Violin Maker

Dahl Violin Shop

It was like spring today, with birds singing and a sky that was actually this blue. Sometimes taking new routes has its rewards. Like walking down an alley in Minneapolis and finding this gem. Flanked by WCCO-TV on one side and surrounded by modern skyscrapers, finding a shop here that makes old world instruments was unexpected. Considering my modern instruments are manufactured in Japan (Yamaha alto and soprano saxophones), I’m fascinated by instruments that are not only pleasing to the ear, but an example of fine craftsmanship and art in itself.

Hidden Dragon

Ice dragon

The St. Paul Winter Carnival kicked off this past weekend, and although the snow sculptures were canceled for obvious reasons, the show went on for icy art. While temperatures last!

In February 1886, the inaugural carnival was held to showcase St. Paul as well as disprove a New York newspaper reporter who had described the city as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” But in 2004, the last year St. Paul featured an ice palace, it might as well have been Siberia. You know it’s cold when the 2004 Ice Palace closed for several hours due to cold weather. It was a palatial, 27,000 blocks of ice (each weighing 400 lbs.) covering a steel frame and wired for a sound and light show.

This year’s carnival was much simpler. As I surveyed the sculptures, I heeded some recent photography advice to not just take the picture, but make the picture. After all, nearly everyone takes the same photo on the first approach. But if you study the scene, you can find more. And that’s when, while crouching like a tiger, I found my “hidden dragon.”

Classical Mural

Musical mural

Footsteps from my front door are music venues galore. This afternoon, I traveled ’round the globe during a free one-hour concert at Orchestra Hall. I heard Gershwin’s Caribbean rhythms in Cuban Overture, the festive music of An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise (including a finale with bagpipes!), the Spanish-infused Boléro, and a new concerto from India for violin and tabla drum. The tabla player was amazing. I’ve never seen such fast working phalanges. (See an example below the jump.)
. Musical mural 2

Listen to the tabla: