The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble’s last day of Minnesota workshops began at 8:45 a.m. Thursday with a trip to Miltona Elementary School and ended 12 hours later when the group finished loading out instruments and equipment at Alexandria Technical College, site of afternoon and evening workshops for seniors and families. In between, they found time for a quick visit to the Wimmer’s lake cabin, a meal at an Alexandria restaurant, and a photo opportunity in front of the 3M factory.
Students ask how members of the ensemble met, how they formed their group, what’s life like in Israel and whether it’s hard to learn to play an instrument. In Alexandria, one of the youngest asked why they had so many instruments.
Alexandria welcomed the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble this week with soft rain and a promise of snowfall by Wednesday. The ensemble responded with music, stories about Israel, plus rhythm, dance and language lessons at three school workshops. Throughout the week, the ensemble will offer seven more school workshops as well as additional presentations for seniors and families.
One of the most unusual instruments out of the array of more than 20 that the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble presents to school children is the shofar, a ram’s horn. Yet Yonnie Dror’s shofar stories have a way of connecting Midwesterners to the far-away culture of Israel.
The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble received the key to the City of Hanford, the State of Wisconsin Bluebook, a mini-flashlight and an engraved shot glass at the Schauer Arts and Activities Center. The shower of gifts at the Schauer also included a chocolate marble cake decorated with the ensemble’s photograph.
We left Marquette, MI, this weekend with many memories—big and small. They were born at small schools like Republic (total school population 144) to discussions of major issues at Northern Michigan University, where professors are planning a new curriculum focusing on the Middle East.
Parents, teachers and students at Republic wanted to know how their little school located in rural Upper Peninsula was selected for one of the Israeli Ethnic Ensembles workshops.
Eric Zeal and Brandy Maloney, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) staff, escorted us to every school we visited with hot water and green teas. The week went by fast. We went to see a B-52’s concert which was a blast, and Saturday some of us went to the magic show at BCPA, as well. All were generous invitations of BCPA.
Gorgeous autumn leaves, wonderful weather and friendly UP folks have made the beginning of the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble's tour spectacular. The weather is so unseasonably wonderful that we were able to hold our pre-tour meeting with program director Ken Carlson sitting around a picnic table in Presque Isle, a beautiful city-maintained park.
The week in Terre Haute, Indiana started with such a nice reception at the home some Arts Illiana board members, a performance at the library, workshops at the elementary schools—our schedules were filled. We often feel a bit of tired, but no one ever complains. Beauty & Melody members are always willing and proud to show their music and culture. Community people, young or old, are also eager to lean Chinese culture and their music!
Every new community we visit something happens unexpectedly.
We spent the week of September 20th in Sandusky, Ohio. It was sunny and warm; we were lucky to have such nice weather in the middle of September.
I visited the same schools and communities 6 months before with Agatsuma. I am back and glad to see the familiar faces again. The students, teachers and community people are just as I remembered—hospitable, thoughtful and appreciative.