For 2020-21 School year, NWS will be a virtual program offering online private lessons with our quality staff and also “String Thing Hangouts” instead of ensembles. Students will also be receiving an educational and fun student newsletter once a month prepared by NWS staff members.
String Thing Hangouts
A complete schedule of this year’s online programming along with details about each one is below.
Current NWS students will be able to participate live in our interactive hangout sessions.
Auditing Hangouts: You can get in on the fun too! Although we are saving center stage for our students, you can still join in and learn from professional musicians by auditing our hangouts with guest artists. Auditors will receive a link to join the hangout live, however they will have their video off and their microphone muted. They can still have their instruments with them to practice the presenter’s techniques in real time. All ages are welcome! Cost to audit a hangout is $5 and can be paid through PayPal on our “Donate” page or by check: made payable and mailed to NorthWoods Strings PO Box 13081, Hayward, WI 54843. To register as an auditor click here. Registration for each event closes at 2:00pm on the day of the Hangout. Hangouts start at 4:00 pm.
If you have any questions about our hangouts or other programing, please contact us.
2021 Spring Semester Hangouts:
Hangout One: January 11, Student Hangout with Betty Braunstein and Becky Deters
Topics: Question of the Day ~ Piece of the Day ~ Preview of Guest Artist Lineup ~ Playing Erin’s Favorite Words ~ WWNWS? (Where in the World is NorthWoods Strings?) ~ Rhythm Workout ~ DoReMi Farewell
Hangout Two: January 25, Hangout with Erin Aldridge
“I would LOVE to see and hear all the NorthWoods Strings students again. Introducing concepts about bow/bow-hold/sound is right up my alley! I am looking forward to some fun back-and-forth playing.”
Hangout Three: February 8 Student Hangout with Betty Braunstein and Becky Deters
Hangout Four: February 22 Haitian Music with Tom Clowes from Crossing Borders and Rudy Perrault from UMD
Cellist Tom Clowes from Crossing Borders Music will join Haitian-born violinist and composer Jean (Rudy) Perrault in conversations about, and performances of, solo works by Haitian composers. We will explore the complex beauty, culture, and history of Haiti through its music and musicians. We will go beyond the headlines, hearing from Special Student Correspondents about Haiti. We will get to know each other a bit better and have a good time playing together!
Performer, conductor and composer, Jean (Rudy) Perrault is Director of Orchestras and Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). Rudy coaches chamber music, conducts both the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, teaches violin and viola, the Graduate literature classes and the Graduate Conducting classes.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Rudy earned his Master’s degree in violin performance from Temple University. Upon graduation, he moved to the New York area and has since guest conducted numerous ensembles in Russia, France, Turkey, and Italy. He has also worked in Venezuela where he worked closely with members of “El Sistema” organization (FESNOJIV). Rudy’s performances have also taken him around the globe and his compositions are equally in demand by individuals and ensembles in all four corners of the world. The past several years he has been editing and orchestrating the piano works of Haitian Classical Composers.
Rudy is a founding member of the Kako Foundation (kakofoundation.com), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing music to at-risk youth, and underserved communities in the US and Haiti. Rudy makes his home in Duluth, Minnesota.
“I am very excited to share music from my native country. It is a country with a rich heritage and untapped potential.”
“Invocation” is one of Rudy’s favorite Haitian classical pieces for violin. Written by Haitian composer Occide Jeanty (1860-1936) for two violins and piano, “Invocation” was transcribed here for one violin and piano by Rudy. Click here to watch it
Tom Clowes is a Chicago-area cellist and Founder of Crossing Borders Music. Tom was a student of internationally acclaimed cellist Wendy Warner, former Detroit Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Italo Babini, and Lawrence University Conservatory of Music Professor Janet Anthony. As a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, he played under conductors Riccardo Muti, Peter Oundjian, and Cliff Colnot. Before moving to Chicago, Tom was a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. He now teaches at the Chicago West Community Music Center of Garfield Park. In the summers, Tom teaches at the Ambassadors Music Institute in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.
