The Bemidji Concert Series performances opened in 2001 with the goal to make Bemidji the cultural center for northern Minnesota.
The upcoming season of five concerts and world class musicians achieves this goal, said Del Lyren, Bemidji State University professor of instrumental music and one of the concert series organizers.
"It's on a par with any concert series in the United States, even Carnegie Hall," he said.
The series is sponsored by the BSU Department of Music, Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, Bemidji Pioneer, Paul Bunyan Telephone and Villa Calma Bed and Breakfast.
As the committee members began planning the concert series, Lyren said, the first musician they lined up was Midori, the legendary violinist who made her first recording at 14 playing the music of Bach and Vivaldi with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman.
Her performance with Robert McDonald on piano will conclude the concert series April 8. Midori will perform in Bemidji under the Partners in Performance program secured by Sue Nelson, BSU adjunct music faculty member. Partners in Performance aims to stimulate interest in recitals and chamber music, specifically in smaller communities without the financial resources of major urban centers. The local co-presenter keeps all proceeds of ticket sales.
Lyren said Bemidji is one of two rural cities in the United States where Midori will perform as Partners in Performance.
"Because of this grant, Midori comes (to Bemidji) just for her expenses," he said.
The February 28 concert will feature jazz trumpeter Doc Severinsen and El Ritmo de la Vida.
Lyren said the committee hadn't planned on inviting Severinsen. But Lyren was working through an agent to bring the Vienna Boys Choir to Bemidji. That engagement didn't work out, so Lyren asked the agent if there was any possibility of substituting a jazz artist, as there wasn't any of that style of music in the series this year.
The agent also represents Severinsen and suggested a performance by the jazz man. The cost was too great, Lyren said, so he made a counter offer. As it happened, Severinsen was performing in the Twin Cities Feb. 27 and agreed to come to Bemidji the next day, also basically for expenses.
"So, we've got Doc, too," said Lyren.
The other concerts also feature world class musicians, Lyren said.
The season opener at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the BSU Thompson Recital Hall is titled "A Night of Chamber Music" with Minnesota Orchestra soloists. The concert will feature a string quartet of violin, viola and cello, and a brass sextet of trumpet, trombone, French horn and tuba.
The Oct. 30 concert will feature the Swedish guitar duo of The Gothenburg Combo, David Hansson and Thomas Hansy.
On Jan. 29, The Ahn Trio will perform. The three sisters - cellist Maria, pianist Lucia and violinist Angella - were born in Seoul, Korea, and educated at the Julliard School in New York City.
Lyren said he believes the upcoming Bemidji Concert Series is a historic lineup of musicians.