Song about mail carrier John Beargrease to debut at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Dec. 6-7 in Grand Marais


Song about mail carrier John Beargrease to debut at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Dec. 6-7 in Grand Marais

COOK COUNTY, Minn., (Nov. 30) – “Snowfall,” a selection from the song cycle “CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL” about the history and culture of sled dog mushing along the north shore of Minnesota as influenced by 19th-century Anishinaabe mail carrier John Beargrease, will be performed for the first time by The Borealis Chorale at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1st Ave. West, in Grand Marais Sunday and Monday, Dec. 6-7. The concert begins at 7 p.m. The concert also will include music from Handel’s Messiah (Christmas portion) and will feature visiting soloists, a 90-piece choir, and a 20-piece orchestra. Accomplished composer, director and musician William Beckstrand directs.

As a 2014 McKnight Visiting Composer with the American Composer Forum, Robin Escher received a grant for writing the song cycle CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL during the past year.  “Many resources in Grand Marais and nearby communities have informed this work,” says Eschner, including her meetings with mushers and sled-builders, librarians, writers, historians, musicians, and people from families who have lived along the North Shore area for generations, as well as letters and journal writings that were written between 1880-1900 and shared by the local historical society.

“My grant project proposal was to compose a song cycle about the history and culture of sled dog mushing in northern Minnesota as connected to the contributions of 19th century Anishinaabe mail carrier – John Beargrease – who worked with his sled dogs to deliver the mail during the winter months from 1880 to 1900 between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.  I hope the composition also reflects the spirit of The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, which takes place annually in January. (The next one is slated for Jan. 31, 2016.) I followed the route traveled by John Beargrease, learning as much as I could and gathering materials for the song cycle.”

For premiere performances of the song cycle in 2016, The Borealis Chorale and Orchestra will be joined by Take Jack, a nine-person Sonoma County ensemble, and Grand Portage drummers on Friday, Feb. 5 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais, and Saturday, Feb. 6 at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth.

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About Visit Cook County

Cook County, Minn. includes the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage. This spring, Grand Marais was named the 2015 “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel, thanks to a social media voting contest. Visit Cook County inspires guests to rekindle their sense of adventure by boldly escaping the ordinary, from Minnesota’s tallest mountains to its greatest lakeshore. Stay in touch via, Twitter @CookCoVisitors or Facebook.





LYNN NELSON | LIN PR 612.990.0126