Conversations Tom had with Haitians in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake helped shape the mission of Crossing Borders Music. Founded in 2011, Crossing Borders Music has become a leading interpreter of chamber music by composers from under-represented cultures including the Chickasaw Nation, Colombia, Egypt, Haiti, India, Syria, and Uganda, and a pioneering, critically acclaimed presenter of music by graduates of the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education in Iran.
“I’m really looking forward to having fun, sharing music, and sharing parts of Haiti way too few Americans get to see!”
Tom performs “Solace” by Haitian-American composer Gifrants. Grifants is part of both the Haitian diaspora and the larger African diaspora. His music is written in a style he calls “natif,” in which he champions elements of African music in general and Haitian peasants’ music in particular – including call and response, syncopations, and interlocking rhythms. Click here to listen
Hangout Five: March 8 Student Hangout with Betty Braunstein and Becky Deters
Hangout Six: March 22 with guest Gao Hong, composer and Pipa soloist
The “pipa” is a fascinating traditional Chinese string instrument. Internationally recognized and award winning pipa soloist/composer Gao Hong joins us for charming stories and stunning performances of colorful works for pipa. http://www.chinesepipa.com
When she was small, Gao Hong’s fellow musicians nicknamed her the “little black kitten.” That was in honor of her face, which was often speckled with soot when her friends woke up in the morning. By then, Gao had usually put in two hours practicing the pipa in the furnace room, the only place she could use without waking her colleagues in a provincial song and dance troupe in north central China. When she smiled, the flecks of coal soot would form tiny wrinkles around her eyes, giving her a cat-like appearance. Although only 12, Gao was an intense performer.
In 1994 Gao made her first tour of the United States. She made appearances in ten cities throughout the country, including New York City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Denver, and Minneapolis. There have been other tours since including one with her mentor, Lin Shicheng, China’s master of the traditional Pudong style of playing the pipa. Lin, who was 74, had never performed with a student except his son, but Gao was always a special student to him. Lin visited his star pupil in 1996 and they performed together in Beijing, Honolulu, Seattle and several places in Minnesota.
Since moving to the United States in the mid-1990s, Gao has earned a reputation as a tireless and enthusiastic educator. She founded the Hua Yin Children’s Chinese Music Ensemble in the basement of her home. Soon the Ensemble found a new home at the MacPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis. She has taught at MacPhail Center for the Arts and Metropolitan State University in Minnesota and has appeared as a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities throughout the country.
In January 1997, Gao became the first Chinese musician to be awarded an Artist Assistance Fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The same year she was also awarded a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians, a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, and an Asian-Pacific Award. In 2019 she was awarded a fifth McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians, becoming the first musician in any genre to win the award five times. In 2005, she was the first traditional musician awarded the distinguished Bush Artist Fellowship for Traditional and Folk Arts. In 2018 she became the first Chinese musician to win a Sally Award from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. While in China, Gao was awarded First Prize in the 1984 Heibei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and a 1989 International Art Cup in Beijing.
Recorded on November 25, 2020 in honor of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, this is a Beethoven-themed original work by Gao Hong entitled, “Improvisation of Pastoral Symphony.” The work is introduced by the famous “four-note motif” of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5, followed by an improvised variation and development on the theme of the first movement of the “Pastoral Symphony.” Click here to watch the performance
Hangout Seven: April 12 Student Hangout with Erin Aldridge
Topics: Your Bow is Your Friend, Really! Part 2
Hangout Eight: April 26 with Guest Band Eira, (Featuring Liesel Wilson, Ehru soloist and fiddler)
Topics: Erhu Ready?
“We are excited to share traditional music from various cultures with new generations!”
Liesel Wilson has been playing fiddle/violin for most of her life, and began playing Chinese erhu during her Chinese language studies in high school and college. She specializes in singing in languages besides English, including Mandarin Chinese, Gàidhlig, Irish, Early Scots, Russian, Spanish, and Welsh. She has performed throughout the U.S. and Scotland as a member of Willowgreen, and a former member of Blue Canvas Orchestra and Chance Ensemble.
