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Rural Minnesota towns prepare for visit by world-class violinist

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

DAWSON, Minn. (AP) -- Two small western Minnesota towns are buzzing about next week's concerts by world-class violinist Midori, who picked Dawson and Fergus Falls as two of four rural towns in the U.S. where she'll perform.

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"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it may never happen again," said Rebecca Petersen, executive director of the Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls. "People are asking, 'How did you get Midori to come to Minnesota?' I tell them, we wrote a grant and asked, and she said yes."

Midori is known both for her musicianship and as a champion of young musicians. Her performances in rural towns are coordinated through Partners in Performance, which was created with money she received as part of the Avery Fisher Prize in 2001.

Kelly Gehrs, director of Partners in Performance, said the Dawson-Boyd Arts Association had been courting Midori for two years. Its application, and one from Fergus Falls, was selected from 15 others submitted.

"Their applications expressed how much classical music means in their community, how vital it is for the community and how they are trying to keep it alive," Gehrs said. "You just can't pass that up."

To qualify, communities must be at least 100 miles from a major cultural center, demonstrate support for classical music and have a plan for concert profits.

Luanne Fondell, performance arts director of the Dawson-Boyd Arts Association, said proceeds from the Dawson concert will go toward the string music program in the Dawson-Boyd schools and the art association's classical music programs.

The concerts are scheduled for Oct. 25 in Fergus Falls and Oct. 26 in Dawson, according to the Partners in Performance Web site.

Large school groups from Fargo, N.D., and Bemidji have bought tickets for the Fergus Falls concert, and 30 students from Worthington will travel two hours both ways to catch the violin virtuoso in Dawson.

Jeanette Lund, the Dawson high school orchestra teacher and elementary music teacher, said she expects Midori's appearance to energize her young musicians.

"They are excited to hear wonderful pieces that they have never heard and right here in our school," Lund said. "For the kids, I think this will be an inspiration to keep music in their lives."

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On the Net:

Partners in Performance: http://www.pipmusic.org/

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Pioneer staff reports
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