed Wright.”

The Wrights own a baby grand piano in their Gunflint Trail home and allowed Dykstra to practice on it during his visit. Through these practice sessions at Wrights’ home, Nelson connected with classical music enthusiast Susan Scherer, another Gunflint Trail resident.

Together, Scherer and Nelson thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to get all the musicians on the Trail together for a concert?” said Nelson. After proposing a chamber music concert to the GTHS board of trustees, Nelson and Scherer suddenly found themselves throwing a benefit.

Concert planning coincided with the expansion of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department fire halls, which provided the concert committee with an obvious Gunflint Trail venue to host their concert. The Gunflint Woods, Winds, and String Benefit Concert will be held at GTVFD Fire Hall No. 1 near Poplar Lake, located on the southern side of the Gunflint Trail between Clearwater Lake Road and Hungry Jack Lake Road, about halfway up the Gunflint Trail. A “Meet the Artists” social hour will follow the concert in the new A. Paul and Carol Schaap Mid-Trail Community Center, adjacent to the fire hall.

The Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Benefit Concert will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 17. Tickets are limited and sell for $20 each. Ticket price includes the “Meet the Artists” social hour. Tickets are available at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center (28 Moose Pond Drive, Grand Marais, MN 55604), by phone (218-388-9915) and online at www.GunflintTrailHistoricalSociety.org

“It’s going to be a marvelous experience for everyone up and down the Trail, and I’m sure The Gunflint Trail Woods, Winds & Strings Benefit Concert will continue to grow organically in the years to come,” said Nelson.

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