Sue Spencer grew up singing Newfoundland and Irish folk songs with her family, and comes by her Irish roots through Newfoundland. Her driving guitar style and signature smile will lift your spirits. Sue has been nominated multiple times for the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Hall of Honour Award. She also performs internationally as part of Willowgreen and McInnis’ Kitchen
Jim Ofsthun is a talented vocalist and instrumentalist with international performances on Irish bodhrán, guitar, button accordion, and whistles. He is also a member of Willowgreen and McInnis’ Kitchen. He has family connections to the music through Ireland and Newfoundland, and is considered one of the top producers in Irish music in the Midwest.
Eira was formed as a Celtic holiday/Christmas band in 2015 by original members Liesel Wilson, Sue Spencer, Jim Ofsthun, Ed Willett, and Cheryl Leah. Its name harkens back to its wintry origins, as “eira” means “snow” in Welsh. All five original members performed in December 2015 and 2016, and Eira’s first album was released in 2016 with all five original members. The band does not feature a lead singer, and instead, has all members sing or play lead throughout the album and performances. In 2017, Ed and Cheryl left the band to focus on their own musical projects, and Liesel, Sue, and Jim played the holiday shows that year. They expanded the band’s repertoire to include year round songs and tunes, and Eira began playing at Scottish and Irish events in 2017, also welcoming Mary MacGillivray as a new member that year. Mary often lives across the pond these days, so she joins the band when she can, but the band often consists of the original three. Then, in 2018, Bridget Spencer joined the band as its newest member, and performs as part of Eira when she is available. In 2020, like most bands around the world, Eira had to cancel their tour schedule due to the pandemic. Eira’s newest album is set to be released March 2021, and tour dates will be cautiously scheduled in late 2021 and 2022.
Hangout Nine: May 10 Student Hangout with Betty Braunstein and Betty Deters
Topics: Question of the Day ~ WWNWS? (Where in the World is NorthWoods Strings?) Project Presentation ~ End of Semester Party ~ DoReMi Farewell
2020 Fall Semester Hangouts:
Hangout One: Sept 14th with Becky Deters
Topics: Warm Up Welcome – Question of the Day – Bow Hold Soup – Set, Torque, Pull! – Color Your Piece – What’s My Line – DoReMi Farewell
Hangout Two: Sept 28th with guest Ivar Lunde, Jr.
Upon his retirement as Music Director of ECCO Lunde was named Music Director Emeritus. He is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Red Cedar Symphony.
“My passion is composing music for the film industry. My main instrument is oboe but I have played most instruments, including the saxophone. I would boast about my violin skills if it were not for the challenges posed by the 4th finger on my left hand! Sharing my approach to film scoring with all the string students at NorthWoods Strings will be a delight.”
Written specifically for flutist Peter Phippen, this work allows him to fully explore his improvisational skills. The work is composed by Ivar Lunde, Jr., who also conducts the performance by the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra. All nature video was shot by Ivar Lunde, Jr., in northern Wisconsin. The production is a collaboration between the local Community Television and Skyline Studios.
Hangout Three: October 12th with Becky Deters and Betty Braunstein
Topics: Question of the day- Arachno-batics -1-2-3 Tone- Music and Culture – What’s my line?
Hangout Four: October 26th with guest Josh Aerie 4-5pm
“I’m excited and honored to join my fellow string-player friends in the Northwoods Strings String Thing Hangout! Even though we can’t play together in person these days, I’m looking forward to virtually sharing music, insight, and fun with NorthWoods students. See you in October!”
Hangout Five: November 9th with Becky Deters and Betty Braunstein 4-5pm
Topics: Question of the day- Best Bowing Practices – Canoeing – Composing Cookoff – What’s my Line? – Do Re Mi Farewell
Hangout Six: November 30th with guest Dr. Erin Aldridge 4-5pm
These activities are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.