Special Guests
Saturday, August 4, 2007

Stephanie Davis

Stephanie Davis is a fourth-generation Montanan who spent several years fine-tuning her singing and songwriting skills in Nashville, and having her songs recorded by artists like Garth Brooks, Roger Whittaker, Martina McBride and Shelby Lynn. Davis not only sings and writes music, she also plays multiple instruments and has released two self-produced albums, River of No Return and I'm Pullin' Through, on her own label, Recluse Records. Davis has worked with her friend Garth Brooks and his touring band on several occasions and in 1994 she opened all of his shows for the year. Davis often appears at festivals, cowboy poetry gatherings and concerts throughout the west and later this year she will be touring in Chile and Ireland. Davis has plans to release another album later this year and is currently working on an illustrated story-poem book called The Icy Blue Norther.

Jorja Fleezanis

Jorja Fleezanis began studying violin with Ara Zerounian while she was attending public school in Detroit, her hometown. She went on to study at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music before she joined the Chicago Symphony at age 23. Since then, Fleezanis has been a member of several chamber music groups, including the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra where she was concertmaster, and the San Francisco Symphony where she was associate concertmaster. Fleezanis has performed at such prestigious events as the Cabrillo Festival, the Chester Summer Festival, the Minnesota Orchestra's Viennese Sommerfest and she has been featured on MPR's popular chamber music program Saint Paul Sunday. Fleezanis has been the concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra since September 1989 and is also a member of the University of Minnesota faculty, where she teaches violin, conducts courses in orchestral and concertmaster training and leads sectional rehearsals.


Frigg, a fiddle-based group with Finnish and Norwegian heritage, combines elements of their respective folk traditions with touches of Appalachian and country & western. Some credit the gene pool for the band's impressive abilities: A number of Frigg's musicians represent one of Finland's best-known fiddle families — founders of the celebrated group JPP; others are members of a comparable Norwegian Hardanger fiddle clan. In any case, after dazzling Scandinavian audiences with their innovative arrangements, this exciting young ensemble is now winning followers across North America. Their latest recording is Oasis (NorthSide Records). The band is: Esko Järvelä (fiddle), Antti Järvelä (double bass, fiddle), Einar Olav Larsen (fiddle, Hardanger fiddle), Tero Hyväluoma (fiddle), Tuomas Logrén (guitar, dobro), and — representing the British Isles — Laura-Beth Salter (mandolin).

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

He was born in East Tennessee, in 1944; he grew up looking forward to Saturday night and the Grand Ole Opry, and especially to Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. He taught himself to play the mandolin on a borrowed instrument at age eleven, listening to the radio and singing with his family. He went to Nashville in 1963 to play banjo with Jimmy Martin. In 1966 he joined J.D. Crowe and in 1971 went to work with The Country Gentlemen in Lexington, Kentucky. He started his own band in 1979, using for a framework the four-part harmonies of the gospel quartets. They have released 32 albums in the last 25 years, the most recent titled A School of Bluegrass.


She is a 1999 recipient of the National Medal of the Arts & Humanities from President & Mrs. Clinton, the National Visionary Award from the Kennedy Center, the first Duke Ellington Fellowship Award from Yale University, the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Library of Congress, the International Folk Alliance, the World Folk Music Association, and Presidente d'Honeurs from the Cognac (France) Blues Festival as well as Grammy and W.C. Handy Award nominations in addition to numerous Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities. Odetta was born in Birmingham in 1930. From there, her family moved to Los Angeles, where she began studying classical voice. In 1944 she began a four year association performing at the famed Turnabout Theater in Hollywood, and in 1949 she joined the road touring company of Finians' Rainbow. While the show performed in San Francisco she became exposed to folk music. In 1950, she made her first professional appearance as a folk singer at San Francisco's "Tin Angel." Those present said she seemed destined to become a cultural force. She has since released dozens of recordings in the decades since. As a leading voice of social activism around the world, she participated in the Civil Rights marches in Selma, at the 1963 and 1983 Marches on Washington, and on President Kennedy's Civil Rights TV Special "Dinner With The President." In 1995, she was invited to Beijing, China as an Elder to the International Women's Conference. To this day, she remains a revered voice of social activism around the world.

St. Olaf Choir

The St. Olaf Choir was organized in 1911 by F. Melius Christiansen, born in to a musical family in Berger, Norway and later trained in Leipzig, Germany; a young man whose first interest was instrumental music, particularly concert violin, and who came to St Olaf in 1903 to build a music department. By the time he retired in 1941 he had managed to change the voice of American collegiate choral music, setting a style and standard that have given St Olaf an international reputation.

