In the past two-plus years in which I have served on the citizens' advisory board of the Brainerd Dispatch -- serving happily and cheerfully, I might add -- Roy Miller, our distinguished editor and resident wit, has suggested on numerous occasions -- suggested, not demanded or insisted upon -- a guest column from the board members. I am of the opinion that, in order to write an effective column, one must write about a topic one finds interesting or feels at least moderately passionate about.
It took me quite a while but I finally have such a topic. I love music, especially classical but I'm receptive to any venue. Saturday evening my husband and I attended the Heartland Symphony concert at Tornstrom Auditorium. We had not heard an HSO concert for at least two years because the last few we heard were somewhat disappointing. So I was just not so hot on the idea of driving 30 miles from our home on Lake Alexander to hear a mediocre concert. But now we live in Baxter -- probably five miles from Tornstrom. We had no excuse! Well, were we ever pleasantly surprised! The concert was wonderful. The orchestra played with vigor and enthusiasm -- on key and with precision. There were only five first violinists but their sound could have been produced by twice as many. All of the string sections sounded great. And, to my surprise, one of the cellists even alternated on the piccolo, two very disparate instruments. The woodwinds, brass and percussion were also "right on the money." A lovely lady sitting in front of me told me that her husband was one of the trombonists. He is not a regular member of the orchestra but got a "please help us" call two days before the concert and he consented to "sit in." He must be some musician to have stepped into a situation like that.
And then there were the soloists! I could easily rave on and on about the soloists. They were both just kids, you know. Cady Sehnert did a wonderful job on the Vivaldi concerto. It reminded me of our daughter who played the same concerto at about the same age, but not nearly so well or with such aplomb. Great job, Cady! Then Hannah Kreutzfeldt played the Mendelssohn violin concerto, first movement, and brought down the house. She got a well-deserved standing ovation. Hannah, you are my new hero. You will definitely go far with your music. Other than the solo numbers the entire concert consisted of music composed by Englishmen. The numbers ranged from Henry Purcell (a 17th century composer) to Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Beatles. There was definitely something for everyone.
So why does the orchestra sound so much better than it did a few years ago? I credit their conductor, Joseph Schlefke. He is young, dynamic, enthusiastic and very talented. He has the ability to bring out the best from a group of mainly amateur musicians. My advice to the HSO board of directors is to offer him the sun, the moon and the stars, if necessary, to keep him. I'm sure the orchestra personnel feel the same way.
In closing, I'd like to state that I have enjoyed enormously my time on the Dispatch advisory board. This is my third year of a three-year term so I'll be done soon. I have learned a lot about the publication of a newspaper. I have seen the change from an afternoon publication to a morning one. I have noted the change in the format of the paper. I look on both of these things as a change for the better. And, best of all, I have thoroughly enjoyed the board meetings which include a luncheon at the Sawmill Inn. I have loved meeting the "powers that be" at the Dispatch -- Terry McCollough, Roy Miller, Mike O'Rourke and Kathi Nagorski. And, if I were allowed to stay on the board for another three years, I'd do so in a heartbeat.
Lorraine Meixner of Baxter is a member of the Brainerd Dispatch's advisory board.
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