Special Guests
Saturday, May 16, 1998

The Ensemble Singers of the Plymouth Music Series first sang together in 1991. The 24-member chorus is part of the Plymouth Music Series, which-under the direction of world-renowned conductor, choral scholar, and performer Philip Brunelle-has grown over nearly three decades into one of the premier music organizations in Minnesota. Commissions and world premiere performances have included works of Dominick Argento, Conrad Susa, Eskil Hemberg, Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen, and David Baker. The Ensemble Singers are heard on the Angel, Collins Classics, and RCA labels. Their third Witness recording, Toward the Future (Collins Classics), was released in March of 1997. An American Romantic (Collins Classics), a recording of Dominick Argento's music, was released this year. Performing with the Ensemble Singers tonight: soprano: Kathleen Hanson, Barbara Nelson, Andrea Schussler, Ruth Spiegel, Amy Walter-Peterson, Linda Zelig; alto: Suzanne Buenning, Anna Dick, Rosita Elhardt, Barbara Kastens, Karen Lovgren Kennedy, Christy Thompson; tenor: Claude Cassagne, Robert Griffin, David O. Henderson, Thomas Larson, Glen Todd; bass: Steve Burger, Jerry Johnson, Arthur LaRue, Michael P. Schmidt, Robert C. Smith.

Peter Ostroushko is regarded as one of the finest mandolin and fiddle players in acoustic music, and he's well-known to A Prairie Home Companion listeners as a frequent guest performer and as the former musical director for the program. Raised amidst Northeast Minneapolis' Ukrainian community, young Ostroushko taught himself to play the piano, mandolin, guitar, and eventually fiddle, banjo, bass, and other string instruments. In the '70s, Ostroushko's first recording session was an uncredited mandolin set on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Ostroushko has since played on more than 100 other albums, and has an eclectic list of accomplishments: he's collaborated with numerous local musicians and with national greats such as Emmylou Harris and Chet Atkins; he's played ukelele with the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Sir Neville Mariner, barked like a dog on The David Letterman Show, and appeared on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. The title track for his CD, Heart of the Heartland (Red House), was featured as the theme for Meriwether Lewis in Ken Burns' film, Lewis and Clark. The Heart of the Heartland CD as a whole received wide acclaim, including a review in Billboard that compared Ostroushko to Aaron Copland and a N.A.I.R.D. Indie Award, the independent music industry's highest honor. Ostroushko's latest recording is Pilgrims on the Heart Road (Red House). Appearing with him tonight are: Dean Magraw (guitar) and Pat Frederick, Prudence Johnson, and Karen Paurus (vocals).

Studs Terkel calls himself a "disc jockey," a reference to his role as host of the Peabody Award-winning talk show, The Studs Terkel Program, heard for 45 years in Chicago on WFMT. On New Year's Day, Terkel aired his last regularly scheduled radio show. He'll spend the next two years working on the Studs Terkel-WFMT Archive, which will become a Chicago Historical Society collection of 7,000 hours of interviews. Before starting with WFMT in 1953, Terkel had starred in Studs' Place, one of the programs that created the Chicago school of television. The show began airing in 1950, the year that Joseph McCarthy began claiming that he had a list of Communist Party members in the U.S. State Department. The popularity of Studs' Place couldn't keep it on the air: the program was dropped by NBC when Terkel wouldn't reverse his "pro-Communist" positions in favor of price and rent controls and against the poll tax and Jim Crow laws. By the mid-'60s, Terkel's interviews on WFMT began to be noticed outside of Chicago. In 1965, his first oral history was published, Division Street: America, about class differences in Chicago. Terkel calls his writing "bottom-up history ... [interviews with] ordinary people who have something real to say about themselves." To compile each of his books, Terkel meets with hundreds of these "ordinary people" and then sifts through the hours upon hours of resulting tape until the interviews are distilled down to bare truth. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1985 book The Good War, the story of World War II told through soldiers and civilians on both sides. A year ago this month, Terkel was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Terkel's latest book is My American Century (New Press), the best of his tapes/social chronicles. In November 1997, the National Book Foundation gave Terkel a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The award is given to an individual who has enriched the nation's literary heritage through a lifetime of work.


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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