They began touring in their first year, to Wisconsin, Illinois and North Dakota, and in the next season, 1913, shipped out to Scandinavia. Since then they've seen just about every place from Tijuana, Mexico, to the Great Wall of China; from Des Moines to Dusseldorf, including Australia, New Zealand and Korea.

The current conductor is Anton Armstrong, selected by a search committee from a national field on January 2, 1990. He grew up on Long Island, New York, toured Italy with the American Boychoir in 1971, and graduated from St Olaf in 1978. He earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois and a Doctor of Musical Arts at Michigan State. He is a frequent guest conductor and lecturer throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Prudence Johnson

Prudence Johnson's 25-year career in music has taken her from honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall, from the theater stage to the Silver Screen (Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It), from the Midwest to the Middle East. Her ten album releases include Little Dreamer, a collection of international lullabies, Moon Country, which features the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and S'Gershwin, a collaboration with pianist Dan Chouinard. She recently collaborated with four Minnesota composers to create A Girl Named Vincent, a presentation of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music to be released on CD this year, and is currently writing a play about Elisabeth Hauptmann, an uncredited collaborator of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Prudence is a 2001 recipient of the McKnight Artists Fellowship for Performing Musicians and enjoys a steady schedule of concert appearances across the country.

Mari & Håkon Samuelsen

The 19-year-old violinist Mari and her 23-year-old, cello-playing brother, Håkon, have let music play center stage in their lives since they both were toddlers. They have performed as soloists with an impressive and ever-increasing group of acclaimed musicians and orchestras in countries like England, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania , Monaco, Spain, India, France, Sweden and of course The United States. One of the highlights of their career came in November 2003, when they were invited by Sotheby's in London to promote two instruments by Antonio Stradivari. Another highlight came in 1998, when the siblings performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo 's City Hall. Mari plays a Lorenzo Storioni violin from 1790, on loan from the Norwegian institution Snefonn. Håkon plays a Francesco Ruggieri cello from 1688, on loan from the Sveaas Foundation in Oslo.

Todd Schwartzberg

When Todd Schwartzberg was growing up in Dallas, Texas, he thought he might become a pediatrician. His plans changed when he was a teenager. He saw a TV report about music therapy and knew that was the job for him. Todd went on to study at the University of Kansas - which was the first school in the country to offer a graduate degree in music therapy - and continued his education at the University of Minnesota. Since 2003, he has been on the faculty of Minneapolis' McPhail Center for Music, where he provides individual and group music therapy. He also teaches several early childhood arts classes. He serves as Government Relations Director for the Minnesota Music Therapy Association and sits on the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of Minnesota.

VocalEssence with Philip Brunelle

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers are a group of 26-voice singers who are chosen for their musicianship, vocal qualities and flexibility in singing many styles of music. Since the group was formed in 1991, the Ensemble Singers have toured Europe three times. In 1994, they were the first professional American chorus to perform at the Internationale Orgelwoche Nürnberg. In 1997, they were the first professional U.S. chorus chosen to sing at the prestigious Prague Spring Festival. The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers have made many recordings, including three volumes of music by African American composers and Dominick Argento: An American Romantic. They are directed by conductor and founder Philip Brunelle. The members of VocalEssence are: Sopranos: Kathleen Hanson, Lori Lewis, Margaret Lanning Sabin, Dara Kirchofner Scholz, Andrea Schussler, Ruth Speigel, and Linda Zelig. Altos: Katie Crawford, Nina Heebink ,Barbara Kastens, Karen Lovgren Kennedy, Marita Link, and Jaime Nelson. Tenors: Kevin Bailey, Robert Griffin, Curt Hopmann, Mark Larsen, Thomas Larson, and Kurtis Parlin. Basses: Christopher Brunelle, Steve Burger, Ryan French, James Ramlet, and Robert C. Smith. Tonight, VocalEssence is joined by the Singers from the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, who will be performing selections from the opera Olav Tryggvason, begun by Edvard Grieg and Bjornstjerne Bjornson in 1873 and completed, 130 years later, by Ragnar Soderling and Knut Jorgen Moe. Several selections from this opera will be performed by the singers, who will be joined by 16 members of VocalEssence. Philip Brunelle will conduct this group, and they will be performing at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The singers are: Knut Moe, Trond Moe, Nini Ritzau, and Ingebjorg Kosmo. They’ll be accompanied by pianist Tore Dingstad.

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).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy