Two weeks ago I spent a few days in Bemidji doing harp stuff.
My schedule included playing 2nd harp on Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, giving a performance at Bemidji Brewing, and teaching a couple harp lessons.
Two different harp gigs necessitated two different harps, which necessitated careful packing. But it all fit in the car… eventually. I drove up on Friday afternoon, feeling thankful for the lovely blue skies and dry roads.
(The first time I made the trip to Bemidji for a harp gig it rained the entire 4 hour drive and snowed the entire journey home.)
Upon arrival I explored my lodge accommodations, consumed a cheese sandwich and an apple that I had packed ahead of time, and headed off to the rehearsal. I have a special place in my heart for what I think of as “repeat” gigs, because I start to recognize people and sometimes even remember their names! In a profession where every week looks different, familiar faces are a blessing for us introverts.
One new acquaintance that I was happy to make was Janell Lemire, harpist for the Duluth Symphony Orchestra, and the Bemidji Symphony’s 1st harpist for the weekend. We had been introduced at a previous harp conference, but it was lovely to actually perform together.
After the Saturday morning rehearsal I relaxed by Lake Bemidji.
I was longing for a cup of tea, but my room didn’t have any ceramic mugs. Luckily enough I had packed some salted almonds in a glass jar for the road (trying to reduce the number of plastic sandwich bags and to improve ease of access while driving.)
As it turns out, canning jars make great tea mugs, once emptied of almonds.
I taught a lesson on Saturday afternoon and then drove over to Bemidji Brewing to play a few hours of Celtic and French music. Bemidji Brewing is a popular place! Even the audience members who hadn’t known I would be there asked interested questions and applauded appreciatively. I ended up staying until 10pm talking with new friends and consuming some excellent flatbread pizza.
On Sunday morning I skipped church (I haven’t quite nerved myself up for attending new churches by myself on these weekend harp trips) and enjoyed some time alone with God while looking out at the lake. I saw a few more loons, or perhaps the same one multiple times.
Over lunch I drove a mile north to the Bemidji State Park and renewed my State Park permit. Two years ago I visited the park and discovered the Bog Walk with its menacing red pitcher plants. This time I was on a mission: find the pitcher plants and take pictures!
They were just as incredible and menacing the second time around, despite being slightly frozen.
That afternoon it was another enjoyable harp lesson and then the orchestra concert. I only played on the first half, so when I spotted some of my new acquaintances at the intermission, I joined them in the audience to enjoy the second half of the concert. The BSO gave a very moving performance of a new work called Symphony: This Will Be Our Reply, by Lucas Richman.
I drove home under clear skies: a good weekend.
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Stephanie Claussen is a professional harpist from Minneapolis. She performs harp throughout Minnesota in various concerts, recitals, and collaborations with other musicians. Sign up for her e-mail newsletter to receive important announcements and notifications of upcoming performances.