The late great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould once said:

“I couldn’t imagine a life in which I would not be surrounded by music. It shelters you from the world, which protects you, which keeps you at a certain distance from the world.”

The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO) is one place you can go to slip into one of the alternate worlds created by various instruments and voices hitting well-chosen notes with precise timing.

& Earth

May 7, 2016
DECC Symphony Hall

Learn more about the performance.

If Glenn was right about distance from the world, it is natural that most symphonies are closed at the time when people wish to be closest to the outdoor world–the summer. The DSSO has two more events left this season, with the symphony starting back up when the fall is just beginning.

On May 7th, the symphony will explore the distance between two different worlds with its Heaven and Earth event.

“There will be a chorus with around 150 members behind the whole symphony orchestra and also the Lake Superior Youth Chorus,” said DSSO Executive Director Rebecca Lynn Petersen. “They will be performing with us with this massive production that is amazing called Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff.”

Before this grand finale will be a piece by Respighi called Church Windows. The theme of this music is Biblical stories found on stained glass windows from around Italy. Rebecca mentions this is a good mix. There is the Respighi piece, which is not performed often, and the Orff piece which everyone can hum at least part of.

“The hall will be filled with sounds of voices and instruments for the Carmina Burana part,” said Rebecca.

While this is the full symphony’s last performance, on May 10th a smaller group of musicians will be performing Beethoven and Mozart at the Depot as part of the DSSO’s Chamber Music Series.

Chamber music is an often overlooked part of what the DSSO offers. This musical tradition goes back to times when players in powdered wigs performed in a nobleman’s chamber. The DSSO’s chamber music is performed by about 25 musicians in a smaller venue.

“That is one of the reasons we are doing chamber music. I think when you attend a chamber music event of any size it is a little more intimate,” said Rebecca. “You can really see the expressions on the musicians’ faces and get a sense of the music.”

They have had chamber music performances at churches and the Depot. At one event people commented that they could even hear the performers breathe.

“So, I think you feel more in tune with the musicians musically and emotionally,” said Rebecca.

Classical music can sometimes be an acquired taste. It can also be much more rewarding if you invest some time into learning about it.

Ironically, modern electronics can help in this process. While going to a symphony allows you to enjoy music the same way others have for hundreds of years without electricity getting in the way, electronics can help you enjoy the experience. has much information including program notes to help you learn about the concerts before you go. Then, there is YouTube.

You can probably find just about any piece performed at the symphony on YouTube. Rebecca mentions how she goes there to listen to a piece the DSSO will later perform.

You can also enhance your symphony experience by listening to Bill Bastian discuss the night’s music during “Symphony 101” before many concerts.

There are more DSSO events to attend besides the main symphony events and chamber music. Rebecca encourages the public to attend more informal events like dress rehearsals.

Yes, even master musicians have to practice to learn a piece. Listening to them practice can be a joy, since even when they are still learning a piece they sound incredible. You may hear the conductor throw out strange terms which you can look up later. With your ringer completely off, you could even do a quick search for a musical term you hear. Once again, modern technology is helping you enter into this classic world.