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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Rachel Pott
Rachel Pott
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I am a marketing major about to start my second year at Northern Michigan University, however, this will be my third year in college. I previously attended a small community college...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

‘Beethoven and Banjos’: Classical meets folk in performance inspired by nature

Photo+by+Kat+Torreano%3A+Classical+and+folk+musicians+Evan+Premo+and+his+sister+Laurel+Premo+jam+at+Reynold%E2%80%99s+Recital+Hall+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+29+as+audience+members+have+fortunate+seats+near+the+performers+on+stage.
Photo by Kat Torreano: Classical and folk musicians Evan Premo and his sister Laurel Premo jam at Reynold’s Recital Hall on Friday, Sept. 29 as audience members have fortunate seats near the performers on stage.

The sting of a cold fall night lingered in the air as students and community members, young and old, gathered in the hall to hear the performance of “Beethoven and Banjos,” a seven-piece group that had composed a series of performances strung together with music, skits and poetry. The members have traveled across the Upper Peninsula to share their craft.

“Beethoven and Banjos,” a cross-genre traveling show combining classical music and folk styles, performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at NMU’s Reynolds Recital Hall.

The group is a third-annual collaboration between members of Carnegie Hall’s affiliate ensemble Decoda and folk artists. This year featured Michigan artist May Erlewine and celebrated the U.P.’s culture, heritage and landscape. The performance on NMU’s campus was the first stop on the group’s week-long 2017 Upper Peninsula tour. Other stops would include the Ontonagon and Crystal Falls theaters on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Bette Premo is executive director of the tour, meanwhile, two of the group’s members are her son Evan Premo, who plays double bass and her daughter Laurel Premo, on banjo and fiddle. For them, this show is a bit of a family reunion.

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“Evan is a classical musician and his sister Laurel is a folk musician,” Bette Premo said. “They both are professional musicians, and they live elsewhere in the country, and so they love to come back and share their music with their home people. It’s all just such beautiful music, and this particular program they’re sharing has the theme [of] sacred places, so it’s really fun.”

The hall was packed with attendees, as an eager community filled every seat, and extra seating was even arranged along the sides of the venue and also on stage by the performers.

Mike Ryan of Marquette, an alumnus of the NMU education program, awaited the performance with excitement.

“I’ve been to this event two years in a row, and it has been the highlight of my fall musical experience,” Ryan said. “The quality of the performers is just amazing and we are really lucky to have this in our community.”

Marquette community member Sue Vanderveen also had high hopes for the show.

“Well, I loved the poster, and I like Beethoven and I like banjos, so why not?” Vanderveen explained. “I like folk music primarily. I like all kinds of good stuff, but folk music is probably my mainstay.”

For Evan Premo, a native of Crystal Falls and also the artistic director of “Beethoven and Banjos,” connecting with audience members is something he truly enjoys.

“I connect through music because music is something beautiful, language to connect through,” he said.

The tones and theme of Earth conservation shined through much of the music that was performed throughout the night.

“Tonight I was struck by the message that came with our concert, which is something that I don’t often get to participate in. I feel like it was such a strong message of conservation and taking care of our Earth and sacred places, so I feel like that was something that struck me tonight as we were doing the concert, that I was really proud to be a part of,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to doing more of this, and I’m also a composer and I love to create big works of art that send powerful messages, more of this and that,” he added.

“The woods and the Earth are very important to me and always have been, and usually concerts that I do aren’t this explicitly overt about that subject but a lot of the music that I write is certainly influenced by the Earth; and though I didn’t have much of my own music on this program, except for the ‘White Pine Waltz’ at the very end, it certainly influences me as an artist and as a person who presents concerts as a performer as well as a composer.”

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